Olivia Perez Makes Us Wish It Was Still Summer

Olivia Perez is insta-famous, a major fashion influencer and gorgeous, but does that mean her life is all glam and no hard work?

No, it doesn’t, but that’s the thing about social media. It’s so easy to make your life look picturesque and stress-less. But the truth is, what you don’t see on social media is what makes Olivia so influential within the fashion industry.

We talked to Olivia about some of the misconceptions of being an influencer, and how hard work and constantly pushing yourself is what will make you better than the rest.

All clothes are available from Poolside Collective.

Pink sweater: Ohlin D | Pink purse: Shaffer La | Bathing Suit: Vintage from Dusty Rose Vintage | Sunglasses: CRAP Eyewear | Location: Vintage Pink

Tell us a little about yourself, where did you grow up?

I grew up in LA and then I moved to New York when I was 18 to attend NYU. I was in Gallatin (NYU’s individualized study school), so I got to do a little bit of everything.

What did you study in school?

Well Gallatin is extraordinary because you get to create your own major, you get to go with the flow. But at the same time, it really takes a diligent and focused person because you are responsible for creating your own education, and your own path for four years. Let alone not a lot of college students know what they want to do, so to be responsible for your path was definitely a challenge that was rewarding at the end of the day.

I mixed fashion, digital media, and little bit of psychology. I’m interested in what people were attracted to, whether it be why people would click on certain articles or why people dress they way they do every day. I really feel like it was the psychology of aesthetics and how people build their own. And then I minored in Stern for business. I got a very diverse education, but definitely with what I am doing now on the site, I’m able to understand my readers and my demographic and what people are gravitating towards today.

How did you start Friend of a Friend? 

I started it last May. I had moved to New York, I had done internships every semester, I felt like I was, number 1, in a good position to branch out on my own, and all those internships were extremely inspiring to me. So learning a lot, meeting a lot of new people, but then I was also really interested in the college student perspective, someone who really has nothing to lose, who is super focused on one thing, whether that be art or fashion or design, not necessarily jaded by the working world and having to be in an office everyday. I wanted to build a platform for people to talk about the things that they love with no extra add-ons. 

Where did the name come from?

I have always thought of “Friend of a Friend” as an extremely trusting phrase, I could say to you, “a friend of a friend told me about this nail salon in Soho,” and you and I would go just because I used that phrase. People really have such a comfort in hearing something come through word-of-mouth. I wanted to create a community where people felt comfortable. Already pushing people out of their comfort zone to try something new is a challenge, and I wanted to create an environment where people were excited to do that, and felt they were doing it with friends.

What keeps you inspired for new content on Friend of a Friend?

A lot of people ask me that. They’re like, “Oh, what websites do you read, like where do you look?” But I think living in New York itself is extremely inspiring, I always find myself kind of exploring new neighborhoods and walking on my own, and I feel like when I first moved here I was so scared of the subway and I was in taxis all the time, but now I walk everywhere and I’m always finding new things and new neighborhoods.

But also, once again, word of mouth is such a big part of my business so I love hearing where my friends are going and hearing what they are doing. Embodying what I am telling my readers to do is equally as important for my  everyday life. Not staying in routine, going out and trying new places and building those connections.

I was going through the website and I noticed Gigi Hadid and Sofia Richie are some of your guest editors. They’re both coming up in fashion right now, how did you go about getting them to collaborate?

They were all extremely interested in collaborating or partnering together to help grow the site. I think that a really big part of the site is that I want everything to feel like as unknown as possible. So those are people who are doing amazing things in the industry, and doing something different and on the rise, whether it was Rumi Neely at the time she was about to launch Are You Am I, or Lauren Gerrie as she was building her culinary empire and  cooking amazing meals for Marc Jacobs. The star factor was never the biggest factor to me. What are you doing that’s creating conversation for people? Are you bringing people together? How are you doing that? I love working with people who are contributing to the industry in an interesting way.

You have so many travel guides on your website, what has been your favorite destination yet?

I would say the most popular is Paris. I get texts from people multiple times a week saying that they are using my Paris guide and that is the best feeling in the world. But I think that is doing so well because I didn’t go to Paris and focus on the 5-star restaurants that everybody knows. I really explored and tried to find places that I would go to myself. I essentially want to create a guide where if someone was coming to New York, where I would go as a person who lives in New York.

I think the most fun one was Savannah, Georgia. I actually went there in May to be on the jury for SCAD’s senior fashion show. It was amazing, one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve ever been a part of. I ended up spending an extra day there and just walked the town and went to probably 20 restaurants in one day. It was one of those experiences that was so on brand for me. I didn’t know anyone, I had hardly any friends who had been there and had no experience to base it off of. So I explored, which is something I push my readers to do.

What is something unexpected about you that people might not know?

I think the most unexpected thing is that I do have a 9-to-5. I recently started at Spring over the summer to work on fashion partnerships. The app is my latest shopping addiction – it allows you to shop from thousands of different brands in one app. So essentially the largest digital mall in the palm of your hands (with free shipping and returns!). I’ve been focusing on working with influencers, planning events, and building the brand’s presence in a social sphere. I’m so excited to take what I’ve learned from having my own business and implement it in a larger way. I’m in a great growing and learning phase right now. 

But I think that there is definitely a misconception abut influencers today. I always get people being like, “So what do you actually do?” People think that it’s this very glamorous lifestyle where I just meet people for lunch all day, go to events, and get sent things. But I think that there’s also this pocket of influencers right now that are really interested in their actual career and professional development. Sure there is a glamorous aspect of it that comes with having a social job, but I want to be of influence in multiple pockets of the industry and not just be constrained to one thing. I want to gain as much experience as I can so I can get a full picture of the industry I’m in. I was really shy at first when I first started at Spring because I got a lot of responses saying, “Oh, so you’re not doing Friend of a Friend anymore?”, but I have the ability to do multiple things at once and contribute my ideas to a variety of projects. I think it’s a great time to be in this industry right now because the landscape proves that you don’t have to be just one thing.

What would you tell someone who is looking to start their own blog?

Don’t be afraid of what other people are going to think of you. I think I was really nervous when I started my blog. I was worried about what my friends would say and how I was going to be perceived in comparison of this other person. All of those emotions were important data points for me to build your career off of, but don’t let it cripple you in terms of growing yourself and putting yourself out there. I remembered when I first started, I would literally take hours working on an Instagram, thinking “does this work?” or “are people going to like this?” and I had a really close friend of mine one day just be like “People are going to relate to you and like you, those are the people you want as your followers. Don’t be afraid of who you are and put that out there.” That was a really important message to me. My personality has become a large part of my business so I can’t be afraid to show it. 

If you could give advice to your 16 year old self, what would it be?

Everything is going to be just fine! I remember when I was 16,  I was such a worrier, I need all my dots to be connected at all times. I think that is a good thing and a bad thing, but I’ve learned to understand the bigger picture of life, take a step away from the small things, and know that it’s a journey and not everything will happen at once. 

What are you currently listening to?

I am loving Solange’s new album. From her lyrics to the videos she released, that’s to me is art and emotional expression. We have so much fluff today and so many people just releasing singles and being one-hit-wonders. So to actually relate and feel connected to a body of work is something that is really rare and I have a lot of respect for.

What’s one beauty item you cannot leave the house without?

Okay, you are opening a can of worms because I am a beauty freak. When I have friends over, I close my bathroom door out of embarrassment of the amount of beauty products lined up all around my bathroom. One thing I can’t live without is from this brand called Wei. They have this three pack of their best face masks. There’s a drying mask, a hydrating mask, and an exfoliating mask, and I literally order it once a month and it’s like my weekly treat when I get to put them on. But on a day-to-day basis, I love anything Glossier. 

What are you dressing up as for Halloween?

I’ve always been very fashion forward for my halloween costumes, and I’m always like what dress of mine can I turn into some costume. I can’t remember the last time I bought like a store-bought costume, but I’m looking for ideas, so if anyone has any, shoot them at me!

What can we expect from you in the next year?

I have so much to look forward to right now. With Friend of a Friend, we’re developing our digital content and building up new series for 2017. Right now we have a few series on the site like our Taste Test and New Music Monday. Those have always done really well because we’ve provided our readers with consistency. So we’re hoping to build out those series to become a place where people can get reliable content where they know they are going to find out about something new. 

Spring is a huge focus for me right now. Being able to do be a part of something bigger and and be part of a team has really been the ultimate learning experience for me. Last year someone interviewed me and asked “Would you ever work for someone again?” and my immediate answer was yes, because there’s a huge learning opportunity there and potential for growth professionally and emotionally. I feel that that’s a crucial piece missing for influencers today, that alternative perspective. I’m so excited to grow with the brand and build their social presence. Fashion is fun and there’s so many ways to get involved with it. But now I’m merging fashion and tech, which is such a big part of our everyday culture and really having a moment right now, so I’m definitely out of my comfort zone and pushing myself to understand a new landscape. 

Bathing Suit – The Show Pony, Reinaolga | Sunglasses – CRAP Eyewear | Tie Die Romper – Vintage from Dusty Rose Vintage | Location: John’s Drive In

Shorts w/ suspenders: Cienne | Yellow bra: True & Co | Sunglasses: CRAP Eyewear | Yellow Purse: Shaffer LA | Location: John’s Drive in

Bathing Suit: KORE | Sunglasses: CRAP Eyewear | Location: The Montauk Beach House

Photographer: Audrey Rudolf
Stylist: Ashleigh Hults 
Makeup: Nichole Zuravleff
Concept + Creative: Ashleigh + Audrey
Model: Olivia Perez
All clothing from Poolside Collective

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