In Summary
  • I'm very detail-oriented, so I notice the smallest things.
  • Sometimes those little details give me a whole story to share.
  • It could be the sound of somebody's voice, how they walk, talk, different mannerisms.

Shiro Gaitho is the the face behind the beautifully written blog, The Cultured Cow. She describes herself as a quiet storyteller, a mental wanderer and a walking paradox.

She talks to Nation.co.ke about her journey to becoming a creative.

Can you give us some information about yourself and your path to becoming a creative?

Well, I never really thought of myself as a "creative" before. I enjoyed reading from a young age, and writing compositions was one of my favourite things to do in primary school.

I thought I was pretty decent at it (at least my teachers told me I was), so I decided to study Communications, which led me to a newsroom where I worked as a reporter.

I'd have lulls in my day, say while waiting for my stories to be edited, so I started using that time to write down little stories about my experiences, and I ended up blogging around 2010 on shelikessweetthings.blogspot.com

I transitioned to The Cultured Cow while pregnant in early 2017, because I needed something to do besides feeding and changing diapers while on maternity leave.

It's like a public journal of sorts to me, but also where I tell stories about fascinating people I meet and share my love for interior styling. 

Now that I've told you that, I'm actually beginning to think of myself as a creative, ha!

How would you describe your blogging style?

Conversational, laid back, descriptive. I find that I remember the most mundane of things, and the way different people or situations make me feel, so I try to describe them in a way that paints a picture for the reader to see.

What guides you?

I'm guided by an innate desire to remain authentic in a world full of calculated, highly curated perfectionism.

 What have you learnt from influencing so far?

Influencing is such a buzzword these days, I'm often questioning whether those we call "influencers" actually have any tangible influence.

I prefer to think of what I do as storytelling rather than influencing, and I've learned that stories - whether through a blog or ephemeral micro-content on Instagram for example - can be really powerful.

                                                            

What about blogging?

That Kenyans still read. My blogs tend to be a little longer than what we're told people like to read, and I've sometimes considered shortening them so as to appeal to more people, but at the same time I feel that a good story will be read and appreciated regardless of its length.

And as a reader myself, I wish more people would read, because it really does make a difference.

 How did you build your following on social media?

It happened pretty organically; I made no conscious effort to do it. I just share what I'm feeling, thinking, reading, observing, and I guess people have been drawn to that.

 What strategy has helped you best in getting more traffic to your blog?

I haven't had a clear strategy in place to be honest, but whatever traffic I get I attribute to my ability to share stories that people identify with.

I'm told I make people laugh, even if I don't consider myself a funny person. I like to think that I make people feel something through my stories. 

There's a quote I like by Samuel Johnson, an 18th Century English author. He said: "What is written without effort is in general read without pleasure." So I put effort into what I share on the blog, on Instagram, and now on my YouTube channel. 

What would you say is the best service a blogger can give his/her readers?

Consistency. It's something I've struggled with, which I'm trying to conquer. Some days I want to write all day and have a bunch of stories up one after the other; other days I literally have no idea why I even have a blog, especially when the writer's block kicks in.

But I'm trying to be consistent, because even the most loyal of readers will get tired of checking for new content if they never find any.

What is your ideal working environment?

I like some relative quiet when I'm working on my content. I usually have 90s RnB playing softly in the background (music was so good in that decade), herbal tea in my favourite mug or a glass of wine, and a very unhealthy snack.

Who has greatly influenced your blogging? And how?

Would I be a narcissist if I said that I've influenced my own blogging? I only say this because I focus on myself: what I'm thinking, feeling, what I've seen, who I've met. It's all very subjective, all shaped by my personal experiences.

In addition to that, motherhood has definitely influenced my writing.

Not so much in style, but in the kind of content I've been able to create and share as a result of this experience.

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