This month I have a chat with Alex Stedman from The Frugality. We talk fashion mistakes, big blog plans, that house renovation and what the fashion industry really thinks about bloggers.
Name: Alex Stedman Based: London Blog: www.the-frugality.com
Hi Alex! Thanks for joining us for a chat, we’re huge fans of your blog and Instagram! Tell us how you got into blogging?
I was working on a glossy magazine at the time and although I loved it, I still felt a need for my voice. As someone who has never been able to afford a designer handbag that I was featuring regularly on pages and that were all over other blogs. Someone who had a more realistic budget, loved clothes but made my own lunches everyday and every purchase had to be thought about. I told a few friends and PRs and they all said ‘I’d read that!’. So it started there, 5 years ago now.
On your blog you champion being an authentic blogger. What does that mean to you and why is it important?
I never started my blog to be famous, to make money or to have power. It started from seeing a gap in the market and a genuine excitement at catering to it. I am just as excited about someone telling me they bought those Topshop jeans I had, and they make that person feel fab, than I do from making money from affiliate links. If you start there, you’ll always have more integrity. My reader always knows I would never feature a brand I didn’t love or work with someone I didn’t feel was right or 100% aligned with what I am trying to get across. It’s a two way street…
Your blog is dedicated to a stylish life that doesn’t break the bank. Do you ever feel constrained by that mantra? Are you ever tempted to blow it all on a designer handbag?!
Haha! I wish I could….! All the money I make goes back into my blog – it pays for my trips to go out and get content etc…sometimes I’d like to go on holiday and not feel the need to document it. But when I get there, as a creative, I want to photograph everything anyway!
You’re fully immersed in the fashion industry as a self employed stylist, fashion blogger and you worked in print too right? How would describe the fashion industry’s attitude towards bloggers and influencers? Has that changed in your time?
It’s funny, I have always downplayed my blog, mainly because the term ‘blogger’ used at a magazine would automatically incur an eyeroll. And still when I see journalists they say to me ‘you’re not a typical blogger’, which is always strange as I’m not sure who is?! Being in the industry has helped a great deal, I’ve never had to cold email anyone and PRs always backed me from the beginning. And being a stylist and contributing to magazines means my recommendations come from an ‘authority’. But that’s not to say there aren’t other bloggers who don’t create just as good content without that background, and I really admire those people
As someone who collaborates with amazing brands do you have any advice for others on securing collaboration opportunities?
Be genuine, patient (!), nice and create good content and they will come. I’ve never sought out a campaign, the brands have found me and liked what I do…and then it comes from a better place rather than you pushing them into working with you. And if you’re working with someone, make sure you can back it up – I never work with brand I’m not 100% sure my reader likes or shops. Otherwise the project won’t work for either of you.
What’s your signature look?
Jeans (eye roll) – Topshop. Flats (usually somewhere like Boden) and a cashmere Crew neck (Gap).
Where are your favourite places to shop?
I am a real H&M girl, I just always find things there. I also love Cos, Gap and And Other Stories. I would shop only in J Crew if budget would allow.
Tell us about your worst / most embarrassing fashion mistake!
Too many! When I look back at my blog from the early days I cringe so much…I had big black glasses and used to do photos super quickly on my phone and not care at all. I found a forum where people said I looked like Garth from ‘Wayne’s World’!
You’re going through a major house renovation at the moment which we love following on your Insta Stories! When is the work due to be completed? Were you tempted to contact Grand Designs to film the progress?!
Haha! I don’t think it’s quite big enough for ‘Grand Designs’!! When we bought the house it was already at the top of our budget, so we knew it would take a while….we’re doing room by room in order of urgency. Realistically it will be a 10 year job but hopefully worth it!
You and your husband Chris did a photography course together, right? What are your top tips for creating better images? What camera and lenses do you use?
I just use a small Olympus Pen E-PL7. It’s very small and subtle which I like and you can change lenses (I have the one it came with and the 42mm), and you can send the images straight to your phone. I am still not super technical with it but the course was so good for creating your eye and learning about different effects you can create with different exposures. It’s a great camera anyway but once you learn what it can actually do, it’s so much more rewarding.
You did your first Youtube video for London Fashion Week which was great! Will this be a regular thing?
Thanks for watching 🙂 I’m trying to work on different mediums, not just Instagram so that my content is more diverse. It’s good for me to see what works too. It’s hard as a blogger as you want to do everything but there is only one of you and editing videos takes about a week each one! I will do more but maybe on a monthly basis…I’m just planning a packing one now!
Have you any plans to do more travel posts or guides in 2017?
Yes! We’re doing a Rome city guide at the end of this month…and then Barcelona in the summer. I love doing these….
What can we expect from The Frugality this year?
Same old, really! I’d love to start approaching city guides on a website level and not so personal-blog-like but at the moment I just take each day as it comes.