Thus far in the Millennial Minds series here on 20Something, we have been able to share the story of an entrepreneurial filmmaker who cut her teeth using her family videos to garner critical acclaim. We were motivated by a former pro basketball player turned successful business owner by way of walking dogs. Today we will be inspired by a multi-talented, business-minded 24-year-old who moved here from Ireland to work in fashion, and is slowly dominating the industry both here and in Europe.
Erika Fox began her business as a hobby, as bloggers often do. Her popular fashion and lifestyle blog Retro Flame started five years ago as a side-project while she was at university. Today, Erika has nearly 45,000 Instagram followers and hosts of brands and companies eagerly seeking her out for advertising partnerships and campaigns. Not only does Erika run her blog as a (successful and profitable) business, but she also maintains a full-time job as social media manager for fashion powerhouse Vince Camuto while developing her own business ventures. And just four months ago Fox won Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition, and was grated €20,000 to start her own business.
Erika is the quintessential example of what it means to be a young entrepreneur in the age of the Internet.
She is smart, savvy, fashionable as can be, and genuinely kind. Excited to share what she has learned from her experience with you, she graciously provided us with not only her story but also her advice.
As a university student, Erika was more fortunate than most to know that she wanted to be proactive in business and the fashion industry; she just was not sure exactly how that would look. She studied marketing in Ireland and she spent her summers in New York City interning with the likes of Refinery 29, a boutique PR firm, and Vince Camuto (who ultimately sponsored her Visa and hired her full-time.) Since moving here she has managed to run her blog, start her own business, and manage, nay excel, at her full-time job.
When meeting Erika, it is easy to see why she has amassed such a following on social media, as well as a level of success only dreamed of by most people her age. Her easy candor and sincerity is equaled by her business sense and tenacity.
She firmly believes that “The busier you are, the more productive you are.”
Which is why 20something’s interview with her took place between a personal training session and a photo-shoot early on a Saturday morning. Erika says planning your time well is a key part of being successful.
Start in your industry somewhere that you can learn before taking on your own ventures. Her time at her internships and her job with Vince Camuto built the backbone for her other endeavors. She explained,
Even if you are really entrepreneurial-minded, it is really important to learn the ropes somewhere else, so having a day job first was very helpful.
As our first Millennial Mind contributor with a truly unmatched social media following, we wanted to pick Erika’s brain about achieving such success in the much sought after world of Instagram.
She was quick to note that influencer marketing is the fastest growing and most influential business driver of the moment, but that this can have mixed effects depending upon execution. What we wanted to know, however, was to what she contributed her success.
“When it comes to social media, people can see through it,” Erika rationalized.
Consistency and authenticity have been key for me.
“The more real I was on my platforms, the more engagement I was getting. With bloggers they often have to portray a sort of perfect life, and I’ll let people into my bad days online.”
Though there is no clear-cut path to Instagram notoriety, Erika’s strategy humanizes the concept, and makes it seems a little less daunting. Her biggest advice to aspiring entrepreneurs and influencers:
“Be thick-skinned; people may not understand your idea, or try to change it, so be focused to sticking with it. You have to invest into your business to get out of it.”
With her next business venture launching in the coming year thanks to the Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition, Erika’s busy schedule, social media following, and success with surely continue to grow. Her creative fervor has captivated tens of thousands of followers, so whatever she is up to next will be exciting for everyone on social media to watch. You can follow too along at @retroflame.
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