Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Trends In Festival Style

Although it all started with the OG Woodstock in 1969, music festivals have been making a comeback as a popular trend over the past few years. And what comes with event trends? Style trends. 

"Festival Style" is such a popular trend with numerous Pinterest boards and blog posts centered around the subject. Festival-goers look to celebrities and other influencers for the latest festival trends and try to mimic those looks on their own. However, what I have realized is that the festival trends definitely depend on the type of festival. 

Three years ago, I went to Coachella Music Festival in Palm Springs, California. While I was primarily there for the bands and the musical experience, I was also prioritizing my outfits. Because this festival is known as a more classy, chic event, I looked to fashion blogs and Vassnessa Hudgen's Instagram feed for inspiration. (Think flower crowns... lol.)

While Coachella is known for luxurious pool parties and best-dressed A-listers, other festivals such as Bonnaroo have a different outlook on the festival style. This festival that takes place on a farm is known for being hot and somewhat dirty. And with that mindset, festival-goers look for comfortable, yet crazy statement outfits while veering away from gladiator sandals and designer maxi dresses. 

One of the newer festivals that has grown in popularity over the past couple years is right here in our backyard: Music Midtown. This festival is interesting because it's hot, very hot. It might rain. It's not as luxurious as Palm Springs, but it's not as farm-y as Tennessee... it's Atlanta (take that as you will). So how do you dress? Where should you look for inspiration? Should you go for the chic, high class hippie look? Or more grungy, fun and crazy comfortable look? The answer is that there's no right answer- and that goes for all festivals. 

Depending on the festival, certain looks are encouraged or suggested. But the matter of the fact is that each festival-goer should dress in a way that he or she feels comfortable, confident, and expressive. The way I do it? A little bit of both. I had Vanessa-inspired hair for Day 1 and comfort and fun for Day 2. And I felt like my outfit choice each day was the best decision! So no, it might have not been street-style worthy on a prestigious fashion blog. But all I'm saying is that I'd love to see you try and find that homemade shirt with my friend's face on it anywhere in Vogue. Now that's original.  

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Rise Of Online Communities In Fashion Brands

With the ever changing and evolving social platforms, brands are constantly trying to find out how to differentiate themselves from their competition. Brands want to be inviting to their customers, but in a cool, attractive way. One way of achieving this goal that I have noticed a recent growth in over the past couple of years is through online communities. 

Many companies have begun an online community on their website that invites customers to share their product purchases in a fun new way. With these member profiles, users can share information about themselves (including location, style, age, and hobbies) and upload pictures of their purchases. While this is a great way for users to express themselves creatively, this is also a new approach to product reviews. Customers who are considering purchasing a product can look at other users pictures to see how the product looks on a certain skin color, body type, and certain 'style.'

The two brands that I have noticed the most success with this brand are Free People and Urban Outfitters (owned by the same company URBN). With Free People's platform, users create an account through the website where they can upload pictures, 'tag' (link) products in their pictures, and like and comment on other users uploads. This creative community allows Free People's customers to be themselves and connect with other inspiring girls like them. I myself have even taken to this online community and have found it both fun and beneficial! 

Urban Outfitters has taken a similar approach. However, instead of an online profile through the website, users can connect their Instagram account to different products to showcase their look and how they have styled different products. Using new, innovative ways to attract consumers to a brand has proven to be very successful for these brands. Users feel apart of a group or community, and this feeling of unity creates brand loyalty. So to Free People and Urban Outfitters, kudos... you're doing it right!

Monday, September 5, 2016

A Millennial's Take On Instagram Giveaways

If you're on Instagram, then there is probably a pretty good chance that you have come across some sort of giveaway contest on your feed.

Online giveaways are somewhat of a new fad for digital marketing that consist of users making some sort of action that will benefit the company hosting the giveaway for a chance to win something of value (ie product, giftcard, etc) from that company. On other platforms, some of these actions may include providing an email and/or other demographic information, sharing, pinning, or retweeting. For Instagram, these actions usually include liking, following, reposting, or tagging friends. All of these things have one common goal for the company who is hosting the giveaway: allowing more people to reach the account.

These giveaways are pretty genius. Brand accounts gain followers and popularity while users receive a chance to win a cool prize. And depending what the prize is, users may be more willing to participate. Take it from me: a loyal Instagram giveaway participant. I love the excitement of the competition and waiting for the end result to be announced. I've actually even won a few of these giveaways and have received prizes such as clothes, bags, jewelry, and planners. I love all of these gifts and now have somewhat of a loyal relationship with these brands. And if the brand is lucky, the winners will post a picture of their prize with the company's account tagged for more publicity!

While I am normally a fan of Instagram giveaways, there are some contests that just ask for too much. When a giveaway requires that a user tags 5+ friends and repost the image on their own feed with lots of tags and hashtags, this deters participants (especially if the prize is not worth all the effort). The loop giveaways are also a popular new trend that I am not that supportive of. This kind of giveaway leads users through a loop of around 10 accounts and requires that you follow/like/comment on photos from all accounts in that loop. Again, while all of those requirements benefit the individual companies involved in the giveaway, that is a lot of work for an average prize that users don't have a great chance of winning.

The matter of the fact is that Instagram is a platform for people to express themselves through pictures and gain inspiration from other accounts. While Instagram giveaways are a great opportunity for brands to gain audiences, remember that Instagram users want to maintain their own individual brand without being overwhelmed by rules and requirements from contests that are meant to be fun and enjoyable.
(But if you're giving away a million dollars, let me know, and I'll do whatever it takes!!)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Just Call Me Bloglee

Summertime is usually known as a period of freedom, adventure, and care-free attitude... until you get old.

While preparing for my senior year of college, I had to put all the shenanigans aside this past summer and do what big girls do at this age: get an internship. But I didn't want just any internship. The last thing I wanted was to sit behind a desk all day wearing a pant suit and kitten heels while marketing for a company that my values didn't align with. So I chose to intern for a business that I truly believed in.

Based here in Athens, Georgia, umano is a fashion brand on a mission to unleash kids’ creativity by showcasing a kid’s drawings as Artwork on all products/designs. With every purchase, they give a backpack full of school supplies to empower a kid. So I had found a brand whose morals resonated with my own and that was also conveniently located in my backyard. But then I had to decide what I could bring to the team.

During my phone interview, the subject of blogging came up. I mentioned that I had dabbled in a little lifestyle blogging of my own and kept up with a few brand blogs pretty regularly, but nothing of expertise. Next thing I knew, I had been hired as the new blogging intern and was now to be addressed as 'bloglee.' Big moves in Summer16.

Blogging is such a cool channel of digital marketing with a lot of potential and opportunity, yet often gets overlooked. Usually brands tend to focus on the main priorities such as their website social media. However, blogging actually appeals to a wide audience because it's almost like the posts serve as short stories. Blogs are quick and easy to read and filled with inspiration, if you do it right. I knew that as umano's blog intern, I wanted the story behind the company to be sincerely translated through all posts while simultaneously producing "on brand" lifestyle and fashion inspiration in their own voice.

To be honest, the job wasn't easy. With all the social media trend critique today, it's hard to translate authenticity through an online presence. I learned so much from this position such as:
1) Keeping a consistent brand voice on all online platforms is so so important, and not very easy. While a different person was providing content for emails, Instagram, website, Facebook, and the blog, how do you make umano seem like a real, consistent voice? That's the challenge and the goal. 

2) For many brands, the blog is not the most popular outlet. Especially with fashion brands, many audiences gravitate to Instagram because of the photo content paired with captions that are short, sweet, and to the point. Scrolling through Instagram takes far less effort than reading and committing to a blog post. So sometimes you work really hard on a post, and the statistics from the other media channels don't quite match up. That's kind of hard, yet very important and very humbling to accept.

3) Blogging opens up a world of opportunities and creative potential. There is no standard type of blog post. The directions are endless! You can feature an interview, a how-to, videos, recipes, and so many other forms of inspiration. Blogs are a great outlet to trying something new. They really are a blank (digital) canvas. This position gave me a lot of creative freedom, and I was able to experiment with my abilities. 

So I guess this summer really was a time of freedom and adventure, just in a different context this time. I'm so thankful to umano for an amazing learning and growing opportunity. And if your looking for a stylish brand with a deeper mission, check them out. They are a truly authentic brand whose #umanounion I am incredibly proud to still be apart of. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

How Instagram Can Enhance Your Travels

Going into college, I knew that I wanted to study abroad. But where? Didn't know. When? Didn't know. How? Really didn't know. So naturally, my first step was to literally google "UGA study abroad programs." That search basically gave me all the logistics that I needed. I knew the different cities, dates, classes, and prices offered for these programs, but how could I feel drawn to or connected with a destination by a list of information and some dated photos on a UGA website? That's where social media surprisingly took a role in my journey to the best decision of my college career.

I knew a ton of people who had studied abroad in college, so I figured why not look through their albums on Facebook to see what all they did on their trip? This eventually led me to stalking people on Instagram months and even years back to see their study abroad posts. With the advancement in technology and specifically in social media platforms today, it's super easy to get 'lost' searching. One click led to a new page, that led to a new account, that led me to a completely different city. 

The beauty of social media today is that you can pretty much find anything. Someone posts a bomb ass looking sandwich? They probably tagged the restaurant's account or at least added the location. Cute shoes that you have to have? I'm sure they tagged the brand or hashtagged the store. Easy- add it to the list! So after hours of searching a stalking hashtags, locations, and random account searches, I found so much real-life information about the cities that I was considering studying abroad in. The the end, I knew that Valencia, Spain was the place for me.

After finally deciding on a destination, I went back to the Instagram accounts of people that I knew had studied or visited this city and began making a list. I wrote down restaurants, clubs, museums, and so many other cool things that I wanted to see or do. It was so easy. This process led me to another epiphany- I can probably find other blogs or accounts based in this city from a basic Instagram search. I ended up finding Valencian food accounts, annual music and arts festival information, and cool boutiques around the city. So thanks Instagram- I owe my carefully detailed and mostly completed bucket list to you.

Discovering how easy it was to find out information about a certain city through Instagram and other social media sites has definitely affected my travels. Now when I go on a trip, I search that city or place on Instagram to find local accounts, blogs, tags, or cool locations. This is such an easy, practical and free resource to use when traveling. 

So next time you're preparing for an adventure, take to social media before a travel agent or other traveling companies. You just might come across some truly honest, authentic, and helpful recommendations that you wouldn't otherwise find. And those little spots will change your entire trip and lead you to views that you never knew existed.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Colombia pt 2 // Medellin

Going into my second week in Colombia staying in the city of Medellin, I didn't really know what to expect. I mean, my first few days in Cali had been so amazing, but everyone kept telling me, 'oh wait til you see Medellin...' Well, they were absolutely right. Medellin is a whole different world. This city is massive. It's busy, it's colorful, it's lively, it's beautiful. I honestly felt like I was walking the streets of New York or Atlanta, but just with a little different flavor- there was a breathtaking mountain view in every direction. I cannot put my last few days in Medellin into words… the city just speaks for itself. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Colombia pt 1 // Cali

If you asked me to describe my opinion of the most ideal trip ever, I would probably give you a very detailed summary of my two weeks in Colombia, South America. This adventure was the perfect mixture of relaxation, exploration, and culturation(?) I mean, it was everything I could have asked for and more. We danced, we shopped, we ate (too much), we drank, we explored, and I know that I for one learned so much. I love being fully immersed into a different culture, and that is exactly what I experienced in Colombia. I practiced my Spanish, I tried foods that I had never even heard of (talk about some incredible fruit), and I experienced first-hand some of God's most beautiful creation through indescribable views of mountains and sunsets.