Most people will dedicate their lives to building one career. At just 25, Aimee Song has already reached considerable success in two, as sought-after interior designer and It Blogger behind Song of Style.
Song of Style, thanks to Aimee's knack for creating bold but laid-back real-life outfits, has amassed almost 4 million monthly views and garnered collaborations with the likes of Piperlime and 7 For All Mankind. It's a setup that seems carefully orchestrated--what better backdrop for an outfit shot then an active construction site?--but its beginnings were surprisingly serendipitous.
Song began blogging in 2008 while studying Interior Architecture with the original intent of posting on interior design. But when an outfit shot crept into the content stream was met with an overwhelmingly positive response, she quickly changed courses.
Song's credibility as an interior-designer-by-day has provided stability and relatability within a sea of on-the-rise blogging talent. Still, publicly building parallel careers has come with considerable sacrifice, including time and trust.
We caught up with Song in L.A. to talk platforms (heels and social media), parents, and the challenges of life as a personal brand.
You started as an interior designer before making your foray into blogging. How did you make that jump? I was always interested in both interior design and fashion. I was going to school studying Interior Architecture and was working at a design firm when I started my fashion blog [in 2008]. I originally intended to start a decor blog but after my outfit posts got a good response, I quickly switched it to a personal style blog. It represents who I am: fun, easy going, and colorful, a mix and match of styles with underlining Californian roots. At one point I did actually want to be a fashion designer, just so that I could crip-walk after the finale on the catwalk!
What were some of the obstacles early on? When I started booking jobs because of my blog it was hard to manage everything, especially during midterms and finals. I was going to school full-time, working, blogging and traveling for blog-related jobs.
How has your life as an interior designer shaped your life as a fashion blogger, and vice versa? I think my blog followers feel they can relate to me because I have a job outside of blogging. Having a day job has helped because I can still get by if I don't make any money through my blog, and I'm not desperate to take every job that comes to me.
But there also must be some tension between your two lives... Sometimes my day job prevents me from certain opportunities that could help my blog grow. I want to take better photos and plan everything out more but I'm always pressed on time.
Blogging is essentially building your personal brand. It's amazing that fans are following Song of Style for YOU, but that also must be a lot of pressure. It's hard not to be affected by what other people think of you. I don't ever feel like I'm performing but I do think about what my blog followers would think or say. I have a comment section that I don't edit. I still dress and write my blog however I choose to and that's not going to change.
What's been your "I've made it" moment? When I got my grandmother's approval. She is one of my biggest inspirations and wasn't keen on the idea of me 'modeling'--she still doesn't understand the concept of blogging so she thinks I'm a model--while I was going to school. She's very old school. However, when she saw an article of me in a Korean magazine about my life, she was so proud of me and carried it around to show her friends.
And what about your parents? Whatever I do, whether it's blogging or interior design, my parents will always be supportive as long as I don't ask them for money! [laughs]
Fair enough. The blogging community seems tight-knit but you're also each other's competition. Have you experienced that first-hand? Unfortunately, yes. I have experienced bloggers approaching me for the wrong motives but after being burned a few times, I can now tell who genuinely wants to be a friend and who just wants to hang out with me to get ahead. I have a few close blogger friends who I know won't screw me over and will be genuinely happy for the things I do and vice versa. Whenever I get pitched for a job or go meet with brands, these are the same blogger friends that I will pitch because I really want to see them do well and they would do the same thing for me.
Speaking of brands, you've collaborated with Botkier, Seven For All Mankind and Piperlime... Every time I get approached for a collaboration or get offered a job, I feel like it's a stamp of approval because it means my opinion matters.
I'm sure there have been collaborations you've turned down. If I want to work with a certain brand, I try not to work with their competitor because I know it will lessen my chances. As for brands that I'm dying to work with, designing a pair of shoes with Giuseppe Zanotti would be killer.
How do you manage the business aspect of your blog? I've always approached it as a creative outlet, but now I'm more thoughtful of how I blog as I think of it as an online portfolio and a source of income. I have a manager who handles any business-related deals that come from my blog--someone who can negotiate the deals and go over the details, which has been really helpful.
You're on quite a few platforms (blog, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram). Which platform has been most important for you? I personally love Instagram. It's fun to give a peek into my personal life.
We love being voyeurs. Any fun plans you can share? I'm going to Paris and Morocco! I completely fell in love with Paris when I went earlier this year so I'm excited to go back, and Morocco has always been the number one place that I wanted to visit.
Melanie Bender is a seasoned brand and marketing strategist who has created approaches for Sephora, Topshop, Louis Vuitton and W Hotels. Find her on Twitter at @melliebe and online at melaniezbender.com. Photos: Courtesy