The Life of an Influencer
Caitlyn Warakomski, fashion influencer and founder of the popular blog and Instagram account, How Do You Wear That, wants you to know that she’s just a normal girl—who also happens to have 100K followers. The 25-year-old Jersey City resident took to social media just two years ago, sharing her latest style trends and finds, with no prior fashion industry experience whatsoever. Unaware of the success she would soon stumble upon, Warakomski quickly found herself adjusting to life in front the camera, as well as being approached by numerous well-known brands such as Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and Henri Bendel—to name a few. Today, both her career and following are continuing to grow, marking the beginning of much bigger things to come. We recently caught up with Warakomski, discussing everything from how she got her start, her personal style icon and the phenomena surrounding Instagram and its influx of influencers.
When did you begin venturing into social media and launching your blog? What was your motivation for getting started?
I started my blog and Instagram page about two years ago. I was working full-time in marketing, “beer marketing” specifically which is pretty funny. I studied all the advertising stuff in college so I had that experience under my belt but there was no fashion there. I had one small internship at a boutique but I really wanted to work in the fashion industry. I’ve always loved putting outfits together but full disclosure, I just couldn’t get a job after I graduated. So I decided to just do my own thing and started posting photos of my outfits.
I actually tried to start [How Do You Wear That] three times before it actually launched. I had a website, bought the domain, but I was like, “Oh my god, these photos look so bad!” I was really shy about it. Putting yourself on the internet is a weird thing. The real reason it came to be is honestly because of Instagram. I’m so thankful that my boyfriend has a really great camera.
At what point did you feel that it was possible to make a career out of being a fashion influencer?
Honestly, I just quit my job. I quit this past March and was juggling both that and the blog for a year and a half but I knew that my goal was to quit. I was sticking with the marketing job because it had given me some flexibility to work on the blog but it was just one of those things where I was burning the candle at both ends. I was so exhausted and was only giving 50 percent in both aspects. Something had to give and once I realized that the numbers were adding up, it just made sense to leave and start focusing on my own thing—it was time. I finally took that leap and it worked out!
In your opinion, what makes for a great influencer? What would you say to those people who don’t consider it a “real” job?
I think there’s a lot of layers that go into it, one of which is obviously connecting with your audience. I mean literally talking to them and answering comments, DMs, engaging with their personal content and profiles. It’s super important because it shows that you’re a real person not just some fantasy-unattainable-Instagram-thing. It’s like I’m your friend. Talking logistics, good photography definitely helps, as well as being easy to work with, being flexible and staying true to yourself. Also, hashtagging. Hashtagging is so important it’s crazy. It honestly helps your content come to the surface so much and you have to make sure that you’re being active on your account too.
For me personally, I do everything in terms of running a business. I answer my own emails, shoot and style my own photoshoots, I write, I take care of the SEO, I track down my money and do my invoicing—the list goes on. So if someone were to say that this isn’t a “real” job, I’d say live in my shoes for a day. It’s definitely not your typical 9-to-5 job, it’s a 24/7 job.
What effect, if any, do you think fashion influencers have had on our buying habits?
It’s kind of crazy. For example, you see something in a magazine, a model, and obviously she looks stunning but then you think, “I could never pull that off.” At the same time, you go on Instagram and see someone that’s your average Joe, someone you probably went to highschool with wearing something and think, “that looks so cool! I didn’t think I could pull that off but seeing how she wore it and styled it, I can go buy that.” So I think it’s really increasing buying habits, especially online. It makes fashion more relatable, like getting advice from a friend instead of some random fashion editor who said this particular thing was amazing. The audience is looking to us for information and for a real perspective.
Describe to us what a typical day is like for you.
I usually get up around 7:30. I have the most energy in the morning so that’s when I like to sit down with my coffee and just blow through all my emails. My day starts as soon as I wake up so I don’t really have a specific routine I follow. Around 11:00 or so I remember that I should probably eat something and then I get ready for my meetings which are usually in the city. Those wrap up around 3:00 or 4:00 and then I do my shoots in the evening because I like the lighting. So I’ll shoot a couple looks or sometimes I’ll be out attending events. I get home around 8:30 or 9:00 and I’ll either do more work because there’s something due or l’ll watch a TV show and go to bed. It’s all fun but they’re long days.
You’ve had some notable collaborations with big-name brands like Henri Bendel and Topshop. How do you choose which brands to collaborate with? Do you have a favorite partnership?
If it’s a brand that I’ve been wearing forever it’s a no-brainer for me. Sometimes I reach out to them, sometimes they reach out to me, but it just comes down to if I like it. If I feel comfortable rocking it, I do it. If I can show people literally “how do you wear that” and give value to my audience and readers, I do it.
I have so many favorites partnerships but recently I did a project with leggings, with HUE, and at first I was like, it’s just leggings, but honestly, they’re awesome. You guys only get to see the nice outfits I wear on Instagram but I swear 85 percent of the time I’m bumming it at home. I also obviously love working with Henri Bendel. We’ve had a long relationship and we just did a really fun, big campaign that’s going to be in all their stores. It’s so weird but it’s so cool. I just really enjoy working with brands that give you creative freedom.
If you could raid anyone’s closet, whose would it be?
Nicole Richie, for sure. I’m a huge fan.
What advice would you give to those looking to get into the social media/influencer business?
There are a couple main things. One is being consistent, especially when you’re first starting out. Things like posting at the same time everyday help your audience know when to look for your content. Two, hashtag the shit out of your photos. Seriously. People don’t like it because they think it looks weird or they’re cheating but it’s so dumb if you don’t. That’s the way your content is going to get the most eyes on it. Tagging brands is important too. Also, engagment. If you’re not engaging with other people you’re not going to reach as many people. Especially with the new algorithm, which, honestly, I’m still trying to figure out. I guess the last thing would be strong imagery. Instagram is all about the images. Having a blog helps but 98 percent of my traffic comes from Instagram. Oh, and obviously staying true to yourself. That’s a big one.