A STYLIST. NOT A FASHION BLOGGER, NOT THE ‘NEXT BIG INFLUENCER’
The New York Times puts out a column every Friday afternoon called the Open Thread: This week in Style News. I read it religiously. Last Friday they referred to an Olympic snowboarder, Chloe Kim, as ‘The Next Big Influencer’. I realize the world I live in is all about influencers, the blue check mark, 1M+ followers, but to see it in writing that someone was being pronounced as the ‘Next Big Influencer’ (in all caps, no less) was like woah. Like oh sh*t, being an influencer is really a thing. Getting paid to eat sugar bear gummy vitamin things in your underwear is really a thing. And then, boom – an email from Nike in my inbox ‘Chloe Kim: On top of the world’. It’s happening, I’m being influenced by Chloe Kim. And again, an email from W Mag all about Chloe Kim. I can’t escape her!
But then I stop. I don’t need that Nike snow jacket. I don’t know Chloe Kim. I feel disconnected and empty. I don’t get to know Chloe any better from the brands she is selling, I just end up with boxes at my doorstep and a deeper desire to understand how she got to where she is. An answer that the jacket which was sold to me by Nike through Chloe, cannot answer. I generally feel disconnected from the influencers I follow. Their pretty pictures make me want ‘stuff’ (and make me feel bad about the quality of my photos) but those things they’re promoting don’t do anything for me as a person. I don’t want to be the next big social media influencer because I want to influence the way people feel, not the things they have and ultimately discard.
I bought the Anne Townsend website in February 2017. I worked quietly developing the idea in the evening or on the weekend, around my full time job in finance. I put together a team of wonderful women in branding, photography and web design, I just took it step by step. I had every intention of becoming a fashion blogger, an influencer. If I did it well then brands would send me ‘cool stuff’ and I could make money selling stuff to my following. I could stay in finance, make good money, and blog about something I love in my free time. Easy. It was a natural fit.
The people in my life have always asked me about what I was wearing or what I thought of such and such trend so I thought hey, I can do that, I can write, I can influence.
I spent hours stalking fashion bloggers and educating myself about what it would take. And then just like that I decided, you know what that’s not the thing for me. I am private, I am direct, I am calculated. I am deeply emotional and not hyper focused on material possessions. If I am going to enter a material world where I influence what people consume, I am going to do it very intentionally, where every person is their own brand – not me projecting my brand on them.
My brand and my approach are personal and that is a direct and truthful depiction of who I am as a person and what I offer to my clients. I want to enter people’s lives and influence them based on who they are as individuals. It’s just been recently that I’ve realized I’d been doing this my entire life. My family, my friends, past jobs I’ve had, people always wanted me to help them get dressed for an event, meet them to go shopping, send me pictures of options for a date, help them pick out jewelry for their wives. It was like I had a sign on me that read ‘ask me what to wear’, I just couldn’t see it. So I made it a thing. Anne Townsend switched overnight from being a fashion blogger that was aiming to make money working from home and promoting gummy hair vitamins to a styling company. I adjusted the business plan and put it in to action. By the time I soft launched the company in July I was ready to accept clients (other than my immediate family members, at least).
It is now February 2018 (one year later), and I run Anne Townsend full time. I wake up every morning and I feel like hot fire. The hard launch of Anne Townsend is right around the corner and I am jazzed. For the first time in a long time I have this sense that this is where I am going to be. It’s like my outside fits the inside. I am on brand and in line with myself. I don’t feel like I am too old for this, too young for this, not pretty enough for this, like its not happening fast enough. It just is. This is my life and Anne Townsend is my brand.
I walk in to my clients homes and I am their influencer. I am their trusted style resource. Because they know that I know them, and what I’m ‘selling’ is what’s best for them – not what’s best for my feed. Helping men and women define their brand and introducing them to confidence through style – that’s magic, that’s influence, that’s Anne Townsend.
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