Jasmine Smith, creator of DressMeBlogMe and founder of #HKFashionBloggers, is one of the few bloggers that has managed to conquer the fashion industry, as a fashion designer, stylist and personal shopper – there is no stopping her! Originally from New Zealand, now based in Hong Kong, her blogging platform blends these two styles together creating a unique blend. Covering global movements in beauty and fashion for both men and women she is internationally recognised as a ‘Star Blogger’ for Elle Magazine and a nominee for the ‘Marie Claire Fashion Blogger of the Year’.
Disha Daswaney, for Impact Style, caught up with Jasmine to talk to her about her exciting career.
I read that you moved from New Zealand to Hong Kong, during that transition time what inspired you to write DressMeBlogMe and what steps did you take?
I came to Hong Kong on my way to London and I never made it there – staying in Hong Kong felt right.
However, getting myself running as an established stylist was extremely difficult because I didn’t know anyone! I didn’t have any contacts and I didn’t speak the language. There were a lot of people that told me I couldn’t make it in Hong Kong, but I desperately wanted to. I remember contacting modelling agencies and having meetings with them. They would simply tell me “you don’t speak the language; don’t even bother”! I simply worked hard at it – I socialised a lot and I did a lot of my creative work for free at the beginning, in order to get to know the photographers and modelling agencies, so I could start building teams of people.
Once I had that under my belt, I realised that I needed to start branching out to a mainstream audience because along with styling I also do personal shopping. As a creative person a CV doesn’t count for much. A website is a start, but people really want to see your personality and style. They want to see exactly what you are doing in terms of whom you are working with and where your creative direction is heading. People need to be able to trust you. I then decided that I would create DressMeBlogMe and use it as a tool for advertising.
For people that haven’t read your blog before how would you describe the content? What makes it unique?
My blog is established essentially for my clientele. I primarily write about brands and items that are available in Hong Kong. Everything I write about is affordable and everything can be purchased as soon as I write about it. I keep it very current, so my clients can see the latest collections, designers and make-up. They can immediately go and update their wardrobes and find something new. Also, it is a great tool for my personal shopping clients because once I have given them a list of items to buy they can visit my blog and when they stumble across something they feel suits their needs they can go out and buy it.
Do you feel there is a major difference between being a writer and a blogger? If so, what is the difference?
There are huge differences. One of the main differences is the audience. As a blogger, I write in a snappy headline style that is very visually orientated, whereas a journalist would write in a completely different style with a completely different mind-set. We could even compare this to a children’s book author. We are all writers and we all write for a certain audience, but in different styles that are appropriate to our target audiences.
What made you decide to expand your forum and create #HKFASHIONBLOGGERS?
Very early on I realised that I was going to events and I didn’t know anybody. I started going as press, but I could have been anyone! On Twitter I could see other bloggers were also at these events and I knew their Twitter handle, but I didn’t know their faces. I created the #HKFASHIONBLOGGERS to pool the bloggers together, so we could get to know each other and start going to events together. We could then get the right type of stories and images that suited our blogs. This forum has enabled us to have discussions, to build our careers and attend the right events for our target audiences. We are finally able to have a dialogue offline and create support system as well. We honestly needed it because having a community is everything. It makes a big difference to the way you work. Working with my contemporaries has always been a part of my career as a stylist and teamwork really helps you accomplish your goals.
How is the Hong Kong blogging scene different compared to the rest of the world? What do you think needs to be improved upon or changed?
This is a really tough question because I haven’t blogged in any other countries, but from what I can tell each country has their own aesthetic and layout – from a visual artistic point of view.
The blogging scene is constantly changing; since I started DressMeBlogMe I have noticed these changes, including new bloggers and PR companies that come through. There are also constantly new hashtags and new ways of interacting. In particular, I think Hong Kong as a country is great at adapting to change and moving with the times – the blogging scene does it perfectly. I think the bloggers and contributors are very willing to upgrade and produce new ideas, as well as new ways of communication. At the moment, I am extremely happy with the blogging scene. I don’t think anything needs to change as such and when it does change it will be fine.
How do you decide what products to feature on your blog? Is there a particular process you go through?
It is definitely a process and there are a clear number of steps that I take. The most important thing for me is to familiarize myself with the products and to see whether it suits my audience, especially in terms of quality and price. I start off by getting the designers to send me the product they want me to feature. Sometimes, I can tell almost immediately when a product does not quite suit my blog, so I take a side step and I don’t feature it.
However, if I decide that a product could possibly work I talk to the company about their reason behind me featuring it and their target – whether it is more likes on their Facebook page or more clientele in their shops. If I am clear about their intentions I can then translate that and present it to my audience in a way that suits my readership along with the designer.
For any upcoming bloggers is there any advice you can offer them about starting up a blog?
My advice to newbies is to think about the reason behind creating a blog. In my opinion, a blog is a tool to use as a professional and it is not a ‘dear diary’. It is not something you should establish to use as a microphone to express yourself. A blog is a professional platform, which you use to further yourself and your career, so you can make sure you are targeting the right audience. If you want to create a blog to simply broadcast your views it is not the place to do it. Facebook’s notes section is more suited to broadcast your views. The Internet definitely does not need the extra noise.
You have received recognition from Marie Claire and Elle for your blog and it has become a worldwide success. How have you kept your blog successful?
Thank you! My blog has organically moved on with my career – it is a reflection of my work in the fashion industry and whom I am working with. My audience gets to see my journey as I get invited to cooler events and make more contacts. I suppose keeping it interesting, but keeping it focused and directed at the right audience has helped. My blog is very clearly directed at Hong Kong shoppers.
You keep mentioning about your target audience. Do you have a specific age group that you target?
My blog is targeted at people from their late twenties to their mid-thirties, so people from the ages of twenty-seven to thirty-five. It is where my age falls between because it is orientated around me as well. Therefore, my audience can relate to me on a more personal level.
My audience is also very mainstream and at first it was really hard to admit that particular fact. Everyone wants to be very different, creative and artistic. It was so hard to admit that being mainstream worked for me. More specifically being both mainstream and affordable – neither of those things are considered particularly ‘cool’. Nevertheless, there are so many women that fall into this category. They need to feel like they have a place in the fashion industry too! Some examples would be: a new mum, who wants to figure out her body type or an expat from Australia in a high-powered position that still misses their flip-flops and board shorts. Sometimes being normal is different too!
How do you keep up with all of your followers?
The easiest way to keep in touch with them is via my social media platform. I am constantly replying to comments and personal messages on my Facebook inbox or emails. I also always make a note if someone follows me. I then go check out their profile and like their photos. If I like their aesthetic I follow them back. I always keep tabs on who is looking and then go back and do the same thing they do for me.
I host parties for my followers. I used to run Style Summits for years and they were a lot of work! They got huge and I ended up accommodating hundreds of people. The only reason I stopped running them is because I was doing everything by myself. I am a new mum and I am developing my label Raven + Rose too. Now, I often host little style parties for clients and different brands, such as Karen Millen.
to be continued …
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Images: dressmeblog.me, ravenandroselingerie.com