It was just a few days before our world completely changed that we were celebrating the Tamara Malas X Kelly Augustine collaboration in NYC at a fabulous event.
Little did we know we would be facing incredible challenges and uncertainty.
Our cover model Kelly Augustine is no stranger to facing challenges head-on.
Kelly is more than a Content Creator, she’s built a brand that speaks to the community she inspires every day. Her wit, honesty and genuine love for fashion are just a few reasons why we adore this young beauty.
Get to know Kelly Augustine…
Maddy: Influencers have become a very important component of the marketing incentives for brands. Why do you believe influencers have become such an important marketing tool?
Kelly: I think influencers are an integral component of any brand’s marketing mix because we have built a high level of trust with our audience. We become another model for the clothing (if a fashion brand), and we are vouching for whether it’s okay to spend your money with the brand. It’s organic and relatable, and we are often the mouthpiece for what our audience wants and needs. Essentially we are the middle man.
We have seen influencers come on the scene with a lot of vigor and then lose steam very early on. What are some tips for finding your way through becoming an influencer and reaching your personal goals?
I don’t have a checklist for influencer success. I get asked this question a lot! I think the most important thing you have to do is sit with yourself and truly map out why you want to become an influencer. I find most people lose steam early on because they aren’t in this for the right reasons and have unreasonable expectations and ideas of what success looks like. If you’re just in this to make money or to become famous, you will exhaust yourself pretty quickly. It takes quite some time to monetize enough to make a salary! You have to be working for a real purpose to push you through the times where the work gets hard (trust me, it will definitely test you).
How do you feel about the level of diversity we are seeing in the plus-size fashion industry and what are some things you would like to see happen?
I think we are in a beautiful space and time right now. I’ve been in this industry for over 10 years and the growth has been both phenomenal and exponential, especially in the past five years. I look forward to a day where representation isn’t tokenized and diversity is a standard.
When I attended New York Fashion Week in February, there was a noticeable decline in diversity present on the runways. It made a lot of the progress we’ve made feel disingenuine. But I trust that we are more awake and vocal than we’ve ever been and we can continue to push the needle forward and have it stay there. I personally would love to see some more men’s diversity!
Let’s talk about your collaboration with Tamara Malas. How did you settle on designing this fabulous trench coat and what was the process like? What did you learn about designing through this process?
When Tamara approached me about this collaboration I really sat and thought about items we don’t see enough of in plus fashion. Lots of brands have done trenches, but many haven’t done them in a fun and interesting way. I wanted something that felt like a wardrobe essential but had a little edge. My brand DNA is very New York, and for New Yorkers a trench is clutch! It was either a trench or a moto jacket for me. I sat with Tamara and her team and thought of everything my dream trench would have, and through this process, I learned that the things I want are very expensive! Ha! I also learned that there are so many moving parts to fashion production and the timeline is extensive. Specifically for plus fashion production, there are barriers and there’s a lot of fight that has to happen. Designers have to be grounded in purpose, more knowledgeable, and have tenacity. I respect Tamara so much, and my other friends who are plus fashion designers. Folks would bow down to them if they only knew!
What makes this trench a MUST HAVE for when we are no longer in self-quarantine?
This trench is just so, so fun and super versatile! You can wear it with a slip dress and heels for a nice dinner, with sweats and a tee to run errands, with a tapered pant and a crisp blouse for an event… the possibilities are endless. And Tamara and her team did so much work trying to find durable, well-made fabrics so these jackets are heavier than you’d expect. You definitely get your Cost-Per-Wear with these because they can be worn in Spring and Fall. I’ve never been prouder to put my name on something.
Lastly, self-quarantine is our new reality as we face this pandemic. How are you staying motivated during these uncertain times?
I can’t believe we are where we are, and to be honest, my motivation and productivity fluctuate. Some days I’m good, some days I’m spiraling. I’m just trying to take it day by day. What’s been helping me the most is keeping an open line of communication with my follow-family and doing check-ins with them to see how they’re feeling and asking them what they’d like to see from me content-wise. Everyone wants some semblance of normalcy, and I’m trying my best to keep going because we all just want a slice of how things used to be.