Karis Renee on Quitting Corporate Life and Building Her Own Style Platform
Just over a year ago Dallas-based style influencer Karis Renee decided that the corporate track was no longer for her. She quit her well-paying, secure job and fully dedicated herself to establishing a digital following, launched a popular Poshmark store and became the editor for World Bride Magazine. It paid off — in just a short span of time she’s amassed a large following and worked with a plethora of beauty and clothing brands. We wanted to find out how she differentiates herself from other social media influencers and how her work at the magazine is making media more diverse.
You resigned from a multi-million-dollar fashion company where you served as a marketing executive. Why did you resign and what were your next steps in your career?
Karis Renee: I resigned a little over a year ago because I really wanted to focus on creative projects. In my previous career I wasn’t really able to have flexibility or be as multifaceted as I truly am. Sometimes working in larger corporations, especially when you’re working with people from very different age backgrounds, it can be pretty challenging. I had my hands in a lot of different pots and for me it was just time to grow — I wanted to expand and be in an environment that fostered creativity. I had always been blogging, writing and collaborating with different brands on a small scale. I also had my own online store where I was selling gently-used and new items. When I stopped working for my previous corporation, I extended my online business and was able to incorporate my Poshmark page into my social media. I was in a more comfortable space to share and tell more people that I was growing into a small entrepreneurial business. I was also able to dedicate more time to growing my brand as a lifestyle, beauty and style influencer.
What is your specific angle as an influencer?
My angle as an influencer is that I see myself as a marketing platform. You should do what’s fun but also look at what you do as a business. As a creative I think that being able to style or to put together a really strong shoot is really important. I don’t really just see myself as just a blogger or an influencer. Coming from a marketing perspective I’m just doing independent marketing in a really cool and creative way where I’m very involved from the beginning to the end.
What are some of your tips to help grow a following on social media?
For me it’s always been about the visual. I was one of the keynote speakers for this event called PoshFest and discussed how to get your audience to engage with your profile a little bit more. It really came down to the cover shot and how to make the first photo more likely for your audience engage with it. My goal is to try to make each image that I share worthy of something that I would pin on Pinterest. When I make time to visually prioritize things, it really, really made a difference. I’m really pleased with how my social media feed and my blog look because people don’t take as much time to read anymore. Visual is the way make that first impression that typically lasts long enough where somebody might remember, “oh she had a cute Instagram page” long after.
Elevating my visuals was also a really, really strong point of growth for me. It was as simple as using a piece of white cardboard or cardstock paper from the dollar store as my backdrop instead of the carpet. You can go as strong as installing rolls of paper in a home studio space so that you can have a high-end backdrop. Or it could be as simple as going to Dollar Tree and grabbing a couple of white pieces of poster board paper so that you can have a really clean smooth surface for photographing the latest fragrance that you’re wearing. If you want to interact with more brands that interest you, try to style some of your content in ways that would reach their audience. If you really want to work with Dior, for example, take a look at their feed and take a look at what they’re putting out. See what their audience is responding to and then showcase how you can create content that’s in that same vein. When they’re looking for influencers or marketing collaborations they can see “okay this person already speaks our visual language.”
How would you describe your style?
My go-to style is cool-kid-meets-art-teacher. I love a good pair of black pants and a classic Carolina Herrera button0up, a statement necklace and a high bun. I enjoy the classics and putting a little twist on them. Also, right now comfort is key for me. This year I’m doing a lot —from the job switch to planning my wedding to signing the lease on our first home, there are a of new adjustments and a lot of stress.
Congratulations on your engagement! Speaking of wedding, you’re the editor for World Bride Magazine. How is the magazine different from other bridal magazines?
The magazine is all about showcasing brides from across the world. Over the past few decades the media really only focused on one type of bride, and unfortunately most times only one shade of bride. What really made me gravitate toward World Bride Magazine was their message of diversity and beauty, not just different brides but different ways to plan your special day — how to make it work for you and your personality. Women of color have been overlooked in the media in the past before so it’s amazing to work with a publication that is welcoming of diversity.
You travel quite a bit, how do you maintain your style?
I had to learn this the hard way when I was in Bali a couple of months ago and my luggage was lost. I’ve never been to Bali, this beautiful island, and I’m just sitting at the airport like what am I supposed to do? When it comes to traveling, I usually put my most valuable items in my carry-on with me no matter what. I just try to identify the items that I can get the most use out of which means a little black dress or in my case, a little black jumpsuit. I like to look for items that you can wear a few different ways, so that I’m not bringing as much stuff because there’s nothing like an overweight or lost bag. Those are key pieces that I like to bring with me to make up a few different looks.
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