“I have a website with photos of myself.” This is how Kristina Bazan described Kayture to her parents when she was trying to convince them to let her have a gap year after school to turn her blogging hobby into a full time career. To many people, the world of blogging seems as absurd and simple as that. Bazan’s talk to the Guild, and that which followed by her business partner James Chardon, proved it is anything but.
Blogging has taken Bazan and Chardon all over the world. In the week that they came to Oxford they travelled from Idaho, to LA, to Oxford, to Japan, to London and then went on to Cannes. Most significantly it has taken them from a small village in Switzerland, where the two first met when Chardon was looking for models on whom to practice his photography, to Geneva and recently to LA, where three of the now six person team have just moved.
LA is an interesting question for Bazan. One would be forgiven for assuming that the move was because LA is the new New York in terms of fashion. Kayture isn’t the first fashion blog to move there: Chiara Ferragni of The Blonde Salad recently left Milan to move to LA, and big brands like Burberry have started doing pop up shows over there. While Bazan agrees that LA is evolving into a West Coast fashion capital, she adds immediately, “But we moved to LA just for the music.” For the music? Indeed, any Kayturette (that’s what Bazan’s online following call themselves) could tell you that it is no secret that fashion isn’t Bazan’s one and only love; in an interview with The Coveteur, Bazan admits, “I always wanted to do music, and I thought that starting a blog would get me connected with people.” It’s clearly working.
But one has to wonder how they’ve made it so big in blogging when Chardon describes the “start-up” as having “no investment and no customers” and on top of that knowing that what Bazan really wanted to do was sing.
The answer is held, it seems, in that conversation with Bazan’s and Chardon’s parents, who challenged them to make a business plan to prove that they could monetise the blog and make it work within the year off. There are more than 70 million blogs on the web, according to Chardon, but very few have both a creative and a business brain on board from their very inception. “It’s a bit of a taboo,” Chardon says, “talking about blogging as a business,” as he launches into talking about USPs and whether you can measure influence like currency.
Apparently, it’s also tough trying to get a visa to the USA when you’re officially a ‘blogger manager’.This is a job which entails trying to convince Bazan to get an official Snapchat account (“one of the first influencers on the platform”) and negotiating sponsorships for trips, such as their recent trip to Cannes, for which they were offered a huge amount by a certain ice-cream company, which Chardon decided to reject in the end, because he’d never seen her eat said ice-cream and besides they have to keep the blog’s aesthetic in mind.
This is an aesthetic steeped in luxury, a market and its values that Bazan and Chardon understood, even if they couldn’t afford it, growing up in Switzerland. Bazan was the first face of Cartier and the first blogger to do a film for Louis Vuitton, just two of the big brands who they’ve been asked to work with again and again.
Brands like these have been rushing to invest in digital, and the best way it seems that they can do this is by investing in bloggers. Bazan explains, “Bloggers are better at creating a story than magazines, models are cold, and magazines are published monthly, while bloggers have a direct connection, and while it’s unlikely that any readers of the blog will buy a $10,000 watch, they’ll read the story about the brand and the product.”
It’s not just the big brands that are starting to cotton on to the attraction of big bloggers like Bazan, magazines are now not just featuring them in their street style sections but putting them on their front covers. “I’m actually getting my first cover of a really big magazine in a couple of months,” Bazan tells me. It’s taken a while, as “for a long time lots of people thought blogging was a passing trend.” It’s clearly not, but I wonder with the speed of technological advances what the future is for blogging and bloggers. “Video content, it’s not just about the picture and the text anymore.” How fitting for Bazan and her future music career, it’s almost as if they planned it.