“Your story is yours”

2012 graduate on breaking down barriers as accountant and modest/Hijabi fashionista

By Abigail Vitaliano, '17  |  Photos courtesy of Hanyeh Khoshnevisan, '12

DSC_4689Core tax accountant by day, famous fashion blogger by night.

Such is the life of Hanyeh Khoshnevisan, ’12, a CPA Senior Tax Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Philadelphia who is better known to her nearly 45,000 followers—and that’s just on Instagram—as modest fashionista “Hani Hulu.”

Born in Iran and raised in Michigan, Khoshnevisan studied accounting and information systems at Loyola. Outside of the classroom, she was a resident assistant and an active member of ALANA (African, Latino, Asian and Native American) Services, participating in their events and programs.

Khoshnevisan credits her experience as an RA with providing her the leadership and team building skills she utilizes in her everyday work at PwC. With the ability to foster strong client relationships, she said these skills allowed her to her stand out among her peers early on, as a first-year associate.

Khoshnevisan’s love and talent for blogging also started at Loyola. During her senior year she decided to showcase her passion for fashion, and specifically Hijabi fashion, and create something bigger. From that point on, she has been growing her Hani Hulu brand and following.

Khoshnevisan spoke with Loyola magazine about her two passions—finance and fashion—and why it’s important to her as a Muslim woman to inspire others to embrace their personal style and express themselves.

What is it like to work in two very different worlds?

It’s been funny working in two very different industries. When my coworkers at PwC find out about my blog, they’re always surprised. I think they’re such opposite worlds, but goes to show that people can have many different interests.

What has been it like, creating “Hani Hulu”? 

It’s kind of crazy to think I have my own brand, but that is truly what blogging does for you. It’s a lot of fun to share my style with the world, and to see that a lot of people like it and are inspired by it. I try to keep focus and not lose who I am just for the ‘fame’ and attention I get from blogging. I like to stay true to my style, and I consciously keep that in mind while building my brand.

Your social media following is, in part, thanks to your incredible portrait photography. How do you find the perfect backdrops for your Instagram photos?  

When I’m traveling, I look up the best spots to visit in the location I’m going to. Otherwise, I just take pictures as I’m going about my day and as I see something I like. For me, blogging is unfortunately second to my career, therefore I can’t put as much time and effort into it as I would like to. Depending on the outfit I’m wearing, I’ll pick places to take pictures that won’t take away from the outfit, but that complement it.DSC_5287

Do you ever get noticed/recognized when you’re in public? 

I have been recognized in public, and it’s always so awkward for me. It’s cool and awkward at the same time. I don’t feel like I’m a celebrity, so whenever someone comes up to me and asks if I’m Hani Hulu, I usually just get shy and say yes… and then tell them to not be so excited cause I’m just a normal girl.

How do you balance your career at PwC and your work as Hani Hulu?

Although I consider fashion and lifestyle blogging a hobby, it is definitely like a second job. It requires a lot of time and effort to plan outfits and to go out and take pictures. Some weekends, I’ll have to cram a few photo shoots into a single day, because I know I won’t have time for a few days or weeks. Keeping up with social media and blogging is so important to stay relevant.   

During our busy season at PwC, in January and February, I am working an easy 60 hours a week and through the weekends. I never have time to take pictures or post. But PwC is my career and it pays my bills and funds my blogging (OK, shopping) addiction, and therefore I have to focus there when I need to. It’s difficult to manage at times, but it’s important to me to maintain both aspects, as they make who I am.

You mention in your blog that you “live my life breaking stereotypes, as I think many Muslim women do.”

I like to think I prove that Muslim women can be more than just a housewife or come second to their husbands, as media sometimes portrays. When I interviewed at PwC, the interviewer told me I broke stereotypes for him. He didn’t say exactly why, but I think Muslim women are often misunderstood and not always portrayed in a way that reflects our full potential, and so people have certain expectations.

On the contrary, we are very well accomplished women with great careers, ambitions, and the drive and motivation to do many things, and being Muslim or wearing the headscarf doesn’t stop us. When I tell my coworkers I have a fashion blog with a big following, it’s quite surprising to them, and then they gain interest and ask more questions. I think if I can get people to ask more questions and learn more about Muslims, I’ve done my job.

What advice do you have for anyone who is pursuing a career in fashion blogging, or in the competitive industry of corporate finance? 

I would say never give up, and never compare yourself to others. There will always be other people out there who are, in your eyes, doing better than you are, But your story is different. It’s yours. And you should stay true to yourself and persevere. You will touch your audience in a different way, and it’s important to never give up.

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