Combining her knowledge in communications and the fashion industry, LCF alumna Aoifa Smyth is currently working as a Lead Influencer and Talent Manager at the London-based agency eight&four. In this interview, she gives us an insight into the world of influencer management and makes a throwback to her time at LCF in 2012, when she studied a postgraduate course in Fashion and Lifestyle Journalism (now MA Fashion Journalism).
Hi Aoifa. What are you currently working on at the moment? Any exciting projects you can tell us about?
Yes, lots! I just got back from one of our client’s hotels in Madrid, for which I brought two influencers to an event they ran with Sonar+D, focusing on innovation and technology. I’m also looking for an up-and-coming chef to collaborate with one of our whisky brands and working on the launch of a very exciting influencer collective for a luxury brand.
Tell us a bit more about your job. What is it like to work as an Influencer Manager?
It’s a really exciting area to work in, as there’s so much to learn as the industry evolves. Without sounding clichéd, no two days are the same!
One day could be spent shortlisting mummy bloggers for a family-focused road trip, the next could be sourcing models for a content shoot and the next developing a strategy on how a whisky brand can reach a new audience with the help of fashion influencers. The variety keeps it interesting, but some days can be really admin focused too, booking rooms and writing contracts, etc.
What do you enjoy the most about your job and working for an agency?
I really enjoy owning relationships with influencers and seeing projects come into fruition with them, tracking how an idea can blossom into some great content and impressive results. Working in an agency really suits me, as the variety of clients means it’s tough to get bored. It’s super fast paced, which isn’t for everyone though.
Some people believe the influencer world is all about the glamour and the free clothes. Did you have any expectations about working with influencers before starting at the agency?
I worked in-house for two fashion brands previously and I feel like I have evolved in my career with the influencer marketing industry, so I always had a strong awareness of what it was about. It’s certainly not all glamour and free clothes, and most influencers have to work really hard to make a living from it and to keep their audiences interested.
What makes someone stand out when you have to select or work with a new influencer?
It’s really important that their content or feed aligns with the client’s values and aesthetics. Their engagement levels are also a very important consideration - it’s great to have loads of followers, but they have to care about what you’re doing and saying. And, finally, their audience must mirror who you are looking to reach. For example, if your brand is a luxury product and an influencer’s followers are all under 25 years old, it might not be worth collaborating on that occasion.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve encountered in your role?
When travelling with influencers you can experience some challenging behaviour: from one missing luggage full of Dolce & Gabanna, to another fainting after aerial yoga or one in particular racking up a crazy room service bill on champagne and massages. Nothing major, they make good stories.
You’re originally from Ireland. Why did you decide to move to London? What was your first impression of living in the city?
I moved to London to study at LCF. I had visited many times before recreationally, so wasn’t too daunted by living in the city, but it was my first time living out of my family home, so I definitely learnt some important lessons along the way.
Let’s talk a bit about your time at LCF. What attracted you about this university?
I had been researching fashion-focused courses in London and LCF was an obvious choice, as it’s a very well-established name.
Why did you choose to do a postgraduate in fashion journalism?
I majored in English Literature during my undergraduate degree in Dublin and was always attracted to combining my interest in writing with my lifelong love of fashion. During my time in University College Dublin I wrote for the College Tribune and acted as Fashion Editor for two years. This really confirmed for me that was the route I wanted to go down and spurred me on to do an internship at Stellar Magazine before moving to London.
What did you enjoy the most about the course and your time at LCF?
Learning! With an awareness that careers in print journalism aren’t widely available, a lot of our course was tailored for blogs and online outlets. I feel that this helped me to develop my writing for digital platforms and pushed me down the direction my career took. Our course tutor Glen Waldron was really inspiring, I learnt a lot from him.
Can you tell us about your final project and your research focus?
My final project Decades Magazine was a publication which brought vintage clothing into the modern day. My mum and granny own a vintage shop in Dublin called The Harlequin, so I was brought up surrounded by vintage clothing and therefore I knew a lot on the topic. It was so much fun to make!
According to your experiences along your career, what piece of advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career in the fashion industry?
Go into it with an awareness that you have to work your way up the ranks. When you start out, expect to be lumped with the crappier jobs, but if you do them with a smile and try to learn from everything you do, it won’t go unnoticed.
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