Kimmy Nguyen may be passionate about fashion, but it’s her ability to showcase her favorite clothes and accessories that have nearly 14,000 Instagram followers eager to see what she’s wearing! On Sunday, September 10, 2017 from 12:30-4:30, Coronado stylist Kelley Moats along with Natalie Fishbeck, owner of Lily’s Boutique at MJ Brown, hosted a fashion blogging event. Fashion bloggers from Coronado and San Diego gathered at Lily’s (1001 Orange Avenue) to celebrate how their trend-following photography is not only inspiring people to emulate their style, but is also changing the way consumers shop.
Fashion Stylist Kelley Moats on Impact of Fashion Blogging
Kelley, describing the fashion bloggers as “boho-chic”, specifically chose Lily’s as the venue for this event because the store represents the young ladies’ casual, beachy look. “The base of retail has changed,” Kelley says. Yes, with the click of a few buttons on their laptops or smart phones, people can purchase clothes online, but this “pop-up event” was planned because consumers are now looking for something more. According to Kelley, people are “looking for an experience,” essentially searching for a reason why they should step back into stores rather than exclusively shopping from the comfort of their homes.
With each fashion blogger in attendance literally having thousands of followers, Kelley planned this event to create a buzz for Coronado’s fashion scene, hoping to boost the social media presence of Lily’s as well as to give those fashion bloggers in attendance an opportunity to capture their signature styles right here in the Crown City. A benefit of following these savvy young women, Kelley says, is that consumers will discover the latest trends of fashion. “You’ll actually see different styles. They’re exposing you to what’s out there in different boutiques,” she notes.
Kelley calls fashion blogging “advertising for boutiques.” What makes boutiques different than big-name clothing stores one would find in malls or online is that there are multiple designers found in boutiques. With a variety of designers’ wares to choose from, boutiques offer shoppers the chance to really mix it up, creating layered looks that reflect individual customers’ styles rather than having everyone walk around with cookie-cutter appearances. (Be honest . . . How many times have you walked past someone, and thought, “I know which store that came from because I bought that same exact shirt,”?) Kelly reflects, “That’s the face of retail right now. Big-box was the one that put us out before, and now we’re coming back and big-box is out. Not everyone wants to look the same.”
While people may go on social media to follow these fashion bloggers, carefully noting the hashtags that list the stores, designers, and other pertinent information about the clothing and accessories the bloggers highlight, chances are that followers aren’t planning on trying to replicate the same exact looks as the bloggers. Instead, the bloggers’ loyal followers are looking for inspiration, seeing what works on real people as opposed to models hired by big-name stores. The fashion bloggers, who vary in terms of sizes and heights, offer authentic glimpses of what clothes and accessories look like in everyday settings people can relate to, such as their homes, restaurants, and even the beach. According to Kelley, fashion bloggers are instrumental in changing time honored “rules” of fashion, proving people can wear white after Labor Day. “These girls,” Kelley says as she looks around at the bloggers in attendance, “are actually helping other women celebrate their own sense of style as they prove that old rules don’t apply.”
While it’s one thing to click “like” as one follows kimicoyo, Kimmy Nguyen’s Instagram page, it’s another thing to figure out how to create a similar look for oneself. What advice does Kelley offer to those yearning to be as fashionable as those whom they follow? “Ask for help,” she says, encouraging customers to reach out to those who work in boutiques. “Even though you might not think it would look good on you, as a stylist I might be able to pull five things that you would never pull for yourself, and you’d be pleasantly surprised as you discover that all of those things look beautiful on you.”
With the convenience of companies out there like Stitch Fix, where stylists send their online customers items that they personally select just for them, why should customers who crave a style all their own shop at local boutiques instead? According to Kelley, even though Stitch Fix utilizes online questionnaires that help the stylist who’s been assigned to work with you get to know you and your body type, there’s no substitution for working with someone who can see firsthand how certain styles of clothing may be flattering while other styles are less so. “You’re not one-on-one with a Stitch Fix stylist like you would be in a boutique,” she says. “The gratification from seeing someone’s smile as she tries on something she never would have chosen for herself” is what, according to Kelley, makes face-to-face shopping a much more intimate experience for both the stylist and the shopper.
To the customers who may feel intimidated by boutiques, thinking that the stores only cater to those who fall within certain height and weight requirements, Kelley is to quick to point out that boutiques “taper your style.” She says, “If you love something, and it’s a little too big or even a little too small, then let’s have it altered to fit you. Why shouldn’t you be able to have it? If you have the right person to help style you, then we can find a way to make things work.”
Natalie Fishbeck, Owner of Lily’s Boutique at MJ Brown, on the Fashion Bloggers Who Write about Her Merchandise
From a business perspective, Natalie Fishbeck, who’s owned Lily’s Boutique at MJ Brown since Mother’s Day of 2016, was thrilled to have an influx of fashion bloggers and customers there to support her small business. Natalie confesses, “I’m not good at anything related to social media. If you look at my page, it’s just pictures of my dog, which is who the store is named after; I’m obsessed with her. Eventually I would like to get better at social media and even open up an online store. It’s really cool to meet all these beautiful women who are fantastic at this. Fashion is their life, and when you meet them, you’ll find that you have so much in common with them.”
Fashion Blogger Kimmy Nguyen’s Perspective
Blogger Kimmy Nguyen, who loves that her followers can relate to her, points out that being a blogger is a lot more entailed than snapping selfies and adding hashtags. “There’s a lot of work to it. You have to get out there, and engage with your followers, answering their questions and replying to their comments,” she says. Kimmy is touched when her followers send her private messages, seeking her opinions. “It’s the ultimate compliment,” she says.
While she’s known for impeccable style, Kimmy’s interests go beyond fashion. She shares, “Everything in my life is beauty related, but I wanted to do more of a lifestyle blog rather than just a fashion blog. I share my everyday life, including recipes, restaurants, beauty routines and tips, and things that I love. I’ve gotten some great feedback.”
In addition to feedback from followers, Kimmy’s blog offers incredible perks, such as free merchandise in the form of clothing, accessories, beauty products, and food! “As my following grew, instead of companies giving me discounts for mentioning them in my posts, some companies started sending me merchandise. Depending on how big the company is, some companies now even sponsor me. In exchange for a post, they’ll pay me,” she says. Without an exact number off the top of her head, Kimmy estimates that she’s received merchandise from over fifty companies. “Sometimes it’s a one time deal, and other times they’ll continue to send me products, and I can then share special promotional codes with my followers who are interested in purchasing those products,” she shares.
People may wonder if Kimmy, who earned a masters degree studying Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from Old Dominion University last year, ever succumbs to pressure to post about products, whether fashion or food related, that she doesn’t like. “It’s definitely turned into a business for me, but I want to stay true and authentic to my followers. I don’t ever want to promote anything that I don’t believe in,” she says. “I know that when I’m looking at other people’s blogs, I want them to be honest, and my followers expect the same from me.” She notes that she chooses to not bash any products, suggesting to her followers that just because a particular product doesn’t work for her, doesn’t automatically mean that they won’t like it. “Everyone is different,” she concludes.
Kimmy, who works at Coronado Beauty Lounge, moved to San Diego from Virginia this past December, joining her fiancée, who’s in the Navy. It was when she arrived in Southern California that Kimmy really started her Instagram account kimicoyo and started focusing on her blog, The Blushing Life. After meeting Kelley Moats, who introduced Kimmy to Lily’s Boutique at MJ Brown, Kimmy began including her fashion finds from Lily’s Boutique in her blog. “I made my way through all the boutiques, but this one,” she says as she looks around Lily’s, “is definitely one of my favorites.”
As she continues blogging and sharing pictures taken right here in Coronado, Kimmy is hopeful that the fringe benefits of her newfound business will someday make her wedding even more of a special day. While no date has been set, Kimmy, who would love to say I do in Paris, where she got engaged, plans on sharing the details of her nuptials with her followers. As she shares her style and tips on her blog, she will continue to follow her fellow fashion bloggers, including those who attended the event at Lily’s Boutique, and she is already looking forward to the next event that Kelley organizes to celebrate how their passion about fashion is changing the world of shopping.
Instagram pages of other fashion bloggers at the event: