Sep 26, 2017 @ 09:45 AM Forbes Top Influencers: Instagram ‘It’ Girl Chiara Ferragni On Building A Fashion Empire Clare O’Connor , Forbes Staff
There can’t be a much better endorsement for a fashion blogger-turned-influencer looking to be taken seriously as a business person than a Harvard Business School case study looking into the success of her website.
That’s exactly how Chiara Ferragni began to prove to naysayers that her blog, The Blonde Salad, was not a flight of fancy but a high-end brand, with partnerships and revenues to match.
In its 2015 report, the Ivy League school projected annual revenues of at least $9 million for the Milanese style blogger and her team. TBS Chiara Ferragni, Instagram’s It Girl
Since then, Ferragni and The Blonde Salad have gone from strength to strength: she’s launched her own line of apparel and accessories, and employs 20 staffers for a fashion site that competes with traditional media platforms.
The 30-year-old lands at #1 on Forbes’ Top Influencers list in the Fashion category, joining other impressive entrepreneurs who’ve moved beyond the blogosphere to launch clothing lines and ink lucrative sponsorships, including Man Repeller’s Leandra Medine and Gabi Gregg of Gabifresh.
“I think influencers right now are the new media,” Ferragni said in an interview with Forbes from a penthouse hotel suite during New York Fashion Week in September. “In the past, people were so interested in reading fashion news out of a magazine, and now they get all this information from social media, through influencers.”
Ferragni started blogging in 2009, when she was a law student in her home country of Italy.
“I really started The Blonde Salad at the best time possible,” she said. “That’s when the world started talking about the fashion blogger phenomenon, and brands started approaching me from the very beginning.”
While she’s worked on sponsored content and ad campaigns with design houses ranging from Guess to Gucci, Ferragni always wanted to launch her own line.
She started with shoes, and her aesthetic is recognizable: cute, comfortable sneakers, loafers and flats, mostly, with an emoji-like eye as her signature embellishment.
Her wares are available in 350 stores, including in flagships in Milan and Shanghai. The Asian market is a priority for Ferragni and her team, with 20 stores scheduled to open in China in the near future.
In the meantime, Ferragni keeps her 10.3 million-plus Instagram fans interested by interspersing images of her stylish travels and chic outfits with shots of her out on the town with her fiance, Italian rapper Fedez.
She’s also working on her legacy, grooming her younger sister Valentina Ferragni (1.3 million Instagram followers) as the next Milanese social media style star.
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