There’s no blogging major at the Fashion Institute of Technology, but some of the college’s students are building their future through their web presence instead of through the career office.
Freddy Rodriguez, who just graduated on Thursday, started his blog Blue Perk three years ago during the summer after his freshman year. At first, Rodriguez’s blog was just a fun way for him to show off his stylish outfits, but in February 2013, he saw his readership explode after Tumblr featured him as a Fashion Week blogger. “I had press from Fashionista and Mashable and that’s how I got a lot of presence and gained momentum,” he said.
Rodriguez, 22, has had a wild ride thanks to his blog, which includes working on a special project with Billy Reid and taking trips as far as Thailand. Rodriguez started making money from the blog one year ago. “I had some friends doing it full-time and realized that as long as I market myself accordingly and grow at the same rate, I could do it professionally,” he explained.
Now, Rodriguez makes money from writing sponsored blog posts for brands like Kenneth Cole or Ted Baker and working on social media side projects, including his job as a community manager for Details. His collective income is comparable to that of a fashion assistant and his savings will allow him to move to Europe, where he will travel and attempt to expand his brand. “There is money out there,” he said. “Brands are realizing the worth of bloggers and it grows as they continue to work on different blogs.”
Tumblr featured Rodriguez again last fall as one of 20 Fashion Week “all-star” bloggers, along with two fellow F.I.T. students, Nicole Loher and Ryan Charchian.
Loher, who also graduated on Thursday, started her blog NicoleLoher.com in high school. “I had one of the first fashion Tumblrs and the people at headquarters took note,” she said. Just as Loher was starting college in 2010, Tumblr sent her to Fashion Week as an editor.
Soon, Loher, 21, realized her blog could be more than a hobby. “After my first year of college, I realized it was a career choice for some and that it was profitable,” she said. Today, Loher works at Nanette Lepore in social media and branding; she also earns money from her blog and side gigs like modeling for Gant Rugger Womenswear. She said blogging has been more valuable to her career than her classes have been. “I learned most of it on my own,” she said. “You can look at the textbook version, but you won’t really understand it until it’s applied. Blogging has given me that – I’ve learned to negotiate my own contract and pricing and that’s definitely something you cannot learn in a textbook.”
Charchian, 20, is still a student, but the blogger behind Fashionisto Diaries already has a manager. Charchian interviewed Tim Gunn for his blog when he was just 15, and he has been on the up and up ever since. Charchian has over 60,000 followers on his blog and is now foraying into the world of vlogging (video blogging). He’s also still friends with Tim Gunn. “We went to his apartment and shot his closet and I was one of the first press people to see his closet, which was the most stunning and organized thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” he gushed of his mentor.
Charchian credits his start in Washington, D.C., where the fashion blog scene was not as crowded as the one in New York, as an advantage; even as a high school student, he received invitations to fashion events around the city. F.I.T. seemed like a natural fit when he applied to college and Charchian has been taking advantage of life in New York City by taking on various internships at Vince and now at Tumblr.
“The things I’m passionate about I take 110 percent,” he said. “I will admit there were times I could be so much more studious, but I love my blog and I love what I do.”
Follow Andrea Park on Twitter: @andreapark