The internet can be a fickle place to work. With clogged social media feeds and short attention spans, it takes a seriously talented media professional to create an engaged and loyal community who’ll stick around for years. Enter Premium member Nikki Parkinson. The former journalist turned stylist turned author and publisher has made knowing what women want her currency. While many of us may think Nikki’s blogging success happened overnight, she’s just celebrated nine years since leaving print journalism. We chatted with Nikki about carving a new career path at 41, and how she made the leap into digital media.
I started working in a clothes store when I was 15, and I was in heaven.
I lived in a small regional town Queensland, and it was one of the few clothing stores. I spent my little pay packet on rah-rah skirts and coloured denim jeans. It was a two-week holiday job, and I was devastated that I didn’t get a permanent gig, but it was a good thing because I wouldn’t have saved any money. I’ve worked in some capacity since I was 16, and that hard working ethic is very much part of who I am. I’ve never thought that I shouldn’t be working, and that’s something I’ve passed onto my kids too.
I went to school in a small regional town, we had a guidance counsellor, and he looked at my results and said, “Oh, you’re good at English, you should do Journalism.”
At 17, you don’t know. I was just lucky that I enjoyed it. I think there’s a lot of freedom these days to change jobs or industries. I’ve seen kids get more advice about subjects and university choices from year 10 now than back when I was in school. Not just looking at what you’re good at, but also what you might enjoy doing. I did my three-year media degree, I finished uni on the Thursday and started work at a local newspaper on the following Monday.
At 41, I had a now or never moment.
I went on annual leave and used that time to see if I could get some freelance work and set up this styling business. I had enough interest for me to take that leap – and all I had was four months of long service leave. My blog was the website for a styling business that I started, and it was probably 6-12 months in that I realised that blogging was a thing bubbling away in the US and starting to take off in Australia.
I just loved the way you could connect with people no matter where they are, and I think that’s what was missing from my journalism career back then.
I realised very quickly that between the blog commenting and Twitter and Facebook that there was a conversation that you could have, and that was way more exciting than just putting content out all the time. I guess that was the starting point for me realising that there was a community to be built around my content. And it just slowly built up from there.
There are fewer comments on my blog, but now most people access the website on their smartphones. So most people now will read my website, but then go back to Facebook to comment, or they’ll comment on Instagram on the content. Last year I started a closed Facebook group for my community, and I was really hesitant at first. I started it in July, and there are now more than 7,000 women in the group. They feel more confident in asking the questions there rather than the website – and it’s the most supportive and judgement free space. That’s been a new way to talk and have that communication with my community.
I was that woman that traditional media wasn’t speaking to.
I’m outgrowing my own demographic at the moment, but because the common theme is feeling confident and dressing for your attitude, not your age I do have women from 30 up until the 80s and 90s in the group. If you look at my core demographic it’s 30-40, and for a time that was me and I didn’t feel like the industry wasn’t talking to me and I found there was a way to help women see beyond the campaign images and be confident in the clothes just presenting them differently.
I’m very passionate about promoting smaller Australian labels.
They won’t necessarily have the marketing budget, but if I like their story and it’s of a certain quality but not super expensive, then I’m happy to help out. The ‘Model and Me’ posts are a space where I’ve been able to help a lot of those start-up fashion labels. It’s a tough industry and to be able to help at a ground level is very rewarding on my part. Regarding major brands, they have to sit well with my audience in terms of style and price point.
When I was styling, I would see women of all different shapes and sizes and the common thread with all of them was they didn’t feel good about themselves.
And I wanted to make it my mission to make women feel as good as they can. And my audience know with me what they see is what they get, and the key to longevity in this space is not to freak out about being you because it doesn’t mean you’re going to attract everybody, but you’re going to attract the right people for you. I was certainly at the right place at the right time, but it does take a lot to sustain it, but I’ve never been in that young style blogger space. I’m not afraid to say you won’t get high fashion runway looks on my blog; it’s about translating it so the everyday woman can wear it and feel comfortable. It’s always been about being myself.
I have put my outfit on Instagram every day for three years.
The #everydaystyle hashtag started as something I was asked to do and “I said, look I’ll do it for a week” and by the end of the week people were joining in and I thought, “Oh I’d better continue!”
It’s something I do every day, and because I work from home, it motivates me to get dressed for the day. I plan my outfits out for the week (subject to change), so I know what I’m wearing each day based on what’s happening, and that takes the pressure off. And that’s something I’ve shared with my community too to encourage that especially if your mornings are busy. And that’s all about feeling confident for the day, not that you’ve had a mad scramble to pull some clothes together. The upshot is it’s not just me showing how garments look on everyday women it’s a ton of other women showing that and sharing that on social media as well.
Most people are visual, and the fashion industry doesn’t give us a lot of different visuals. So the #everydaystyle hashtag has so many different body types, and that collectively is making a difference.
Reflection to me means stopping every year to take more than a moment to look back on all that I’ve achieved.
Looking back both personally and professionally in the previous year, but also in various stages of my life. Milestone birthdays (I’ve just had my 50th) give you a real chance to do that. We often get bogged down in the everyday, in the things that seem particularly trying and big at the time. When you take time to reflect, it helps to see those things with a bigger-picture perspective.
Our interview with Nikki is part of the ongoing partnership between Business Chicks and Truvée. With a shared philosophy of the power and potential of women working together, both brands are passionate about celebrating women who follow their passions and go after what matters most.