Welcome to another Student Spotlight! If you’re wondering how to build a business online as a blogger or social media influencer, read on. In this series, I’m handing the microphone over to my students to tell their stories, share their missions, and give their best advice for working online.
Introducing: Coralie Charles
In the spotlight today is Ontario based fashion influencer, Coralie Charles! Coralie shares her story from defining her personal style, breaking out of the box and inspiring other women to look and feel good, across multiple online platforms.
Tell me your story. Why did you start your Instagram?
I started because one of my friends pretty much forced me to! I’ve always been into fashion and it’s all I would talk about. From the next outfit I was planning, to my favourite pieces at X store, helping my friends put together outfits and maxing out my camera roll with outfit inspo screen shots. One day we were talking and she told me she didn’t understand why I wouldn’t start my own blog. Fashion and fashion bloggers/vloggers were all I talked about.
At the time I was especially fond of Lookbook.nu, which was like the website version of Instagram, where girls around the world would post their outfit photos. I knew she was right, I was constantly on that website and would take mirror selfies of my outfits all the time. I was essentially doing the same thing these girls were doing, the only difference was that my pictures wouldn’t make it online.
It took twisting my arm a little more. Putting myself out online was terrifying to me. I just never had a natural inclination towards the online world, I was literally the last person to get Facebook in my high school! It also took realizing that the modelling career I had envisioned for myself wasn’t coming to fruition. I wanted to take things into my own hands. Get to style myself, do my makeup and hair (especially hair omg) the way I wanted to, and not be the token Black girl in casting rooms, or not be picked up by agencies because “they already have girls with a similar look”, a.k.a “we have our Black girl”.
Tell me about becoming a fashion influencer and your “why”!
When I first started my Instagram and blog I was on a personal style journey. I had gone through grades 7-12 at a school where we wore a uniform. When I started in university, getting dressed every day was a struggle. I found that I didn’t actually know what my personal style was. Often, I would end up feeling really uncomfortable and self-conscious in my outfits. I wanted to do something about it so that’s when I started diving into blogs, YouTube and of course Lookbook.nu.
Nothing makes me feel more confident than a great outfit. I’m a firm believer in the saying “Look good, feel good”. When I found inspiration online I would save it and try to recreate outfits or refer to them to help me put pieces in my closet together. All those girls really helped me build my personal style and find confidence in something I have enjoyed and been interested in for so long. So starting my Instagram and blog I’ve wanted to do the same.
I want to inspire women to discover their style. To express themselves through fashion and strut into the world with all the confidence. If you follow me I want you to go on my page and feel excited about fashion! I want you to be able to save my images in your “Style inspo” folder and come back to them when you have “nothing to wear”. If my hair, makeup, photography or lifestyle inspires you as well then even better! And if you are a woman of colour like me, I want you to see that you don’t have to stay stuck in the box that the media likes to put us in. You can be different, and…
Look the way YOU want to look and not like how “a *insert race* should look like”!
How did you discover Christina?
I came across a sponsored post of Christina’s while scrolling through Instagram one day. The post was advertising her free Instagram course. I believe it said something along the lines of “Success as an influencer in 2020”.
I was willing to take any help I could get. Growth on Instagram is a huge focus of mine this year, so I jumped on the chance to attend her class. I was not disappointed!
Which course of Christina’s have you taken and what inspired you to enroll?
I’m currently enrolled in Christina’s Influencer Bootcamp. I’m SO happy I found this course! I’ve been feeling lost on Instagram for a while when it comes to growth as well as working with brands. This is also the first time since I’ve started my blog and Instagram that I’ve been able to dedicate the time I’ve been wanting to to my business. Finding this class has been just amazing, I feel less lost. I have more direction and I’m definitely feeling less alone thanks to the community that I now have access to.
What “lightbulb moments” did you have while taking the course?
Realizing that some of the strategies that had come to mind and that I’ve tried but not committed to were the right ones. When you’re doing this on your own and not seeing changes right away it’s easy to feel like “is this even working?” and “am I doing the right thing?”
Taking Christina’s course has shown me that I was in the right direction with some of my intuitions. Having that confirmation is allowing me to keep pushing and applying the strategies.
Learning Christina’s strategies on how to write Instagram captions to increase engagement was also a major lightbulb moment. For so long I stuck to the typical witty one liners, which weren’t really all that witty. I would struggle so much to even think of them in the first place and they wouldn’t really get me the engagement I was looking for. Learning that captions are getting longer and longer on Instagram, and how they can be used to connect to your audience really helped. It’s one of the tips I started to apply right away and one that I’ve seen results from!
I haven’t yet completed the course so I’m looking forward to more lightbulb moments. Especially when it comes to pitching to and working with brands.
What are the most exciting things that have happened since completing the course?
So far I’ve increased my engagement and got the confidence to ask a brand for payment! That brand not only accepted but came back for a second paid collaboration shortly after the initial one. I also just feel a lot more confident navigating Instagram and growing my business.
Like I mentioned, I haven’t completed the course yet so I can’t wait to see what happens once I’ve gone through the entire thing and continue to apply everything I learn!
What do you love most about being a fashion influencer?
I LOVE creating the content! Nothing is more satisfying then when I come up with a creative/vision for a shoot and it turns out the way I wanted it to or even better! Or when I’ve put together a video and I’m so proud of it that half the views are from me re-watching it.
I also love connecting with people. The simplest conversations make me smile so big! People will ask about the fit of the clothes or the comfort of a heel and it makes me so happy to be able to help in those little ways. I’ve even put together an outfit on photoshop for a girl, who asked me how to she should style her dress for a special event. I was so excited to be able to do that for her.
This one goes without saying, but I love discovering new brands and products as well. I love it for myself of course but there’s also nothing like turning someone onto something you love. I get to do just that by sharing with my audience.
What’s next for you? What’s your next big goal or project?
I’m focused on finishing Christina’s course at the moment so I can use all the tools she teaches. I want to continue to grow on Instagram – getting to 10k this year would be amazing. I’d also like to increase the number of paid collaborations I get and start pitching to brands.
What is your number one piece of advice for aspiring fashion influencers?
Borrowed from Nike, I would just say “just do it!”. Just start! And start now! It doesn’t have to be perfect right away and trust me even if you think it’s perfect at some point you will scroll back down your feed and cringe. You will grow, you will learn but to do that you have to start.
What are your favorite accounts to follow on Instagram? Favorite bloggers?
Where can people find you?
Instagram, Youtube & TikTok: @coraliescloset