So I’m posting this from the beautiful Grand Hyatt Hotel in Melbourne after spending Wednesday night at the MyDeal.com.au Australia Top 50 Influencer Award ceremony. The award night was really well attended and was really diverse – it was a great celebration of the impact of influencers and it was really unique to have a room full of ambitious, dedicated content creators who share so many values, attributes and the common thread of hard work.
It was important for me to be recognised among a group of influencers and bloggers, because often people don’t really understand what we do – and I can forgive people thinking that we’re a bunch of girls taking selfies and photos of food, but in reality I’m part of an empowered network of fashion-lovers, entrepreneurs and hobbyists who have very diverse backgrounds and objectives, but a common passion to communicate.
So first I want to thank all of my supporters and my network of influencers and bloggers for their undying love, and also thank the gang at MyDeal.com.au, who were the sponsors of the event, as well as the judges for awarding me a place in the top 10.
The judges asked some really great questions as part of the competition entry, which was a great opportunity to tell my story – I have posted it all below – enjoy!
How did you start being an online influencer?
Ever since I was a little girl I dreamed of being able to shop for a living. This wasn’t possible for many years – from moving to Australia from Thailand as a little girl, going through boarding school and then studying at university, I simply didn’t have the money or the time to support my passion. After working in the dental industry for many years, I got myself into a position where I could spend more time working on my wardrobe and purchasing the kinds of pieces I always wanted, and then at the beginning of 2015 Miss Gunner was born.
It started off as my creative outlet where I started sharing my outfits, travel and shoes! I didn’t even tell any of my friends or family about it until a year later! It was getting too hard to keep a secret because I started popping up on their discovery feed, and by then everyone knew what I was up to. I was scared to tell people because I was worried that my own friends might judge me for taking photos of myself and posting on social media, but I was surprised! I guess your family and friends will always love and support you, especially when you are doing what you absolutely love. The biggest difference is that all my friends ask me for fashion advice all the time now!
Have there been any crazy/unbelievable moments that have happened since you began your blog?
After eight months of working on my Miss Gunner Instagram profile, Cleo magazine contacted me to for a photoshoot and interview on the next generation of influencers. I couldn’t believe it and it was my first professional shoot for a magazine that I grew up reading! I was so honoured to be on the page next to some huge and amazing bloggers.
Also getting invited to Fashion week as a Microsoft ambassador was also a lot of fun. I was working with Elle Ferguson and Tash Sefton, who I’ve been following forever! I couldn’t believe I was standing next to them during the campaign. I was probably just star struck and stared at them like a weirdo, and then I saw Margaret Zhang at at bar during fashion week and didn’t know what to say etc. She too probably just thought I was a weirdo! Hahaha.
Lastly, becoming a shopper for a living is crazy to me. I still can’t believe that I make a living out of shopping and trying on clothes. I still pinch myself and I’m so grateful that I’m able to work with brands that I truly love and connect with a world of fashion-forward girls at the same time. To me this is crazy!
Why do you think online bloggers have become so influential and popular?
I think online bloggers are able to tell a different story. That I’m a normal girl, with a normal size body and I wear clothes that suit my body shape and perhaps people are be able to relate to that better than a model wearing an outfit. Bloggers grow through individuality and by being authentic, and I have never felt the force of commercial pressure to do anything or wear anything different to what comes naturally. People respond to that honesty, and I put in the time to form genuine connections and interact with my followers. I could never be introduced to and form friendships with my fashion buddies around the world without the blog or my social channels – it’s very powerful.
I think it is difficult to become a passionate follower of a company, because they primarily exist to sell you something and make money. As an individual, however, I choose the way wish to look and act and I don’t report to anyone. So probably 80% of my work is purely driven by my decision to buy something, wear it and shoot it; and 20% of my work is where I work with a brand I love and get paid to wear and shoot their items.
How do you think you inspire others?
I try my best to tell the story that dreams can come true. I’m not a supermodel, I didn’t grow up with money or expensive things, all I had was a dream and plenty of trust that the universe would be kind to me if I was kind to others. If you watch Steve Jobs’s 2005 Commencement Speech, he talks about connecting the dots. This is so true for me. I always had faith that if I studied hard, worked hard, helped people and didn’t judge others, that all of the little experiences and pursuits over the years would eventually make sense and turn into something special.
Before blogging became my thing, I was a dental hygienist, an IT graduate, I tried starting a business doing hair extensions, designing shoes, doing some content creation etc. Don’t ever see these little ideas and pursuits as dead ends – they’re just opening and closing doors in order to help you find something really special that can ignite your passion.
I try to inspire other women so they can look amazing at any size and at any price. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to look and feel amazing! You just need a bit of creativity! I really love mixing fast fashion and high fashion. I have a few expensive pieces that I love and bought them after years of working hard.
So dream big or go home! One amazing piece of advice someone gave me is not to limit your dreams. Dreams are the one place where you can be whatever you want to be, no matter who you are – and they can come true. You will have plenty of people in real life who will try to limit your expectations, so you don’t need put limits on yourself! So be kind to yourself and go for it.
What is the best part about being a social media influencer?
I live and breathe fashion. It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up and and probably the last thing on my mind before I go to sleep. To be able to wake up every single day and do what I love just makes me so happy. I really, really love spending time putting together outfits and researching new looks and trends.
Most importantly, I love being part of a beautiful, supportive, creative, generous and inspiring group of girls and guys (…ok, mostly girls!!!) who share my passion. I started off without any intention of making money from this and I was just happy to be able to connect with like minded people. Anything else is just a bonus. Every time I travel I meet new friends and form new friendships. There are so many big hearts and hard workers among my followers and friends, and I just feel so blessed to be a part of the whole thing.
How have you stayed grounded since becoming an influencer?
My mum is a huge help. When I’m not shooting or shopping or posting, I’m sitting at the kitchen bench speaking Thai and eating Thai food with my mother. I’m so lucky to have her in my life and she is my connection to my entire life, before and after being a blogger.
And if I get a bit princess-y or precious, my husband always gives me a bit of a death stare and reminds of what’s important. But that’s not often! I promise!
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Quite possibly doing the exact same thing. It’s funny, when things go well often I do get caught up thinking about how I could turn my brand into more of a business, but the fact that it is not a business is why it is a good brand to start with. An idea and an opportunity might come along one day that sits really well for me, but for now I’m just having too much fun – I never want it to end.
Have there been any hard times in your career that made you question your decision? How did you overcome this?
Yes, loads. LOADS! Starting was hard, I started with 0 followers and i didn’t want to tell any of my own friends. Only my husband knew because I made him take my photos for me! I just had no idea whether I might grow. Blogging is so personal. Will people like my taste? Will I seem pretentious? Will the haters punish me for owning a Chanel handbag or two? But when you are passionate about something, you make it work because it’s the one thing you love doing. Your passion will get you through the hard times. Whatever that may be.
My husband, Scott is a huge support. When things gets tough, He simply asks me two questions.
“Are you having fun?”
“Will you regret any part of this if you were to walk away from it?”
They’ve always been the same questions and my answers are still the same after two years! It’s always fun, even when things are tough. When it’s no longer fun that’s when you should stop because life’s too short to be unhappy! And I do this because I love sharing my love for fashion with other people, and I could never regret the amazing connections I’ve made from this experience.
Having built an amazing group of bloggers friends that are amazingly strong and inspiring woman makes it very hard to question why I’m doing this. A group of friends who wants to see people do well and always be there to support one another is such a luxury. I am truly blessed to have found these girls. They really help me navigate through the blogging world.
Having faith in the universe eventually delivering an opportunity, or simply designing your life so that you can happily pursue blogging without the huge pressure of it becoming your fulltime job are great ways to deal with the pressure of ‘succeeding,’ whatever that means to you.
How does your blog make a difference in the world?
Miss Gunner’s job is to create a bit of dreaminess and happiness that can be shared with a large audience. I’m not a journalist or an environmentalist, and I know that people have millions of opinions about millions of things – so I stay away from claiming that I do things like make a difference to the world.
My blog is my way of giving and connecting and if that is bringing some happiness to a handful of people around the world, then I’m happy,
Is there any advice you’d give to those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Yes – start at the start, don’t overthink it, be yourself and find your niche. Not everyone will love you, not everyone will find your words and pictures interesting, but the ones who do will touch you and you will form great friendships and learn a lot along the way.
With the Instagram world being so competitive now, the only thing that will distinguish you from others is the unique combination of your personality and style. There’s only one of you in the world so JUST DO YOU. You don’t have to compare yourself to others. We are all different and unique in our own ways.
Also, create a dream book. I wrote in my dream book five years ago now and this was way before I even started blogging, let alone knowing how to blog. I wrote down all the little details describing what my life would look like as a fashion blogger and how many followers I would have by 2017! That was five years ago now. Luckily I managed to cross a few things I have achieved off that list and watching these dreams come to life just blew me away.
I’m a big believer in creating my dream life in detail, and that can mean many things to many people. The mind is an amazing thing and it will work day and night to create something rewarding if you spell out exactly what it is that you want your life to look like in the future. So, literally, get a scrap book, start printing some photos and make some dot points about exactly what you want. In my experience, it works. So write it down! Whatever your dreams may be!