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Over the next few weeks, we’re bringing you bonus episodes of the Glossy Podcast.
Glossy Trend Watch: Influencer Edition features interviews with some of the most prominent fashion influencers on how they’ve used their success and social media followings to launch major brands. Our guests made the leap from interacting with existing brands online to creating some of their own.
For our first episode, Glossy senior technology reporter Katie Richards sits down with Julia Engel, who leveraged her fashion and lifestyle blog Gal Meets Glam to build the Gal Meets Glam Collection, a fashion brand focused on timeless, classic pieces including dresses, coats and sweaters.
On the first episode of our limited series, Engel talks about transitioning from blogger to brand founder, learning the ins and outs of the apparel industry and finding the right wholesale partners.
Here are a few highlights from the conversation that have been lightly edited for clarity.
Influencers weren’t yet a thing in 2011
“There were no examples of anybody that had really done anything with a blog back in 2011. It was just a fun project that I had while I was in college. I got a job after college and never planned on pursuing it full time or thought I could make money off of it. A few years later, I was making almost more on my blog than I was at my full-time job, and I was commuting an hour and a half outside of San Francisco to my job. I was convinced to take a leap of faith by my family and my husband to try pursuing blogging full time. Because if I was making this much doing it part time — on the side, at night and on weekends — what could it be if I dedicated all my time to it? It was right when brands were starting to take notice and really starting to work with bloggers, so there was a lot of opportunity coming my way.”
One common misconception about influencers
“A lot of people assume that bloggers or influencers — because we don’t necessarily have a design background — are just doing licensing deals, slapping our names on something or maybe doing a couple meetings a year with a mood board and saying, ‘I like this and this and this.’ That might be the case for some people, but I want to be designing and making everything that I put my name on, or I don’t want to be doing it at all. And obviously there’s a huge team behind that; it’s not just myself. About 80%-90% of my work now is spent on Gal Meets Glam Collection, versus partnerships with other brands or things I used to do on my blog, because my main priority is growing my own business instead of promoting other brands’ businesses. A lot of people don’t necessarily want to give that up because, to be honest, we make a lot less building our own businesses, at least right now, than we would taking brand partnerships all the time.”
Surveying top customers
“We’ve sent out surveys to our top 100 customers just to hear about what kind of product categories they would want to see next. I’ve given hints on Instagram stories before, just to ask people what they would want to see from us. We were working on coats before we asked people, and when we asked, coats were the No. 1 thing. I was happy to hear that people were excited to see a product category that we were actually already working on.”