Blogging & Personal Branding

Natasha Gabbayan

Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle

Natasha Gabbayan

Location: Beverly Hills
Date: 2/21/2020
Title: Blogging and Personal Branding With Natasha.
Profession: Blogger

Q & A

Tell us about yourself. Who are you and what do you do for a living?

My name is Natasha Gabbayan and I’m a fashion blogger and personal stylist. I’m 23 years old and I was born and raised in Beverly Hills, California.

I moved to Eugene, Oregon in 2014 to attend college at the University of Oregon. I chose Eugene, Oregon because I wanted to get out of California and Eugene is the exact opposite of Beverly Hills. I wanted a change and I wanted to get out of my comfort zone and knowing not one person at the university, I can definitely say I was starting over and in a very uncomfortable position.

Though I loved fashion, I chose to go to a 4 year university rather than a fashion school so I could really get the full college experience. As Oregon isn’t a huge fashion state, there weren’t any majors that lined up with my passion so I majored in General Social Science with a focus on Crime, Law and Society.

Though throughout college I showcased my outfits on Instagram, I didn’t restart my blog until junior year of college. My roommates and I were sitting on our couch brainstorming a new name for my new and improved blog when we came up with Ooh My Tash (like Oh my gosh but Tash is my nickname). I started having a few friends of mine take my photos after class in weird but cool parts of Eugene.

I had a separate Instagram I had started to go with my blog but slowly realized I wanted my personal Instagram and my business Instagram to mesh into one so I could really show my entire life to my followers. Looking back though I struggled trying to blog in Eugene because of the constant rain and not so glamorous location, it made me realize that if I can stay fashionable and maintain a blog while in Eugene, Oregon I can really be stylish and successful anywhere.

In 2018 I moved back to LA to start my adult-ish life and continue to grow my personal brand. 

What's your backstory and what led you to fashion/blogging?

I started blogging in 5th grade when I was diagnosed with Scoliosis and had to start wearing a large plastic brace 18 hours a day, 7 days a week. The brace started right under my armpits and went all the way down to right above my hips. It was extremely thick and uncomfortable and I wasn’t able to wear anything tight. Not being able to wear jeans or tank tops or almost anything was a huge struggle for me. I was entering a whole new world of fashion and had a lot of restrictions. But instead of letting it get me down I decided I needed to figure out how to stay fabulous.This is when I started the blog to showcase how I was staying stylish despite my new bulky accessory.

I started raiding my dads closet for his big t-shirts and going through my mom’s vintage belts to create a more polished look. What started out as a nightmare turned into a fun challenge. What started as a childhood hobby turned into a profession around my junior year of college when I started collaborating with brands.

What drives you? Why this?

I’d have to say what drives me the most is my passion. It’s what started my blog and what keeps me motivated everyday. I genuinely eat, sleep, and breathe fashion and I couldn’t stop what I was doing even if I wanted to.

Even before my blogging days, I would put on an outfit and sit in front of my Mac laptop and open up PhotoBooth and take photos of my own outfits so I had a log of outfits to look through when I didn’t know what to wear in the morning. Now my goal is to offer that same help to other people. I love when people approach me and tell me they look through my Instagram page all the time in order to put outfits together.

I genuinely want to be a source of inspiration for people, the way bloggers I follow are for me. So though my passion is ultimately what drives me the most, my second passion which is helping people contributes to my drive as well. My love for fashion and my love of people fuels my constant hustle.

Describe the process of launching starting your blog. What was it like?

I started my blog on a platform called Blogspot which I don’t even think is available anymore today. I was 12 so I had no idea what I was doing but looked at other bloggers like Tavi Gevinson (one of the first fashion bloggers I ever “followed”)  for reference. I would ask my mom to take photos of my outfits everyday before school or I’d meet up with a friend after school and have her take photos of me in the alleyway of her house.

Once I started my blog, the Vintage Influence (lol) I’d post multiple photos of my outfits showcasing my look and then write a quick blurb about how I styled everything, wear everything was from and what occasion I would wear the certain outfits to. I also explained other ways to style similar pieces or how I’d wear the outfit in a different way. I definitely faked it till I made it but the Vintage Influence was definitely cooler than it’s time.

Since starting, what has worked well for you in gaining an audience and earning income?

It’s been a long time coming but I think what has helped me grow my following organically is staying true to myself. In this industry it’s easy to want to mold into what you see is working for other bloggers/influencers in order to gain followers in a quick and easy way, but if you’re not staying true to your own personal style or aesthetic it really does show.

A lot of people in the field right now are putting a big focus on “filler” photos and have shared that posting this photos with their outfit photos definitely helps them grow. Though I’ve been tempted to fall into that mold a few times, it just isn’t what I’m about and it isn’t why I started my blog in the first place.

Like I mentioned earlier, I want people to look at me for outfit inspiration rather than artsy photos. Though this works well for others and they genuinely enjoy it, it doesn’t fit my own personal brand. Another way I stay true to myself is by only accepting brand collaborations that I actually like or respect in order to stay real with my followers.

I see the most growth in my following when I’m posting photos/outfits that I genuinely love. What has helped me earn an income through blogging and Instagram is reaching out to brands that I love and creating really great content for them.

I would say 50% of the time I’m reaching out to brands and the other 50% of the time they are reaching out to me. When that happens, we discuss what we can offer each other. For example the brand may offer gifted product and compensation in exchange for 1 in feed post and 2 stories.

Having a steady rate and an organized media kit has helped me work with brands in a more professional way and earn an income to the best of my ability. 

 

Through your career, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Throughout my career I’ve learned that the best partnerships come from a great, organic relationship rather than just a business relationship.

When I partner with brands I don’t look at it as what they can do for me, I think of it as what we can do for each other. If I’m working with a bigger brand that I was familiar with it’s usually because I already own products from them or love their brand. Or if it’s a smaller brand that reaches out to me I usually make sure I like their vibe and products before accepting to a collaboration. This way I can ensure that these partnerships are organic and real on both ends.

Another thing I’ve learned is the importance of networking. Though my entire career is mostly online based, it’s important to not forget that my job exists offline as well.

I try my best to get my name out there on a day to day basis wether that’s at a coffee shop or at a big event. I believe that being a fearless networker is important for every career or business no matter who you are or what you’re doing.

To what would you attribute your success as an entrepreneur?

I attribute my success as an entrepreneur to a few things. One of them is definitely my mom. My mom was a working mom throughout my life.

She went back to school when me and my sister were very young in hopes of becoming an interior designer. She went back to school for 2.5 years and got a degree in interior design despite having to be a full time mom at the same time.

She took a risk and changed professions at an unconventional age in order to follow her dreams. She went on to start a business from the ground up with a few other people and then left that company and started her own business from scratch.

It is very common these days for women and mothers to be stay at home mom’s and not work at all and my mom chose a different route. She was constantly hustling while also making sure to be a present, loving, and thoughtful mom and she made her dreams a reality.

She definitely showed me what an independent working woman looks like and I think that has given me a true example to look up to. Also like I mentioned previously, my true love and passion makes working feel a lot less like work and a lot more fun. If I didn’t love what I was doing I don’t think I’d have half success I do now.

What would you say makes you different than others in your space?

In an industry that is so saturated, it’s easy to fall into the cracks and blend in. Though every career requires you to be different and unique in order to be successful, I think it’s especially true in the blogging world. I think what sets me aside from other influencers/bloggers is how I let my personality show through my work. Wether thats in my writing in my blog posts, my Instagram stories or videos or my Instagram captions, I’m unapologetically me. I really do pride myself on being uncensored and unfiltered instead of constantly trying to show a perfect, prim and proper persona. And by doing so I do think it makes my followers really relate to me on a personal level rather than just a stranger they follow on Instagram.

I receive messages everyday from my followers and I am constantly interacting with them because they really are my friends and even family. I think often times a lot of the bloggers these days only show the glamorous and aesthetically pleasing parts of their lives whereas I try and stay real and relatable with my following always.

 
 
 
 
 
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walking in these pants sound like consecutive farts but I do it for the fashun

A post shared by OOHMYTASH (@natashagabbayan) on

What career accomplishments would you say you are most proud of and why?

I think in this industry there are a lot of ways to feel validated in your work but since the income is so unreliable, it can also feel like you’re receiving no validation at all.

Though people see this career as just posting pictures, it is A LOT more than that and it can get tough when some of your accomplishments are based on a like or a comment or a follow. But in this field you really need to celebrate the small achievements and I try and do that everyday.

One of the main career accomplishments I am the most proud of are the brands I get to work with. It’s so exciting when a brand you’ve worn forever and loved your whole life reaches out and wants to work with you. Getting paid to wear a brand that is already in your closet is truly such a  cool feeling. Though I have gotten countless brand collaborations through my career, some feel better than others.

I’ll never forget when I got an email from Missguided at the very beginning of starting this job seriously. It was such an amazing feeling to feel seen by such a big brand.

Another accomplishment that brings me a lot of pride is when I get reposted by brands that I’m not working with but wear religiously. It’s extremely validating when brands acknowledge the work you’re doing and want to work with you.

My biggest career accomplishment to date is something that I haven’t even shared yet but I’ll let Toolsy be the first to hear it! I’ve collaborated for years with a jewelry brand named Fire & Honey Jewelry and am officially creating my own collection for them! To collaborate with a brand I truly respect and love is a dream and to make my own jewelry collection is something I could have never imagined happening. It definitely feels surreal and I worked really hard to get here.

What's the biggest challenge you've had to overcome in business and how did you go about it?

I think one of the biggest challenges is again, staying true to yourself. It’s easy to want to work with a brand who’s offering you a lot of money even though you don’t relate to the brand on a personal level.

Like I’ve mentioned previously, in this line of work the income can be unreliable unlike a 9-5 job where you’re getting paid hourly or have a salary. Some weeks you’ll make a ton of money and some weeks you’ll make none! So it’s easy to want to accept offers even if you’re not a huge fan of the brand. So sticking to what you know is right is always important but not always easy.

I see a lot of bloggers who promote brands or products that seem totally off brand for them and it definitely makes me question their content so I try my best to only work with brands that I would genuinely wear or use their products despite how much money is being thrown at me. Another challenge I’ve had to overcome and am still working on is comparing myself to other people within my field.

It’s easy to look at others on Instagram and see how much they're growing or how many likes they get or how many followers they have and to feel lesser than and to feel as if you’re not as good as you should be. But I’ve realized that the only person I should be comparing myself to is myself. If I'm better than I was yesterday, that’s all that matters

How are you doing today and what does the future look like? What's your ultimate goal?

I definitely feel like I’m growing every single day. Some days are harder than others and it’s easy to feel defeated or uninspired but when you’re doing what you love, the good days outweigh the bad.

Right now, I’m feeling the most confident I’ve ever felt and I definitely know that I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I’ve been doing this for what feels like a  very long time and am finally starting to make money doing what I love which is definitely the dream.

I would say the future carries a lot more brand collaborations with brands that I love and respect. Though I’ve hit a lot of my goals when it comes to working with brands, I have a lot more to go! I hope to see a lot more growth in my future and I'd love to be able to reach more people than I am now. My ultimate goal is to continue to turn my passion into a career and to be able to make a life out of my business. 

Software & Tools:

What software do you use for your business?

I use Instagram, YouTube and Squarespace the most I’d say. But I also use planning tools such as the UNUM app to plan out my feed and make sure everything is cohesive. I also use editing apps such as VSCO, Lightroom, and Snapseed to edit lighting and coloring in my photos.

What software would you recommend to someone starting out in your field? Why?

I would recommend a simple blog platform to start out and Lightroom in order to create a filter to throw on every photo to ensure a cohesive feed. I’d also say a planning app like UNUM is a necessity when it comes to Instagram.

What software would you advise people to be wary of, or not to use at all? Why?

I don’t know if this counts as a software but I would definitely advise people in my field to never purchase followers or likes or use growth apps because it’s definitely obvious to viewers and brands are able to track inorganic followers!

If you could wave a magic wand and create any kind of software to help you with your business - what kind of tool would you build and why?

I would build some type of app that puts everything in one space. For example, it can organize all your brand collaborations, campaigns and content calendars in one place. It’s very easy for things to become chaotic with different dates and companies and contracts so having everything on

Resources:

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources you’ve learned from along your journey? Why?

Second Life is a great podcast that shares stories of entrepreneurs and how they created their businesses and followed their dreams so that’s definitely something I like to listen to for motivation and inspiration. I also love the Goop podcast as well.

What courses have you taken that have been beneficial to you?

I took some anthropology classes and family human services classes in college that have helped me understand people and their dynamics which is helpful in my line of work where you’re constantly working for your following. 

Where would you steer someone looking to learn more about business and more specifically, your field?

Create Cultivate has great presentations that are insightful for people in my field and just talking to people who are doing the same thing as you is definitely helpful and can give you a lot of insight.

What are you doing to continue learning and growing in your field as well as personally?

I’m definitely learning and growing everyday in this field. Blogging is an unconventional profession so I’ve had to learn everything on my own and take it all day by day. I’m my own teacher which can be difficult at times but extremely rewarding to have created a business from the ground up.

Personally, I’m trying to be a better person every single day. I am constantly trying to be the best version of myself and am working on myself every day. I’m realizing that it is okay to make mistakes and instead of punishing myself for them I am allowing myself to grow from them.

 

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