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Influence Peddler: Christine Andrew Turned Rejection Into Big Business

Andrew recently published an e-book designed to help others build their Instagram profile. Since the release, the manual is posting 100 percent growth month over month.

Christine Andrew didn’t let rejection from fashion design school deter her from becoming a fashion and beauty entrepreneur.

“I don’t recall why [I wasn’t accepted], but I was from this small town in Montana and what I thought was fashion at the time probably wasn’t what they were looking for,” said Andrew, recalling her faux fur boots and denim skirt outfit of the day. “I feel you have to go through these situations and have rejections to lead you on a path to success.”

That’s been the reality for Andrew, who has emerged as one of today’s top influencers whose voice can really move the sales needle. That’s proven by the traction generated by posts about Nordstrom’s sales that have reportedly driven several hundreds of thousands of dollars in business, as well as spikes in Vichy Skin Care sales.

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Recently she published a 60-page e-book called “How to Grow Your Instagram,” designed to help others, especially young entrepreneurs, build their businesses. “There are so many mistakes I made along the way. I created the e-book because I want to help others navigate some of the common mistakes and grow faster, even more than I did then.” Since its release, the popular manual has see 100 percent growth in sales month over month.

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Unlike many influencers (who have used their blogs as a foundation to later launch a product), Andrew created her fashion brand first, then segued into blogging. She launched ILY Couture in 2011, an accessories business that expanded into apparel. As a vehicle to show women how they could style her pieces, she started a blog called Hello Fashion. “I had no idea anyone could make money from it,” Andrew said. Her first free product was a handbag. “I remember thinking ‘I made it’…because I got something for free. It was then that I amped up my game and started treating it more as a business.” Her content has remained open and honest with posts shaped by events in her life, from getting a dog, having her son (and hoping to expand her family) and now building a new home.

Today, her Instagram @hellofashionblog has more than 1 million followers (and more than 1.3 million across all platforms). She’s teamed with fashion, travel and beauty brands but doesn’t rule out launching projects outside of fashion.

Here, Andrew talks about why there is room for nano and mega influencers, her favorite beauty products, how VSCO might be a next big thing and why the most liked posts aren’t always the biggest sellers.

WWD: What’s your favorite social media and what’s emerging?

Christine Andrew: Instagram is my hands-down favorite. Insta-stories are what I look at the most. I love video content and I like seeing the more ‘uncurated’ side of influencers I follow. There has to be a balance — I love creating the artistic beautiful content — but I also don’t want to act like our life is perfect. I mean, how often are you soaking in a beautiful tub with flowers?

Something that I feel is emerging is VSCO (a photo app). There is a lot of research about how “likes” result in potential damage to kids. My younger nieces and nephews all use and enjoy VSCO because it doesn’t track your followers or have likes. It is just about posting content. I think it is an untapped social media platform right now. I haven’t seen sponsored posts there now, but I bet it will explode.

WWD: What are your go-to products?

C.A.: I always get a ton of questions about my skin-care routine, and I love sharing my favorite products, but I think the biggest thing to getting great skin is being consistent. I think we are all really good about doing our full skin-care routine when our skin is acting up, but it’s so easy to start skipping steps when your skin is back on track. When I was 28, I began to notice changes in my skin and I started to pay more attention and get a more intense regimen.

SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore Treatment is my all-time favorite face cream. It’s such a great anti-aging moisturizer, I would recommend it for everyone. I use Clinique toner; toner is really important because it removes any excess residue left from cleansing and helps restore the natural pH level in your skin. Clinique’s toner also acts as a moisturizer. This is a staple I have been using since high school. I also love Vichy’s LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum. I swear by hydrafacials and try to do them once a month.

Lancôme’s Génifique Hydrogel Melting Mask is incredible for at-home hydration. I love to indulge in a little self-care on Sunday nights with some sort of at-home facial. Cody (her husband) likes to get in on it, too.

Sunday Riley’s Luna Sleeping Night Oil is another favorite. It has light rational in it, and with my sensitive skin it doesn’t dry me out too much like higher-potency retinol. I’ve been using SkinMedica TNS serum for over two years now. It’s a high-ticket item, but I’ve seen a big difference in my skin so it’s one splurge-worthy item I feel strongly about.

WWD: You are one of the OG influencers…how has the industry changed?

C.A.: I feel people used to look at blogs a lot more and I would religiously post five days a week, but that’s shifted. Now I take more time to post on Instagram. People also want constant updating and faster. You used to be able to go on a trip and post a few weeks later; now if you do that you lose interaction.

As far as algorithms changes, I used to wake up and have 3,000 to 7,000 more followers a day. Now the market is more saturated, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t still opportunities. You have to find what fits for your brand and adapt to it. You don’t have to have a larger voice to have a career, you just need engagement. That’s opening up a huge opportunity for nano influencers. I don’t see that as a threat to the larger influencers. We all have different goals and brands have different needs. Brands who want a younger following, for example, might have a higher number of likes and comments versus an older audience, but that won’t necessary mean higher sales. Some of my least liked pictures had my highest sales.

I think the most important thing about being someone with such a high level of influence is you have to be honest. People trust my opinion because they know I will tell them when products do and don’t work for me. I have sensitive skin, so sometimes a product just isn’t right for me, and I’m not afraid to share that with my audience.

WWD: There’s a lot of chatter about excess packaging in influencer mailings? What are your thoughts?

C.A.: I love when brands ask me what I’m looking for to avoid waste. I was shocked to recently get a box that a lamp could have fit into that had a tiny lip product. In general, I do see mailers getting smaller and not so elaborate.