‘Social media helped me launch a fashion line’
Brett Robson, 30, lives in Durban. She is known for her self- titled fashion blog, YouTube channel and clothing line. As a young girl I used to cut up material to make clothes for my dolls – I knew even then that I wanted to be a fashion merchandiser when I grew up. After school I completed a fashion design course and when I graduated in 2009, I took a job as an industry assistant to a fashion designer, but it wasn’t what I expected. Disappointed, I resigned, deciding to take time off and give serious thought to what I wanted to do long term.
At the time, fashion blogs were my daily reading material, and while I was working out my notice period I toyed with the idea of starting a blog of my own. And when my then-boyfriend encouraged me to pursue the idea, it was the nudge I needed.
Soc ial Media Jour ney
I started my blog in 2010 using the Blogger app and only migrated to Wordpress in 2015 when I had my site re- done by a professional. At first my style-related content was just me sharing photos of the outfits I was wearing, and writing about trends. My beauty content centred on the products I was using personally. I wasn’t on any PR lists for my first few years as a blogger, so everything I shared was what I bought for everyday use or when I travelled. My nine-year- old brother used to take my pictures but I’m quite particular about what I want, so we often ended up arguing and my mom had to step in as photographer instead!
In late 2011 I started a full-time job as a visual merchandiser and loved window dressing mannequins for a big retail store. I earned a steady salary but I wanted to make extra money, so I decided to charge a small fee for brand content on my blog. There weren’t as many bloggers then as there are today, and the trend to sponsor blog posts was relatively new in South Africa.
My first paid post was about fashion accessories and it was a hit. My mother was still taking all my photos for me (a photographer does that now) and because I didn’t have a car, we’d do our shoots very early in the morning, nearly every day, before she drove me to work. My mom has always been my biggest supporter.
My blog following grew steadily and once I was getting paid for the content that I was producing, my social media accounts, which complimented my blog, grew organically. By then my YouTube channel – which now has nearly 4 000 subscribers – was gaining traction, and people started seeing me as an influencer in the fashion industry. Sometimes I’m still shocked at how many people turn to me for fashion advice. A young woman stopped me at a mall in Dubai recently and told me she followed my blog – that’s how far and wide my brand had grown!
How my life has ch anged
Social media was the starting point that helped me build my Brett Robson brand in ways that I never thought were possible – including starting my own fashion line, which is available for sale via my online shop, on Zando, and through my app. Brands pay me to wear their clothing, and, based on the strength of the personal brand that I had created, my current employer, Cruise Collections, bought into my dream of launching my clothing line. They now own 50% of my brand and our partnership allows me to travel the world, and make a number of international trips every year to buy fabric for the clothing that is produced locally and in Swaziland.
It’s been amazing to influence women in a positive way through my love of fashion but it has brought challenges along with it. My social media followers are sometimes surprised that I don’t post more about my personal life, but there are things I’m just not willing to share. My focus for this year is on creating more products and making more sales – I want to give my customer exactly what she’s looking for.
A woman stopped me in a mall in Dubai to say she followed my blog