Wanting to move to NYC, but don’t know how to make it both affordable and trendy? Well, you need to start following Rae Hersey, a fashion and lifestyle blogger who knows how to do both! Rae has been blogging ever since her freshman year of college at NYU, and she's since grown her following to over 41,000 on Instagram, working with brands such as Pretty Little Thing, Nasty Gal and Princess Polly.
Rae's also found recent TikTok fame, posting content about thrifting, NYC living, and fashion inspiration. But how'd Rae grow her college side project into a brand with over 50,000 followers across social platforms?
Her Campus: Tell us about your site/platform and why you launched it.
Rae Hersey: I started a page when I was studying abroad in Paris my freshman year of college. I was having a tough time adjusting to being on a new campus, and I used my blog as a visual journal to share all of the crazy experiences I was having with my family and close friends. I wrote about everything from how expensive Starbucks was to the fashionably dressed people I spotted walking around my favorite parks. When I returned to NYC, I shifted my page to focus on my own style. I'm a huge thrifter and second-hand shopper, so I love sharing ways for my followers to find really fashionable pieces on the cheap.
HC: What do you hope your followers get out of following you?
RH: I always like to show my followers the real-life struggles of content creation in NYC (see: carrying a suitcase to the Met to shoot 5 outfits). Whether it's silly videos of us changing in Soho or trying to hide how greasy my hair is before taking a pic, I like to let them peek behind the curtain to see the effort and silliness that goes behind one good photo. I started sharing a #FirstPicFriday where I only take one photo and I have to post that one in order to let my followers see what one photo actually comes out like, rather than the 300+ I would normally take to get one good shot. I hope that my followers see me as a friend first and "influencer" second. I want to be there for them when they need me, and provide a source of entertainment and inspiration that doesn't make people doubt themselves or demote them like a lot of content on social media does.
HC: What does your week currently entail?
RH: I work full-time, so Sundays are my dedicated content days. During the week, I plan outfits and locations for the weekends. That's also the time when I work on my collaboration emails and pitches. Sometimes I'll shoot an outfit if it's still light out after work, but when Sunday comes around, I try to meet up with one or two other IG blogger friends in a neighborhood we picked and shoot a bunch of looks that I post throughout the week.
I've only shot with a tripod alone once in Manhattan. I'm mostly too scared of getting my phone stolen, but I've definitely considered doing it for early morning shoots before work!
HC: What's the best and worst part about being an influencer?
RH: The best part is 100% the friends I've made. It's not at all what I expected to get out of my Instagram page. Just having such a strong common interest has led me to building some of my closest friendships I have!
The worst part about being an influencer has to be the creative ruts. There's nothing worse than the days or weeks when you feel like you can't come up with anything creative and start doubting yourself. And on top of the sucky feelings, you still have to post stories and to your feed regularly. We all get burnt out from time to time and it's definitely challenging to push through that.
HC: What advice would you give to a college woman with similar aspirations?
Things won't come to you overnight. You may not have the best engagement, best photos, best outfits, best makeup, or whatever right now, but you have to keep pushing through and staying consistent. Post what you enjoy and you'll be able to get past those humps. A lot of people give up when they're faced with challenges, but those who keep pushing and keep creating are the ones who will find success in time.
HC: Is running your platforms your full time job or a side hustle? Why did you make that decision?
RH: Right now it's a side hustle for me! I'm a workaholic so I love my side projects :)
I currently work in advertising and love my career. It's hard for me to imagine leaving my full-time job because it's always been my life plan to work in the corporate world. Outside of work, I do my @rae.hersey Tiktok and IG, an Airbnb Experience I host where I take guests around Soho for Instagram Photoshoots, as well as my upcycling business @vintage.by.rae.
HC: Which people have had the most influence on you, and why?
RH: My favorite creators to follow on Instagram are definitely @emmaleger, @nitsanraiter, @amaka.hamelijnck and @matildadjerf. Each of them has such a strong personal style and I really admire how they've created their own styles of content creation that other content creators admire and model their styles after.
HC: How has being an influencer affected your friendships and relationships?
RH: When I first started shooting for Instagram content, it was definitely a lot to ask my friends to take photos for me all the time. Over time, I've found it's easiest to hire someone to help take your photos or to meet up with other creators to shoot for each other. My boyfriend has been super supportive of my Instagram and TikTok and he loves to help me brainstorm my strategies for both platforms, but I still have to do a lot of convincing to get him to take photos for me.
Through Instagram, I've made some of my closest friends, something I never could have imagined when I started my page.
HC: What’s been the most surreal thing that’s happened to you as an influencer?
RH: One of the most surreal things for me has been being compensated for travel. Just this year, I've started working with hotels including chains like Hilton and super boutique places like The Dean Hotel and Airbnbs. I find it so fascinating learning about each hotel's branding and all of the strategy that goes into their social presences. That's definitely been one of the most exciting things for me this year.
Another huge thing I got to do was attend New York Fashion Week. There are a lot of small brand events I got invited to, but the most exciting part was being invited to a show at Spring Studios, the official runways for NYFW. It was really intimidating walking in and being amongst so many well-dressed people, but we had the best time! Looking forward to the next NYFW that we'll be able to attend (hopefully soon!)
In terms of fashion collaborations, my biggest "pinch me" collabs were with Aerie, DSW, and Zadig & Voltaire, Outdoor Voices and Warby Parker.
HC: What are your three favorite tools for content creation?
RH: Top 3: Lightroom, UNUM, and Retouch! Learning about Lightroom was a game-changer for my feed! I use these three apps to edit and plan out my photos for every single post on my page.
HC: What does the future of influencing look like for you?
RH: It's definitely hard to tell. There are always headlines saying that influencer marketing is here to stay or that it's coming to an end this year. I think the cliche "influencer" isn't going to be as successful moving forward. The industry is moving towards authenticity, genuine connection and real interactions, whether that be through videos, live streams or other tools. I personally believe Instagram is going to phase out in the next few years, so I have a Tiktok and am also always looking into new platforms to find communities.