“It’s a big phenomenon before being a business,” Riccardo Pozzoli, cofounder and chief executive officer of The TBS Crew, said of the rise of bloggers, which has in turn given birth to the digital influencer.
Pozzoli played a pivotal role in the creation of one of the most followed fashion bloggers to date, Chiara Ferragni’s The Blonde Salad, as well as parent company The TBS Crew, which operates The Blonde Salad and retail arm Chiara Ferragni Collection. In seven years, The TBS Crew has become a multimillion-dollar business.
“It’s a social revolution because social media now is making people become the media. Not only a person, but if they have content and the right style they can communicate and become a media [channel] for the world and even collaborate with brands,” he continued.
Pozzoli acknowledged that being an influencer and “putting your face on something” has become a great responsibility, specifically for Ferragni, who has seven million Instagram followers and another 500,000 who view her Snapchat stories daily.
Ferragni is the face of a multifaceted business that is split between herself as a brand (she’s become a celebrity in her own right who regularly appears in ad campaigns and covers of magazines), The Blonde Salad as a media site, The Blonde Salad as an e-commerce destination (as of last month), and a contemporary footwear collection that generates millions of dollars in retail sales per year. Ferragni signed a yearlong deal with Pantene for 2016 as a global ambassador with the option to renew for 2017, and starting in February, appeared in TV commercials for the brand in Italy, Spain and Portugal.
Milan-born Ferragni and Pozzoli were at the forefront of the blogger revolution. The two started The Blonde Salad blog while they were in college, dating and spending a cold winter interning in Chicago in 2009. Within two months, page views to the site ranged from 30,000 to 50,000 per day — an indication of early success and Ferragni’s appeal to readers. By 2010, they got to work on building a real business, and today, The TBS Crew employs a team of about 20 people and also manages the career of Ferragni’s little sister, Valentina Ferragni.
But Pozzoli believes that the next iteration of digital influencers, or “2.0” as he referred to it, won’t be nearly as dramatic as the shift the industry experienced when the first fashion and personal style bloggers hit the scene about a decade ago.
It’s already widely accepted that digital influencers are inking major brand deals, and going forward, influencers like Ferragni will continue to carefully grow their brands and deepen relationships with followers and brands even further. For him, the revolution is that “people are media” now, and these individuals must take cues from established media entities — he cited Vogue and Marie Claire — to adopting a professional approach.
Pozzoli said that theblondesalad.com, which shifted from Ferragni’s personal style web site to a lifestyle platform that has an editorial team of six, now garners more than 13 million page views a month. As for the newly launched e-commerce component, which carries exclusive product from 50 brands that created from one to three customized products, half of all stock sold out within one month.