It takes something notable to get us of bed and ready to go first thing on a Saturday morning. A few weekends back, we set our alarms for the love of fashion and hit Spark Sessions, Canada’s first Fashion and Beauty Blogger conference held at Toronto’s Centre for Social Innovation. The event was run by a team of young professional (YP) bloggers and founded by Marissa Anwar, who noticed a need for a Canadian event after attending fashion and beauty blogger conferences around the world. The packed venue offered bloggers insight from a powerhouse of speakers, including Lainey Lui of the immensely popular gossip blog LaineyGossip.com, co-host of CTV’s THE SOCIAL, and ETALK Reporter, and was led by Canada’s fashion icon Jeanne Beker. We caught up with Beker post-conference, who shared some of her thoughts on fashion blogging, what it takes to be an influential blogger, and on success.
Why did you choose to get involved with Spark Sessions?
Well, anything to do with blogging is all the rage these days. Certainly it is a landscape that is greatly inhabited with young people, although people of all ages are blogging, and I’ve always loved the connection it offers with that new generation that holds the key to the future in their hands. I figure can learn from them as much as they can learn from me on some levels. I’m always happy to brush up and share ideas with younger people. Blogging is also an area that we are all curious about. It’s still evolving and nobody really knows where it’s going, so we want to learn as much as possible and things like the conference offer a way to do so.
What value do you think the conference offers new fashion bloggers?
Among all things, it will offer them honest insight into what it really takes to make a brand. One of the worst things people can think about, and one thing I never thought about, was competition. Of course you need to be aware and know what other people are doing to find a point of reference, but the most important thing is to be your best self possible and offer your readers the best insights and point of view as possible – or at least a unique point of view. I am finding that any idiot can write a blog. Anyone can write about fashion. Big deal. Gone are the days of that exclusive backstage pass where you’d get an inside view into that world. Now, some photographer can send his stuff instantly to a blogger who isn’t even there and that’s it. Anyone can do it. If they don’t have an advantage, what are these bloggers offering? You need a unique position and platform. What I find is disconcerting about the incredible girth of blogs out there is that there are some that are excellent and some that you just think “who cares?” New bloggers need to realize that you need a point of view and something unique. Otherwise, sponsors won’t care and readers won’t care.
So would you say that is the major challenge facing bloggers?
Yes, building a brand that will stand out from the countless others. That’s the challenge: to build a relevant and original brand that’s going to excite people.
You’ve seen it all when it comes to fashion. What advice can you give young professionals in terms of innovation, staying current and keeping up with the fast-paced world of blogging?
You have to be a connected and informed human being, that’s a no brainer. You have the world at your fingertips –literally. You have to get out there. You owe it to yourself to travel, which I know is easier for some than others, to engage with different communities, read and research constantly and be interested in the world around you. Know what’s out there, even via the Internet. You have to be passionate about it, or you shouldn’t do it. You can’t force yourself to be passionate; you should do it because it’s second nature and it’s a true passion. The acting coach, Stanislavsky, used to say: love the art in yourself, not yourself in the art. The message is to love what it is you feel you have to say to people, don’t just love the idea. Don’t think, “I want to be a blogger, rub shoulders with the right people and other bloggers at events and for people to think of me as a great blogger.” All that superficial stuff, it isn’t about that. It’s about the fire within your own heart, head and soul to be creative and to know you have something unique and creative to offer. It’s about that inherent fire inside of them, not those “I want to be a blogger because it seems like a cool thing to do” type. I don’t have much respect for that.
What would you like to see in the Canadian fashion industry in the next decade?
I would like to see an acceptance from those outside of our borders; a real credibility and interest outside of the country. It is one thing to preach to the converted – and we all can and do get really excited about Canadian fashion – but it’s very hard for designers to sustain their business based solely on this market. It’s a very limited market. I would like to see people getting out there in a big way.
What does success look like to you?
Success has meant different things to me at different times in my life. Obviously, personal success means really being happy with what you’re doing and happy in your skin. It means really feeling that kind of fulfillment that comes from the happiness of leading a multifaceted and a balanced life. There’s nothing sweeter than being able to walk that tightrope and really balancing and juggling all that is going on in your life. It also means a certain type of credibility, and having a frame of references that has taken me a lifetime to develop… and because of that I have my longevity. I have definitely paid my dues and been in trenches and mastered that successfully so far. That’s what young people don’t seem to understand; that they want it right away, they don’t have patience and they don’t think that it takes the journey and that you can just to jump to the destination. That’s really not true. But it’s the way your computer works, right? Click here and go to the destination. Really, though, it’s what you learn along the way that’s important.
Cover Image: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
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