21 Biggest Takeaways From The Daily’s Coterie Influencer Panel

by The Daily Front Row
Influencers

On Wednesday, The Daily and Coterie hosted a panel discussion at the Javits Center titled “How To Monetize Fashions Most Valuable Platform,” with influencers Beca Alexander, Tessa Barton, Wendy Nguyen, Christie Ferrari, and Idalia Salsamendi. Here are a few of their choicest pearls of wisdom.

1. Tessa Barton on how to find what makes you special: “What do people come to you for advice? What are you good at? How would someone describe you and that’s like, part of who you are. That can really help you build a brand that stays authentic to you, because those are your traits. They don’t have to be some outlandish thing that nobody else has, but they’re yours. And if they’re yours, they’re still special.”

2. Wendy Nguyen on authenticity: “Authenticity comes from within — whatever inspires you, whatever makes you feel very passionate. For me working with hemp, and cannabis, technically has nothing to do with fashion. But I was able to marry the two concepts together. Because in the end, it’s providing an added value to my readers and to my viewers in those two very different spectrums. It can be very wide ranging and can be a very narrow focus just has to be very real to who you are.”

Wendy Nguyen (Hannah Turner-Harts)

3. Christie Ferrari on choosing the right partners: “If you’re going to accept a brand partnership with a brand that you’ve never worn, you never had any interest in working with, that’s not being authentic. You’re selling your soul to the devil, just for a paycheck. You want to make sure that you are making sure that you’re only partnering with brands and wearing brands and giftings even, that is something that you would actually buy.”

4. Tessa Barton on dealing with excessive gifting: “A lot of it is out of your control. Packages just show up. Something we’ve done is asked every single PR or anybody that we get packages from to ask us first, so we know what’s coming, and we’re not going to waste any of that if it’s something that we’re definitely not going to use.”

5. Wendy Nguyen on how the environment has become more important to influencers: “When we first started, sustainability was not a conversation piece at all. You actually got criticized for wearing the same outfit twice… Now it’s attainable. It can be just a part of your own recycling wardrobe. It can be wearing we started different things, buying consignment, buying preloved.”

6. Christie Ferrari on helping her audience practice sustainability: “I’m really trying to help my audience figure out why they buy what they buy. I did a recent post on retail therapy and why it feels so good to buy things. But instead of just buying something mindlessly, actually shop purposefully, so that we’re not just buying to consume. We’re buying something because we actually need it… I also like to talk about never throwing anything away in terms of clothes. Sell them on Poshmark, donate them, but not throwing anything away.”

Christie Ferrari (Hannah Turner-Harts)

7. Idalia Salsamendi on reckoning with how the influencer market is built: “We can each do something understanding that we live in a consumer driven market, understanding that when you look at these influencers, you expect them to wear something new. That perception needs to change. I get to play bad cop since I’m not a blogger or influencer. I get to call up the brands and say, ‘Instead of sending five boxes, can you send one? Are your products recyclable?'”

8. Christie Ferrari on succeeding in a crowded market: “You have to have your own niche. If you can’t have an elevator pitch that sets you apart and has a competitive advantage from the girl right next to you, then that’s a problem. You need to be very different from the next girl and that will be your biggest advantage.”

9. Beca Alexander on how brands have adapted their marketing for influencers: “Campaigns have either skyrocketed where we’re seeing brands just come to talent with astronomically incredible rates… or they’re coming to talent like, “Can you do everything for $100?” Man, it’s been 15 years. How have we not come past that… We’re seeing 82 page contracts being sent for $100 projects — which, I hope no one is doing $100 project generally, because your worth is way more than that.”

Beca Alexander (Hannah Turner-Harts)

10. Idalia Salsamendi on the appeal on influencers for brands: “When you have a photoshoot you have to rent a studio, hire craft services, a photographer, a videographer assistant, an AD, a cinematographer… You’re talking thousands upon thousands of dollars. Or you can hire one of these three beautiful ladies for a fraction of the cost. And guess what? They’re going to get more impressions, more reach and more sales than a traditional shoot.”

11. Idalia Salsamendi on the importance of building a team: “Very few influencers are self made. You always have a partner in crime, or a great photographer, or a great manager… it takes a village. It’s a little disheartening when somebody talks about all their accomplishments and they don’t acknowledge the agent that worked on that for seven years, and their photographer that wakes up at 3:00 in the morning to get that beautiful shot, or the publicist that got you on stage here. What that’s doing to a younger generation is putting a more egocentric perspective of this industry. ‘It’s me, me, me!’ No, it’s an us — an inclusive us.”

12. Wendy Nguyen on navigating the business before the help of a manager:  “I created my own alias, so I was negotiating contracts on my behalf… that really helped hone my skills. What exactly does a contract look like? How do I negotiate? Now, being with Beca, I understand that side a lot better. Also, I think working at the bank, I just understand numbers really well. Having a manager is incredibly resourceful… they do the unattractive work, which is the negotiation of the numbers. And then I get to do what I do best, which is the content creating and the creative work.”

13. Beca Alexander on learning to negotiate on behalf on influencers: “I had a friend who was a DIY blogger… she came to me and was like, ‘Hey, you don’t like your job. Can you start answering my emails?’ The first project I negotiated for her was $50 paid via PayPal with an email confirmation that brand X is going to send you X amount of product, you’re going to create a blog post and you’re going to say these three positive words. And it was $50 paid on PayPal, and I got 10% of that. I was like, ‘Oh, $5 that’s somewhere between a coffee and a lunch!’ So if I could just do one more campaign, that’s actually a lunch, which is great.”

14. Tessa Barton on defining yourself with a brand motto: “I was just doing this for fun and then all of a sudden, it started becoming a thing and I remember getting just confused. I was like, ‘What am I? What should I be saying yes to? What should I be saying no to?’… If you can have a brand motto, something you can stick to [and] go back and be like, ‘Okay, does this fit that?’ helps me with everything.”

Influencers

Tessa Barton (Hannah Turner-Harts)

15. Idalia Salsamendi on what influencers need to do to define their brand identity: “I call them buckets — go find your five buckets. And more importantly, show that because it’s important. Sometimes [people say], ‘Oh yeah, I’m into fashion, and I love this and I love that’ and when you go on their Instagram, it’s pictures of their cat. There was somebody that reached out to me like, ‘Oh, I’m a videographer and this and that.’ When I went on, it was literally pictures of her cat. I’m like, ‘Where’s your videography work?’ Find your buckets and execute that. When I go on your Instagram, are you showing one of those five buckets?”

16. Beca Alexander on how to conduct business: “Be as professional as you possibly can when it comes to everything that you’re doing. Influencers are getting younger and younger these days… and unfortunately, some of those people never develop professional skills. Getting someone in the morning to answer their emails is really hard. Or someone will email me and say, ‘I would love to join Socialyte!’ and they spelled my name with two C’s.”

17. Wendy Nguyen on if influencers work with emerging brands: “I’ve worked with brands without necessarily a budget if I really liked their design work or their story, especially emerging designers. I have friends who are designers who are just starting out. Honestly, it’s matching with influencer, the content creator that you’d like. Then the hope is that it’s an organic relationship as you grow, hopefully they’re growing and everything else too. But for a brand, expectations have to be a little bit more curved. Because with a paid sponsorship, you can demand a lot. For gifting and more of that it’s going to be a little bit less.”

18. Idalia Salsamendi on reaching out effectively: “When you send out those gifting emails, don’t be gratuitous. Be very specific. Make that connection of why your bag would connect with her. Why your bag would connect with CBD, why your bag will connect with her aesthetic, her photography, her skill set… Don’t give me your life story, just a quick three sentences.”

Influencers

Idalia Salsamendi (Hannah Turner-Harts)

19. Tessa Barton on how to get in touch with influencers: “Be social on Instagram the same way we are. You should comment on people that you know, because I discover so many small brands who have no followers all the time that I’m like, ‘This is sick! Would love to connect,’ things like that… I’ll see you in the DMs.”

20. Idalia Salsamendi on managing expectations when working with influencers: “When I work with brands, the first thing I tell them [an influencer’s] job is to create the content and use their platform. But it’s the brand‘s responsibility to then get those images (legally) and start marketing on their side as well. When you look back at the days when Mario Testino shot Gisele Bundchen for a campaign, it wasn’t her responsibility to post and [deal with] the pressure of selling. Whose responsibility was that? The shoe brands had to make sure that it was the top spot of Times Square, in Harper’s Bazaar, in Vanity Fair. A lot of the misconception with brands is that they also have to do their part.”

21. Beca Alexander on the differences between platforms: “The problem with Tik Tok right now is that we’re seeing influencers, creators who are getting millions of views on really silly types of content. Those creators, because they didn’t grow up in this space, are charging $100. So, brands are now expecting that type of ROI through Instagram, and it’s our job to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

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