Amber Johnson interviews Laura Blair, where she discusses the reality of being a fashion influencer, tricks, and tips for becoming an Influencer on social media, and all about sustainable fashion.
How did you get into fashion and beauty influencing?
It kind of just fell into place. I began before it was really a thing – I was just always into fashion. I was one of those people that would trail through the charity shops when I was 16 years old and could not afford anything, so I’d spend every penny I’d had in a charity shop. And when I went into school, everyone would always be like, “Where’s this from?” So, when Instagram came about, I would just start posting my outfits and tagging things because it just made sense. It was just a very natural movement for me to go into.
I don’t even think I’ve been doing it as long as some people. I started first with a blog seven years ago and I started on Instagram maybe five years ago. I actually started my page like a Pinterest board with loads of images on my phone. When the magazines were out, I would take pictures of any inspo. I got to 10k on just an inspo page and then I found out what bloggers were doing and stuff, so I just started taking pictures of myself with the 10k I already had. It just kind of took off.
What would you say is a go-to outfit for you?
My pyjamas! I discovered this brand at the beginning of lockdown called One Hundred Stars. I think it is a family run business, a really unique kind of start-up. They are pure silk robes and they sent me one as a gift and I said this feels amazing! Honestly, I have lived in it. I’ve got about four now and [they] aren’t only comfortable, but they look a little bit sexy so when the postman comes to the door, I look kind of okay. It just really made me not feel a mess in lockdown. They are beautiful long silk kimonos with gorgeous patterns on them. I think they are handmade too.
If you could only have one cosmetic item for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Mascara for sure. I’ve got really see-through eyelashes, like really blonde. Mascara makes a massive difference to me. So, my desert island item would definitely be my mascara. I use the Marc Jacobs one. I’m not entirely sure what it’s called but it’s the new one. But that and an eyelash serum is a game changer. I used to always wear eyelash extensions but obviously we couldn’t get them done, so I started putting the eyelash serum on and found this mascara and I swear I will never go back to extensions again.
What advice would you give to anyone who wanted to start influencing in fashion and beauty on social media? And what would they really be getting themselves in for?
I have so many people wanting to do this. When I started, everyone used to laugh, like, “Oh, what is she doing taking pictures?”. And now it is such a change because everyone kind of wants to do it. The market is so saturated, especially with like Gen Z and millennials. TikTok started and every one of the younger generation wanted to be an influencer.
I think a lot of people are put off because it is so saturated. But I honestly say, if you want to do it, the cream will always rise the top. It’s no easier, it’s no harder starting now than it was all those years ago. TikTok has only been around for a couple of months and the other platforms don’t cross over. So, if you are big on Instagram, you’re not big on TikTok or you’re not big on YouTube, they never cross. Which I think people would think they would do, but they really don’t.
I started TikTok in September, and I think i’m on 250,000 followers. So, that’s starting a new platform. You can start Instagram tomorrow and be on 200k by the end of the year, don’t ever be put off, you just have to start.
So, it’s consistency you need to post every single day and not give a damn what anybody thinks. I think thinking what people think and the comments and the likes, or do people like this? I think it really prohibits people and I’m like, just put stuff out there. Sometimes it flops, sometimes it takes off, you just have to do it.
You mentioned about posting once a day, how do you keep that creativity out? Where do you get your inspiration from? How do you find the motivation, or are you organised with scheduling how you put your information out there?
Oh my gosh, I’m not organised in the slightest. People laugh at me because it’s like organised chaos. I’ve never planned anything in my life. But I find I get bored really easily with my own content. I always change it up. So, I will do something completely different. I will throw out things just for a test. I change what I do all the time, so I’m constantly bettering myself.
Sometimes you can be like ‘Oh it’s not working, why is Instagram hating me at the moment?’ and actually you’ve been doing the same content for so long. If you are bored of it, your audience will be bored of it. So, the key is not to get stagnant.
I find if you look at the industry, some people have really taken off and some people have stayed where they are. If you break it down, it’s always people that are really doing the next thing. As soon as everybody else starts doing the trend, everyone then starts doing a fashion video. You need to be on to the next thing.
And honestly, analytics tell you so much. I think people really overlook it. I’m always in my analytics. I know my audience to a tee. I know what they like and what they do. And it’s just knowing your audience through your analytics is the best way to learn how to know what works. I can see people shopping for instance, for me now I can see people shopping summer dresses. I haven’t posted summer dresses since last year, which means half my audience is in hot countries. So, you know you need to do more summer content. Whereas I’m in my woollies still. It’s just things like that, you get to know what they want.
What is your top tip for staying on top of the fashion trends? And can this be done on a budget?
Fashion trends is a difficult one because I find on Instagram, you get sucked into the trends, and actually trends don’t necessarily suit you and your body type. And I think it’s important to learn (I think you learn as you get older) what suits you and what doesn’t. For me on Instagram at the moment, there’s a really cool trend of baggy jeans and a very boyish kind of vibe. I do not suit that whatsoever. So, it’s important to pick and choose the trends that suit you and stick to what works for your body type. And definitely you can recreate any of the things you see.
Part of my channel and why I grew was because I used to always do catwalk trends and then make them High Street. And then sponge what the catwalks were looking like and then go pick it up in Primark or Asos. I actually did a charity shop video. I worked with Cancer Research quite a lot. I made over the shop window to make it look designer. My channel tagline used to have on the top of it ‘A price tag doesn’t define your style’ just because I think you can buy clothes, but it doesn’t make you stylish. It’s a technique and something that you really have to work on, it doesn’t just come to you. Those people that are trendy research and use Vogue. We use catwalks and that’s our research as you would in any other industry.
If you are on a budget, just delve into the magazines, the catwalk shows, and try and recreate what you’re seeing. Because the High Street will copy it in some sort of format. They make it really easy for you to copy the catwalk, it’s just knowing about it. Research is key if you’re on a budget.
Do you ever buy sustainable clothes? And if so, what brands are your favourite?
Sustainability is something that’s becoming more and more apparent over the years as a fashion blogger. It’s really difficult to be completely sustainable as a fashion blogger because we are promoting clothes, but I definitely made a decision to try and show my audience to shop more wisely. A lot of my YouTube videos are ‘How to style a piece several different ways’, ‘am I going to get long lasting wear?’. So, I tried to take a different angle on it. If you ever watch my YouTube videos its predominantly styling and how to style what you have in your wardrobe. Sustainability is something that I want to work more and more towards.
Brands off the top of my head that I think of sustainability, I love Everlane. I worked with them this year and I really enjoyed their clothing; I think you can really tell the difference between a sustainable brand. I also have a jewellery collection coming out with Ana Luisa. They use completely recycled gold and all ethical practices from beginning to end. So, when I try and put my name to stuff, I want to try and make sure that there is some sort of sustainable process in the back. And I think brands as a whole are really making a difference at the moment. They’re making the changes and it’s good to see.
The problem starts when you shop fast fashion a lot. There’s nothing wrong with buying a jumper from Primark and wearing it over and over again, if you can only afford Primark. But you wear it over and over again, that is, to me, a sustainable way of shopping. To constantly shop in these fast fashion brands at such a pace, that is where it is not a good ethical practice.
What would you say is your biggest achievement in your career so far?
Honestly, I was thinking about this yesterday, it makes me tear up. I’ve suffered really badly with my health this year. I caught Coronavirus 14 months ago very badly for my age. I’ve been in and out of hospital for the past year with very bad long-term symptoms, to the point now it’s dire that I spend so much time in bed and I don’t think anyone would know on my Instagram. So, to keep it going when I felt this ill has probably been my biggest achievement. It just shows how much Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok is just a fraction of someone’s reality. I post a picture with a load of makeup on, a smile and a lovely outfit and no one knows what’s wrong with me. I then spent three days in bed recovering from that. I’ve grown my following across everything like 300k this year. And it makes me laugh because I’ve been so ill.
Instagram, pictures, and editing has got so bad that if you don’t understand the process of editing behind it, people would be thinking that everyone is a supermodel. And I really try and show myself looking normal on YouTube. Like I very often have no makeup on looking rough as hell. I’m very aware that if you influence and you do have these pictures that look lovely, you have to show the reality as well.
What would you do differently if you were starting in the industry now?
I don’t think I would do anything differently. I would start earlier and pick up my camera in 2011!
What impact do you think that COVID-19 has had on the fashion industry? Do you think this will influence the industry in the long run or not?
In so many ways, it’s completely changed the whole way we shop, I think. Definitely online has really benefited from lockdown. I think online sales have probably gone through the roof. Even as an influencer I have seen more success this year than any other year because people are just choosing online to stay at home over going outside to the shops.
I think in terms of trends, we’ve definitely all started to love comfort. I am the biggest high heel lover, and even I’m shopping for flats. I want to be comfortable. So, I think not only in fashion trends, but the way we shop, the way we interact. I’m shopping for fashionable face masks, and if that doesn’t sum up this year then I don’t know what does!
What does a typical day in your week look like?
At the moment I’m in bed a lot [laughs]. The thing is that this industry and why I think so many people love this job is that it’s different every single day. Some days you’re inside on your own shooting and some days you are on location. Some days in previous times we were with brands in meetings. Before COVID-19 it was literally the most exciting thing. You didn’t know which country you were going to be in or which party you were going to be at. It was the best job, but it’s definitely changed in the last year. I have spent so much time by myself. This job without all the events and all the meetings and all the exciting things is back to basics. It’s on your bed, talking to a camera by yourself.
In relation to what we spoke about previously; do you think sustainable fashion is important?
I think Instagram and influencers has played a large part in teaching people that it’s okay to shop, shop, shop, and it’s hard as an influencer because the more we post the more we grow, the more likes, everything. So, we are contributing largely to that. During my time as an influencer, integrity has been key to everything. If it doesn’t sit well with what I’m doing, it won’t sit well with my audience. And frankly, I have to be really truthful about what you’re doing. Am I doing it for the likes? Am I doing it for the money?
Part of what I loved as an influencer was when women messaged me, like ‘I wore this outfit here’ and I felt fantastic. I want to make women feel good about themselves and that’s not keeping up with posting constantly all the time. So, it’s easy to do on YouTube because you can talk to your audience. But I really try and make it clear that I want to teach you how to dress better, not that you need everything that I post.
I stopped a habit years and years ago “Look at this that I got sent”, I think people wanted to keep up with it. Now I’m really select with what beauty products I show on my Instagram and stories because I didn’t want to become just a show-horse of constant fashion. Sustainability is not only picking sustainable brands to work with which is something that I’ve incorporated a lot more this past year, but make it more about how we learn to shop.
Follow Laura on Instagram & TikTok at @thelaurablair, and on Youtube as Laura Blair.
If you enjoyed this interview, you can follow Amber on Instagram via @amberjohn_