Kim, Kendall, Gigi. (Kardashian, Jenner and Hadid, as if you didn’t know.) These are some of fashion’s most high-profile social media influencers, who earn tens of millions of dollars a year just for sprinkling their digital pixie dust on clothing, makeup, fragrances, sneakers and jewelry.
But there is also a small army of lesser-knowns — quite a few from Long Island — attracting thousands of followers who covet their fashion, mimic their hairstyles, get vicarious pleasure from their travels, dinners, engagements, weddings and births, and follow them as they study, party — and shop.
These social media standouts star on YouTube, Twitter, Snapchat and, most of all, Instagram. Some work full-time at being known, liked and followed, using professional photographers to capture their every look, while others are balancing jobs, school and life to make their mark in the digital sphere. The payoff? Fame and love. And money, sometimes in the six figures, from brands and sponsors who understand the power of a wink and a nod from an influencer and pay for it. Along with the money, come freebies such as clothing, makeup, vacations, hair styling and spa treatments.
And unlike most big stars, these luminaries communicate one-to-one in real time.
A typical exchange:
Follower: Hey, babe. Your hair looks amazing today. #hairgoals
Influencer: Thanks, girl. Hope you had a great day. Lots of love.
Charm, empathy and, for most, real affection for their followers, comes through in an authentic way.
Meet some of the Island’s most like-worthy:
Mercedes Gonzalez, Douglaston
NICHE Gonzalez, who appeals to the 25-34 year old set, attends F.I. T. and calls herself a fashion blogger and a "Chihuahua stylist" to her dog Trix who is often featured on her Instagram wearing coordinated dog clothes. Gonzalez set out to go into dentistry, hated it and began working at Mystique Boutique in Manhasset (she still handles social media). She recently hosted a giveaway for Ellen DeGeneres' Ed collection and has worked with La Mer, floral arrangement company Venus et Fleur and held an event at Louis Vuitton at the Americana Manhasset. Her New Year's resolution? Upping her impact on You Tube for 2018.
Alexandra Lipps, Roslyn
NICHE A junior at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Lipps is all about showing simple pieces with a trendy twist, "particularly for shorter women who struggle finding clothes that fit," says Lipps, referencing cropped flare jeans that fit her own 5'2" frame. "Once I find a product that works for the petite, I let them know." Her mainly female audience ranges from 18-24. While she started her blog two years ago, since the fall shes been more focused and has collaborated with Old Navy, Top Shop, Bliss Cosmetics, Urban Outfitters and River Island, a U.K. online retailer. "I want to be bigger than I am now," she says.
Elyse Cohen, 26, Roslyn
NICHE "Girlie with a cool vibe," is how Cohen describes her thrust. "Though I always loved fashion, I majored in hospitality in college, and was going to go into the hotel business until the job fell through," says Cohen. Friends encouraged her to start a blog "but believe it or not, I'm very shy," she says. After a few corporate jobs she felt "boxed in and not creative" and decided to go for it last January. Her followers run from ages 16-30 and are all over the world. She's collaborated with Uber, Visa and the Americana Manhasset shopping center.
Samantha Angelo, Sag Harbor
NICHE A global traveler (shes fresh off trips Hong Kong and Indonesia), Angelo considers herself a "chameleon of traveling style." She was a staff sergeant in the 'Presidents Own' United States Marine Band, playing the clarinet for almost a decade, including at two inaugurations and on national concert tours. Although she started "The Eye Travels," as a private site, she went public with it when she was discharged in 2014. Angelo's dyed gray hair is a signature (an experiment after the military). Her unique look has organically drawn the attention of major fashion publications and street style photographers and she has done collaborations with Moschino, Borghese Skincare and Swarovski to name a few.
Jackie Miranne, Smithtown
NICHE Affordable clothes under $100 that look swanky, inspired by celebrities and runways. “You can date my love of fashion back to when I was a little girl,” says Miranne, who is the daughter of the Long Island inventor Joy Mangano. “All the other girls were running around doing dances, I was in the closet trying on clothes. I couldn’t go to sleep unless my outfit for school the next day was laid out,” she says. She started her career as a model, landing a spot on “Project Runway” in 2007. These days she’s the in-house style expert at HSN and is often tapped for her fashion expertise on shows such as “The View” and “Wendy Williams.” Miranne launched a digital presence just last summer and has collaborated with brands including Burlington and Nine West. She feels a real kinship with her followers who are 70 percent women ages 25-34 mostly from New York, Los Angeles and London and include Julianna Rancic, Jay Manuel and Iman.
Meaghan O’Connor, Atlantic Beach
NICHE “The majority of my followers are fashion-forward, fashion-interested women who fall into the plus-sized category,” says O’Connor, who is plus-sized herself and enjoys translating runway trends. O’Connor says she got her fashion chops from her grandmother who worked in the industry and her beautifully dressed mom. When she lost her job in finance years ago, she turned to fashion. “I wasn’t doing what I loved. It didn’t dawn on me then that it would become a business.” Today, thousands in the 30-44 age range follow her, and in addition to her job as a fashion stylist (she’s currently working with Adrienne Moore from “Orange is the New Black”) she has done collaborations with Lane Bryant, Simply B and Curvy Couture.
Michelle Madonna, Brookville
NICHE Trendy fashion and "gypsetting." Madonna calls herself the "queen of silk flowers" and owns two LI companies that specialize in them. A lover of travel and natch, fashion, she started seriously working on her brand about a year ago. Being real is key. "I style looks the way I want. If a brand tells you what to wear, it's not authentic," she says, referencing a recent collaboration with Design History. I want to show girls what's new and I like being a trendsetter and to take risks, though sometimes I wonder if I look crazy," she says. Her fans both men and women (including Paris Hilton) ages 25-34 like her back.
Mathé Kamsutchom, Old Westbury
NICHE Fashion and food are Kamsutchom's loves, but she’s been on stop and start mode until now. A PR executive who works for fashion brands she says, "People have approached me about what I'm wearing and one company asked me to wear its brand to an event." That said, she hasn't monetized her social media content yet--but it's in the works. "My goal is to have an interesting content calendar and to see if this could be a productive side project," she says Based on some of her photos...yes.