Meeting the Fashion Community
Kali started In-Spades.com in 2013. She said that she actually dragged her feet for a long time and didn’t start right away. But she really wanted to be a part of an amazing community and started writing about the type of fashion that she personally loved. It all took off from there.
“The first big thing that happened was attending New York Fashion Week. It really opened my eyes to a much larger circle of people that I now consider peers. It also showed me how the whole fashion process works and what the landscape is like. So that was really a jumping-off point for me from the beginning.”
Taking In-Spades.com to Social Media
Even though Facebook and Twitter were huge at the time that Kali started In-Spades, she didn’t have any accounts on those platforms. She actually had to create Facebook and Twitter profiles for her blogs, and then her Instagram account came later on.
“I created the profiles so I could start to continue the conversation and have that presence. In Instagram, I was just posting my daily life at first but realized that this could be a vehicle for me to share what I’m writing about and what I’m talking about in my blog.”
Kali followed all the big fashion bloggers and it amazed her to see what having a big following could do, such as doing press trips and getting sent PR packages of different kinds of products. It was a time when that kind of thing didn’t happen to micro-influencers or influencers who didn’t have at least 500,000 followers.
“It was a major inspiration for all of us in the influencer space that we could make money doing this and we could use our influence and our point of view and our perspective to share with others and educate them and inspire them. There’s room for us, we don’t have to be huge. You can be somebody anywhere in the world and still do this.”
Staying True to Yourself and Your Passions
Brands and PR firms started to pay attention to people who had big followings. For many influencers, it became a race to the top and a lot of people started to focus on their numbers.
“I think maybe some of the content creation got lost along the way. People were doing giveaways or they were collaborating with other really big accounts. The pressure was definitely on. But at some point, I realized that I don’t care about the numbers anymore because you get caught up with people who only followed you just for the giveaway. If you’re not enticing them and you’re not speaking their love language, if they’re not interested in fashion, they’re not going to continue to follow you.”
The problem with this was that influencers end up having an inflated number but nobody’s really engaged. Brands caught up with that and realized that they should work with influencers who have engaged followings, who really have this one-on-one authenticity with their followers.
“I really stopped focusing on the number. I don’t really care. It’s more about talking to people who share the same interests as I do.”
Kali emphasized the importance of doing something you love and that makes you happy. When you’re passionate about something, people see that in your posts and they see that in the way that you talk and what you share with them and that’s what they connect to the most.
“Influencers need to be able to say to themselves, ‘This is who I am and this is what I’m going to put out there and just be confident with it.’ I’m going to focus on creating the content that makes me unique, even if I don’t see a direct monetary sale from it. I think people should really stick to being authentic. It’s going to get you where you want to go in the long run. It’s going to take longer and it’s going to be a tough journey but it’s so much more worth it.”
What Needs to Change in the Influencer Space?
There’s a lot of brands that still do not pay content creators for their work and this happens all the time. They want influencers to do Instagram posts of Facebook or YouTube posts and they only want to give products of commissions from anything they can sell.
“To me, that is so ludicrous because if you think about any other profession, any other service, you would pay for it. I think that really has to stop. Influencers are powerful, especially as a collective group. And I do think it’s super important that brands pay influencers for their work. If we’re going to do good work on our end, it deserves payment. And I think that’s my biggest frustration in this space. It’s been really difficult to convince a lot of brands to even get there, which seems so crazy but it’s true.”
Starting is never easy but Kali learned a great deal from her experience of just doing it. Kali’s advice to anyone who’s afraid to start is to just jump, to just do it and get it out there.
“This is a learning journey. You’re always going to learn something new. You’re never going to hit the endpoint. It’s always going to evolve and you just have to be willing to jump on the wave and let it take you because there’s no end destination. It’s going to keep going and you’re going to keep growing.”