In a world where lighting is everything and #bossbabe has become a slogan for successful women, there is clearly an overwhelming magnet for perfection like never before. Although I would like to strive for perfection, rainy nights, New York Fashion Week and the MTA train system don’t exactly mix well together.
Stepping off the platform in the West Village and into the sleek ambiance of SUSHISAMBA, an upscale restaurant that serves a blend of Japanese and Brazilian cuisine, was every blogger’s dream networking event. Marcus Campbell, the founder of Ombre Digital, a fashion marketing agency, greeted me to the company’s first Blogger and the Brand showcase.
The event’s line-up consisted of some major networking opportunities for influencers to get face time with brands which in a nutshell equals possible profit for both parties. Dishing out advice and a helpful roadmap towards success were panelists Christina Ferrari, Christine Bibbo Herr of NYC Pretty, and Kim Westwood of Shopping Links. Campbell took some time to guide us through his company’s first blogger event and what to expect from Ombre Digital.
YHM: During the event you spoke about your hopes for it to become an annual event. What inspired you to create it?
Marcus Campbell: Blogger and the Brand was an event that evolved from a desire to connect smaller brands and emerging bloggers. Far too often smaller designers who lack the resources and support of larger brands are written off, although they are key drivers of the industry and job creators. Similarly, while many decry blogging as dead, New York City is home to thousands of such individuals who are passionate about sharing their style and interests, even if they don’t adhere to the typical blogger ‘look’ and may be entering its second decade (no longer the golden years). We saw an obvious opportunity to build such relationships, both now and in the future, without the perceived exclusivity or price tag found in larger blogger events as well as educate both groups in working together for greater success.
YHM: Who were some of the brains behind the scenes and in the making of Blogger and The Brand event?
MC: Ombre Digital is a boutique fashion marketing agency based in New York City. Blogger and the Brand was my brainchild. MéLisa Best, our Brand Manager, acted as the moderator for the panel and Chloe Wilson, our Social Media Coordinator, handled social media for the event. Genesis Rivera, as a close colleague of mine also helped in putting together much of the event. Of course, DJ Sharri Sutton was on the mix for the night.
Phillip Tour and Daniel Sosa lent muscle as photographers for the night. Bria Weston and Jaribel Abreu, both budding style bloggers, handled front of the house for the event. Surprisingly our sponsors were also huge contributors in shaping the direction of the event, such as Kim Westwood of Shopping Links, Josh Winzelberg of Vodka Mariette and Samantha Ricci of ECRU New York.
YHM: What was your role before and during the event?
MC: Typically for events, I handle digital marketing and media relations, however for this event everything from curating bloggers to connecting with brands to packing gift bags and essentially the creation of the entire event fell on me. This was due to our primary Experiential Marketer, Joanna Ventour, being out of the country and our Special Projects Manager, Elsa Raquel was equally unavailable.
Rivera again was instrumental in organizing loose details of the event. Also, during events, I tend to connect with media and play matchmaker, but this time, around I was focused on ensuring overall logistics, everything from ensuring that the panelists arrived on time to the setup of the press area and of course distribution of gift bags to bloggers.
YHM: How did you go about selecting your panelists?
MC: When looking for panelists, Kim Westwood was a lock from day one, as she’s had experience running her own fashion company before even managing Shopping Links, which is an influencer marketing platform for bloggers and brands. She was our no-brainer. Christine Bibbo Herr, we were also very interested in from very early on, as she has worked with top brands and has had multiple appearances on national television like the Wendy Williams Show as a style expert.
That left us with two more panelists, another brand, and another blogger. Christina Ferrari had expressed interest in joining the panel, but it wasn’t until another blogger pulled out of the event that we were able to contact Ferrari, whose mixture of high-low style and work with high street brands made her a natural fit and contrast for the panel. As a bonus, Ferrari had already been a part of the Shopping Links platform Westwood owned. We went with a trio of incredible women as we were never able to fill the last brand.
YHM: We noticed that there were many female bloggers at the event. Was this intentional or is this the market you think can best benefit from a networking event like this?
MC: As this Blogger and the Brand was held during Women’s Fashion Week, the focus was on female bloggers. A majority of brands in attendance such as Hemsmith, Lonia Shoes and Anje Clothing are focused on womenswear. There will be more such events in the future, with a hopeful menswear event in July and the second womenswear event in September before shifting to an annual schedule.
YHM: What were some takeaways you and your team had from the event?
MC: Our team learned quite a bit from the event, although we had researched and been to a few blogger events, this was the first we created. One of the biggest takeaways was that a larger space is needed to properly activate some sponsors and possibly showcase brands more uniquely. Also, we needed to do more matchmaking or better distinguish bloggers from brands and have a better showcasing of brands on the panel than just Westwood. The room definitely needs to be really bright for photography. A big takeaway.
YHM: Were there any bloggers that you were excited to meet?
MC: That’s a tough one as there were quite a few. We had an event last fashion week, where we were able to meet a few of the local bloggers like Julia Beaudoin of Julia Fashionista and Ellery Lee of Elle Is Always Here, but this one was clearly focused on them. In terms of bloggers I was truly excited to meet, Christine Bibbo Herr stood out as an OMG moment. I was very shocked to see Zorana Jovanovic actually in attendance as she had almost 350,000 Instagram followers at the time but came with her fellow blogger babes, Bridget Bahl and the lovely Maja Malnar. Melanie Sutrathada of Lace and Combat Boots was an absolute sweetheart and I was glad to have met her as well, but all in all, I wish there was more time to have spoken to all of these women in more detail.
YHM: What can we expect from Ombre Digital in the future?
MC: Going forward, Ombre Digital will continue to do what it’s done for the past two years, which is working with fashion and beauty brands to build their digital presence and online sales, be that through influencer marketing, content, advertising, email, social or Digital PR. We welcome any brand that wants help either online or in branding to speak with us. Also, we will hopefully continue to have Blogger and the Brand, except bigger and better, with an emphasis on edifying young brands and nurturing small bloggers through connecting them.
While bloggers and brands mingled over drinks provided by Vodka Mariette they traded contacts and we have already seen some well-made connections via Instagram within the past month. Of course, an event during fashion week would not be a highlight without a swag bag and Archibald Optics, Ecru New York, The Lotus USA, and Jenabelle were some of the sponsors who helped make the event a hit from gift cards to must-have beauty products. There is no doubt the blogging industry is pretty saturated, but let’s not leave fashion and lifestyle tips in the hands of celebs anymore. There is plenty of room for new fashion icons to follow. Here’s to their success.