They were “it” girls, they’re bloggers, they’re influencers, maybe they’re now content creators – and despite skepticism from some of the editorial elite, they’re part of the fashion industry. as ever. Our feeds today have never been closer to people who are their own brand, who are making careers out of partnerships and appearances and paid jobs. The longevity of this much remains to be seen: what does it take to build real impact into a career, how does one stay relevant, how do you scale into a big business?
Download Olivia Palermo. First rising to fame courtesy of a role on the reality series “The City,” beginning in 2008, she was dubbed a socialite, the New Yorker’s “It” girl, and, yes, an influencer (a term she doesn’t love him). ), while remaining relevant in the world of fashion. She has collaborated with brands from Karl Lagerfeld to Banana Republic and Scalpers; She had her own site, her own fashion line and beauty brand and a whole team of people, only now it’s a one-woman show. The interest in her has not increased over the years, with a consistent growth to 8.2 million followers on Instagram – a platform she says she does not fully understand, but behind the scenes she is doing well.
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“I always felt like I was going to be kind in the public eye,” says Palermo. “I had an understanding of it. I didn’t know why, I’m a very private person. But I had a sense of it, somewhere along the line it was going to happen, become part of my career. Fortunately, I did very well.”
Moments earlier, Palermo has pushed into the restaurant at Fouquet’s in TriBeCa, apologizing for being 30 minutes late and dropping a bedside handbag from her hand as she enters a booth. She’s as bright for Thursday lunch as she is for any appearance and, over the next hour, she’ll tiptoe towards her enduring success as if she’s barely aware of it — against, as we think, which she carefully cultivates years later.
“I am a person of influence. I think that’s a better way to put it,” she says of the term “impact.” “I think, again, we go back to trends and trendy terms, and I think when I started out it was ‘blogger,’ and I’m like, ‘No, I can’t blog. I have a website. We create content.’ So whenever someone is using the word trendy or lazy terminology [that doesn’t] describe the person overall, it’s a bit funny. They’re like, ‘Oh, impact.’ And I’m like, ‘I was doing this job before it even made sense.'”
“I think what’s interesting about Olivia is that she was an authority in the fashion space before there was a fashion influencer,” says Jeffrey Tousey, founder of digital social marketing agency Beekman Social. “And the thing about that is that she has an uncanny ability to style anything and make it look timeless and sophisticated, but she can also be bold and edgy. I think her secret sauce is that ability to curate her personal collection through a lens of what’s great now, but will always be great.”
The 37-year-old says she’s on the precipice of Olivia 3.0. First came television, then modelling, embassies, collaborations and consulting for brands. After that, it was time to create her own brand.
“I really enjoyed all of that but I wanted to step back because I feel like I’m wearing so many hats and I can do so much — I just need to figure out what it is . 2.0, I think that was really about building the brand and looking at it from a full circle – and then COVID hit,” says Palermo, which led to the closure of his eponymous labels in fashion and beauty, as well as their website. “I wasn’t upset about it because at the end of the day, I truly believe that everything happens for a reason and you just have to think about everything.”
After the pandemic, she has scaled back a bit, now employing one member of an all-trades team and handling her social posts herself (with occasional help from her husband, Johannes Huebl, with Instagram Reels, which which she finds difficult), and in the middle of a general reset, looking forward to her next chapter. Her approach could serve as a way to stay in power in the industry: Develop an identity and stick to it and the brands will come.
“I think because it’s more of a corporate account, you’ve lost that personality a little bit. It was a little too sterile, I felt. You can definitely tell the times I’m taking the time to post, because there are probably more funny emojis or funny little Japanese things like, ‘Oh, that’s definitely Olivia, ‘” she says.
“I think everybody probably deals with this thing, but a brand wants you to say a certain thing, but you know the voice of your channel and you have to make it work. And if you decide what the client wants to do, they have to understand that those numbers are going to go down, they’re not going to succeed, and then it only hurts you when those numbers are down. So we really believe, please listen to us or there’s no point in doing this.”
Her latest is a women’s collection for Spanish retailer Scalpers. “Working with the team was incredible. I think they’ve learned a lot from us, which is great. I am very particular about the collections I make now. I’ve done a lot and it’s great. When I started making the collections, it wasn’t done. And then it got too saturated and then we pulled back,” she says. “I really feel it’s about looking at brands that I want to work with, looking at where I’m at in my career and also their infrastructure: if they’re doing it for the first time, if it’s done already have, what is there. why do we need them?
“I completely withdrew after COVID,” she says. “I thought rather than holding on to anything, let’s start from scratch and reevaluate and just do 3.0. Then mentally, you are feeling much lighter and have a clear mind. I never consider anything I do a failure. I think in life, you are always learning and you are growing. If something isn’t working, you’re like, ‘Why isn’t this working?’ To make sure you don’t do that in the next round. But I think in a way, everything is successful because you take that and you keep growing with it to make sure that you’re better the next round, the next round, the next round, and that you can share that. knowledge of the people you work with.”
Which is the kind of confidence and self-assurance that comes from experience. While influence may be under pressure today if collaboration doesn’t translate into numbers or participation drops, Palermo trusts herself to know the next thing is right around the corner.
“There’s no Negative Nancy here,” she says. “You can’t sit there and overthink it, you just have to keep moving forward and it will come.”
What separates her from others in her field?
“I work very hard. I love what I do. I love my fashion community. I wake up every day and it inspires me,” she says. “My friends motivate me, seeing what they do motivates me. Our industry, the beauty that the designers bring, the energy that we see with marketing, with everything.”
And the field in general?
“I think I kind of stand in my own little world and I’m surrounded by people that I grew up with that are the same age, we grew up in the same industry, so I definitely see them and I’m like,’ Yes, we grew up around the same time. Nicely.’ But I don’t think I can think of one,” she says. “I’m not shading, I’m not promising at all. I literally can’t. I have never compared. I just do my own thing.”
That means she can confidently say she plans to build a billion-dollar business one day and it means she’s earned the industry’s trust behind the scenes — again, atypical for most influencers. at them.
“I do so much behind the scenes in private that nobody sees and I don’t talk about it publicly. There are brands that have IPOs that I’ve done the initial emails for, that I’m happy to help,” she says. “For me it’s normal. It’s just like you’re helping friends.”
She is aware of today’s en masse fashion influencer culture, but she gets very little attention.
“I smile at him and I’m like, ‘Okay, I’m glad I created some kind of platform for everyone in the world to have their own voice. I appreciate that,” she says. “You go.”
Launch Gallery: Olivia Palermo on Longevity, Relevance, Fashion Successes and Failures
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