I want you to meet one of my favorite makers on Instagram, Annika Benitz Chaloff. When I met Annika many months ago I had no idea she would turn into one of my favorite clients. Her commitment to growing her biz is truly inspiring. Just look at her Instagram and you will see what I mean. She has a consistent color palette, is product-focused, and has a genuine voice. The love for what she makes comes through in each post. Enjoy!
1. Who are you, what do you do, and how did it all begin?
Hi! I’m Annika. I’m the owner-operator of Married&Bright, which is a line of handmade lingerie which I design, sew, and ship myself. Married&Bright happened to me a little bit by accident after I decided to close down my maternity wear and children’s clothing company, Expect, during a particularly heartbreaking holiday season. I realized that Expect wasn’t a happy place for me anymore and I decided to just take a break. During my interim, I started sewing a few things “just for fun.” One of them was a gold sparkly bralette, which I posted on instagram. I got a lot of “Ooh! I want one!” and so I set up a little etsy shop and started selling. It was the most serendipitous thing and I am so grateful for it!
2. Where can we find you on social media?
3. What is your favorite hashtag?
I have a lot of favorites. I love #pursuepretty, #flashesofdelight, and #prettylittlethings. I use #makinsparklybras on my own work as a way to group together my favorite shots of my bralettes.
4. Why do you use social media?
At first, it was just like a fun playground for me. I loved looking at pretty photos, seeing what my friends were up to, drooling over donut pics. But now my main purpose is to find customers. I actively seek my target customers out and work to convert them into shoppers. In one sentence: I use social media to make money.
5. Which tools do you use for creating or posting content?
Investing in a pair of white foam boards and a couple sheets of fancy wrapping paper from PaperSource has revolutionized the backgrounds of my instagram photos. I shoot 99% of my photos on my phone and then touch them up with either the adjustment settings (not filters! Filters are ew!!) in the Instagram app — my formula is brightness up, contrast down, fade up, warmth up, and then if I still want it a little more white I add in some of that sunshine dial thing at the top — or I use an awesome app called Rhonna Magic. I like it even better than Afterlight.
6. What effect does social media have on your business?
I literally would not have a business if it weren’t for Instagram. If no one had told me that they wanted the bralette I posted, I would never have started my etsy shop. Now, it’s a great way to test what people are looking for, and introduce new products. I get feedback on what I’m putting out in real time and it’s so helpful. I feel like I can reach through my phone and find and converse with my target customers. It’s pretty amazing.
7. How do you measure success on social media?
This is hard for me, because I can get very focused on follower numbers. I’m always trying to drive my follower count higher and higher. Recently, however I’ve been focusing on converting my followers into customers. In reality, the number of followers a brand has does not necessarily correlate to their level of financial success. And, I know a lot of makers who are raking it in, who have less than a thousand followers on Instagram. So, I’m trying to let go of the idea that once I reach a certain number, I’ll instantly be super successful.
8. What aspect of social media do you find most challenging?
One of the hardest things for me is resisting posting personal photos on my business page all the time. I constantly have to remind myself to post product photos, since I’m not naturally inclined to do so. I just want to post pictures of food and my dog, which I know doesn’t help my bottom line, but it’s so gratifying for some reason.
9. What makes you follow another brand back?
I love brands with beautiful pages, but what makes me follow back is when the brand is really conversational and communicative. It’s nice when brands start conversations and then actually stay in them by responding to comments. It makes you feel like you can reach them if you want to ask for something, or even just say hi. It’s a more personal experience.
10. Which brands have social media you admire?
I love @vraiandoro’s black and white minimal theme. It is so opposite of my own style, but it’s so pleasing to look at! @shopbando’s crazy fun, bright, sparkly feed is absolute perfection. The way they have created such an aspiration brand that is attainable at the same time is so intriguing to me.
11. Any advice for other brands just getting started on social media?
I would advise to try to figure out a color scheme and theme for your Instagram page as soon as possible. If you scroll to the bottom of my page (please don’t!), you’ll find a whole mess of crazy looking photos. The sooner you can make an aesthetically pleasing feed, the better. And, don’t be afraid to go after and communicate with your desired customers. They out there, they just won’t know about you unless you say hello!