Fashion blogger Mary Leest is a frequent guest on fashion weeks and one of the brightest street style stars of today. She has one million followers on ******* as well as an impressive list of world-famous brands including Bulgari, Givenchy Beauty, Coach, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, and others which she worked with. Being an influencer, she is not afraid of talking with her followers not only about fashion but about social problems as well. We met Mary via ******* live broadcast to find out what she thinks about the latest protests in the USA, the changes in the fashion industry, and her successful blogging career.
Mary, you are in New York now, so we can't ignore what's going in in the USA today. The murder of George Floyd by the police led to many protests, actions, and outrages of residents in support of the black population of the United States. What is your opinion about it?
This situation is horrible, I was shocked beyond belief and could not fall asleep till 4 a. m. in the morning. I spent all night just reading and observing what was going on with the world and tried to talk with my followers about everything that had happened. The murder of George Floyd itself is a terrible tragedy, but at the same time, it became a trigger to the bigger problem. People just realized that it is time to do something, that it cannot be like that anymore. Protests themselves are a wonderful thing, very powerful. We have to distinguish protesters from looters. This is two different things, they send two different messages.
For several days all fashion magazines and many brands have been expressing their solidarity too. In your opinion, can the fashion industry influence the solution to this social problem? And how?
I think that during the last decade the fashion industry has been trying hard to talk about social issues and problems. Fashion insiders do have voice and influence, so they can at least attract the attention of their audience to certain problems. I also believe that fashion portraits exemplary life and sets trends. So why not make it a trend to love each other?
And to carry on with the theme of fashion, the coming fashion weeks will be held online which means that there won't be the street style part this year. How do you feel about it?
Well, if we are talking about my selfish perspectives it is a bit sad (Mary is laughing, - ed.), but if the new format of the fashion weeks will change the world for better, we should accept it and hope for the best. Anyway, it is something fresh, so I am very curious about it.
Do you agree with the statement that the fashion industry needs to be updated?
I do absolutely agree with this idea. Fashion goes too fast today, and it became impossible for many buyers, editors, and all people who work in this industry to keep that rhythm non-stop. This is good for the economy, but very bad for the environment. Talking about producing clothes, two months are not enough to create a high-quality collection, so I am really glad that some brands and fashion houses have already decided to reduce the number of released collections to two per year. It means that fashion is getting more and more sustainable now.
How has a global pandemic affected your life and career in general?
On the bright side, I definitely became more organized. I had time to make my ideas finally happened. I was much closer to my followers. However, a lot of my projects with brands were frozen during this year.
Let's talk about your blog. In one of your interviews, you said that initially, your ******* blog was only a hobby. How did this hobby turn into a career and a way to make money?
It happened accidentally – I was just doing what I loved for many years. About 4 years ago brands started to reach out to me about collaboration opportunities when marketing has begun slowly shifting from traditional advertising to digital. I didn’t even think that one day it would be a new profession.
One of the most important things of a successful blogging is the number of subscribers and likes that directly affect their income. But do they affect your self-esteem? Do you worry if your photo hadn't got enough likes?
I am a human and I obviously have feelings. When your work or effort is neglected, you get upset. It is not only about me or my pictures – it works for everyone and everything. If you are going to show something to the world, be ready to hear criticism.
What do you usually do to attract a new audience?
I prefer to focus on keeping my audience that has a connection with me, who understands me, who have been through a lot with me – I want us to grow together.
Anyway, you have one million ******* followers. You also participated in the shootings for fashion magazines, worked Bulgari, Givenchy Beauty, Coach, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, and other famous brands. What is the secret of your success?
I believe that the main thing here is that you have to be interesting to people, then brands will work with you. You should show your audience not only your beautiful pictures from the fashion weeks but your inner world as well. That is what will make you likeable.
Watch also the World Fashion Ambassadors project with Mary Leest here.