This week we're partnering with Alexandra Evjen of AVE Styles on Pinterest, and the stylist (and major Pinterest player!) is sharing what she's inspired by. We sat down with Alex to learn more about how she garnered almost a million followers and what that means for the rest of her business.
Name: Alexandra Evjen
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Job: Fashion Stylist & Art Director for AVE Styles
College: Arizona State University
Talk to us a little bit about how you got to where you are today. Did you always know you wanted to do something creative?
Always! If I wasn't dancing, I was playing music, and if I wasn't playing music, I was drawing. In high school I decided I wanted to become a fashion designer, but when it came time to choose a college my parents urged me to get a foundation in business. That led me from Houston, Texas, to Phoenix, Arizona, where I attended ASU. After college I married my husband, we stayed in Phoenix, and I got a job in public relations. I knew in my heart that I still needed to pursue fashion, so I started a personal styling business on the side. I suppose you could say I went by the philosophy, "Fake it 'til you make it." Styling just poured out of me and the hunger for it has never gone away.
How did you get started styling and then go into blogging? I think a lot of us want to know how on earth you’ve been able to do something so cool for a living!
After realizing there weren't many full-time opportunities in the fashion industry here in Phoenix, I did some research on fashion styling and decided to start my own business. I stayed at my full-time job for two years before I went part-time. There was actually a season where I worked three jobs: one in PR, one as a fashion stylist, and one as a project manager for a graphic designer, Promise Tangeman. She helped me create a strong brand from the start and designed my portfolio site and blog. I finally left my PR job and continued working with Promise. It wasn't until 2012 that I focused on AVE Styles full time.
I found my clients through my lifestyle photographer friends. They kept asking me to help their customers get ready for their family photos, and from there I started building a clientele. But in 2011, things started to shift as my Pinterest following grew, and then I found myself running social media campaigns in addition to styling. Finally in 2013, I made the switch to focus on art direction and styling for small business and brands—marrying my two loves of PR and fashion.
I never foresaw this roadmap to being able to do what I love. It was an extremely unconventional journey compared to the average fashion stylist. So for those that are dreaming of doing fashion full time, don't stop dreaming. You never know what can happen!
What does it look like to be a Pinterest influencer?
I pin incessantly. I can't help myself. I'm addicted. I started out pinning for all of my personal styling clients—showing them examples of what they would look great in. I was, and still am, on the hunt for what women want to wear and would look great wearing. Now brands reach out to me to hunt down and curate their boards with items women want to see and buy. It's the coolest job in the world! I get to explore the internet and get lost in a virtual sea of inspiration.
Brands and businesses also ask me to look through their products and pick out what the best pieces are from their latest collection. Sometimes I share them on Pinterest and sometimes I get to style their products for my blog.
I would say over half the work I have is because I reached out to the brand. When I see a product or a company that I really connect with, I introduce myself and share how I can help them reach more women. Don't wait for someone to ask you for help. Be proactive and offer ideas on how you can enhance their business. The worst they can say is no, and most of the time they are just thankful that you care about their company.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Connecting with others either online or in person. God has wired me to be a connector. I love introducing people to each other, and I really love connecting people with common interests. I heard this said once, "There are no strangers, only friends I haven't met yet." I love that attitude!
How has social media, and specifically Pinterest, affected your styling business?
It has forever changed it. I could not be more grateful for Pinterest. I'm able to pre-visualize concepts for shoots, find inspiration, share my work, and I have ultimately learned what women want to read and dream about. I would never in my life be on the radar of respected publications and brands if it were not for Pinterest. Ultimately, however, Pinterest has given me a voice and a platform to speak to women through imagery, and helped me realize that my overall dream is to influence women in a positive way and point back to the beauty that God has created.
You share Pinterest tips on Instagram. What are some of your best tips?
I think the most popular tip I have shared on Instagram has to be showcasing products in lifestyle settings over product settings. Women can relate to products better when they see them in familiar surroundings. White backgrounds are great for inspecting the product, but lifestyle settings are what draw customers in. I post Pinterest tips every Friday on my Instagram account @avestyles, so follow along if you're a blogger or a business and want to learn how to create effective imagery.
What can you tell us about your presentation at ALT Summit on October 24?
On average, Pinterest is responsible for 70 percent of a blogger's traffic. It truly is a pulse for what their readers want to learn about and be inspired by. My ALT presentation, "Making Money in a Changing Media Landscape," is all about how bloggers can leverage Pinterest to create better content and grow their audience. I'm so pumped to share!
We'd like to know...
Coffee or tea?
Both! One of my favorite things to do is go to a coffee shop and read or journal. I have to have at least one cup of coffee a day. I also love to unwind with some hot herbal tea. My favorite is Aveda's peppermint tea.
Flats or heels?
Flats, flats, and more flats. In fact, you can call me the queen of flats. Sometimes I'll wear heels when I'm going on a date with my husband or to a party, but most of the time my size-ten feet prefer the comfort of flats.
Ideal brunch guests?
People that love to eat, and aren't shy about having seconds or thirds. I think brunch is my favorite meal. You always have the choice of sweet and savory, so why not cook and eat both? That's what seconds are for!
What advice would you give to your twenty-one-year-old self?
Sometimes it's just not about you. For the majority of my early twenties, I was self-involved, and yet it was the season when I had the most time to help others. When bad things happened, I would get lost in my own thoughts rather than think about how these hardships could have encouraged others. If only I could have stepped outside of myself and seen how everything was truly working for the good. That's actually something I need to remember in all seasons, but especially those early years!
When are you happiest?
When I have had plenty of rest and time to myself. I have a tendency to overcommit myself, and that usually leaves me running ragged and being a cranky mom and wife. When I listen to my body and prioritize correctly, I find myself well-rested, intentional with my family, and effective with my work.
Where in the world do you feel most at home?
Curled up in my bed with my husband and daughter. Family cuddle time is a treasure.
Favorite accounts to follow on Instagram and Pinterest?
Pinch of Yum: I drool every time I look at her feed.
Hilary Rushford: She has a heart of gold!
Wit and Delight: I want to live in her Instagram feed.