Friend in Fashion’s Jasmin Howell: “More than just a number”

Jasmin Howell is one of those people who just exudes energy and tenacity. One of the original Australian style bloggers, Jasmin begun her blog Friend in Fashion in 2009 – at a time where blogging was a relatively new concept and definitely not a widely accepted one. But seven year’s on, and Jasmin’s determination has paid off.

Now, she holds a place as one of the country’s leading fashion bloggers despite a vastly different landscape. A fact that has seen her tapped by a multitude of brands and events, with one such event being Broadway Sydney’s Fusion Fest held from tomorrow until Sunday. Presenting a fashion masterclass, Jasmin joins the line-up of speakers involved in the initiative that blends food, fashion, beauty, and music.

Ahead of the gig, we chatted to the style blogger about everything from full-time blogging, to social media perils, to emerging platforms…

What made you first start out with Friend in Fashion?
I was working in a corporate job in finance and took to the blog as a creative outlet. I’ve always loved fashion; I had a wardrobe of beautiful clothes that I would collect but didn’t necessarily have the opportunity to wear as I was often wearing suits.

How long was it before you were blogging full-time?
I never had any intention of blogging full-time. When I started the blog seven years ago, the idea of blogging as a profession wasn’t even an option or reality. It would have only really been within the last few years, that I’ve been able to consider myself a ‘full-time blogger’.

What were you doing before becoming a full-time blogger?
I’ve had many jobs before blogging, always with an interest in marketing and strategy. Just before I made the transition to full-time blogging, I created my own consultancy, Mama Zuzu, a digital marketing company which helps brands (particular in the fashion and lifestyle arenas) build their own digital footprint. Mama Zuzu offered everything from social strategy through to product development, graphic design and e-marketing.

What does a usual week look like for you?
There is honestly no such thing as a ‘usual’ week. The nature of my work varies from day-to-day and could see me on set for a photo-shoot, behind a computer devising strategy, or travelling to a new city or country.

How has the blogging landscape changed since you first started out?
It’s changed dramatically. When I first started, there were only a handful of bloggers (particularly here in Australia). Our websites/blogs were the main source of content – rather than social media, and there was a great sense of community. There wasn’t much of a commercial aspect to ‘blogging’ and it was very much a group of people who would read and interact with each other – sharing similar passions, whether it be fashion or other topics of interest. Now Facebook and Instagram are the main ways people consume content, and the space is a lot more crowded.

Is it all as glamorous as what it appears?
Far from it. Don’t get me wrong, there are MANY glamourous sides of blogging – the fashion, the events, the fun! BUT before all of that, there is a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. Building an audience, creating content that people love, establishing working relationships with brands and clients…

What are some of the hard aspects of being a blogger?
You’re constantly connected… to your website, your social media platforms… There isn’t really a structure like an ‘ordinary’ job, so you find yourself working all times of the day. Essentially bloggers are business owners, so you reap all of the reward as well as the risk associated with working for yourself. It can be difficult to disconnect.

And the best parts?!
There are many perks! Of course the clothes are amazing, working with brands you love, and for me, the memorable travel opportunities associated with my line of work.

Who takes your images?
I’m lucky to have the opportunity to partner with some very creative photographers. Depending on where I am in the world usually dictates who takes my images. In the early days I would shoot all of my own images (with a camera remote) or I would rope my husband or brother into helping me! Now in Melbourne, I love to shoot with the very talented Katie Fergus!

You’ve worked with some great brands, can you talk me through some of these?
I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredible brands including Veuve Cliquot, David Jones and L’Oreal. I’ve also loved collaborating with brands Decjuba, Asilio and Ballettonet to design, produce and sell my very own designs – from clothing to footwear.

Congrats on also being a part of the Broadway Fusion Fest. Can you tell me a bit about what it’s all about?
I’m SO excited to be celebrating the Fusion Fest with Broadway. There will be the best of food, fashion, beauty and music all in one location for people to enjoy!

What is your involvement with it?
I’m thrilled to be presenting my top fashion must-haves for the season ahead from Broadway retailers and how to wear them, PLUS I’ll also be taking one lucky winner for a one-on-one styling session with me and $500 to spend on their new wardrobe!

You’ve previously talked about the perils of social media expectations. Can you talk to me a bit about this? What are the biggest perils?
I recently wrote a discussion piece around this very issue, titled ‘What if the internet disappeared tomorrow?‘. As someone who lives and breaths the ‘internet’, it would be reckless for me to ignore the perils associated with social media. The constant connection to a very manipulated online world, the constant comparison to others that have more, look better, and the constant need for more and more followers can prove detrimental to self esteem, self worth and value. I think it’s important to remember that social media often reflects only the best parts of people’s lives and there has to be more value placed on the individual, rather than purely how many followers you have.

Do you think that there is more realisation on its perils these days as opposed to two years ago? Why do you think this is?
I do. I think as a society more than ever we’re all so connected, 24/7, particularly as social media becomes much more main-stream than even a few years ago.

How should people best deal with this?
In my opinion, I think it’s important to actively ‘take breaks’ from social media from time to time just to refresh, recharge and re-evaluate what is important to their own value system.

Where do you think social media is heading?
It’s definitely here to stay! I think there will be even more and more platforms emerging – I believe there will soon be a disruptor to Facebook-owned product (Facebook/Instagram), and a lot more video content.

What’s next for Friend in Fashion and Jasmin Howell?
FriendInFashion.TV!!! I’m currently working on developing some great video content sharing my love of fashion, food and travel!

In a recent blog post you mentioned your father once asked you “what do you want to be remembered for?”… So, what do you want to be remembered for?
More than just a number – I want to leave a legacy that gives back and contributes to society. I’m determined to align myself with a movement focused on building the self-esteem and confidence in young girls to help build them into strong, independent women!

Broadway Sydney’s four day ‘Fusion Fest’ will take place across Level Two of the centre from May 25th – 28th. Visit http://www.broadway.com.au for more information.

All images: @FriendInFashion

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