Name: Stefanie Schoen Instagram: @thestylesafari Website: http://www.thestylesafari.com Years of being an Influencer: 6
1. What does success as an influencer look like to you? ‘Success’ is a moving target. It used to be making it to cash flow positive, but currently I view success as actually influencing a small tribe of people, and working with brands I can speak organically about. That should of course be there from the beginning, but often you can get lost in this hustle and lose your way.
2. Would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert? I am equal parts of both. I read somewhere that whether you are an introvert or an extrovert is defined by where you get your ‘energy.' I work best when I am alone and often feel inspired when I am alone with my thoughts, but if I don’t have a fun exciting outing to look forward to with friends, then I feel lost!
3. How do you try and stand out from other people with similar followings? What makes you different? What makes me different is that I am actually a designer! I design fabric prints, interiors, and most notably, clothing. I get inspiration from my travels, taking classes and other designers, and I love to incorporate something handmade or hand-designed into most of my blog/social posts. I have designed prints that have been used for wallpapers, gowns and baby clothing, and my most popular blog posts are DIY projects or sewing projects that I’ve shared the process with in my Instagram stories. I would like to partner with brands to do more DIY projects Project Runway style, but often I find that brands already have a set way that they would like to work with you, which often doesn’t use my creative skills in the maximum way.
4. Do you feel like blogging can provide you enough success to make a satisfactory living? Sure! …just not in the San Francisco Bay Area where I live. The cost of living here is extremely high, so unfortunately I have to have a side hustle to my side hustle ;)
5. Who do you look to for inspiration? I use a healthy combination of Instagram stalking and Pinterest deep dives, paired with good old-fashioned library research and coffee table books to source inspiration. When I am feeling in most need of some creative mojo, I read a textbook or DIY blog. Seeing how others create something always sparks a new project idea in me!
6. What’s the hardest thing about your job? There are two things. One: Balancing creating content with editing/writing/social media. Since I am a designer, I would love to be spending most of my time sketching, sewing, cutting, etc. But these days there is so much pressure for an image or a video to be absolutely perfect, that I spend more time editing the photos, and worrying about copy than making new designs. It can be daunting to even start a project, when you know you have deadlines approaching!
Two: Pitching brands. Getting in contact with the right person is tough enough, but then trying to take that relationship from a gifting one to a paid one, is an almost impossible task. I am trying to set myself apart, but I do need at least one partnership to take a leap of faith with me in order to show what I can do. It can be hard to convince people to take a chance on you.
7. What’s your favorite image that you’ve ever taken? I could never pick!! They are always the ones of something I’ve made, and lately ones of my daughter Marina. Now that I say it, probably the pictures we took when she was only 6 weeks old, of us in matching outfits that I made!
8. Where is the influencer landscape headed—will your job exist in 5 years? Absolutely. Influencing is not new! Socialites were the influencers of the early 2000s — the only difference is that now with social media capabilities, anyone with taste can inspire someone else. I think that an influencer will return to a more "in-person" role, where hosting events and local get-togethers becomes more important than posting a pretty image. Influencers have democratized over the years, and will continue to do so even more, to emphasize that they are tastemakers in everyday life.
9. What has being an influencer done to your self image / self confidence? It’s been a roller coaster, truthfully. At first I only cared about style: what I was actually putting on my body. Then every fashion blogger started hiring professional photographers and taking pictures with hair extensions and fake eyelashes and fully done makeup, and I felt pressure to do the same, which really affected my self worth and the ‘fun’ of it for me. I don’t have the time or resources to look like a Barbie doll every time I take pictures, and I really started to feel like the industry was getting away from me. Only recently since I had my daughter have I started to pull back from that again. My real life means I don’t have time for a blow-dry and sometimes the lighting isn’t perfect in my shots, but that doesn’t mean I’m any less stylish or creative.
10. If someone were starting out today, what advice would you give that person? I would say, why not? Try it! But it’s not really something you just "do," like real estate. You are not an influencer unless you influence people. You will know pretty quickly if it’s going to work for you or not. If the people want to hear what you have to say, then there is a market for you!
"10 Questions" is a series where Fohr asks influencers, well, 10 questions to get to know them better.