Ever wonder what it's like to go behind the scenes (or screens) of a blogger/influencer? Danielle Gray, Beauty & Style Expert and founder of The Style & Beauty Doctor - the fun and resourceful fashion and beauty guide for women of all races, ages, and sizes - is giving us an exclusive look into the world of blogging, what inspires her and how she built her brand. So get out your tablets - you're about to get some insightful tabs on the industry and how to break into it!
Can you tell us a bit about your background? I'm originally from Queens, NYC. My parent immigrated here from Trinidad back in the 60s and like most children of immigrants, I grew up knowing that I'd have a traditional career. I graduated from Hofstra University with a degree in Marketing and I worked in the Financial Services industry for many years before I made a pivot into blogging. I didn't even tell my family I quit my job to blog full time until my last day at work.
What was your "gold lining" that lead you down this career path as a Beauty & Fashion Expert/Blogger? I started my blog in 2007 while still working full time. I worked on my blog on the side as a creative outlet for then about three years. I remember sitting at my desk at work preparing for a client meeting when I got an email invite from a beauty brand but the event was during the day when I'd be at work. It's a really odd way to think about what my Caribbean parents would say is a "good job with benefits," but that moment made me realize that my job was getting in the way of my dreams. After that I started to really plot on how I could blog full time.
What is your creative process like? Who or what inspires you today? Almost everything inspires me so I'm constantly jotting down creative ideas for my blog, YouTube channel, and social media in my Notes app on my phone. I source a lot of beauty and fashion content ideas from conversations I have with my audience as well as people watching in NYC.
How did you define your brand personality? Has it evolved since you launched? I would say my brand personality is actually my personality...lol. I know a ton about beauty and fashion, but I'm also very fun and friendly so I like to convey that in my blog posts and videos. I like to teach people how to look their best, but I do it in a manner that's comfortable for them.
Garnering a following is no easy task. How did you build your audience? I hang out where my audience is. Before social media it was through SEO---I still use SEO today so even more people can find me. I also believe in posting consistently. Having a blog or a Youtube channel is like having a TV show in some ways. You want your audience to include watching your videos or reading your posts the same way they do with their favorite TV shows. I'm also active on social platforms relevant to my brand and I interact with my audience as opposed to just talking at them.
What's are some beauty products you cannot travel without? I have to have foundation, powder, lashes (I know that sounds extra, but they really add to my look...lol), liner, and lip color. And of course travel sizes of my favorite skincare. I also bring some "just in case" sheet masks and deep moisturizers just in case my skin gets dried out from the plane or if there's a change in climate.
What has been the most exciting moment in your career to date? There have been SO many amazing moments. I've been on television as a beauty and fashion expert, I got to cover the red carpet for Hollywood movie premieres, I've been flown to so many cool places around the world, etc. but I would have to say I really love having beauty events where I get to meet and interact with my audience.
You're job is to literally be "on." Do you ever "turn off?" If so, how do you create balance in your life? I force myself to get off the computer by 6 P.M. every evening. I also pause during the day to take a "lunch break" which I use to go to the gym and run errands. I actually eat my meals in front of the computer...lol. It was hard to find balance because I used to get on the computer at 7 A.M. and not get off until sometimes after midnight.
Has the space changed since you first entered? If so, how? I definitely have noticed that social media has become "the media." When I first started out, the allure of social media and blogging was that everyday people were behind blogs and Instagram pages. Now everything has become so perfect and staged. I do think people are turning away from all the perfection though. But there's still a lot of seeing the same aesthetic especially in the beauty industry.
In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up? I talk to my girls. My girls really get me back in line. I also allow myself to cry, wallow, and then I pick myself back up.
What quotation or saying inspires you and motivates you to be yourself and do what you love? When I worked at the bank, I had some hardcore sales training that really helped me in this creative world. But one thing one of the sales trainers said that has stuck with me over the last ten years is "People do business with people they know and like." It has helped me tremendously in building my audience and also working with brands.
What characteristics do you admire most in other bloggers? Creativity! I follow some really amazing and creative bloggers.
What’s your best advice for all those people who want to follow in your footsteps? Get your budget down to a minimum---this type of lifestyle may LOOK glamorous but there are a lot of ups and downs. Make sure you have some good savings to fall back on during the slower times. I would also say be 150% yourself. That's the beauty of social media AND it brings it back to my favorite quote "people do business with people they know and like." If your audience feels like they "know" you, they'll show up consistently to hear/read what you have to say.
The only thing Danielle loves more than the latest in fashion and beauty? Telling everyone about it! She's made it her mission to match fabulous fashion and beauty finds with fabulous people, so head on over to @stylenbeautydoc to follow her journey!
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