blog, blogger, bloggers, blogging, Fashion, NY Fashion Blogger Project

A Blog Grows in Brooklyn (written for iblog mag) #blogging

screenshot-2016-10-17-at-1-14-59-pm

So out of the blue I got an email from someone at iblog magazine asking for a post about writing blog reviews for them. I wrote it, in my own words, basically talking about my experience over the course of my time as a blogger. They didn’t like the piece, but I hate to waste blog posts, so I’m just going to publish it here.

A Blog Grows In Brooklyn by Faith Bowman

When I started blogging in 2012, I wasn’t thinking about product reviews or getting paid for anything. I am going to cheerfully admit that the only thing that I concretely knew about blogging was that people stood around posing like fashion models and talked about their clothing as if the fate of millions depended on it. I was luckier than most in that I was a photographer and writer already, and I had experience in fashion journalism. I had already started and closed my own online magazine, and worked for print and online mags both in New York and Chicago. I started blogging as Sassy Ethnic Bohemian with an eye towards being humorous and taking the starch out of the proceedings, but because I was writing  for a huge website and had a profile on Lucky Community I had more traction than someone starting from scratch with nothing. It was extremely good luck and timing in addition to having fun content.

The first product I was asked to review came as a surprise. I was asked to try a skincare oil and the company was offering a free full sized sample. I was sort of confused, because I didn’t know that that was part of the deal. I learned, through networking with other New York bloggers that companies routinely held events where they gave you products, and that there were blogger ‘lounges’ where you could get free stuff.  I was floored. I began working with beauty brands and clothing companies and while I wasn’t making money, I wasn’t really losing anything either. I started interviewing bloggers in order to learn more about the business and used that information to build up my social media presence and that led to getting more stuff. I didn’t actually start getting money for my work until 2015, when a brand that I had casually promoted asked me to set up an online project for them. So now it was free stuff and money.  Success!

This year I was offered money to review a box of products and also made a deal with a feminine care company to write about the products that they had given me to review on a regular basis. I recently wrote blog posts for a haircare company, talking about their products and styling tools. I still work with products to review and write about products in exchange for samples, but more opportunities are on the horizon. My rate of pay has varied per client, but overall I’m happy with the progress that I’ve made, so money is secondary. I’m building up writing credits and gaining experience and insight, too. Not to mention getting to try tons of beauty products. Getting paid, for me, was a validation of my writing skill and relatability and that’s pretty much what I was after. It was also proof that numbers aren’t everything.

In the last few years, the emphasis went from unique content to how many UMV’s. People started asking more about my clicks and I started realizing that I was working hard to create resonant content and be informative, but a lot of brands were more interested in ‘It Girls’ and the stakes were changing. Bloggers were doing deals with major fashion and beauty brands and being called influencers, and I was never going to be that type of person. The blogging industry, if it can be called that, has taken ordinary women and turned them into actual brand spokeswomen. Hair ads featured bloggers, and companies are signing big money deals with them for consulting on products as well as advertising them. It’s empowering and inspiring, but it also begs the question as to how someone who doesn’t want that kind of fame can achieve any measure of success. It’s a bit like losing out twice, since blogging is open to amateurs but then you can only get rewarded if you’re pretty. I did not sign on for this.

Over the course of this year, as I got paying work I also reworked my blog so that it was less kooky, creative professional and more a vehicle for Polyvore generated styling posts (I can access more items and be stylistically daring without actually spending money or having to go to a pr person or brand) and my original content focuses more on product posts. I decided to focus more on beauty, and especially skincare, because clean clear skin is just as important as what shoe you’re wearing. I also use instagram as a sort of backup blog, where I can post images of products to an audience that probably doesn’t follow my blog and who is also looking up images that feature products or brands that they like already. I use twitter, a facebook page and tumblr, but I think instagram has the most impact because people consume visually.

My main goal, in addition to getting more blogging clients, is to create a sustainable business model with the blog as an umbrella to other endeavors like listing my photos with a stock agency, and designing tshirts. Blogging and doing product reviews is awesome, but I also want to make sure that I have a balanced, fulfilling, sustainable business as well.

beauty, fragrance, makeup, NY Fashion Blogger Project, Summer

Red Door in the house!!

I have been lucky enough to build a couple of great relationships from blogging, and one of the best is with a company (that shall remain nameless) that regularly updates my supply of beauty products. 

I’ve been working on a skincare roundup featuring a slew of brands, but I had to take a second to talk specifically about Red Door Spa Professional Skincare from Elizabeth Arden

p_00995

The first shipment contained items from the Body Renewal Collection. The Signature Luxurious Body Wash is magnificent. It has a clean fresh scent, and washes thoroughly without stripping skin of moisture. And? It’s a GREAT bubble bath. The Milk & Honey Sugar Scrub is heavenly. I almost hate to use it because I’m afraid of running out! However, it scrubs away dead skin and dirt and leaves skin smelling prettily sweet and creamy to the touch. It is magic on the soles of your feet. Follow with the Milk & Honey Nourishing Body Cream, for more sensuous pampering. (Ok, I sound a little like Gina on Brooklyn 99 with that line, but I can’t help it. I’m in love!)

 

IMG_20140807_111147_905[1]
Unboxing a shipment of Red Door Spa Professional Skincare items for a skincare roundup project.

 

This morning I got another shipment. They said ‘What would you like?’ and I was all- ‘Everything!’. So that’s what I got. I haven’t opened the products or tried them yet, but I’m very excited. What’s in the box? Only Targeted Skincare Treatments  like Lemon Burst Polishing Scrub, and Customized Daily Solutions like Cooling & Calming Gel Cleanser and the Calming Mask from the Sensitive Skin range, which includes the Calming Refreshing Toner and Calming Restorative Moisturizer. They even threw in a tub of the Olive Oil Moisturizing Salt Scrub

In this life, a girl can NEVER have too much luxury skincare. These products come from Red Door Spa’s 100 year history of hands-on spa expertise. All of these products are available exclusively through Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa locations nationwide, which you can find on www.reddoorspas.com. You can also hook up with them on twitter at @RedDoorSpas with questions or selfies, they’re pretty friendly! And if you’re a facebook junkie hit them up at facebook.com/ElizabethArdenRedDoorSpas

Gotta go, that box is calling my name! 

beauty, Fashion, footwear, haircare, Lucky Community, makeup, NY Fashion and Trends Examiner, NY Fashion Blogger Project, Photography, Sassy Ethnic Bohemian, Style, Summer

the first week of june! progress! starting a business, planning a shoot, deliveries… sassy’s summer starts for real.

So, yes- it’s July and things are chugging along nicely. However, the blog is back on the first week of June! Like tv re-runs, only a blog and it’s me.

let’s go back… back to before the Coney Island blogger shoot, back before the First Anniversary party, back in time to…the Sassy Zone! (ok, lame joke. forget it).

Onward! 

1. delivery6

This was my house during the first week of June. After I got the delivery of SILK New York clothing too late for my Apneet Kaur shoot, I plotted how to get a bunch of bloggers and shoot the clothes on them. That grew into requests for more  clothes, accessories, footwear, etc. I got deliveries from ParMana Designs, Hechizo, and Desigual. Also a slew of beachy bags from lifestyle retailer Life is good… I love PR people. Without them? I’m nothing. NOTHING. 

 

2. delivery4

I started messing with everything right away, playing with the bags to see which would go with what swimsuits, mentally matching bloggers to accessories… Here you can see the canvas Adventure Stowaway tote, Feelin Beachy ropehandled mini-tote, Palm Tree and Anchor dockside beach bags from Life is good (I love them, they donate 10% of their net profits to help at-risk kids. That’s awesome!). Along with the emerald green and black Dream Awake shoulder bag from ParMana Designs, I played with the Aztec Stripe crochet bikini from Anna Kosturova, the Mika high wasted bikini bottom from WET swimwear with matching Miranda convertible top (halter to bandeau), and the Leila athletic top and matching Anuhea bottom from Cami and Jax.

 

3. delivery5

The styling corner was getting scary, but I was too busy to really get excited. I still had more stuff to pick up…

4. pickup

I was paranoid about scheduling a Daisy Fuentes for Kohl’s delivery, so I went out and picked up my pulls myself. Ran into Manhattan (ok, I took the subway, but you know what I mean) and dragged home my spoils. Standouts for me were the chevron striped blue maxi dress, This amazingly bright raspberry colored striped burnout tshirt, and the alternating striped cream dress with pockets. I love this dress, actually. I wanted to keep it for myself!

5. swimtartewalk1

I still had to pick up swimwear from a company called Swimtarte, and I was excited because they were a new brand that I found on my own. They are located in a Brooklyn neighborhood near mine, so I decided to set out for a soothing walk. I live in a mostly residential area, so there are flowering plants and shady trees, and I make sure to walk down the prettiest blocks when I have a long stroll like this one. 

6. swimtartewalk3

I made sure to walk down Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill, lined with upscale boutiques for the fashion conscious. Check out Michelle New York, Girlcat, and Bijoutique– the clothing is gorgeously chic, and you can find unique jewelry and accessories.  

7. swimtartewalk2

I never found Swimtarte… also, I got lost and ended up walking for 4 hours- way longer than I intended. I emailed them to ask if they could possibly drop the suits off at my place, but they said they were too busy. So I ended up not working with them. 

chubbychubs1

So, in addition to plotting my first multi-blogger shoot and First Anniversary celebration? I was planning the launch of a lady business to keep me occupied and generate hands-on revenue. 

chubbychubs2

Ever since I gave up fast food and junk food and pretty much any pre-made foods, I have been baking like mad. I can’t just buy a slice of cake, I have to make a whole one if I get a craving. i can’t go buy cookies, so I mix up the dough and end up with enough for three dozen. Best way to stay sample sized (just in case any companies have stuff to give away- you want to be a standard size, just FYI) I had to start getting rid of my excess sweets. I gave some away, but that’s not as satisfying as selling them to strangers for cash money. 

chubbychubs3

So in the middle of emailing and texting with bloggers, and emailing with PR companies, and getting deliveries, and fetching samples I was baking and buying supplies for my little business. The day that I planned to start? It rained! But I did it anyway. 

chubbychubs4

I wore my rain slicker from NY Cares and my Corinne boots from Cat Footwear (no blog post is complete until I mention them, lol!) and went for it. When the rain got too heavy, I sat in the bus shelter. It wasn’t just stubbornness that made me do it. I had decided that I needed a non-fashion hobby, something that I did on my own just for me. This was my chance, and rain wasn’t going to stop me. 

chubbychubs5

Also, I made money! These are the first dollars that I earned for my cookies and pound blueberry pound cake. I’m really proud. I made something and I sold it and people said it was good. That rocked. 

chubbychubs6

the next day the sun was shining and I was right back out on the corner with my table. And some iced coffe with Califia Farms almond milk. And my Chuck-Chuck bracelet for luck. 

chubbychubs7

The last day before my shoot, I spent selling at Target First Saturday at the Brooklyn Museum. I went retro, hoping to impress new customers with my pink thrift store dress and Giverny floral painted hat. I defined my waist with a black leather belt from Ann Taylor and showed off my Fire Rose toenails in weavement sandals. I sold one bag of popcorn, but I had a nice time watching people and just enjoyed the summer breeze while I could. 

shoot1

shoot2

The next day I packed up all the stuff for my first day of shooting, and made treats for the girls. Now + Zen pr had given me bottles of Desigual perfume, so I actually had a goodie bag to giveaway to say ‘thank you’ to the bloggers for showing up. I think that niceness counts, even if people take that for granted. 

shoot3 

I didn’t want to get ‘fancy’ since I would be dragging a suitcase, and running all over the place. I wore my tattered light wash guess jeans, my (now cropped) Earthmover tshirt, a denim shirt, Desigual Fun perfume (why not!) and the Giverny floral painted hat from primadonna- since I was afraid to put it in the suitcase. I threw on two Desigual necklaces that had come with my Aume dress and Uno jacket from an earlier shoot with blogger Amy Vosejpka of Not Official. I had decided that all I wanted in life was this canvas Adventure Stowaway tote from Life is good. It has all these pockets and compartments, and I adored the grey/olive/orange color combination. 

shoot6

 This is me… on the train, exhausted- but ready. 

 

next up? Behind the scenes of my two day four blogger shoot at Coney Island! #staytuned!

 

beauty, Fashion, footwear, haircare, Lucky Community, makeup, NY Fashion and Trends Examiner, NY Fashion Blogger Project, Photography, Sassy Ethnic Bohemian, Style

remember may? good- because we’re going back in time…

You know how TV shows go on hiatus and you have to live on re-runs, or binge watch on netflix? I took a little vacay after the stress filled anniversary month and blogger shoot and am just now recovering. As a result, we are going to relive some magic moment from way back when…before we were so rudely interrupted.

Allons-y! (that’s let’s Go in French, ok?)

1. fakejobinterview

This ie me heading off to one of those fake job interviews that creatves are always getting suckered into. I wore my fave animal print cardi, Ann Taylor linen shirt, and a black silk knife pleated skirt- yes, those are my weavement sandals from Cat Footwear, and I’m wearing Illamasqua’s Marquise shattered star glitter nail varnish on my toesies. The best part of this ‘interview’ (a job requiring me to supply content to an unnamed website -they asked me, not the other way around- for some lunatic who verbally abused me and then revealed that he had no money. NO THANK YOU. ) was passing this super cute lingerie shop, Bradelis. I want to go to there…1. slknewyorkdelivery 1a. playingwithsamples

I finally got the shipment of S.I.L.K. New York clothing that was meant for Apneet Kaur’s interview/shoot for my NY Fashion Blogger Project. There was no way to re-schedule, and this is when the massive Coney Island idea was born. I had the clothes, why waste the opportunity? AND I wanted to do something memorable for my First Year Anniversary. Little did I know that I would end up nearly having a nervous breakdown dealing with these people- but whatever. You can see Summer Must Haves Part 3 here. And rest assured- there WILL be a behind-the-scenes breakdown of alllllllllll the drama soon.

Anyway- I also got to try on the clothes.  I had a lot of fun stayling imaginary outfits for my Summer Must Haves Part 1 & Part 2, since I also had that big box of swimwear and accessories. I literally spent Memorial Day weekend laying out the whole thing. It was like playing dolls… I LOVE styling! Cuz I’m so good at it, lol! 2. grungecute

The next time the library was open, I decided to grunge it up and head out. I wore my fave silky floral trousers, my zosias from Cat Footwear, my cropped earthmover tshirt from that Cat Footwear event (that’s me- if I like something, I wear it forever), and my clothing swap cardi. I had washed and moisturized my hair and just braided it up under my fave scarf. Simple, easy, gone.3. grungecute2

For a no makeup, makeup look I opted for Perfekt Skin Perfecting Concealer in Decadent under my eyes, just enough to erase my underye puffs. I used my fave H.I.P gold shadow (so old, seriously), and the new Makeup Forever Aquamatics waterproof glide-on eyshadow pencil in S60 that I got in The Makeup Show goodie bag. Rimmel London Scandaleyes mascara (free from influenster) on upper lashes and Bobbi Brown Everything mascara on lower lashes and eyebrows. Jurlique Love Balm was on lips, and then I added Illamasqua Lily Rose sheer lip gloss for a little color.  Just to be crazy, I put a few drops of Tom Ford’s Black Orchid on my wrists. I regretted that later when I attracted an extremely talkative homeless man at the library. C’est la vie, right?4. prospectprkbeauty1I walked through Prospect Park on the way to the Grand Army Plaza library, wandering off the beaten path and being surprised with how much beauty is just lying there for all to see. It was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux and built in the 1860s… It leaves Central Park in the dust, mostly beacsue it’s not tramplesd constantly by hordes of people. As I walked, I was seeing rolling hills, beautiful hidden bridges, fountains that reminded me of Rivendell.. and lots of loveley Beaux Arts touches in the parks architecture.

5. prospectprkbeauty

See? No one around, and this was on the type of afternoon that sees Central Park glutted with bodies.  So goregous! Brooklyn is the best place to live these days.6. luckysummertrendspress

A fun moment on Lucky’s contributor forum where I got to shout out my love for crochet swimwear company Anna Kosturova. I don’t know, it just felt nice to be acknowledged. 7. saturday1 8. saturday2

Another day, another outfit. This time I just did my fave BDG tshirt with my 80s grafitti jeans and bangles. It was hot, and I was going walking again.  The skin thing was all about Jurlique’s Soothing Foaming Cleanser, Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Radiance Lotion, and Bobbi Brown Everything mascara. Also, the lip balm that designer Gabriel Arruda gave me at ENK Coterie. I was hitting the self tanner then, too- The St. Tropez Gradual Tan Moisturizer. I kept things light with Antica Farmacista’s Orange, Lilac, and Jasmine perfume. 9. illamasquabeautyschooldropin 6114The month of June started with an invite, but I had so much work to do that I missed it! Illamasqua, one of my fave beauty brands, was hosting a fun demo on Channeling your inner bombshell, with the perfect smokey eye- devised by Alex Box, their Creative Director. I’m adoring the new Matte Lip Liquid. The new colors are Exotic, Forbidden, and Surrender and you can see the whole summer 2014 collection here.

Next time? We go behind the camera and relive the Coney Island Blogger Shoot (also known as the first week of June)! Stay tuned…

beauty, Fashion, Lucky Community, NY Fashion and Trends Examiner, NY Fashion Blogger Project, Photography, Sassy Ethnic Bohemian, Style

Why Bloggers Don’t Belong at NYFW

tumblr_mz7en8qEfx1qi72kdo2_250

There’s a lot of emotion swirling around recent rumors that bloggers will not be asked to participate in NYFW. While the blogosphere has gained traction within the industry, the fashion insiders have become leery of the kind of exposure that they provide may not be as desirable as retailers and designers first thought. After 5 years, it turns out that the blogger boom has busted.

thebigpicturesuno1a

The first round of bloggers to storm the front row were probably just as surprised as the Anna Wintours and Carine Roitfelds to find themselves front row instead of relegated to standing room only (or worse- uninvited). People like Bryan Boy and Tavi Gevinson made it. Their oddness, social isolation, and inventiveness are what sealed their fate.

thebigpicturethevesselbylois1a

They had the elusive ‘it’ factor that made people seek their opinions. They were shaping the tastes and opinions of their readers, and with each and every post both of these bloggers revealed a taste level far above the ordinary masses comprehension. Five years later, they’re both irreplaceable figures on the fashion landscape. The problem is the other million people that tried to rush in with them.

thebigpicturetimoweiland4

At this point, everyone thinks they have a valid fashion point of view. EVERYONE. Small children, plumbers, the cashier at the grocery store, the man who makes the donuts, your mom, your grandma, and anyone else with a webcam. Because EVERYONE has an opinion, now EVERYONE is expecting to receive some sort of reward for that opinion, no matter how uninformed, unbalanced, and unwelcome it may be. Now EVERYONE expects to go to Fashion Week in New York- and to be honest there is just no room.

themaineventoctober6

The fashion explosion is kind of like the tech bubble or the housing boom, or the collapse of the banking industry. When EVERYONE wants to do the same thing, that field gets overcrowded. When that field gets overcrowded, it starts to dilute the power of the people voicing the opinions. EVERYONE knows everything, and that devalues the information. EVERYONE cannot go to Fashion Week- whether it be NY, Paris, London, or Milan. Why? Because it’s just not necessary. Too many amateur opinions spoil the whole thing and drags fashion off of its pedestal. And that can’t happen.

mainevent6

We need fashion professionals, people who are invested in keeping up the standards of the items produced and to monitor the creative output of fashion designers. We need professional models to wear the clothing, showing it to best advantage so that we can see the possibilities and dream of ourselves wearing the same thing. We need professional photographers to create dreamlike fashion spreads in exotic locations produced for magazines. We need their imaginative ideas about accessorizing; we need fashion editors to round up shoes and belts to show us what’s out there.

Why should I, or anyone, trust a fashion blogger with limited access and a limited worldview- when I can open a professionally produced magazine and see EVERYTHING and be inspired by professionals who live the lives depicted?

mainevent7

I think that bloggers need to be carefully vetted before receiving invitations. There may also need to be an agreement that the blogger will delay coverage somewhat to stymie rip-off artists. Also, is the blogger just another freeloading tourist looking for goodie bags and celebrity sightings?

mainevent992

Let’s be real- if you’re not someone like Alexa Curtis– who’s writing appears on Huffington Post and Parade Magazine.com, who models and regularly appears on TV, and who was recently spotted on Soulcycle’s blog touting her own original smoothie recipe- who’s working feverishly to build credibility, then maybe you don’t deserve to get a free pass to fashion insider status.

Fashion is a billion dollar business built on dreams.It’s about the shows, the clothes, what’s new, and what’s amazing.  If you’re just gonna run around in your Forever 21 crap, kicking holes in the gossamer walls that separate that world from cold hard reality, then stay home.

*All photos by Faith Bowman, taken at Bryant Park and Lincoln Center during NYFW.