5 Things I Learned From Garance Doré
During the NYFW Fall 2011 season I braved the cold with a photographer at my side as we made our way from a remotely located runway show near the NYC waterfront. I was freelancing for Refinery29, exhausted from zero sleep (the trance I slipped into while editing photos had to suffice), and spotted Scott Schuman and Garance Doré walking ahead of me, chatting about the show we’d just seen while photographers ran around them snapping photos.
That day I’d also run into Anna Wintour and Waris Ahluwalia—but it was Garance who left the biggest impression on me. Despite the awful weather and madness of Fashion Week, Garance was the very picture of cool elegance. She was wearing a massive fur collar coat (which inspired me to run out and buy my own shortly after) skinny jeans, and a smile on her face.
I felt immediately that she had discovered some secret about life that, once you know it, just makes you the coolest, most curated woman in town.
Fast-forward to November 2013. I had the supreme pleasure of taking part in an intimate gathering organized by the IFB where we were treated to a panel discussion on the “business of blogging”, followed by a conversation with the impeccable, adorable Garance Doré. Garance is someone whose personal style radiates from every line of her illustration work, and every word she speaks.
When I wasn’t getting lost in her stories, I was frantically scribbling lines of advice she bestowed upon us with transparent honesty. She didn’t credit herself with being much of a “teacher” but she definitely taught me a few things that I try to keep in mind at all times. I’ll share 5 of those things with you below.
5 Things I Learned From Garance Doré
1. Fake it ’till you make it.
When elaborating on her beginning as an illustrator, Garance spoke of proudly parading through the streets of Paris, searching out potential mentors as if she was already a well known artist. She had grown up in a small town, but she held her head high, and confidently knocked on the doors of the people she admired.
Once she began to catch on, people would phone her for meetings in Paris, so she would postpone until she could catch a plane. She refused to let her small town status stop her.
2. Write with honesty.
As the blog began to gain traction, some readers were perturbed when Garance would mention expensive designer items or link to them. She debated whether it would be a mistake to keep speaking about her tastes in designer items honestly. Would she lose readers?
In the end, she kept true to her tastes and spoke only about the things she truly admired. She may have lost some bargain-hunting readers, but her core audience stuck around, and she gained followers that were a perfect fit for her reader base.
3. Showcase only the parts of your life that you want to share.
A lot of people wanted to know the inside story into the ultra-chic Garance’s life. After all, on her blog, her life appears to be a non-stop parade of fashion, macaroons, and fun projects. She laughed when being accused of living this dream life, reminding us that the internet is a fantastic way to showcase only the parts of your story that you want to. She encouraged us to curate our online presence accordingly, with our readers in mind.
4. Having a vision is more important than having a business plan.
Deciding everything about your venture in the beginning and then bullishly surging forward isn’t always the right tactic. Garance warned against attempting to stick to specific formulas that are “fail-proof”. Instead, develop a clear vision, and make all decisions based on that vision.
This advice is applicable not only to business plans but also to things like which social platforms you use regularly, who you hire as your assistant, where you take your photos, and of course, what your content looks like.
5. Stay true to yourself.
Garance was offered a prestigious position at a major magazine just as her blog was taking off. When she spoke to her soon-to-be boss over the phone, she received an alarming ultimatum: if she took dream job, she would have to shut down her blog. She thought about it for a short time, before declining the job. Looking back, you can bet she’s glad she stayed true.
I hope some of these things resonated with you. I was so glad to have the chance to hear Garance speak in person, and to scribble down so much of her advice in my little purple notebook last November.
She was also recently interviewed by Scott Schuman at the French Institute Alliance Française last week in case you want some more of her charm and wit! ;}