SHE must be the only woman in South Yorkshire who this Christmas simply cannot get away with saying: “I’ve got nothing to wear.”
As the festive nights out stack up, fashion-mad Kavita Donkersley has cupboards full of brand new clothes to choose from.
Most of them still have the labels on. And if nothing fits the bill, she still doesn’t have to hit the shops. There will be yet more new clothes arriving at her doorstep from online boutiques virtually every day up to December 24.
Envious? Then here’s the real sickener. The 19-year-old from Meersbrook isn’t a rash spendaholic getting hugely into debt with her credit cards. She gets all the clothes for free. And worse news still, wearing them actually earns her money.
Kavita is a fashion blogger. Her website shewearsfashion.com earns her the equivalent of a shopworker’s average wage.
To make money, all she has to do is what most girls do anyway these days; spend three hours a day putting new outfits together, dolling herself up and having her photograph taken. The only difference between her and the nation’s army of image-mad teens is that she then pens and uploads a few pithy comments about them for her blog.
It’s hugely popular. Kavita has thousands of followers on Instagram, Facebook, Google and Twitter. Type UK fashion blog into a Google search and shewearsfashion is top of the list.
Traffic to her site averages 250,000 a month - and with a quarter of a million fashion-obsessed women hanging on her every word, Kavita is a marketable commodity. Google service Adsense forwards advertisers to it and she banks the payments.
Add to that the endless supply of free clothes, handbags and shoes and it’s clear she’s living every fashion-loving, social media-savvy girl’s dream.
There must be hundreds wanting to be her New Best Friend and borrow an outfit or 20 - which is ironic, as a lack of friends is what made her start blogging in the first place.
Having moved from Newfield School to sixth form at High Storrs, she didn’t know a soul and found it difficult to make new friends.
“I felt lonely. I turned to the internet for company,” she says.
The 16-year-old, working part time at a phone shop in Meadowhall around her studies, didn’t know much about fashion. But she started reading fashion blogs and got inspired to start experimenting with new looks.
She explains: “The bloggers were just normal people who didn’t work in fashion, but had great style. People like Carrie from wishwishwish.net inspired me; I’d look at how they had put an outfit together and wish I could be like them.”
She started creating a style of her own from the vintage pieces she loved finding on shopping trips to charity shops and car boot sales with her mum, then set up her own blog, I Heart Vintage.
No-one at school knew. “I had this secret life, another persona. On my blog I could express my ideas and opinions and dress up for quirky photo shoots,” she says.
“But at sixth form I was shy and quiet. I kept my mouth shut about what I was doing because I thought I might get picked on and labelled vain for having pictures of myself on the internet. I was doing something different and people don’t always get what you’re trying to do.”
It was her unpaid hobby for two years, right the way through A levels. After school she got a job in menswear boutique Van Mildert, but hated sales.
She made a New Year’s Resolution to turn her blog into a business and in January this year quit work to launch shewearsfashion.com
“Followers came with me, I soon got more and then the advertising revenue started to come in,” she explains. “I was so happy. I was still buying all of my clothes at that stage, but then online boutiques started offering me free online shopping trips and sending out specific pieces for me to wear.
“I do still buy clothes, but a huge amount come to me for free. The stores see me as a walking advert for them; I wear their pieces then write about them and they get sales from that.”
She gets a small payment for items she has helped to sell from some stores, too. Other treats included free tickets to shows at this year’s London Fashion Week, a modelling session with top UK stylist and TV personality Grace Woodward at Meadowhall’s fashion month in October and a fashion shoot with Misguided.com
Now she’s also getting work as a freelance fashion blogger for brands River Island and H&M.
Unsurprisingly, Kavita lives and breathes fashion; “Every day I spend hours hunting websites for fresh inspiration. I go to sleep planning the next day’s outfits in my head,” she grins.
The internet has enabled her to make her passion into her career. But it wouldn’t have been possible had the girl herself not had an innate sense of style - and stunning looks.
A dainty size 6 doll of 5’2 with her Indian mother’s dark eyes and ebony hair, she’s the type of girl who would look fabulous in a binbag.
In photographs on her site, she looks like a professional model.
She giggles about those shots, though: “It’s all about the clothes - I’m secondary,” she insists. “I don’t use a professional photographer; my boyfriend James and my 14-year-old sister Kamisha take them all.”
She has more clothes than she knows what to do with, parcels arriving every week, and a very patient boyfriend.
He never knows how Kavita will look from one day to the next. “She dramatically changes her image all the time,” says James Evans, 19. “I’ll go to meet her and think: Ah, right, so she’s doing grunge today. The day before she might have been glamorous, the day before that, quite casual. It’s like having a different girlfriend every day.”
Kavita’s top festive dresses
IF there’s one thing Kavita Donkersley loves more than fashion, it’s a fashion bargain.
So we asked her to pick out her top three festive frocks for under £35 to model for readers looking for inspiration.
Rather than go for full-on bling, she selected dresses with versatility. In interesting shapes and colours, they could be dressed up for the party season with glittering accessories, or played down with neutrals and worn on nights out all year round.
A blue, bejewelled one-shouldered dress from Tesco, reduced to just £15, is her current favourite, closely followed by online boutique bargains from Asos and Glamorous UK.