I went to see Erika Fox a.k.a. Retro Flame in NUIG with their Business Society (BizSoc). When I was in university I loved being part of the different societies in the college as they really give you great experience and are great for networking as well. When I seen that Erika was going to be talking on her career path I was intrigued so decided to pop along.
The talk actually happened in September and I didn’t get a chance to write about it so thought I would today and share some of the tips that she shared during the talk about getting a graduate Visa and blogging. She was so welcoming to everyone in the room and her usual fun self. She started talking through her education path and then through her internships right through to her current career combining working for Vince Camuto in New York City.
While Erika was studying in university she also spent her Summers interning and this work ethic has certainly stood to her and why she has been so successful both in her career and with her blog. I think it is important to note that she did travel over and back to the US during her Summers as I have no doubt it helped her with her Visa’s. Here is the run down of some of her internships;
- Upfront PR (link). This agency is actually in Kerry and Erika worked there as part of her GTI course.
- Whitney Port (link) – she interned with Whitney and her team during fashion week. Read more here.
- Refinery 29 (link). The first Summer after finishing college Erika interned in NYC at the mega Refinery 29- they are still my go to site to see what is up and coming and I can only imagine her excitment to work there.
US Visa Situation
So of course to live and work in the US which Erika says was her aim once she started interning – you need a Visa. Erika actually took a year out to save and live at home before moving the the States. She put a major focus on the blog & building followers (more below), and working towards that Graduate Visa. Here are some tips that Eriks shared;
- Double the expected cost that you think you will spend while in NYC
- If it’s an option, live at home and save loads
- Erika looked for experience before going to the US – this really stood to her when she went to move – both working and her blog
- It is very strict when you do get your Visa – you have 90 days to find a job. This pressure can be both good and bad but you need to start job hunting before you go over.
- Under the H-1B you can move job and can earn up to 10k more per more which she recommends
- Do as much networking as possible and get on LinkedIn. Search for the PR person for the company that you want to work with and connect with them. Then if they accept send them and email with your CV attached. Americans like that initiative and also the cheekiness. In that regards, write down the top 10 companies that you would like to work for and then start plaguing them!
- Keep going – you can do it but need to keep trying and don’t forget people love the Irish 🙂
Blogging & Retroflame
It was during her year at GTI quite a while ago now that Erika learned about blogging and what is was and from there she started posting her outfits to the Lookbook.eu website – does anyone else remember Lookbook?! LOVE! From there it was actually Saibh from the ITWBN that helped her start her blog. She actually didn’t blog for a month after it was set up – she was too nervous!
Since that time Retroflame has grown into one of the Top Irish Blogs and one that I love to go to for fashion inspiration. And Retroflame itself has had quite the makeover since it first launched, when Erika started blogging she started on blogger (www.retroflame.blogspot.ie) but two years ago moved to using WordPress and was a worthwhile €100 investment. The benefits that she has found with WordPress are slicker themes and PlugIns make using the site much easier. I know from having blogs on both I am a WordPress girl now through and through!
She shared some tips with regards getting started that I thought you might find interesting;
- Don’t be ‘anti-code’ when it comes to your website. Ericka used to be very anti-code but the more she gets into it the easier it gets and it’s great being able to adjust your theme yourself.
- Followers – they are hard to get in the start and the first 100 will probably be your friends and family! They will come but you need to be patient.
- Always reply to people- if they take the time to talk to you – answer back 🙂
- Be Consistent. It is all about being consistent and being organised. Readers will come back if they can trust that you will have good content on a regular timetable.
- Quality is very important. As a fashion blog she needs to have strong images and she gets someone to help her with photography as it is not her strength. It saves her time, she knows what the result will be and she wants to keep the quality at the same level on both her blog and on Instagram.
- You need to think of your blog as a personal brand and for that you need to be consistent, be professional and have a quality blog.
- Keep networking – keep meeting new people and attend events to meet more people. You never know who you will meet so it could be worth it.
Going back to finish her Commerce degree in NUIG has really stood to her as she has been able to do a business plan for Retroflame and the better you do in your degree the more you can show it off! And remember times can sometimes be busy – but Erika firmly believes that the busier you are the more productive that you are. And if you enjoy it then you won’t mind putting in the time.
And Erica unsurprisingly was very busy when she was at home – she was competing in Ireland’s Best Young Entrepreneur competition (#IBYE). And she won both ‘Best Established Business’ and ‘Kerry’s Best Young Entrepreneur’ which is just amazing – her winning idea was of course a digital one for a Blogger & Digital Influencer Agency called 5A Digital – see below for details;
*** UPDATE ***
May 2016 – Since this talk Erika has really shone – she has left Vince Camuto and is now blogging full time! She has also written a really interesting post on Why she quit her job and full details of her career to date – you can read it here. If you follow her on Snapchat (@Retroflame1) then you will have been witness to her drive and persistence and I have no doubt that Retroflame will continue to thrive.