HSC Influencer Series - Hungry Hipsters
Bre Chiero has built a very impressive brand in a very short amount of time. Carefully and intentionally curated but also playfully-refined, Hungry Hipsters is a visual treasure-trove of lifestyle photography goodness.
First of all, tell us a little about yourself! Where did you grow up? As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I’m from a really small town about 45 minutes outside Chicago! As far as a career, I was always interested in a crazy range of professions when I was little, I went from wanting to be a ballet dancer to a surgeon to a fashion designer! So it’s no surprise I ended up in a path that has me doing something new everyday.
You worked as the fashion director at Macy’s before you created Hungry Hipsters. What exactly did you do and how has this knowledge and experience benefitted you when it comes to running your business?
I worked at Macy’s for almost 7 years! Initially I was at Macys.com (which was a separate entity at the time) where I worked solely on creating an online trend presence for the Millennial shopper. This included trend forecasting, giving product direction to our buying teams, creating an online messaging cadence for our marketing & choosing the featured styles in our digital trend reports. Eventually Macy.com merged into Macy’s Inc, and my role grew to oversee both digital & store businesses of our Millennial brands. I contribute absolutely everything that I’ve done with Hungry Hipsters to the knowledge & professionalism I gained while at Macy’s. For me, it was so important to have corporate structure to apply to blogging, since my main goal isn’t to be instafamous but to create a brand. While at Macy’s, I pitched new brands & was involved in the entire journey until product hit the floors. My job wasn’t all creative, we had to have data to back up our reasoning in everything we stood behind. And this alone has had me focused on the right path with growing our Hungry Hipsters brand.
When did you make the transition from full-time work with Macy’s to running HH full-time? Were your confident in your decision or where there some nerves involved too?
It’s only been about 2 years since I took the plunge & it was definitely scary. I was actually running Hungry Hipsters on the side as a hobby and never intended for it to grow into something I thought I could leave my corporate job for. As far as having confidence, I let it come down to financials. I saved up enough money as a safety net & also made sure there were enough projects coming in to support my rent & expenses. But going from a full-time job into freelance, primarily working for myself, was so unsettling. And sometimes it still is!
It’s tough to stay relevant on social media and as a lifestyle content creator the pressure must be even greater. How do you manage to stay ahead of the trends and do you use a system to plan ahead?
I’m a huge planner, and sometimes our feed is actually planned a month in advance. Again, I contribute this to what I did as a fashion director- flowing colors, finding relevant trends to build stories around & always scouting for newness. I religiously use the app UNUM to help with all the organization! It allows you to build upon your feed prior to it going live. So amazing!
When creating content for clients, how much artistic freedom do you have? Do you feel that content creation for established brands can still be an artistic endeavor?
All my clients generally have a different process for the way we work together. But I won’t accept a project where I have no artistic freedom! The main brands I create content for (outside of Hungry Hipsters) all allow me to pitch ideas around a specific sample or product they’d like me to feature. And we go from there! At the end of the day, it should always be a balance- they are the experts on their brand, but they lean on me for styling, photography & what would stand out in social media.
Have the changes to Instagram’s algorithm and advertising rules had an impact on your work at all? For better or worse?
I try not to get too caught up in the algorithm stuff since it tends to be a lot of hear-say of what is truly hindering the performance & visibility of posts. Every single one of my posts has a different level of engagement. It could be the content itself, the time posted or the day of the week, or maybe the algorithm. There are a lot of unknowns! So I focus on what I can control- the content. And for the advertising rules, I support it. I think we should all be transparent when a sponsorship is involved. If you’re choosing to work only with brands you feel great about and are excited to work with, it shouldn’t feel weird to use #ad or #sponsored when you post!
What would you say is the best advice or tip to build your business/ following on Instagram?
I think it’s important to start out with a theme or purpose to your blogging, so people know what you’re all about & have a reason to follow you. Whether it’s food, fashion, bright colors, DIY, beauty, travel, coffee, etc! And make sure that purpose is something you're passionate about otherwise it won’t come to you naturally & will feel like a lot of work!
What are you favorite social media platforms and which one do you feel has been the most beneficial to your business?
Instagram by far is my favorite platform & is the most profitable for me!
In your opinion, 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?
I do! I just think that influencers will need to adapt to the changes in social media. Several years ago, people would seek out blogs moreso than turning to Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc. Now I these apps are increasingly becoming a place where consumers are spending most of their time, so any savvy blogger would choose to also be on these platforms & extend their network.
In your opinion, what are the vital skills needed to be a successful blogger?
Being professional, having strong organizational & communication skills, being timely & creative, and having your own vision.
What advice would you give to aspiring bloggers?
Do not compare yourself to other people. It’s a lot easier said than done, but focusing on other people’s content, their engagement/numbers & opportunities they are receiving will only take away from you doing your own thing! Your blog & content should make you happy, and at the end of the day that’s what is most important! The most successful people always come from a place of hard work & a lot of passion. And they generally don’t follow the same path as others, just remember that!