03 Jun THE INTERVIEW: CLAIRE SULMERS ON BRAND INFLUENCING AND THE CRAFT OF SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING
In the fashion industry today, it is no longer a question of if and when fashion brands should take up digital options but how they should go about it. At the core of every successful brand lies a bevy of influencers and a well-attuned social media team, constantly ensuring that they stay ahead of the curve and can anticipate the needs of their ever-growing followership. Instagram influencing is currently estimated to be over 1.07 billion dollars, a necessity for any brand that wants to be heard above the noise.
While some adopt these methods with incredible success, others are still scraping at the bottom, falling prey to every quick scheme to amass followership and visibility. Social Media seems to have no definitive playbook but certain business break more ground and stay on top of the social circle, turning the traditional fashion hierarchy upside down. Today, many questions arise as to the legitimacy of an “Instagram qualification” and whether the amount of followers you have can really tell how good you are at a certain skill. Conversely, representation, diversity and other such ideals are now celebrated as they should be. Above all, the digital era presents us the opportunity to collectively create the world we want and takes us closer to a better reality. The onus lies in recognizing that there is so much potential in leveraging one’s skills socially and to keep developing oneself.
Back when taking up creative license all by yourself was not common, a certain journalist set out to do her own thing and write for fashion, a budding passion that turned out to be a full-fledged enterprise. In today’s digital world, her brand has taken on a life of its own, growing by leaps and bounds undoubtedly owing to her doggedness and persistence. She is an industry leader and definitely one to watch. She is Claire Sulmers.
Claire Sulmers is the founder of Fashion Bomb Daily, “The Web’s number one destination for multicultural fashion”. A frontrunner in the fashion industry, Sulmers as a journalist, set aside her Ivy League qualifications to start her blog in 2006, taking it upon herself to create the reality that she so craved and thus, Fashion Bomb Daily was born. She has distinguished herself on her chosen path, paving the way for others who sought a platform for their unique interests, representing people of color in a positive light and becoming one of the industry’s most sought-after influencers. This phenomenal woman besides her own brand, has added her value to major publications such as Vogue Italia, Vogue Paris and Essence Magazine. She is the author of The Bomb Life as well as an influencer for major corporations such as Toyota, Dark & Lovely, among others. Sulmers has risen many times and navigated a number of pitfalls that have come her way such that she has developed into an amazon in the world of fashion; unstoppable, solid and unrelenting. Eleven years down the line and 2.4 million in following across social media platforms, all can agree that Claire Sulmers is truly the bomb. In this interview with Blanck Magazine, the exceptional Claire humbly shares a few simple truths on Brand influencing and the craft of social media marketing. Enjoy, and learn!
Your platform embraces and celebrates diversity, an idea which others in fashion are only starting to propagate… Why was it important for you to encourage diversity and what do you think has encouraged other brands to do the same?
I majored in African-American Studies and French at Harvard, and in my studies, I explored imbalanced representations of people of color, particular black people, in the media. It has always been my goal to show the beauty of diversity. I’ve loved fashion since I was a young girl, so my love of writing, style, and an interest in global representation came together in Fashion Bomb Daily.
Did your Ivy League heritage ever play a role in building your fashion brand?
Going to an Ivy League has helped me tremendously. At Harvard, I developed a stellar work ethic, became a great writer, and created a network of people that have informed my career to this day.
If you were to pick a celebrity affiliate as the face of your brand, who would it be? And why?
Rihanna. She’s beautiful, stylish, multi-talented, and appeals to both urban and pop audiences.
What was the most defining moment of your career?
I’ve had many small moments that were big in my mind: meeting people I admire like Diddy, Rihanna, and Kimora Lee Simmons, sitting front row at the Just Cavalli and Balmain shows…all those small moments have kept me encouraged through the years.
The growth of the FBD enterprise has seen many subdivisions grow under it; Fashion Bomb Daily Shop, the Kids and Men division and so on. Did this come about as part of the grand plan or based on feedback from consumers?
I think it’s always important to evolve and diversify, and many of our ideas shoot for organic developments.
Influencing is becoming a rather controversial industry as many with no formal fashion education thrive in it. Please comment.
I think the beauty of the digital era is that anyone with talent can be successful. Whatever your background, if you’re bomb, you can find an audience. I think it’s a wonderful thing.
You’ve endured and triumphed over many challenges for the love of fashion. That in our books, makes you a fashion guru. What’s your advice to those who are just starting out in fashion, armed with nothing but their love and passion for it?
Start at the bottom, humble yourself, intern and learn from the great, and use your particular background as leverage to distinguish yourself from your counterparts.
What does the near future hold for Fashion Bomb Daily?
We hope to have bigger scale events and continue to expand upon our Convos with Claire series. I’m also planning to come out with a second book.
Despite the many attempts to tackle it, body shaming still rears its ugly head in social situations. How best can we cope with the issue of body “shamers” and silence them once and for all?
Block and delete! But just focus on the positive. You can always find those who appreciate you on social media. Find a tribe that vibes with who you are and what you do and focus on that.