Interview: Inside the Business of Stylist and Pinterest Influencer Alex Evjen
This week we’re interviewing Alexandra Evjen of AVE Styles – a fashion stylist and major Pinterest player! Alex is known as a Pinterest Influencer because she has amassed almost a million followers.
What I love (and admire) about Alex is that she’s been able to combine her two strengths: passion for styling + Pinterest, to help brands get in front of their target markets. Alex has had the privilege of working with brands such as Glamour, Saks Fifth Avenue, Revlon, Neiman Marcus, Madewell, Juicy Couture and Coca-Cola. She was nominated by InStyle Magazine and Business Insider as one of the top pinners to follow.
Now without further ado, let me introduce you to my personal friend Alex…get ready to be inspired!
NAME OF COMPANY: A.V.E. Styles
WEBSITE URL: www.avestyles.com
YOUR NAME: Alex Evjen
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF YOUR BLOG/BUSINESS: A.V.E. Styles exists to cultivate brand awareness through artful communication. By styling, art directing and marketing, I help businesses connect with their customers through original content creation that is “pin worthy.”
YEAR BLOG LAUNCHED: November 11, 2008, but I established A.V.E. Styles in 2010.
TARGET CUSTOMER/NICHE: Style-focused businesses
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA TO START YOUR BUSINESS? After doing a lot of local market research, I realized Phoenix didn’t have very many fashion stylists, and I knew that was a way to enter the industry that I had always dreamed of without needing a formal education. A.V.E. Styles originally existed to make the complicated world of fashion simple for men and women, and over time it has bloomed into a b2b (business to business) model where I get to simplify the creation of social media marketing collateral.
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED STYLING AND THEN WHERE YOU ARE TODAY? I started by styling friends and clients of lifestyle photographers. I had the hardest time getting fashion photographers to give me the time of day, but the lifestyle photography business was growing, and I saw partnerships with these photographers as a way to build my portfolio and create a client base of my own. When my following on Pinterest grew in 2011, I found myself in a new realm of social media marketing. Brands began approaching me wanting me to pin images from their websites. I then began to see a way to combine my strengths of styling, my eye for what women want and my vehicle to market to women, and I changed my business model to B2B where I now run and style campaigns for brands and small businesses.
SOURCE OF INSPIRATION: Who (or what) has been your greatest source of inspiration? My Christian faith is always my main source of inspiration. It’s what keeps me grounded, and gives my business a purpose that is far greater than marketing and influencing people to think about brands. For me, creating beautiful imagery is about pointing people back to a Creator that I believe made us all to desire beauty and perfection as He originally designed this world to be. I feel that my ability to create beautiful things is part of a restorative process that God has called me to as a human being. Animals and insects can’t restore and create like humans can, and I believe there is a responsibility that comes along with that reality.
WHAT WAS THE TIPPING POINT IN YOUR BUSINESS THAT MADE YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR BUSINESS WAS GOING TO THRIVE? It wasn’t until this past summer (2014) that I have really had firm confirmation that my business was going to thrive within the realm of content creation and styling for brands. What I’m doing is essentially what a lot of large PR companies have been doing for many years, but what is different is that I actually have the experience of growing a following and I have a vehicle to share content that PR companies don’t have. I have finally realized that I have the ability to “kill two birds with one stone,” if you will. When I switched my business model back in August of 2013, I had to let go of what had always been my bread and butter – personal styling. It was really scary and I wasn’t seeing clients line up for my content creation services right away. This whole year has been a fight to prove that I’m capable of handling big campaigns, and I finally have a year’s worth of proof that I can.
IF YOU HAD TO NAME ONE THING THAT HAS BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN CATAPULTING YOUR BUSINESS TO SUCCESS, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Pinterest is what really launched my business into the spotlight. I’m so thankful for that. It not only gave me a voice, but it was an affirmation that I really do know what women want to buy, wear and eat.
HOW DID YOU BECOME A PINTEREST INFLUENCER? I adapted to the social platform early on (2011), and I quickly saw it as a great way to show my clients style inspiration and clothes that they can purchase to achieve the inspiration I’ve sent them. The creator of Pinterest, Ben Silberman, saw that in me and really liked how I was using the tool. He liked the content I was contributing and asked me to curate a spring trends board. Because of my commitment and passion to the tool, Pinterest suggested new users to follow me.
IF YOU COULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN, WOULD YOU CHANGE ANYTHING? The only thing that I would change would be the amount of stress and anxiety that I let consume me on a daily basis. I’m learning to control that day by day, but seriously, where does worrying get you? Nowhere!
WHAT IS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WOULD GIVE TO A BLOGGER JUST STARTING OUT? Don’t seek to blog to become known and heard. Blog because you are passionate about encouraging, helping and filling a need that someone might have in their life. Social media and blogging is first and foremost about community and not about self-promotion. It’s okay to use these tools to market, but not as a first priority.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR BEST PINTEREST TIPS? Get a Pinterest business account if you are using the tool for brand awareness. This will help you see what’s working and what’s not. Also, always make sure you are sharing images that you truly love.
WHAT ARE YOUR 3 BEST MARKETING STRATEGIES TO GETTING NEW CLIENTS?
1. Go after your clients. Don’t wait for them to come to you.
2. Identify a problem and offer a solution in your pitches.
3. Go above and beyond the scope. That will usually ensure reoccurring business.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ITEM IN YOUR CLOSET & WHY? Right now it would be my fuzzy bathrobe. This holiday season has me running ragged, and all I dream about is curling up in my comfy bathrobe and watching Project Runway.
ONE THING EVERY STYLE SAVVY LADY SHOULD HAVE? A black blazer. When you put it on it immediately adds sophistication to your outfit.
WHAT IS YOUR SECRET TALENT? It’s not so hidden, but I love to sing. I sing for church and I’ve been doing it for 12 years now.
And the most important question of all… SWEET OR SALTY? SALTY all of the way. I crave potato chips way more than chocolate.
BONUS – A recent real life business project by A.V.E. Styles:
Alex was asked to style Epiphanie Bag’s fall 2014 campaign. The owner flew out to Phoenix in order for Alex to style and assemble a team of talent to create/curate this lookbook project.
Here’s the finished campaign video by Alex (and her team of talent) for Epiphanie – a line of stylish camera bags for women. This film captures the spirit of the brand and the girl that carries an epiphanie bag like she carries her heart – full of adventure. //
And if you want one more real life example: Check out this editorial Blink shoot created by Alex of A.V.E. Styles.
Thanks Alex for sharing you and your business with us. xo Tana – Your Marketing BFF
All images via A.V.E. Styles. Epiphanie video by Ale Vidal – Imaginale.
Thanks for an inspirational interview, Tana! I love when people use their talents in non-traditional ways to point others to Jesus. I always find that inspiring!
Me too! Which is probably why I LOVE your blog!!!