Dubai: Imagine your videos be watched for 2.8 billion minutes on Facebook in less than a month? Or an equivalent of someone watching them for 5,327 years? As “insane and hard to comprehend” as that may seem, it’s a boast a Dubai-based Australian expat can make, even as the page could well become the world’s most watched to date.
Yes, we’re talking about Supercar Blondie, the homegrown social media phenomenon in the UAE, whose recent video on the surprise she sprung on her Filipina staff continues to be in a dizzyingly viral state. In the video, the 34-year-old celeb can be seen giving the staffer Aveline a bouquet of flowers and a box full of dirhams, enough to fund one of her two sons’ university fees. Aveline, needless to say, is moved to tears as she feels like a “millionaire” and gives her boss a bear hug at her waterfront residence.
But that’s off the beaten track – quite literally, as it is Supercar Blondie’s trademark posts on luxury cars that have earned her a staggering following.
The figures are on her manicured fingertips.
“I have over 45 million followers in all. Over 32 million on Facebook, more than seven million on Instagram and nearly five million on YouTube,” she told Gulf News in an exclusive, tell-all interview.
A country girl comes to Dubai
So what is it that makes her such a sensation? And just who is the real woman behind Supercar Blondie?
“I’m a country town girl!,” lets on Alexandra Hirschi, far removed from Supercar Blondie’s spitting urban chic persona. “I grew up in a small country town of 2,000 people in Australia. I was on a hobby farm with cows and sheep and spent most of my free time with animals.”
Now from the love of countryside cattle Down Under to a passion for metallic horse power on the streets of Dubai - that’s a sea change. But the journey is what makes the story.
First ever luxury car drive
Hirschi, who went on to study broadcast journalism in college, recalls how she first came to Dubai in 2008 to work as a co-host of a radio show. “I really loved my career but I found something I loved more, took the chance and went for it. I always loved cars and I got the opportunity to drive a luxury car for the first time while I was on the radio.”
Subsequently, she said she did everything she could in her spare time to track down super cool cars to film and started sharing her personal experience of driving these cars online.
Epic turning point
The turning point, however, came in the form of a surreal experience. “I had the opportunity to be part of a supercar drive from close to the Saudi Arabian border back through Abu Dhabi and then Dubai. We had a police escort on ground and in the air with a helicopter hovering above us for the whole drive. What I love about the police here is they understand we want to have fun and go for a drive so they do their best to accommodate it and make it all safe, instead of just cracking down on it like in other countries. Once I had this trip, with 100 other supercars and a police escort through the rolling sand dunes, I went home that night, called my boss and quit my job. The experience was so epic, I knew in that moment I needed to give it a go.”
‘Not like a car expert’
By now, something about her car posts had already made them click-worthy. “One of the things I was doing differently was speaking about cars in an everyday manner, not like a car expert, so people could relate to it. I still do that. The language car experts use often goes over people’s heads. I point out the coolest things about each car in the simplest ways. Also, I’ve worked a lot on finding out what people want to watch on each social media platform. I film a car three different ways for three different platforms.”
It’s been a wild ride
She says she quit her radio job when she had 50,000 followers, now three years later, the number had grown to 45 million.
“It’s crazy and it’s been a wild ride. It’s been so rewarding, but also a very difficult journey. What I do looks easy, but there is so much organisation and planning behind everything you see as I do at least two super car videos a week. It’s just amazing to see how far we’ve come. For the first few years, it was just me and my husband (Nik Hirschi) working together on this, now in the last few months we have been able to expand our team to six people.”
Teenaged sweethearts still going strong
The mention of Nik brings back special memories of how the two met as teenagers in Switzerland. “I was 17 and was visiting Switzerland as part of a high school student exchange programme. Nik, 19 then, was part of the family that was hosting me. He then followed me to Australia and we studied together. We got married in 2010.”
The couple, still going strong, have now made Dubai their home where they live with their two dogs Mugi, a golden Pomeranian and Peppi, a rescue Chihuahua mix.
What about her own supercars?
“I recently sold the first ever supercar I owned which was a Lamborghini Huracan. I now own a Rolls Royce Wraith Black Badge which I upgraded with 24” rims and new peelable paint. I also have a McLaren 720s which I’m currently doing up with a body kit and new paint as well,” says Supercar Blondie.
For Alex, supercars are a marker of success. “A goal of mine since I was a young girl was to own a luxury car one day. I think that’s because if you can own a supercar, then you’ve had to work really hard at something and become really successful in your career to be able to do that. It’s a marker of success to me. Other people have other success markers, to me, it’s being able to splash out on a luxury car,” she says.
Alex says she feels strongly about giving back to others. "Beyond a point, I don't need to buy myself anything more. What would give me more pleasure is seeing someone's worry or weight being lifted from their shoulders. It's a luxury we can't all afford - to be able to significantly give back to others. We can do it in small ways every single day, but the only way I found I could significantly give back was to grow my business and work really hard to get to that point. I am in that position now - and I am grateful," she says.
Driven in every terrain
“Lots of people consider driving as something to get them from A to B. I see driving as an activity in itself. I absolutely love driving. It relaxes me and gives me such a sense of independence,” she adds.
Supercar Blondie loves driving her super cars on Dubai’s state-of-the-art roads as much as does in the desert. In fact, she says she has driven luxury cars in every possible terrain, not just here in the UAE, but all over the world, including the coastal highways of California, the Swiss Alps and some cow-spotting streets of Bengaluru.
“My favourite experiences with cars have been going in to a country and being welcomed by the local car communities. For so many years I was just a tourist, heading to the local sights, but now I’m always meeting with the locals of each city and being shown an authentic local experience,” she points out.
Family person and animal lover
The farm girl in Supercar Blondie still longs to spend time with animals as much as she does with family. “I’m a huge animal lover and believe that every living being deserves respect. So when I have time off I spend it with my two dogs. I love reading and going to the beach as well. I have three siblings, one younger sister, one older sister and an older brother. My mum and dad live in the country.”
She lets on that she starts off her day by watching heartening videos of animals. “Who doesn’t love a positive animal story? Family means so much to me. I just hired my younger sister so she came and moved to Dubai this year to work alongside me. It’s so nice to have family here with me as I’ve lived away from home since I was 17,” she says.
“One of the biggest things I’m trying to educate people about is animal welfare. There is nothing worse to me than people taking advantage of the weak or those without a voice,” she adds.
COVID-19 message to fans: ‘My advice is adapt’
Supercar Blondie says, “COVID-19 has been a struggle for many of us, and at the beginning it was a struggle for me too. I relied so heavily on traveling for my work and then one day to the next, that just stopped. My advice is to adapt. Don’t fight the change, move with it. If what you do currently doesn’t work in COVID-19 times, take a leap and try something else. Staying within your comfort zone won’t get you to where you want to be. Sometimes you have to take risks in order to grow and achieve more than you thought you were capable of. Many of us have more time on our hands than usual, maybe that time can be spent starting something you’ve always wanted to do, just as a hobby at first, but you never know, it could turn in to your career.”
And yes, beware of scamsters too
If there’s one thing that really puts off Supercar Blondie, it’s this: “People who try and scam my followers by setting up accounts that imitate me. They send messages to my followers asking for credit card details and it really upsets me that people I care about are being scammed,” she says, cautioning her 45 million followers not to fall prey to any such scams.