“Be very very secure, because this industry is not forgiving. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of positivity, and I receive so much support and love, but your decisions on partnerships, on parenting and on how you choose to look will always be judged and questions when you put yourself out there.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Steffy Degreff of the blog Steffys Pros and Cons, who has amassed a following of over 233,000 on instagram. She has recently been seen on the Rachael Ray Show and as a spokesperson for Benadryl in one of their digital ad campaigns, and partners regularly with well-known brands such as West Elm, Madewell, Pampers, KLM, Modcloth, Marks and Spencer, Essilor and many other household names!
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
Thanks for having me! Geez, my backstory is pretty dense, but I will try to shorten it as much as possible. After college (I majored in Journalism and minored in photography) I was working at a kickboxing studio in NYC for minimum wage, when my boyfriend (now husband) asked me to move out to Nicaragua with him — I went! I ended up spending 7 months there, with not much to do, and I stumbled upon some “fashion blogs” such as KeikoLynn, back in 2010. I was sucked in, and knew with my love for photography and vintage that when I moved back to the states I would start my own blog. In 2011 I started to sell vintage through an Etsy shop I called Tea and Tulips, and made the decision to return to school for Fashion Merchandising, all while posting “daily outfits” on my blog Steffys Pros and Cons and to a site known as Lookbook.nu. This was before instagram. Lookbook made it easy to get your look out to the masses, and this was how I began to build a following. When instagram launched, I began to work full-time as a merchandiser at J.Crew, and then moved on to working a 9–5 as a social media manager in various marketing firms, all while still running my own instagram and blog on the side. I spent nights and weekends working on growing my following, and eventually around 2015 I started to see a tiny bit of income from it! In November of 2016 I went on a 5 month maternity leave after having my son, and considered it a “test run” for being a full-time blogger. I returned to work for 1.5 months and then officially left my job to run my blog and instagram, and that was now over a year ago! It’s been incredible seeing it grow, and knowing that all of that time and energy put in to taking tripod outfit photos in my street eventually led me to a career path so fun and rewarding!
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you in the course of your career?
Oh there’s such a slew of funny stories in this job, but I guess I will just share the one that pops in my head and makes me chuckle in this moment. I decided to bring my mom along for a fun job with Angry Orchard, the cider company, last fall. I didn’t really think much about how my mom is not much of a drinker, but she decided when we got there that she LOVED cider. Loved it. I was of course a bit nervous watching her drink them, knowing this my be the most she’s had to drink in years haha! There was a gorgeous sit down meal, and she ended up being seated right across from the head cider maker, a few drinks in, and all she could talk about were her kids in her tipsy state. I was so so embarrassed, but it was also funny because I think they truly got a kick out of her! She told me it was one of the most fun nights of her life!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Well goodness is definitely subjective! But, aside from people sharing that my feed brings them inspiration, this year I’ve been partnering with brands each month to put together a postpartum giveaway that 5 moms win each month. I found the postpartum period to be pretty tough, and I wanted to find a way to bring a bit of relief to the new moms who follow me. Each kit includes a diaper bag, a carrier, a boppy, some baby soaps and lotions and a few other necessities!
If someone would want to emulate your career, what would you suggest are the most important things to do?
I think that step one is to be very very secure, because this industry is not forgiving. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of positivity, and I receive so much support and love, but your decisions on partnerships, on parenting and on how you choose to look will always be judged and questions when you put yourself out there.
I also think it’s important to have some internet know-how, to make sure your name is catchy and all of your handles are the same, that you understand the composition of a decent photo (I think a lot of bloggers just shoot on the iphone now, so a camera isn’t even a must anymore).
Finally, I think networking is key. Find local bloggers around the same size as you, and reach out! We all lean on each other for growth, ideas and shoots!
Is there a particular person that made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful?
This one is tough, but as of recent I feel extremely grateful to have found @noelledowning in my life. I met Noelle years back, and she has always been such a supportive friend.
Can you share a story?
Noelle is one of the driving forces behind why I left my job. She was already a full-time blogger, and she truly believed in me, and in the possibility that I could really make this job work and be successful at it. Leaving my 9–5 was scary, I had insurance and security. But Noelle was always helpful in getting me into the mentality of being a freelancer, and we’re constantly leaning on each other to chat about projects, bounce ideas off of each other and to help pick which photo to post! It’s hard to explain to people what it is exactly that we do, so I feel truly thankful to have close friends in the industry.
So what are the most exciting projects you are working on now?
I am currently working on a sister series with West Elm documenting the renovation of my home room by room, and cannot wait to start revealing the outdoor areas mid-summer! I am also partnering with Essilor for the remainder of the year to open the discussion on eye health, and continue to partner with Modcloth, one of my favorite brands! There’s many others, but these are a few that come to mind!
What are your “Top Five Ideas About How Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand” . (Please share a story or example for each.)
1 — Creating a local class to teach others interested in your brand how to either use/ become more acquainted with social media practices, styling tips, etc. These courses can be joined at a fee — I’ve seen a lot of Youtubers hosting these courses lately where they rent a room, and walk through editing video, tricks of the trade, etc.
2 — Selling Presets — This is another huge one right now. If you’re an influencer with a specific editing style, people want to purchase your presets. You can create a few, and sell them so others can download them on lightroom.
3 — Creating downloadable guides — I’ve seen this recently as well from anywhere to running guides or social media marketing guides, influencers are selling pamphlets on their area of expertise, and because they have such a large audience people are buying it.
4 — Designing collections — Within this year we’ve seen collections from bloggers Gal Meets Glam. Rachel Parcell and Something Navy, but I’ve also seen bloggers like Kelli Murray turn her feed into an international business with her line Rylee & Cru. Bloggers find a niche, and from analytics have an idea of what would or could sell. Creating capsule collections or partnering with brands to design is another way to monetize.
5 — Story Swipe Up — I personally think the swipe up is becoming more valuable than the feed, and brands are beginning to notice. Recently I’ve been booking jobs that only want a story, without even an instagram post!
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. :-)
This may sound very random, but I would love to have breakfast with Mickey Drexler. He was the CEO of J.Crew when I worked there, and I always fancied him a genius, especially when it comes to retail trends. I’ve met him before, but would love to rack his brain on the future of retail.
Amazon millionaire, author and business coach, Akemi Sue Fisher, has helped thousands of Amazon sellers scale and grow their businesses to six, seven and eight figures. She has quickly become one of the most trusted and sought after E-commerce consultants in the world. In only three years, her agency, Love & Launch, has helped her clients achieve over one billion dollars in sales through Amazon, Ebay and other e-commerce platforms. Her entrepreneurial spirit and direct approach continues to help elevate not only her success, but the success of her clients which range from startups to fortune 500 companies.