A former magazine editor and graduate of Barnard College, Austen Tosone is also the brains behind Keep Calm and Chiffon, a blog where she offers tips about the magazine and fashion industries, shares outfit inspiration and more. She also runs a TikTok and Instagram account – both of which have over 11,000 followers on each – where she posts tips and advice for budding content creators. Still located in New York City, Austen’s aim is to help others to “create better,” and she offers services from social media consulting to branded content creation. So how did she secure brand deals with companies like Glossier and Garnier, and feature on podcasts such as the Content Creatives Podcast and The Female Millennial?
Her Campus: Tell us about your site/platform and why you launched it.
Austen Tosone: I started Keep Calm and Chiffon in 2012 to document my outfits over the summer. I was interested in seeing which items I wore the most and how many outfits I could put together out of my own closet. I didn't plan for the blog to continue past that summer, but eight years later here we are! My site has now evolved beyond just a personal style blog, and I write about fashion and beauty as well as blogging tips.
HC: What do you hope your followers get out of following you?
AT: I want to help anyone who's interested in working in the fashion and beauty industries, whether they want to be an editor, a publicist, a blogger or something else. I try to share honest accounts of my experiences as a magazine editor, a freelancer and a blogger, so that others can bypass some of the things that I struggled through when first starting out. I also hope that they get advice for both fashion and beauty, from outfit ideas to knowing the best products to get at Sephora.
HC: What does your week currently entail? Is there such a thing as a typical day?
AT: I usually wake up around 6:30 a.m. and work on my blog for a while before work, and I do the rest after work and on weekends. A week could involve creating content, taking an SEO course, writing blog posts, and coming up with new ideas for my career newsletter. I have three pieces of content that I always share each week: a blog post on Wednesdays, a newsletter on Wednesdays, and a YouTube video on Sundays. Having these three things helps me because my audience knows when they can expect to hear from me on those platforms. I used to post to Instagram every day, but was truthfully getting burned out. I schedule Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest posts using Later so that I can do everything in an hour at the beginning of the month and just let it run, and I post to Instagram whenever I have something useful and relevant to say.
HC: What's the best and worst part about being an influencer?
AT: The best part is getting to meet all of the other amazing people who are in this industry, as well as connecting with people online who I never would have met otherwise.
The worst part is definitely comparison, and feeling like you always have to be online.
HC: What advice would you give to a college woman with similar aspirations?
I would say there's no better time to start a blog or Instagram account than right now! I started out posting backlit photos and wrote 100-word blog posts, but I learned and evolved from there. You can't get better if you don't have a starting point to work from, so just start.
HC: Is running your platforms your full time job or a side hustle, and why did you make that decision?
AT: My blog has been the side hustle of college and my various jobs since I started it. Even when I was a full-time freelancer I was still writing for magazines, and that typically made up 60% of my income whereas my blog work probably made up 30% each month. Being an influencer full-time is definitely possible, but you have to be smart and have a plan in place for any situation. I think it's important for influencers to have their own products and services and not be fully dependent on brand partnerships for income. You never know what could happen (like a global pandemic that puts all marketing budgets into question) or if the Instagram algorithm changes and you suddenly can't reach your audience. Have a platform you own like a blog or a newsletter, and focus on building it.
HC: Which people (or books) have had the most influence on you, and why?
AT: For marketing tips I love @followmario. For getting started in fashion @cvazzana. For personal branding @vivaciouslymarin, and I love Sunny Lenarduzzi for YouTube tips and growth. Her videos have helped me so much. I also love the book Influencer by Brittany Hennessy. It really opened my eyes to charging what you're worth as a creator.
HC: How has being an influencer affected your friendships and relationships?
AT: For the most part, it hasn't. I'm really lucky to have supportive friends and family who are happy to see that I get to do something creative that I love. I don't typically show my family or my boyfriend on stories, just because they don't have an interest in it and I want to be respectful of what they're comfortable with but I couldn't do any of this without their support.
HC: What has been the most surreal thing that’s happened to you as an influencer?
AT: ASOS invited me to go see Taylor Swift's reputation tour at MetLife stadium. I was totally floored. Best night ever!
HC: What are your three favorite tools for content creation?
AT: 1. Jumprope is an app for easily creating and sharing videos. Create once, and you get perfectly formatted exports for every platform!
2. Later is a tool that I use to schedule content. I can schedule pins, tweets and posts for Facebook and Instagram all at once.
3. My Canon G7X Mark ii camera! It has Bluetooth and a selfie mode and takes such awesome videos, and it's small so you can take it on the go.
HC: What does the future of influencing look like for you? What's next for you personally?
AT: I'm really interested in continuing to grow my blog and YouTube channel and help as many creators as I can monetize their fashion and beauty blogs and social media platforms. I have an e-book Right on Pitch where I share pitching tips and advice and I'm hoping to launch another digital product soon.
Personally, I just celebrated one year in my role as the beauty content director at Jumprope, which is an awesome app for any content creators who want to start making videos but don't have previous experience. I also just want to spend more time with family and friends, even if it's virtual, because this year has definitely revealed what's really important.