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Youtuber Lena Mahfouf On The Value Of Staying Authentic

Léna Mahfouf, aka Léna Situations, is a French YouTuber personality, influencer, and entrepreneur. She shares her daily life with her 1.4M Youtube subscribers and almost 2M followers on Instagram. A few weeks ago, we sat down with her to chat about success, her growing notoriety, and keeping a positive mindset. In our conversation, Léna shares how she started her journey on Youtube, and how she built a community that feels like a family where she can share the fun but also her moments of doubt and adversity. We also talk about the launch of her first book and who she would love to have dinner with. Don’t forget to leave a comment about what you like the most about Léna!

What is your motto?

Léna Mahfouf: Think positive and you will attract positive. The identity of my Youtube Channel is “+=+”, I even have it tattooed on my wrist. I believe in the law of attraction and it became a sort of a lifestyle. If I am facing challenges or adversity, I try to stay positive and to move forward!

How did you come up with +=+?

That is something I have always used to motivate myself, I would write +=+ on my copy before a school exam for example to tell myself that I can do it. Later, I talked about it in a video, and it went viral. Probably because I think everybody needs some positivity and good vibes. This is now the DNA of my YouTube channel and it became a brand.

Photography by Sylvie Castioni. Makeup, Betina Orsetti. Stylism, @lespreteuses

What is your best quality?

I would say my positive energy and my ambition. I went to a communication school in New York and I think that is where I developed a positive mindset and learned how to be more straightforward.

Any bad habit you’d like to get rid of?

I’m completely addicted to sugar. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink alcohol, but I drink 3 coke cans a day. That is a real problem for me. Also, I procrastinate a lot, I often postpone all the things I have to do and I end up stressing and rushing to finish on time. Don’t we all have this problem though? [laughs]

Do you remember your very first YouTube video? ​

It’s funny you ask because I found one of my old tweets from 5 or 6 years ago that says “My younger brother told me to create my YouTube channel…what a weird idea!”. My brother was 4 years old at the time and he was a big fan of YouTubers like Squeezie. Five years later, here I am, thanks to him.

My very first video was about a selection of outfits for Valentine’s Day, which is hilarious because I think I was single at the time. After that, I did a second video and decided that YouTube wasn’t for me. Two years later, I gave it another shot and posted more videos about things I love like fashion. When I moved to New York, I started to vlog and document my life on a more daily basis. I thought it would make more sense to share my experience abroad with people who might be interested to do the same! And this is how it started to take off.

How do you manage your growing popularity?

Living in New York, I was living in my own bubble and wasn’t really aware of this popularity until I moved back to France and see people who recognized me in the street and were so happy to see me. At first, I did not live it very well and I stayed home for a while. I developed some sort of impostor syndrome and thought I didn’t deserve so much recognition and so many cool opportunities. All of a sudden, I was making a much better living than when I had six side jobs to pay for my education.

I don’t think people are meant to be famous or known by so many people and it took me some time to process it. Your friends and family sharing their opinion is one thing but when you have millions of people judging the way you live your life, you have to develop a thicker skin.

The fantastic part about it is even if I am by myself when I do my videos, I get the chance to interact with my audience, people share their stories with me, and I am happy to build a community that feels like a family.

Photography by Sylvie Castioni. Makeup, Betina Orsetti. Stylism, Les Preteuses

Your last purchase online?

My green velvet sofa…I just moved to my new place and I can’t wait to finish remodeling it and have my friends coming over.

Your last search on Google?

I searched how to do a transition on Youtube. I love video editing and I always want to learn new skills. For people who want to start on Youtube, it can be very intimidating but you have to know that all the answers are on Youtube. Most of us are self-taught and so can you!

You are also launching a book. Can you tell us more about it?

It is gonna be a book with different topics which I hope will help you go through life. The goal is to jump into a specific chapter when you need it. My first idea was to create an agenda with planners and productivity tips. The way I pitched it to the publishing company, they suggested I write a book and that it will bring good value to the readers. It was definitely good advice because 2020 wasn’t the best year to launch a calendar. [laughs]

Do you have a favorite book?

I have two books that come to my mind. I love Of Mice and Men and my dad offered me The Prophet. This is a book divided into chapters dealing with love, marriage, friendships…I highly recommend it.

Your last memory of pure happiness?

To see so many people gathering to peacefully protest against racism and injustice gives me hope and makes me happy. We are moving forward, I really believe this young generation can change things.

Photography by Sylvie Castioni. Makeup, Betina Orsetti. Stylism, Les Preteuses

What is freedom for you?

Freedom is when you can live off your passion and when work doesn’t feel like work. My biggest dream looks like the TV show Friends where my friends and I would be you know, living off our passions, be financially free and meet every night at my place “The Mahfouf Hotel” and have dinner, beers, endless conversations. The dream.

Fun! Who’s your favorite character?

You can’t ask that! [laughs] If you remove one, the show doesn’t work anymore. But if I had to choose, I would probably say Rachel!

How did you get to work with luxury brands?

I think luxury brands start to understand that their market isn’t only made of wealthy people who wear high-end designers from head to toe. For example, when I was a student, I was shopping at Zara or H&M but I was saving money to be able to buy my Chanel purse. The same thing for beauty, I was saving to buy my YSL perfume. Brands realized they had to adapt their communication to connect with the younger generation.

+=+ Lena situations
Photography by Sylvie Castioni.

If you could have dinner with 5 people dead or alive, who would you invite? What would be the menu?

First, for the menu, I would ask my mom to cook her couscous recipe, and I would serve Coca-Cola in wine glasses because it tastes better like this! I would invite Rihanna to listen to the new album that she won’t release. Beyonce too! Very important. Zac Efron. I have to tell him I have been in love with him since High School Musical. Lady Diana because I want to know the truth and what really happened to her. And I would invite my dad. He is so kind and funny, everybody would be in a good mood and he will make everybody laugh.

You are doing a daily vlog in August every year. How did you get this idea? How do you stay creative?

I was a big fan of Casey Neistat, an American Youtuber who had a daily vlog, and I was very impressed by it because that is a lot of work. August was the only month where I wasn’t working and had no internship. It was a now or never moment and I went for it!

The goal is to share my summer with people in a very spontaneous way. Nothing is scripted, and I am fortunate to have hilarious and very entertaining friends. Every daily video is like a mini-episode! It is a lot of fun and at the end of the month, I am so exhausted, but it is worth it! [laughs]

I am also grateful to create amazing memories with the people I love and when I feel down or when I miss them, I like to watch our videos and I will be proud to show my kids later.

What advice would you give to people to overcome adversity and failure?

it is a difficult question. Everybody goes through difficult times. We have to remember that the storm always goes away and that every failure is a step closer to success. There are obviously situations like illness or death of loved ones that are more difficult to overcome. I also believe that it is important to trust life sometimes.

You are everywhere but what is your favorite social media platform?

There is always a new thing or a new challenge! I am too old for Tik-Tok. [laughs] YouTube remains my favorite platform to tell stories. I also love Instagram. It is very spontaneous.

And besides you, who should we follow?

You can follow my boyfriend, @SebLaFrite, and send him messages to ask him to post more often! Because he won’t listen to me. I also like @jaimetoutcheztoi, a very artistic and beautiful account.

Is there a trip in particular you remember?

I went on a humanitarian trip to Mali with my mother when I was 11 years old. We were in an orphanage, I was only with children my age, it was an unforgettable experience. Last year, I went to Senegal as well and I loved it.

In addition to this, I would also say that my first trip to Los Angeles was a great life lesson. My girlfriends and I were supposed to go together and at the time we had an argument and I decided to go alone. It was my dream destination and being able to meet so many people, discovering the city, and also enjoying my own company was something special.

Could you share something about you that nobody knows?

So, I was visiting a friend in Germany and she took me to Thermal baths where everybody is naked. Honestly, I wasn’t very comfortable but my friend told me not to worry as it is very common there. A fan recognized me and came right next to me to take a selfie with her phone. I was so embarrassed, I told her that I was not Léna Situations, that everybody confuses me with her all the time, and I left.

As a YouTuber and influencer, you are very exposed. Even if its a small percentage, how do you deal with haters?

Perspective is important. If someone took 5 minutes to leave a hateful or mean comment, does that question all those years of hard work? There are comments that hurt more than others. I was vulnerable once and became an easy target for haters. However, I have empathy, you must be very insecure and in need of love in your life to act like this.

Recently, I was body-shamed for my small breasts, and in situations like this, my role is to do prevention towards young girls who might read some hateful comments, and make sure that doesn’t affect their self-confidence.

Self-confidence is very fragile. It can take years to build and can be destroyed very quickly.

How do you keep a private life while vlogging your daily lifestyle?

I’m very comfortable showing what many others won’t show. The more transparent, the better it is for me. Ultimately, I decide what I want to post and I can keep a private life. For example, people have never seen my mom. They asked questions and I explained why. People are respectful but you always have some people who will dig to try to find something out.

We like to joke about it and say my mom is a very famous American celebrity and we cannot reveal her identity. My mom is Oprah Winfrey! [laughs]

And as an entrepreneur, how do you grow your business and stay authentic to your audience?

This increases in a way that I cannot even explain. Word of mouth works very well on social media. There is no marketing strategy. I stay authentic and speak to my community first.

Regarding partners and opportunities with brands, my followers trust me and I consider them as my friends. And I will never suggest anything I don’ like myself to my own friends. There are a lot of opportunities and money in this industry and it can quickly go to your head but my family is here to keep me down to earth.

Who should we interview next?

Bilal Hassani. He represented France in the Eurovision Song Contest last year and he is a good friend of mine. He is a gay and Arabic singer who wears gigs and seeing his popularity in a country like France that doesn’t always welcome diversity, it is very pleasant! A sign of hope in this country.

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Romain

Romain Wawrzyniak is our Editor-in-Chief. His enthusiasm and kindness make his guests feel comfortable creating intimate conversations and priceless insights.

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2 Comments

  1. Sophie June 18, 2020

    +=+ that’s it. Léna is such an inspiration in her videos, she’s so hardworking and makes us feel like everything is possible if we work for it. She motivates me everytime I watch her videos, she teaches me to not forget my goals and to stay motivated in any situations #LenaSituations 😉
    Love you Léna ?

    Reply
    1. Good Manners June 21, 2020

      Glad you enjoyed the article! It is important to do what you preach 😉

      Reply

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