Views / Toronto / Mom and Pop Shops

Clothes-ing the deal: How Canada's fashion, beauty entrepreneurs did it

The days of fashion and beauty bloggers living their lives in the background, critiquing or complimenting products anonymously in the blogosphere are over.

These days beauty and fashion bloggers are just as famous online as they are off.

Their hobbies and personal lives have merged to become brands in themselves, turning what was once viewed as new-age journaling into a business that includes invites to fashion shows, backstage passes and, more importantly, money. Think sponsorship deals, mainstream advertising and clients like Cannon, Holt Renfrew and L’Oreal.

They are, in the truest sense, entrepreneurs who have turned what they know and like into a job — although as I learned at Spark Session — Canada’s first beauty and fashion blogger conference — for many it’s a job they’d do for free or very little money anyway.

The successful conference had 21 influential bloggers from across Canada speak about networking and fashion and beauty publishing tips.

Photo Gallery

  • Contributed

    Spark Sessions is a weekend conference dedicated to the blooming community of fashion and beauty bloggers in Canada.

  • Takara Small/Metro News

    Conference attendee Victoria Stacey from passion8mag.org shows off her style in this photo.

  • Takara Small/Metro News

    Style blogger Jenn Ng was on hand to model her fashion and beauty finds at the conference.

  • Takara Small/Metro News

    The speakers weren't the only fashionable people on hand. Many attendees showed off their personal style at the conference.

  • Takara Small/Metro News

    Attendee Celine Rouzaud proudly displays her fashionable items at the conference.

  • Takara Small/Metro News

    Conference attendee Joanna Haughton from ModaMamaBlog.com displays her style.

  • Contributed

    The organizers behind Spark Session — the Canadian fashion and beauty blogging conference.

One of those bloggers was Karyn Johnson, the woman behind popular plus-size fashion blog Killer Kurves. She has turned her passion for plus-size clothing into a spokesperson position with clothing company Addition Elle, and more.

“I’m just a girl who likes fashion and it’s become a business,” says Johnson. “I was constantly learning … I didn’t know how to make a blog in WordPress at the beginning. My first blog was in Blogger and that’s now obsolete, so you have to keep changing and adapting.”

Marissa Anwar, the co-founder of Sparks Session, is an entrepreneur and the publisher of Chic Darling, a lifestyle magazine.

“Building a brand from scratch is harder than most people realize,” she says. “However, not everyone aspires to be a huge name in the blogging world. Some just use it as a creative outlet. Regardless of what their goals are, putting your work out in the public arena is extremely brave.”

Anita Clarke is the founder and editor-in-chief of the popular fashion blog I Want — I Got. The fashionable Torontonian shared her thoughts and success story at the conference.

“Oh, god” she says with a laugh after I ask her about tips on turning a fledgling blog into a success others will want to emulate. “A lot of the time you don’t really get to choose whether you’re going to be successful or not, the audience chooses that for you.”

The truth, she admits, is to find what makes you unique and capitalize on that. “You need some kind of hook and you have to have some point of view and it has to be distinct and something that is different from what everyone else is doing. Definitely have an idea what your site wants to be and what kind of voice you want to portray.”

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Who: Spark Session

What: Canada’s first beauty and blogging conference.

Where: Centre for Social Innovation, 720 Bathurst St., Toronto

Why: “I’m just a girl who likes fashion and it’s become a business,” says Karyn Johnson, founder and editor-in-chief of Killer Kurves, a plus-size fashion blog