Upholding My Ethics As An Influencer
+ Why I Create Content
I’ve always loved fashion. I remember being a little girl, around 7 or 8 and pouring over a picture book of my namesake Audrey Hepburn’s style. I was immediately captivated by her simple outfits, classic, signature makeup and how they perfectly complimented her. You saw her and not just her clothing. Sure, she was a fashion icon, but she was also so much more than that and her wardrobe complimented who she was on the inside. Audrey’s understated looks fit perfectly with her grace and kindness.
Ever since then I’ve been working on developing my own personal style that helps compliment what I have to offer to the world. A wardrobe that’s understated, classic and accessible for my life - without going broke or sacrificing the other things I love. Things like travel and great food.
A few years ago, I was working in beauty and lifestyle P.R. in NYC and as bloggers and influencers began to grow, I worked closely with many of the big names we all know now. More and more of my clients wanted to capitalize off of this growing market and seemingly over night bloggers took the place of editors on our press trips, at our events and in our giftings. It was also around this time that my own personal wardrobe got out of hand, and under the pressure of fitting in with my new surroundings and working to navigate my early 20’s, I had amassed an excessive amount of clothing but no real sense of my personal style.
After reaching a boiling point and finally becoming fed up with an overflowing closet, I started on the journey toward a more meaningful life not bogged down by clutter. I wanted less, but didn’t want to sacrifice style or waste money in order to do so. One thing led to another and I started researching capsule wardrobes and minimalism, and was amazed at the information I had never been told before. Before I knew it, I was decluttering and minimizing in a way that felt authentic and real to me while understanding my style on an even deeper level - I never felt more free.
Ironically, my own personal journey perfectly contradicted the growing consumerism and misinformation (hello cute polyester floral prints!) that we all became exposed to at an alarming rate. What had once been private press trips and giftings aimed at getting your clients into magazines had become very public. Everything was shared and the desire for more, more, more hit an all-time high. I remember distinctly thinking, “if I’m overwhelmed by it all, maybe someone else is too.”
So, with the encouragement of my amazing husband and family, I decided to offer my voice to the mix. I somehow gained the courage to put myself out there and share what I learned with the world through my blog and YouTube channel. I wanted to empower people to uncover their own unique style while also making smarter purchases. I wanted to share everything I learned that taken hours and hours of research and trial and error to figure out.
All-in-all, it’s been the most amazing experience and has allowed me to connect with so many incredible people. Every uplifting message, e-mail and comment I receive keeps me inspired to never lose sight of why I started my blog in the first place and with that in mind, I want to break down my own personal approach for you. My hope is that this transparency will help you feel comfortable participating in my little corner of the internet.
Giftings & Free Products
One of the main ways publicists get coverage for their clients is through gifting free products to editors, bloggers and influencers. Doing so allows these individuals to try products and get exposed to brands they may not have discovered or been able to afford otherwise. Of course, this also allows them to share these brands and products with their readers and viewers.
When done correctly, this is a mutually beneficial experience but when done incorrectly, a few problems arise. The first being that influencers can often feel pressured to share something simply because it was free - a sense of obligation to make a public “thank you” of sorts.
The second problem is that too many brands expect influencers to create meaningful content for nothing more than free products. The problem here, is that especially for full-time content creators “free stuff” doesn’t pay the bills and valuing our time and efforts so lowly doesn’t help to legitimize the industry. The videos and posts that we create can take hours and hours to produce, and expecting a creative field to be valued so poorly speaks to a much larger problem that only we can fix.
For these reasons, I am very selective about what products I am gifted, and I never accept anything that I wouldn’t have purchased on my own, and excluding my partnership with Ruffs Signet Rings (I reached out to them and you can see that video below), an upcoming video collaboration with Excess Only (a new brand I really respect and am excited to raise awareness for), and an exciting jewelry collaboration coming up, I never agree to a dedicated video or blog post in exchange for “free stuff.” Plus, the vast majority of my wardrobe and the beauty products I share have been purchased by me, with my own money. I recently received a lot of questions and speculation that my Time(less) series is sponsored but I can assure you those videos are not. I purchased my Sabina Savage scarf with my own money and even though I was gifted my camel coat from The Curated, I was under no obligation to share it and was definitely not asked to create a video for it. I just truly love both products and wanted to share them with you.
Additionally, you will always know if something has been gifted because I’ll verbally disclose it, and/or include an annotation with written explanation. Finally, it’s very important to note that the generous gifts I’ve received over the years have allowed me to grow my closet much faster that I would have been able to otherwise. It’s a wonderful privilege of my job that not only allows me to continue to share well made, beautiful wardrobe pieces with you, but also to do so more frequently than I would be able to otherwise. This ultimately allows me to bring you more diverse, valuable content that can help you continue to make educated purchases for your own personal wardrobe.
Paid Sponsorships & Collaborations
Next, I want to talk about paid sponsorships, what that entails and how I’ve chosen to integrated them into my platform. A sponsored post in the strictest sense, is a dedicated video, blog post or Instagram post that has been created for a brand in exchange for monetary compensation. As a creator it’s important to understand the distinction between a sponsored and non sponsored post in order to know your value and what you feel comfortable charging for your labor. As you can imagine, it’s very easy to be drawn into the appeal of sponsorships because they help pay the bills and are often make up the biggest part of our income, but they can also contribute to an inauthentic brand - especially when those sponsorships are not congruent with your platform and appear too frequently. Much like my approach to giftings and free products, I never agree to a sponsorship with a brand I haven’t personally used, loved and feel confident recommending. This approach ensures that my content stays authentic and true to what I believe, but also means that I need to make money other ways - which we’ll get into more in a bit. As a result, I’ve had to build my income very slowly as a creator and up until very recently, I always had another source of income while also building my YouTube channel and blog. To date, I have only agreed to 3 sponsorships which I’ve outlined below in more detail but as always, the parameters of my contracts stipulate that the opinions expressed are always my own and I never agree to a sponsorship that requires I share information or opinions that aren’t in line with my own personal beliefs and ethics.
Beauty By Design: This is an amazing new skincare start-up that was introduced to me last year. After trying it for myself, and understanding the complexities of skincare from my time as a beauty publicist, I signed a contract with Beauty By Design to create one integrated YouTube video and corresponding blog post sponsored by them. You can see that video below.
JACY Watches: in 2017, JACY watches reached out to me with their exciting new brand launch. I didn’t currently have a watch in my wardrobe and was in the market for one so after researching their watches for myself, I agreed to accept their very generous gift of a watch of my choice. Over the next year and a half I wore and loved my watch and recommended it over and over again so when they reached out late last year with the opportunity to collaborate on a sponsored video I was ecstatic! We worked together on a video all about watches and how you can make the best purchase for your own wardrobe. Also, because I wanted to ensure I could provide watch options for multiple budgets, we agreed that I could recommend competitors. This was a very important part of the contract for me and I feel so lucky that their team also saw the value in that. I love my watch!
Audible: Last but not least, I partnered with Audible for an integrated sponsored post last year. When Audible reached out to me I was over the moon! Partnering with a respected company of their size that I also respect and love is a huge milestone for any creator and I felt so privileged to work with them. You can see our integration below where I recommended listening to an audio book while prepping your closet for a new season and of course, I selected Lessons from Madame Chic: 20 Stylish Secrets I Learned While Living in Paris by Jennifer L. Scott as my audiobook of choice. Jennifer’s book was one of the books that transformed my wardrobe philosophy, and she’s one of my all-time favorite YouTubers and all around inspiration!
One of the top ways to monetize your content as a creator is to use affiliate links and I use them both here on my site and in the description box of my YouTube videos. Essentially, an affiliate link works as a referral where I receive a small percentage in commission from a purchase made using the link I provided. This doesn’t alter the price that you pay.
Keeping in line with my personal ethics and the advice I provide on my site and YouTube channel, I never want you to feel pressured to buy from me and I try to only link to exact items I have personally tried and can recommend with confidence. I never want to lead you to make a purchase that ends up being a waste. You work hard for your money and I never want it to be wasted as a result of something I said or recommended.
That said, occasionally, when an exact item is no longer available (which happens often since I’ve built my wardrobe over many years) I will link to a similar product. This is a request that I’ve received many times, and I always clarify when I’ve done so so that you know.
*Copyright: All photos are taken by or for me, unless otherwise stated. If you wish to use some of my pictures, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org