Welcome to another episode of Expert Inverviews!
This time we sat down with Brenna Moulds, the blogger behind Chic Street Style, a fashion destination where affordability and aspirational meet in the form of enviable style – a motto which is carried into her online-based styling company and diamond simulant jewelry line, Everly.
We asked Brenna about her experiences as a fashion blogger and the value of brand partnerships. Here’s what she had to say:
What inspired you to start blogging about fashion?
I wish I had some fabulous story to tell, like I met Rachel Zoe herself and that inspired me to create Chic Street Style, but that is simply not true. I was a freshman in college, working over holiday break and was about the only soul left in the entire city. Between my retail shifts, I got insanely bored and the idea of starting a blog came to me. I went to bed and in the middle of the night wrote “Chic Street Style” groggily on a PostIt. I woke up, got to work and five hours of Googling how-tos later, Chic Street Style was born. It filled a void in the blogging market, which at the time had only two types of blogs: poorly photographed and styled Forever 21 or all designer with a professional photo team. I was the middle ground (style wise, the better photography came with time).
How would you describe your personal style?
From day one, I’ve been a self claimed “high-low mixologist.” I have been buying my own clothes since I was 15, so obviously I wasn’t wearing designer clothing head-to-toe. I would wear a Forever 21 blouse with a Chanel brooch and that mix resonated with people. Five years later, I still remix and rewear pieces, preach value in pieces rather than price and live by a functional meets fabulous philosophy. I live in upgraded neutrals, love androgynous pieces and play with dynamics frequently.
What’s been your proudest moment in your blogging career (so far)?
I have had so many incredible moments. I still remember refreshing my blog every 20 seconds back in 2013, when I was currently based in Florence, Italy, as I watched my views cross into seven-figures. I was recently featured by Teen Vogue for my Skype-based styling business. Earlier this year, I was highlighted by Forbes, which is always an awe-inducing experience. Last month, we had our first five-figure month with the blog and business that brought me to tears, that a 23 year old from the Midwest could accomplish that. What I love the most is each day is better than the last and you never know what collaboration or big break is around the corner.
What have been the toughest lessons you’ve had to learn as a fashion blogger?
The toughest thing is making your life very public. There are always going to be critics – some more vocal than others – and you have to have really tough skin. You have to be ready for every facet of your life, look and style to be torn apart online. But I just try to kill them with kindness and recognize you have no idea what people are going through.
What have you found are the benefits of partnering with brands on your site?
In the blogging world, partnerships and relationships are the backbone of everything. There is a great mutual benefit for collaborations with brands. They give you content ideas, pieces and many times payment, and in return, bloggers deliver brand awareness, images, sales and links. Partnerships are what allowed me to go full time as a blogger over a year ago, leaving my day job in the buying office for Nordstrom behind at 22.
What makes you want to work with a specific brand? What turns you off from working with a particular brand?
For me, what generates interest in collaborating with a brand always stems from a genuine love of their product or a desire to be a part of their brand in the big picture. It is a bonus if a brand has created their own following, because then both parties are getting mutual exposure. But I’ve worked with little boutiques up to retail giants like Macy’s, Target and many more.
It turns me off when their interest doesn’t seem genuine (I’ve been called Breanna in reach outs, even though they have claimed to follow me for years). Also, when a brand assumes you will work with them and give tons of parameters that cripple creativity.
What can brands do to attract the interest of a blogger like yourself? What shouldn’t they do?
To attract a blogger to partner with your brand, you should be genuine, transparent and optimistic. If your brand doesn’t have a huge budget, be upfront and say that you are a start up and tell the story of why your followers would love the brand instead. But be respectful that, for many bloggers, this is their job. Offer some compensation, even if it isn’t a lot, because in reality, you can’t pay your rent or student loans with free clothes.
Can you talk about a positive experience you have partnering with a brand on your site? What made the experience stick out in your head?
At this point, I’ve worked with over 500 brands. I can’t publicly talk about sales or specific brands. I did have an experience with a retailer where I completely sold them out of inventory in multiple pieces in one day. The owner called me in tears, out of gratefulness. As a business owner, I love being able to see the full picture and impact of what I’m doing, from the owners dream to my followers styling the product themselves.
Can you talk about your favorite fashion marketing campaigns? What caught your eye?
To me, the most impactful campaigns all have to do with bloggers. Statistically speaking, influencer marketing pays 11-to-1 for every dollar spent. I still think about a video Tacori did with Wendy from Wendy’s Look Book that brought me to tears because it was so personal and real. It’s about finding a blogger who can personify your brand or product and letting them run with the vision they have creatively.
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