While more than a million Australian workers have been forced to claim benefits amid the coronavirus pandemic, business is booming for Instagram influencers and online boutiques.
When the nation was thrust into lockdown on March 23 to stem the spread of coronavirus, consumers were increasingly reliant on online shopping, and were scrolling through their social feeds more than ever.
Tina Innes, White Fox Boutique’s PR manager, told Daily Mail Australia the idea of utilising influencers to attract customers seems to be a stroke of genius, given the current climate.
What was once considered by some to be a laughable career choice for wannabe celebrities has become a solid and stable source of income for many Australians.
And the key to making a lasting career in the industry is to be adaptable, versatile and only promote products that you love, influencers Tahlia Skaines and Madison Woolley explained.
‘Influencers have the power to directly affect consumers purchase behaviour, so their content creation definitely deserves to be recognised as a career,’ Ms Innes said.
Tahlia Skaines has been busier than ever during the pandemic, launching her own loungewear line and promoting her favourite brands
‘Brands had less spending money, so I was happy to adjust my rates,’ influencer Madison Woolley said. ‘I’ve developed good relationships with the brands I’ve work with over the years, so I wanted to be able to show my support for them during this challenging time’
‘Influencing in general is essential to the growth of any business and can often be seen as more authentic than standard marketing techniques.
‘Social media has become an important part of our day to day, so naturally the content we see impacts our decisions, particularly when it comes to shopping.’
The brand is thriving even in the midst of a global pandemic, crediting part of their success to their quick thinking and understanding of consumer needs.
‘Taking advantage of a market that is predominately online allowed White Fox to flourish and connect more with our customers,’ Ms Innes said.
‘We knew what our customers needed and reacted ahead of the game. This meant ensuring we had the right product to offer our customers during the global crisis.’
Their most successful assumption of 2020 so far was that a lockdown would see a spike in sales of loungewear.
Tina Innes, White Fox Boutique’s PR manager, told Daily Mail Australia the idea of utilising influencers to attract customers seems to be a stroke of genius, given the current climate
Pictured: Kylie Jenner wearing White Fox Boutique. The brand is thriving even in the midst of a global pandemic, crediting part of their success to their quick thinking and understanding of consumer needs
‘[That was] one trend we forecast early, and has since become one of our top selling categories,’ Ms Innes explained.
‘We are finding that if you can adapt you can overcome any challenges.’
Following seven years of success and growth on home soil, the brand is now looking to expand further in the US market – pandemic or not.
‘We’ve always had a dream big attitude. Despite everything going on in the world right now, that’s how we plan to continue.’
Tahlia Skaines, who boasts more than 538,000 followers on her Instagram channel and thousands more on YouTube, gave up a career in law to pursue her passion of travelling and blogging.
She now gets paid to collaborate with some of Australia’s favourite brands – including White Fox Boutique – and travel the world.
‘As a result of COVID, there has been a shift in influencer marketing and content creators have had to adapt and evolve,’ she told Daily Mail Australia.
Madison Woolley, who similarly boasts more than half a million followers at just 22, told Daily Mail Australia the pandemic had forced her to reassess her impact on the industry
‘My day-to-day work hasn’t been impacted. Some brands have scaled back but others have a bigger budget – so work for me has been even busier during COVID, which I’m super grateful for,’ Ms Skaines said
Economic doom at a glance
Figures show close to one million jobs were lost between mid-March, before the shutdown, and the end of May.
Nationally, the number of people with a job has fallen from 13million to 12million in little more than two months, and June figures won’t be released until mid-July.
Treasury is forecasting a budget deficit of $184.5billion for 2020-21, up from an $85.8billion deficit in 2019-20
This will make up 9.7 per cent of gross domestic product – the highest as a proportion of the economy since 1945 during the end of World War II
Unemployment was expected to hit 9.25 per cent by December – a level unseen since September 1994
GDP is forecast to have fallen by seven per cent in the June quarter alone – the equivalent of three years’ worth of growth
Source: Treasury Economic and Fiscal Update, July 23, 2020
‘We’ve been forced to be more creative… I don’t see that as a bad thing.’
The 25-year-old also touched on the notion of having a ‘pandemic-proof career’.
As industries globally have been brought to their knees because of the virus, Ms Skaines hasn’t lost work. In fact – she’s busier than ever.
‘My day-to-day work hasn’t been impacted. Some brands have scaled back but others have a bigger budget – so work for me has been even busier during COVID, which I’m super grateful for,’ she said.
But it hasn’t been a walk in the park.
Like other professions, to stay afloat she’s had to adjust and change her routine.
‘We’ve had to be super creative – at home shooting, cooking vlogs, carpark pictures,’ she said.
From travelling the globe and waking up in a different destination each month, spending the winter in her home town of Queensland has been a ‘shock to the system’, but its given her a chance to work on projects closer to her heart.
The industry was once considered fickle and temporary, but Ms Skaines feels more secure than ever in her work.
So secure, in fact, she has no plans of returning to her childhood dream of becoming a solicitor any time soon.
‘Definitely not at this stage. I’m so happy that I have my degree but I absolutely love what I do now,’ she said.
‘The virus has actually allowed me to have more time at home to knuckle down… I have a very supportive audience and amazing brands that I work for so I feel super grateful.’
In spite of her success and stable income, the model explained she never wants to become complacent and is always on the lookout for her next project.
Mr Skaines is launching 3rdphix, a loungewear collection, within the next few weeks and built a villa in Bali which is available for rent on Airbnb with her partner, Mitch, last year.
‘Villa Tahmi went from being at full capacity and thriving to now having no tourists even allowed in Bali, which is super upsetting,’ she explained.
The couple hope international travel won’t be far off – both for their own holiday plans and the sake of their villa.
And as for using influencers to promote her new line, Ms Skaines said she’s not opposed, but doesn’t think she needs to engage in any external marketing just yet.
‘Based on the interest shown and previous launches I’ve had for other brand collabs, we honestly believe we’ll sell out quite quick,’ she revealed.
‘I am lucky enough to have lots of supportive influencer friends so we may gift some items down the track but at this stage, it’ll just be marketed by myself.’
Figures show close to one million jobs were lost between mid-March, before the shutdown, and the end of May.
Nationally, the number of people with a job has fallen from 13million to 12million in little more than two months.
Ms Skaines explained the pandemic forced her to be more creative – often shooting in car parks. She advertised a 50 per cent off code for Boohoo in this post while wearing one of their products
Madison Woolley has recently changed management and is now working closely with We Are Komodo
Madison Woolley, who similarly boasts more than half a million followers at just 22, told Daily Mail Australia the pandemic had forced her to reassess her goals.
But overall, she never once felt unsafe in her career or worried about her income stream, as so many other Australians did – particularly at the height of the pandemic.
‘Obviously this industry is always changing… but I feel safe in my field.
‘The trick is being able to adapt and evolve… As a lifestyle influencer, I’m able to still work primarily from home,’ she explained.
Ms Woolley normally shoots her content on international getaways, in cafes, restaurants and venues – so she learned very early on in the lockdown that her feed would look different during the pandemic.
All of the latest content on Ms Woolley’s social media channels was shot at her apartment.
For many of her favourite brands, Ms Woolley said she was just excited to support them throughout the pandemic.
‘Brands had less spending money, so I was happy to adjust my rates,’ she said.
‘I’ve developed good relationships with the brands I’ve work with over the years, so I wanted to be able to show my support for them during this challenging time.’
What it takes to be an ‘influencer’
From a business perspective:
‘A majority of our influencer PR techniques are purely organic,’ Ms Innes told Daily Mail Australia.
‘This also includes our top tier celebrity placements and comes from forming strong relationships with influencers, stylists and managers over the years, who we believe will represent our brand values and create gorgeous content that is also marketed as attainable to their followers.
‘We collaborate with talent that have that ‘personal’ relationships with their followers and are relatable to show our consumer that our products are accessible and will provide them with that feeling of being unapologetically themselves.
‘We wanted to keep our relationships as organic as possible as we find that relationship marketing is a huge part of the success of our PR strategy.
‘As much as we want our influencers to be aspirational to our followers we also want them to relate to our customers and encourage inclusivity as much as possible.
‘Contrary to belief it isn’t all about how many followers you have. We work with all levels of influencers, from micro content creators, to mega tiered influencers and celebrities.
‘For us it is about looking for a high level quality of content and as previously mentioned influencers who relate to White Fox and our customer base.
From an influencer perspective:
‘My management, ZOOZ, arrange all of my collaborations for me,’ Ms Skaines explained.
‘Brands mostly reach out to myself but sometimes my manager will express interest first if we see it aligning well.
‘I only ever work with brands that I genuinely love and use / wear. I try to be as authentic as possible and I think my audience really sees and appreciates this.’
Ms Skaines previously told Daily Mail Australia that the industry was far less glamorous than what some people believed.
‘Lots of taking photos, planning, filming, editing videos and lots of travel! A lot of hard work goes on behind the scenes.
‘There is definitely a stereotype attached to influencers that it is all glitz and glamour but that is certainly not always the case.
‘Don’t get me wrong, it is super rewarding and I often pinch myself that this is my “work” but between Instagram, YouTube, Villa Tahmi, work trips and my other projects, my schedule is very busy!’