HSC Influencer Series - Courtney and Kelly (Mimosas and Manhattan)
Courtney and Kelly; two cousins that have been playing dress-ups since they were kids. Skip forward to 2018 and they're still playing dress-ups. They also work fashion industry as well as run the insanely successful, Mimosas and Manhattan, offering insights and advice on all things fashion, travel, and life in NYC.
So the big question first: You’re cousins. What’s it like to work so closely with a family member and is there any rivalry between you two?
A question that we get asked a lot!! This is something that we always tend to answer as we would never EVER go into a business with a friend but a family member is different. There is sisterhood between us and a bond that a blog could never break. Not saying that we have never argued - lol - it does happen but we have an understanding of what is most important, which is each other. Therefore at the end of the day we are able to not sweat the small stuff.
Where did you grow up and were you close as kids? Do you have any fun childhood memories of the two of you that you’d care to share?
Kelly grew up in Alexandria, VA, outside of DC & Courtney grew up in Bright, Indiana a small town outside of Cincinnati. So funny that you ask because we actually were extremely close growing up even though we lived far from each other. Our moms are sisters as well as best friends, so there was a lot of traveling between the two states throughout our lifetime. We always picked up right where we left off! In terms of childhood memories, one of my (Courtney’s) favorites is that Kelly actually taught me how to do makeup. I was a major tomboy growing up so if it wasn’t for Kelly I probably wouldn’t of ever learned the ways of mascara, foundation, and eyeliner until WAY LATER in life. Kelly honestly taught me everything - the art of boys as well! She is way beyond her years!
Where did your mutual love of fashion come from?
We actually both kinda picked up fashion in college. Kelly was super into show choir and volleyball throughout her school years and Courtney the same with basketball and track. It wasn’t until those things were taken away in college that we really discovered our love for fashion, art, and photography!
How do you juggle full-time work as well as Mimosas & Manhattan?
It is definitely something that we have learned with time. It has never been easy and there are still plenty of times that stress takes over. However we have learned small ways to handle it all and still remember the FUN of it! I think that is something that gets taken away as your following grows. You start to forget why you wanted to create a blog in the first place. We also lean on each other a lot. We have a lot of respect for those solo bloggers out there!
It’s tough to stay relevant on social media and as fashion and lifestyle bloggers the pressure must be even greater. How do you manage to stay ahead of the trends?
Great question! As we all know blogging is extremely saturated right now and we have noticed that the moment one of the “top bloggers” does a certain trend or shoot location - EVERYONE FLOCKS! This is something that we realized early on and have learned to stay away from them. I think having a great mix of high end, low end, fast fashion, vintage keeps you unique and differentiated from the rest. My biggest piece of advice is to always go against the grain!
Who takes your photos??
So! This was a long time coming. When we first started out we used a variety of photographers. After a while many bloggers were using that same photog and we began to realize that all of our photos looked the same and the uniqueness of us left our brand. That’s when Courtney went out and bought her first DSLR camera and taught herself the ins and outs of Lightroom. We then basically forced her boyfriend Kyle to shoot us - HAHA. He has been such an amazing sport and something that we do not take for granted! We however edit all of our own stuff :)
Your content is curated really well and consistent throughout your Insta feed. Aesthetically, how do you decide on which direction to take it and do you use any apps or a system to maintain the consistency?
Thank you!! We have gone through many different aesthetics throughout our 5 years of blogging but we finally feel like we have landed where we want to be! In terms of apps - We actually fully edit on Lightroom on our laptops! Sometimes we will use VSCO (C series) as well as Facetune for their detail and smoothness tools.
In your opinion, how important is branding for a blogger?
I have talked a lot about branding as a blogger with friends and other influencers. I think this answer is two fold. In one piece we are all human! We make mistakes, we evolve, we change! Who Kelly & I were when we started Mimosas is completely different than who we are now. I caution bloggers starting out to not pigeonhole themselves into a brand that is not 100% true to who they are. On the other side of things, I do feel that having consistency in your feed and your site is important! Always stay true to who you are and that is the most important thing.
How do you go about reaching out to new clients for potential collaborations?
So we are very lucky in that Kelly has a background in PR. When generally we want to reach out to new clients we will pitch the client’s PR teams. We always send a deck detailing out what we want to achieve, and a bit more about ourselves and what makes Mimosas and Manhattan so unique!
Have the changes to Instagram’s algorithm had an impact on your work at all? For better or worse?
Unfortunately the algorithm has taken a toll on our business! We have seen a drastic decrease in engagement that has been extremely disheartening and upsetting! We are slowly learning how to work through it though :)
What would you say is the best advice or tip to build your business/ following on Instagram now?
I think right now a great way to grow your following is focusing a lot more on your content. The algorithm makes it extremely hard to be found right now so you have to produce content that is both unique and different. Along with that I would work with higher end bloggers to ask them to share or post your feed onto their instagram stories. The share pods are huge right now!
How do you see the “business” of blogging changing over the next few years? Do you think that Influencers will always play such a strong role in marketing?
As of the next 5 years I believe influencers will continue to play a major role in the business of marketing and how brands execute their strategies. Social media will continue to evolve but I believe to maintain dominance, especially as Gen Z gets older - as it is really all they have ever known. I do think that micro influencers will begin to play a larger role especially as buying likes and a following become easier and easier.
In your opinion, what are the vital skills needed to be a successful blogger?
I believe first and foremost you need to be creative! You have to be able to create your own content and not rely on others to guide you. You also need to be organized and have a point of view!
What advice would you give to aspiring bloggers?
As I have kinda said before stay true to yourself! Find a group of friends in the business that you trust. It is so nice to have people to bounce ideas off of, talk business with and shoot with. Also - be consistent!
Finally, do you still love a bottomless mimosa??
We do of course!! Not as often as we used too but we do still indulge when we can! Our favorite is Randolph Brooklyn in Williamsburg :)