Could Style Bloggers Change The Economy? Maybe!

Miranda Priestly: [Miranda and some assistants are deciding between two similar belts for an outfit. Andy snickers because she thinks they look exactly the same] Something funny?

Andy Sachs: No. No, no. Nothing’s… You know, it’s just that both those belts look exactly the same to me. You know, I’m still learning about all this stuff and, uh…

Miranda Priestly: ‘This… stuff’? Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.

Remember this moment in the Devil Wears Prada? When Andy is schooled by Miranda…fashion is not just a whim, but a viable business. I think this is a lesson that all of us, as fashion bloggers, should sticky note to our laptops! Yes, we are here for the fun of it….the relationships with readers….the creativity…and to live out a passion that many have shared since birth. But, we also should realize the huge impact we could collectively make on the industry.

Pants and Coat: Jana Kos
Nine West Boots: Marshalls
(Her Clothes are Fabulous)

This has been a sobering week for me. Not only am I working through my husband’s continued unemployment, but the industry delivered a couple of stark reminders as to what today’s entrepreneurs face. I began the week promoting a giveaway with Sheyna Jewelry. They contacted me and pursued a promotion. But, within two days, Sheyna Jewelry decided to pull the plug on their business. Here was a jewelry designer at one time promoted by Oprah , and now, suddenly extinct.

 Then, came the announcement which deeply saddened me…the effect the economy has delivered to New York Designer, Jana Kos. I have been her cheerleader ever since I was introduced to her designs last year. Today, I am wearing a Jana Kos coat and pants…both are fabulous and among the five JK pieces I own…which are the nicest and best fitting garments in my wardrobe. This is one designer I would love to see succeed, but the letter below reveals that may not happen:

Dear Style Partners,

As president of Jana Kos, Style Partners Inc. I have been dealing with the grim realities of our current economy and its impact on a small company such as ours. Because of our size, we pay a premium for manufacturing, shipping, warehousing and distribution. Our raw materials costs have risen over 45% in the past year yet our sales and recruiting have not been able to make up for this increase. As a company we lack the systems of order processing and services in comparison to our competitors, and it has been an incredible hindrance in our recruiting process…..and a source of frustration for all of us. We present much too broad of a product offering for the amount of sales generated, resulting in excessive inventory and revenue loss. Our styling is limited by minimums, cash flow and constraints of our manufacturers. For 3 years and 12 collections, we managed to present to you a collection with new styling, innovative fabrics and have tried to keep up with the economic downturn. You have all worked so very hard at trying to overcome the current economic crisis and your customers declining spending budgets. You have worked thrice as hard for half the monetary returns. The NYC office has worked very hard at trying to satisfy your needs and service you within our limitations. We have tried to streamline our operations and cut overhead in order to compensate for the declining sales. Unfortunately there have been many setbacks and unfortunate events and the global economic crisis is still continuing. Therefore, I will be making evaluations and then decisions over the next two weeks as to SPI’s future. I have decided that there will be no Spring 2012 season. Please know that I will let you know my decisions and how they may affect you within these two weeks, including details of our close-out inventory sale which will be coming to you soon. Until then, please know that orders already placed and paid for will be fulfilled. You all know how much I love this business and value and respect each and every one of you. Many of you have been working with me for over 10 years and have become close friends. You have always been my inspiration and my driving force.

Purple Blouse: Coldwater Creek

Now, I am not saying that it is a lack of fashion blogging which lead to the downfall of these businesses….by no means! I understand that some of these venture owners just do not possess the good business principles and marketing savvy to be successful. However, bloggers certainly hold a great amount of influence with their individual block of followers. If we set our minds, with determination, to spread the word and link up the information then there is a reason to believe we could actually help some American entrepreneurs get their feet on the ground. It might mean that we offer them ad space at a discount; or seek them out for product reviews; or cover their special events in our cities or begin a day each week when we link information about a host of small businesses discovered in our communities. I believe we can help and it could begin with a passionate effort on our part. This could eventually help the economy, and job creation, and give many of us a renewed purpose for our blogs. I have read so many bloggers laments that they do not know what direction to go with their fashion/style blogs. ABC News has made a big impact the last year with their stories on American Made Products, and we can do the same with just a little awareness about the plight of the smaller retailers and designers. It means that we think more like fashion journalists and less like women with a fun hobby (some of these HOBBIES have quiet a following).  If all of us agreed to feature a story about one new designer or retailer every week, the impact could be immense. We are the communicators and with a joint effort there may be a way we can help make sure there are more successes than failures.

Does anyone have any specific ideas as to what we could do to join voices for the small entrepreneurs?? Does anyone else see the potential that a bloc of style bloggers might offer to those new in the fashion industry?

I really hope Jana Kos will be back!!
Scarf:  Tuesday Morning
Bracelet:  Boutique in Blanco, TX


  1. I think you are absolutely right. Style bloggers do have a big impact. Especially those who have been at it for awhile and have a cult like following. If they were to promote new designers/small businesses then they would have tremendous influence. Keep doing what you are doing. Love that you think deeper than what color sweater to throw on! xo

  2. This is a very thought-provoking topic, Pam – thanks for bringing it up. As a blogger with a fairly small but wonderful readership, I do enjoy highlighting products and designers that I personally appreciate – like Karina dresses, for example.

    I am also married to an entrepreneur, so I am sensitive to the perils of small businesses and I want to boost them whenever I can. At the same time, I (hope I) am aware of the dangers of consumerism run ragged, which is why I shop a lot at thrift stores.

    All that said (whew!) I love your idea of promoting small, perhaps local, designers and retailers. Let's do our part to lift up the little businesses. Target doesn't need any advertising help from me! : >

  3. Great points, Pam. I too was approached by the Sheyna folks, and it's a shame they didn't make a go of it. I agree that we can help bring attention to quality products and companies that serve their customer base. Truly it's in our own self-interest to see companies which provide jobs and products we love prosper.

    I'm so sorry about your husband's situation, and hope that some great opportunities come his way soon.

  4. I do believe that bloggers can help small businesses, but am not sure how implementation would look. Both entities need to benefit and style blogs that push endless products – especially from the same vendors and under the same guise – become dull after a while. It's tough to find balance.

  5. Pam, You look gorgeous in every single thing you put on. Your sense of style is inspiring. I think you would look really cool in head to toe cream……cream color and your hair would be awesome. How about a cream cape, leggings and boots?? Hope your hubby finds a niche. Good luck, love your blog.

  6. I think for many fashion and style are the last things on their mind, so many are struggling to keep their houses and put food on the table. I'm earning less than half of what I used to earn and I've had to cut my cloth accordingly. I do, however think it is good to shop locally and support small business, but I just wonder how much darker things are going to get next year.

  7. Very interesting, Pam. All of us should embrace American-made, or at least not Made-in-China, merchandise. Promotion of any kind is a viable thought. The stores/boutiques are completely afraid to invest hard dollars in ANY merchandise now, and only take/or buy BIG NAME merchandise as they have an agreement to switch it out if it doesn't sell. They ask me to give it to them on consignment, but the cost to do this is huge for me and zero for them…something most small shops simply cannot do. I'm thinking about what you said and I'll get back to you. Again, thank you for your thought process…certainly appreciated by me. xx's

  8. Hi Pam! I hoe you had a wonderful holiday with your family! This was a tough post to write, because it's sad to see what has happened to our economy. Trying to find anything made in the USA is currently a very difficult task. In my MBA program we studied outsourcing and is it really worth it. The only thing that comes to mind that is USA made are the premium denim jeans, $180+ per pair. I can understand what you are saying, it's just the task of finding it is harder and harder.

  9. Pam, this is a very interesting topic and i think that your idea of bloggers focusing on small, local businesses is excellent. i've done a couple of posts on these type of businesses recently, just because i came across these places and they seemed a natural interest for my readers.

    As Sal points out, the implementation will make all the difference. My first thought is that getting a discussion about this going on the IFB site could be quite fruitful.

    My second thought is that some type of aggregator site could be a great way to handle this for maximum impact. Participating bloggers could post their reviews to the aggregator site, and readers could search by geographic location, size, specialty, or whatever.

    This would also allow bloggers with time constraints to participate sporadically while still making a useful contribution. I feel this is an important consideration as most bloggers do this as a hobby, for little to no compensation. Finding a way to let people make an impact even if they can't make a significant time/resources commitment will increase the project's chances of success.

    This project could also benefit the bloggers by increasing their 'eyeballs', as well as by creating another arena in which bloggers are providing content you don't really find elsewhere.

    Pam, kudos to you for bringing this up and coming up with this idea! I'll be interested to see where this goes!!!! take care, steph

    p.s. two posts profiling local boutiques:

    Krasa – dresses in Berkeley, CA

    BiBa – Scandinavian minimalist design in Pacific Grove, CA

  10. Hi Pam, the fashion business is not easy in Quebec as well, several local designers went belly up even the ones with a bright future. My daughter is a designer and find it very hard, lots of competition and lots of cheap fast fashion out there, so it makes it hard for local designer.
    It is sad to say, but most people go for the fast fashion. I try to support local businesses in my area, this week i bought beautiful over the top skirt at a local designer boutique, but in order to stay open the lady does tv, theatre, event costumes. I support my daughter Izzy as well!

    I am mailing your parcel today! so excited can wait to see your reaction!

    Ariane xxxx

  11. Pam, this is an awesome post. I see so many small businesses shutting down. It's been a rippled effect! So traumatic. I shop at the big names, but try to showcase bloggers on here that sell products. I've bought many and also feature Etsy shop owners. It's important to pair up and recognize these talents. I love this post and you brought up some amazing things. Have a wonderful weekend.

  12. This is such a GREAT topic for discussion. I am so glad you brought it up and invited me to think about it. Sal said it well here: "Both entities need to benefit and style blogs that push endless products – especially from the same vendors and under the same guise." The fashion industry is pumping strong, but like our economy in general the MACRO is pulverizing the small. As in businesses.

    For 3 years now, the Citizen Rosebud has been a local, vocal proponent for small, sustainable and ethical businesses, I do what I can, and frankly have had some influence on my community. But it needs to go both ways. Personally I am dealing with businesses now wanting something for free from me, and now that I am looking for income (like your hubby I am dealing with long term unemployment) so this is NOT a hobby for me. It is a labor of love, but I need to see economy on my end, and not just a blast of messages asking me to feature companies on my site without some form of compensation.

    I'm adding this to the stew of an already juicy topic because I feel in my experience that many small biz struggle because they don't value the work of others who help them or value the power of marketing, including social media.

    I DO help small businesses already. But at this point, I need them to reach out and help me. -Bella Q
    the Citizen Rosebud

  13. what a great post! i was with jana for about 4 years when she was designing under the name "juliana collezione" and then on to jana kos for a little over a year…sad to hear…truly…as her clothing is great quality…and my closet is full of her designs…even from 6 years ago…her style is classic and works in with every season…

    i also believe that we as bloggers have a great impact on local businesses…and want to do my part to promote…and do so whenever possible…

    i do agree with bella of the citizen rosebud…sometimes…many think of blogging or even my online consignment store as a "hobby" when it is my livelyhood…it is my work…my employment…and see many who want me to do something for them…but not much reciprocation…which can somtimes be deflating…

    if anything…this is a great reminder…that we all can do our part…

  14. This is such an interesting post, Pam. I agree with you that we should try our best as style bloggers to support small business. You've mentioned some great ideas (which incidentally will most likely be beneficial for our blogs too, such as giveaways, etc) I'm looking forward to seeing what comes from this discourse and hope to participate in any way that I can.

  15. A really interesting and thought provoking post and a grim reminder of what's going on in artistic industries as a result of the economy. I think that there isn't a responsibility for bloggers to support small businesses or anybody – but it is a kind thoughtful thing to do. I hope these designers can make it back!

  16. I just started my fashion blog a few weeks ago and am very interested in using it in a positive helpful way if possible. My concern is I have to work in order to pay my rent so my fashion choices have to be found at the "big box retail store" Forever 21 type, then I can splurge at Ga, Macy's, Nordsrom, etc. and I do look at the thrift stores but not regularly, and we have Galore and Sloan and Three Monkeys which are boutiques that I can afford but the boutiques that you speak of with designers are way out of my league. So I would feel odd promoting them on my blog if I could not afford to shop at them myself. That is my issue and concern. Other than that I think the ideas are great! The stores I can afford to shop in do not need my blog support. I want to be a part of this discussion because I know being creative we can team up and make something happen. Let's keep in touch.

  17. Hmm, intriguing. I agree with the concept of supporting small, American-made (or handmade) items. However, I've made a very conscientious decision to avoid/turn down all and any advertising, sponsorships, affiliate links, etc. For me, my blog is just a fun space to play around with clothes and meet other ladies of great personal style. I suppose by listing where I purchased specific clothing items it is a tacit endorsement of that brand, and I'm careful to try to purchase as much second hand as I can. But, I personally don't see my blog morphing (at least any time soon) into a partnership with a company, however amazing that brand or designer may be. Just my personal stance for my blog, and it's just a way for me to keep blogging a fun hobby instead of a job!

  18. First, the easy part–i just love you in the orange coat!
    The harder part: I support local artists/designers whenever I can. The trouble is: Quality comes at a price–which I cant always afford. ( I wish I was Isabella Stewart Gardner…) As much as we ALL would like to support the American Economy–most of us end up at Walmart (or reasonable facsimile thereof)–we tend to go for the cheaper price as we all are effected by the downturn in the economy.
    I too have resisted all endorsements because I wonder if it becomes one-sided.
    I hope we can make an impact–I would support anyone who would, for example, manufactur low heeled shoes!
    I have named you the Oprah of our blogging community…

  19. I'm always happy when people develop an interest in supporting small businesses — I care about my customers personally, which F21 doesn't. Of course, people also have to learn how to start valuing labor. Because of mass production overseas, where labor can cost much, much less than even cheap materials, a lot of folks think labor is free. So small, U.S. businesses that have high labor costs seem to be charging an insane amount of money. Meanwhile, we're all going broke. I haven't broken even since 2008.

  20. Darling Pam,

    It is so sad to hear of this downturn for many SUCCESSFUL and talented entrepreneurs….first of all, you look FABULOUS MODELING!!!!! I must get my husband to take some pics of me..teeheee! BUT YOU WEAR all of these marvelous items so beautifully!

    I cannot recall if you visited my last post, but it was a tribute AND A PROMO for many of my dear ETSY sellers/bloggers, as well as my own. I AM SO WHOLEHEARTEDLY in agreement in trying to bring back POWER to small business. Many of us, and I mean, MANY of us would rather give to each other for the fine artisanship that we can create. I so wish we could just bring back the small village shops and help each other grow again. BUT I THINK IT WILL take a mass effort to change things. Necessity is the mother of invention, right? Now that I am an Etsy seller with intentions of promoting my art and writing, I am hoping that as time turns, I can see how I fit in this circle of people that can change things.

    Thank you for this informative and lovely post, and your visit! Anita

  21. I think this can be a very appropriate thing for style bloggers to do, within reason, as long as we find the right balance and avoid the potential pitfalls already mentioned by others. I have to say that I really, really enjoy your posts in which you feature local businesses! If done well, I think it can be very powerful.

  22. What a great topic, Pam. As both a blogger and a small business owner I've seen the good and the bad from both sides. On the blogging side I love to support small businesses, but only if I really connect with the product and feel it's something I would buy anyway. To echo Sal's sentiments, blogs that continually push products start to seem phoney. I've also gotten requests to review products that are clearly not my style and have nothing to do with my blog, and that can be downright insulting.

    From the business perspective, my (actually my husband's) Etsy shop really owes a huge debt to the blogging community. Because our business is just the two of us with Mark producing all the merchandise, the traffic we get that is spread by word of mouth on the internet keeps us about as busy as we can handle. On the other hand, we've been approached dozens of times for "collaborations" that are really nothing more than a blogger wanting free stuff in exchange for a blog mention that quickly gets buried by the next day's post and forgotten. Even a blog with a huge following won't really generate much traffic unless the blogger regularly posts about or wears the items.

    It's also important to point out that fashion blogs contribute to a lot of unnecessary spending; I've heard more than one person say that they were able to control their spending by cutting back on blog reading, and I know I've experienced the same thing myself. So I'm wary of sending a "You must buy this!" message with my blog when I know a lot of people are struggling financially.

  23. Wow. This is such a fabulous post. I just found your blog and you've certainly gained a new follower as I really appreciate and relate to your blog "voice." So sad to hear about the downturn affecting so many great companies…

    I am a fairly new blogger. I started a blog to simply connect with others who share the same interests and passions. I personally try to balance buying new items with thrift store and vintage finds…mixing up investment pieces with inexpensive finds. That said – I certainly need to do a better job at seeking out more smaller businesses and designers!! Something I'll def keep in mind.

    BTW – you look fabulous in these photos!
    XO – Marion

  24. Indeed a great post. I love to discover and feature new and independent designers, but as some have said before it is important to build win-win relationships with bloggers. Many of us are working hard on their blogs to make them a success so our time and effort in helping to promote local designers should not be taken for granted.

  25. As a small business owner myself, I can relate. Businesses, mine included, have been suffering. I, too, had decided to shut down a part of my business that was suffering (an online shop) due to the economy. Local businesses should be supported. Unfortunately, some bloggers, once they reach a certain following, forget that they too were once small and promote only big name designers that support them. I too have been guilty of this but because we still need an income but there is room for growth in the "local" area and in dealing with the smaller guy. Thank you for this post. It really made sense to me in many ways.


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