When fashion blogging was young, I started to keep an eye on the other Canadian fashion bloggers out there, and I found that Kimberley Jev in Calgary was doing the same thing. Her site, Calgary Fashion, is a lively, city-specific fashion blog which Kim successfully turned into a full-time gig. I first met her when she came to Toronto to cover fashion week here a few seasons ago, and this summer she showed up in Toronto again and decided to stay. We’re lucky to have her! She’s a bright, passionate blogger with an entrepreneurial streak, and she knows how to have fun, so naturally we’ve hit it off. I asked her a few questions about her fashion blogging experiences and what Hogtown should know about fashion in Cowtown.
You’re the founder of Calgary Fashion, which is really the premier, go-to site for fashion news in that city. Can you describe a bit about the genesis of the site? Why you think it is so remarkably successful in a very narrow niche?
In my first year of Journalism school, we had to pick beats to keep track of and report on. I chose the fashion beat. A challenge at first, I was very adamant there was more to the fashion scene in Calgary than the little tid bits on malls and salons, so with my camera in hand I set out in search of designers and fashion shows in the city. September 2007 was when the blog was created and the Downtown Association of Calgary held a fashion week, there was very little reporting on the event as you would find in other cities online, this sort of sparked everything. My interest in photography was blossoming and there was an obvious lack of fashion reporting through the web with reports on shows, so I made it my business to be everywhere fashion was in Calgary, this is how it all began.
The site is successful because there really isn’t anything like it in Calgary. The aim with the site is to inspire and mainly promote. It’s online to show there are people just as enthusiastic about fashion as any New Yorker or Londoner would be. It’s online for the kid living in the suburbs just dreaming of fashion school and not knowing where to turn, it’s showing that it’s okay to come from Calgary and love fashion, it really is okay!
Calgary Fashion works because every thing that happens with the website is local, the photographers are local, the writers are local, the designers are local, 90% of it is local coverage and reporting. It’s showing Calgary that fashion really can exist anywhere, you don’t have to be based in Paris to experience it. This is why I think it works, there are several people making a difference and it’s specific to Calgary even when we are at shows in other cities, we’re bringing it to Calgary for Calgary.
Lets talk a little bit about blog burnout. How do you deal?
Blogging when it’s a full time gig gets pretty serious, somedays I don’t even want to look at Calgary Fashion…but that is impossible.
My days are made up of phone calls from the early morning to the evening, meeting with various members of the fashion industry, publicists, promoters, consulting, answering e-mails, keeping up to speed of fashion locally and internationally, editing and making sure content is up to par as well as making sure i’m on top of things for weekly meetings with the editorial team…week after week, it really does take a toll. I usually just leave things for a bit, this is the really wonderful thing about niche blogging as well as saying what goes and what doesn’t, we don’t really have a set schedule for blogging. We go with the flow. So when I feel a burnout coming, we slow down on posting, we slow down on trying to be everywhere all the time, this usually coincides with down times in fashion events in the city as well.
To get away from things, I drive, far away and when I can’t drive I fly. I’m a hula hooper and a big music fan so I hoop, catch shows and generally try to see as much as possible outside fashion.
If you can’t drive or fly or don’t like dancing or hooping, it also helps to offer your services to something of a total different category from fashion or blogging even, doing work for something else really helps you take your mind off things and teaches you about how to do other things as well. Basically intern or volunteer your time to something else. You’ll be surprised to see how the things you learn come back to you and your blog.
You’ve recently moved from Calgary to Toronto. Will you continue to oversee Calgary Fashion? Would you consider starting another city-specific fashion blog or are you after something completely different?
Ha! No way! A lot of work has gone into Calgary Fashion, creating another city specific blog would be way too much work to be honest. I’m really happy with the site, Calgary Fashion is my baby and as mother of the blog I can’t really throw that responsibility of nurturing it out the window. It has so much growing to do, it hasn’t even scratched the surface of it’s full potential, i’m quite positive on that.
There are already so many other blogs that do the job just fine for other cities especially Toronto. There is no lack of fashion news in this city. I’m not here to step on any ones toes or to claim we know more about it than what the bloggers and fashion journalists here already know.
The aim with the move is to be able to bring fashion event coverage from other fashion weeks really, this has been the goal from the very beginning. I want to see more coverage on Toronto Fashion Week and Montreal Fashion Week and then who knows other weeks from different parts of the world all on the Calgary Fashion site.
To me, this is the next fun and logical step. However, you just never know really, tomorrow I could shut everything down and become a full time hula hooper, watch the space I guess, see what happens!
Do you have any advice for all the city-specific fashion bloggers out there?
Really pay attention to the flow of fashion in your city, if it’s not happening, it’s not happening, don’t beat yourself up about it. There is a time for everything. Embrace the slow times, use it to go over your content, edit, edit, edit, it’s never enough, especially on a blog or if you are publishing through the blog format. Refine, look over it, throw out what didn’t work, embrace what did work and keep it moving.
It’s also okay to just stop and not worry about things. You will come across some really bizarre demands from people in your city and the industry,stay strong, you won’t be able to please everyone. Do your best for yourself as well as your team, that is if you have a team. Remember the blog itself is a separate entity from who you are, unless your blog is centered around you as a personality but for those that aren’t, you are not your blog, so live a little.
Stay focused on your blog mission. Never forget a blog gives you the freedom to do and post whatever you want, so don’t worry too much about what other blogs are doing, do what feels right for you and your blog and your readership as well, most important.
What fashion designers from Calgary should the rest of the country and the world know about?
Haithem Elkadiki is an established Calgary designer whom I think more people need to know about, he is a very talented menswear designer with clients all over the world. Two up and coming designers I am also a fan of are Caitlin Power and Nonie Rahal of House Of Nonie whom I believe constantly exceed expectations and although very young on the scene compared to other established designers in Calgary, possess a much necessary understanding of what it means to be a fashion designer, paying attention not only to the quality and craftsmanship of their designs but also to the tenets of the business of fashion.