When i went to Sydney in mid-Oct to attend the launch of new TV show Fashion Bloggers, i got to interview the five prominent Australian bloggers whose lives are featured: Zanita Whittington of Zanita; Kate Waterhouse of KateWaterhouse.com; Sara Donaldson of Harper & Harley; Amanda Shadforth of Oracle Fox; and Margaret Zhang of Shine By Three.
Click on the blogpost title to read all the interviews with them 🙂
Fashion Bloggers is a docu-show by The Style Network in Australia.
In Malaysia, Fashion Bloggers airs at 10pm every Wednesday on Channel E! (Ch712 on Astro).
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Amanda Shadforth of Oracle Fox
Oracle Fox is a renowned trend forecasting style destination conceptualised by Amanda Shadforth. In just four years since the creation of Oracle Fox, Amanda has become one of the world’s most respected trend forecasters and an iconic industry influencer. Working closely with some of the world’s most luxurious brands, Oracle Fox has accumulated a loyal social media following of over 560,000 readers.
What was it like filming Fashion Bloggers?
It’s been so interesting. Obviously you all will notice that I’ve never really been one to show my face. And the reason for that is that because when I was an artist, I was used to my work speaking for me rather than me speaking about my work. When I started my blog it was really integral and important to me that people would have that message first. But over time I know my readers’ appreciation for what I do now is strong enough for me to actually go out and I’m happy talk about what I do. Working on a television show has pushed me and I love to be pushed. I read a quote by Karl Lagerfeld yesterday about how life can be very boring without challenges. And I felt as though it was time to do something really outside of my comfort zone and time to share with people who were always curious as to what really goes on behind Oracle Fox.
Who are your inspirations for the production and your aesthetic?
Before I had my website I was a visual artist and inspiration plays a really big role for me in curating my collection and what I was going to be painting in my new body of work. The photo realist Hilo Chen who paints these beautiful realistic oil paintings of girls on the beach with infinite detail was my first inspiration, as his work was about finding beauty in every day and making sure that you emulate all of the infinite details, the details that make up the end result.
But these days I’m more into photography so the inspiration for not only the things that I like to post but the content I like to create comes from mostly photographers. Currently one of my favourite photographers is Camilla Akrans. There’s something really magical about her eye and the way she shoots because she seeks beauty in everything she does. But for me it doesn’t necessarily mean someone that looks beautiful, it’s about finding a subject matter and putting them in the right light and shooting them in a way that makes everything work together as one. Overall at the moment most of my inspiration visually (and) also outside of the fashion industry comes from nature. I think you can only take so much inspiration from other creatives; you need to go outside, you need to draw from the world around you and the universe and the nature you’re surrounded by.
What made you choose the name Oracle Fox? What does it mean?
Firstly when it comes to naming a blog, it’s really important and to some degree I’m really lucky I have the name Oracle Fox because when it comes to search engine optimisation, there’s no other site in the world that comes anywhere close to having those two words together so it’s very easy to find. And for the name, well I have a little Pomeranian and she looks like fox. She used to lie on the couch beside me while I was coming up with ideas for my blog and she would look very wise and half asleep with her eyes. I used to think she looked like a little oracle, so the name Oracle Fox came from her. But I also knew I wanted to incorporate the word oracle because an oracle in dictionary terms is an entity and it’s about looking into the future and predicting things and having an insight into things no one else does. So oracle is an appropriate word for what I like to do on my site as far as looking into things and looking out for trends and looking for ways to inspire people. So I think it fitted in really well.
Who are some of your favourite fashion icons?
Recently I’ve been reading some literature on Coco Chanel and I know it sounds like a cliché to mention such an obvious incredibly talented woman in fashion but she was an appreciator of the arts. She collected art and she educated herself on artists and what inspired them, which in turn helped her when she was designing her collection. She had things like icons and monograms and things where everything has meaning to it. So in a sense, people like Coco Chanel inspire me with style based on that creative side of things.
When it comes to visually, obviously I’m probably a bit of a Jane Birkin girl. I’m a little bit edgier, and I’m a bit of a tomboy. I like my skinny jeans and my leather jacket and I don’t really wear a lot of makeup but if I do I wear a lot of black eyeliner. And that low maintenance kind of girl really appeals to me. For modern times I find that French women. Often when I’m in Paris it doesn’t take much to look around and see that there are so many stylish women there without even trying. It’s integrated into the way that they live about being yourself but without trying too hard so it could just be throwing on a beautiful coat that’s tailored very well and that could be the finishing piece in an outfit.
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Margaret Zhang of ShineByThree
Best known by her popular blog Shine By Three, Chinese-Australian Margaret Zhang is a savvy young creative talent who is fast becoming a global style icon. Studying a Bachelor of Law & Commerce at the University of Sydney, her spare moments are filled working around the globe as a stylist, photographer, model, presenter, blogger, creative director, consultant and writer. Margaret is passionate not only about fashion but about culture, food and traveling, always seeking to capture and share the experiences and beauty she romantically involves herself with.
So talk about the show that you’ve just been shooting for Fashion Bloggers. How’s it been?
I mean, I’ve never shot a reality before. It’s really interesting because as a video editor myself because I do a lot of video content, you always wonder when you watch reality shows like how the editing process works. And it’s been such a great learning curve for me just even from a production point of view. Just to see how they operate and see the time frame and the schedules and like the approval. TV is a very different world to digital. It seems like it’s a similar medium but it’s very traditional compared to online. So yeah, it’s been really fun. Very different and it’s been difficult to juggle with my uni commitments.
How do you manage to balance work and uni?
It’s pretty crazy but not impossible. Just strict militant time management. It’s really good though it’s a nice balance. Fashion uses a very different side of your brain to be exceptionally creative and often you have full license of what you’re creating. And when you’re working with a client, it’ll be like what do you think? And that’s really refreshing whereas at uni it’s like this is what you do, this is what you read. Just hundreds of pages that you have to read this week and you’ve just got to do it. And that’s actually really nice. So when people ask what are you gonna do after you graduate? I’m like ,I don’t know! I really like having this balance right now cause it keeps me sane. I think if I did fashion full time I’d go crazy.
What was the first role that you played in the industry? Did you become a photographer first or were you a stylist first?
Well I started film photography but still life photography, so not shooting people when I was 11 or 12. I’d do it after school everyday for about a year and a half. I trained my whole childhood to be a ballet dancer so I was creative in that sense. And that’s all I really wanted to do. I loved ballet so much. And then did costume design through ballet so discovered couture like Viktor & Rolf and Raf Simons through ballet. Combined with photography I became creative in that sense and had so much imagery.
What are you gonna be working on more with Shine By Three. Like say, any aspirational projects you have in mind that you really want to do?
I see my Shine By Three brand as quite separate from my Margaret Zhang brand. If that’s a way to see it. Shine By Three is right now where I do display stuff of myself and a lot of my work. But I think that I’d like personally, as me, love to collaborate with loads of designers and shoot more, style more. Just work more in that sense. I’ve got a few exciting projects on the horizon but you know the nature of the Internet, it changes so quickly and things come up tomorrow.
What is the most challenging thing about being Margaret Zhang?
Sleep. I mean you know you’re way too busy when you’re excited to get on a plane and not having to reply to emails and stuff. That’s exciting. Especially when you’re traveling to New York or Paris where it’s a good 25+ hours of traveling. That’s awesome. Aside from that, I’m 21, so for a lot of the industry it’s really difficult for them to understand how a 21 year old can be credible. I think especially in smaller industries people find it really hard to understand. You know people who’ve done it the traditional way, so they don’t understand how someone can be credible and be doing so many things. I mean, I’m a photographer /stylist /consultant /blogger, that doesn’t sound credible. But the reality is, that’s what I do. So, take it or leave it.
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Zanita Whittington of Zanita
After ten years as an international model, Zanita found her true obsession on the other side of the camera. With a gift for making personal connections with her subjects, an easy going personality and vast modeling experience; Zanita has built a solid international career. As a publisher with significant social media and celebrity status, Zanita uses her fashion and business acumen to deliver high-quality campaigns. Zanita’s blog zanita.com.au is the story of her progression as a self taught photographer.
So tell me about how you feel about being on the show?
To be honest I can’t even gather my thoughts right now about it. It’s been a crazy ride and a totally different experience from anything that I’ve done. Cause it’s a completely new market to share what we’re doing and I’m a bit nervous because I know I have a friend that worked in reality TV and she was like ‘Don’t read Twitter’ because when you’re on TV, people are quite critical whereas as a fashion blogger the people that are following you are following you because they love what you do so you do get a lot of support.
What do you think has contributed mostly to the success of your blog?
Oh it’s hard to say. I’m really conversational in the way that I write my posts so I hope that when people read my blog they feel like they’re talking to a friend. But then also my images. It’s just general experience of my life. Especially in the last two years, I’ve had so many crazy opportunities to travel overseas and work with these amazing brands and I’m really just trying to share all of it. What it’s been like for me to go from these quite humble beginnings where I was just a girl with a camera taking pictures in my backyard to being on a TV show. Even in my last post I’m talking about how I feel insecure and I’m like ‘Oh no what about this’. I just want to make sure my blog is always just a story.
Who are some of your favourite Australian designers?
Well I’m wearing Karen Walker, technically she’s not Australian she’s a New Zealander. I like that she’s a bit unexpected and quirky. I like that kinda thing. I really love Zimmerman. They’ve been around for quite a while now and their craftsmanship is so beautiful. And they use loads of colour and lace and prints. Amazing cutouts and silhouettes. I love Toni Matičevski. One of the reasons I love him so much is actually when I used to be a model he was one of the first designers I ever wore. And he’s so talented. He’s also the most sweet and genuine person you can come across which is a little bit rare sometimes in this industry to meet those kind of people. So that would be my favourite I think.
Do you have new projects on your mind? Like things you wanna do?
My goal with my blog now, ironically although it’s named after me, I don’t want it to always be about the work that I do. I wanna be working with photographers and collaborating and always having new people to work with in little teams. I want it to be a story about a lot of young creative people rather than just myself. At the moment I’ve just designing a jewelry collection. But next I’m writing a photography course so people can buy it from me. So that’s gonna be released on my blog. People can basically learn photography in the way that I know it. Cause I’m self-taught. So it will be quite conversational.
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Kate Waterhouse of KateWaterhouse.com
Kater Waterhouse is a journalist, media personality, radio talent and columnist for the Sun-Herald. With a Bachelor of Arts in Media and Communication, Kate’s achievements in journalism include being the Fashion Editor for the Sun-Herald from 2009-2013 where she reported on the latest fashion news and current trends. In March 2013, Kate launched katewaterhouse.com, a dedicated website providing fashion and beauty trend reports, behind the scenes insight and style inspirations to her dedicated followers.
What is the best and hardest part about being a fashion blogger?
I’d say the best part is that it’s your own business. It’s running your own business and working on something that I love and that I’m really passionate about. But now being a new mum I also have the hours to be flexible and I can spend time with my daughter and also work the hours that suit me. It’s something that I love; it’s something that I’m passionate about. If you’re working in an industry where you love what you do then it doesn’t always feel like work. So it’s really fantastic. And the worst? It’s probably that it’s constant. So there’s no off button. I think that my readers, all readers want constant updates, it just feels never ending. So there’s no off button, there’s no off switch. It’s working all the time and full steam ahead but it’s what I love, what I’m passionate about.
What is a more recent or memorable life lesson that sticks with you from someone you’ve interviewed?
I recently interviewed Giuliana Rancic. I spoke to her and she is someone that I’m really inspired by. I think that she’s so hardworking but she is really personable. Her personality comes across so well on TV and she has so many shows. She’s a mum as well so I said to her ‘How do you juggle your work life balance?’. She just said ‘I used to always try and give a little bit of myself to everything and I always felt like a failure.’ And it wasn’t until she decided that the days that she was working to give a 100% of her time to work; and the days that she’s with her family, she gives a 100% of her time to her family. There’s no crossover. I do think about that now being a new mum. So it was a really great thing to hear someone say and I learnt a lot from that.
Could you share with us the experience of the filming for the show? What was it like?
It’s been crazy. You kinda think that it’s not gonna be that full on because they’re following your life. Just how you would live it anyways. But it’s quite strange and surreal to have a film crew following you around and capturing every moment. It’s been really really bizarre. It felt really strange but we’ve been filming now for a couple of months and by the end of it you kinda forget that they’re there. They just feel like they’re on the wall and they’re not really there. I can’t wait to see what the show looks like because at the beginning I really felt that they were there but by the end it felt like they were just a part of the family and an extension of the room. So it’d be interesting to see what I say. Cause I’ve forgotten everything that we talked about. So I can’t wait to see it all. It’s been really full on but really great.
What do you think is the biggest misconception that people have about your career?
I think that people just think that you have a blog and it’s a little bit of fun and you put things up that you love. It’s just a fleeting thing where you can just pop things up. But they don’t realise every post that we put up has taken hours and hours of work. Whether it’s a interview where I spend hours preparing for an interview and then I can interview someone for 3 hours and it’s just a short interview on my blog. And I’m organising photographers, videographers, and locations. If it’s a what-I-wore post and I’m talking about what I’m wearing, I’m running around cause I don’t have an assistant so I’m running around getting all the clothing and styling every single look and then I’m organising a photographer, a location and the studio. All these different things. And then I’m editing down all the photos. And people are like ‘Oh that was just a quick happy snap.’ They don’t realise it’s a day of work. I hope that comes across and people will go ‘Oh okay, I appreciate the time and effort that goes into every single post on her website.’
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Sara Donaldson of Harper & Harley
Sara Donaldson is the creator of Australian fashion blog, Harper & Harley. Dedicated to bringing her readers regular inspiration in the way of creating the perfect wardrobe of key essential pieces, all while staying true to her relaxed chic black, white and grey philosophy. As an online shopping enthusiast, it’s no wonder that Harper & Harley is also fast becoming a destination for a curated look into the latest must-haves that are available to shop online.
Why did you decide to specialize in black and white fashion styling?
Well, obviously we’re all on this style journey, trying to work out what suits us. So in the beginning I was wearing lots of colour. But then looking back at pictures I’d always regret those kind of outfits for some reason. I’d be like ‘Aww, that’s only like a one hit wonder.’ But I felt like I was always comfortable when I’d wear a black dress or a white T-shirt. So I’ve just been like ‘Look, that’s my call. I’ll just go with it and run with it and feel comfortable all the time.’ Being confident is the most important thing when you’re wearing fashion so I found that black, white and grey was when I was the most confident.
Tell me more about the fashion show. How do you feel that it’s going to change your life?
I really don’t know what to expect. I think the main thing for me is my main audience is in Australia but this show is going to be airing obviously throughout Asia and then South Africa as well and hopefully in other countries. So I think just broadening my market and my readership is going to be the biggest thing out of it.
And what did you think was the most challenging thing about filming your daily life?
I think just being used to a camera. We’re always in charge of what images we put out there on our blog and so to have someone edit that and to be in control of how you’re portrayed or how you’re being shot, that’s the hardest thing cause we don’t get a say in what we put out there.
How do you feel you’re going to evolve your blog in the future?
I wanna incorporate more beauty. That’s my next big focus. And then some more lifestyle, I wanna do more health and fitness like what to wear to the gym. Not how to work out or anything like that, it’s all about style. The health industry is such a big one here. Especially going into summer everyone gets interested in health and fitness and what to wear, just looking cute the whole time. A spin off my black, white and grey theme and hopefully we’ll have a winner. Beauty I can have more fun. You can have a red lip, which is really classic and pink lips and you know have fun with beauty but for fashion it’s definitely black, white and grey.
What about your inspirations? Who are your inspirations?
I love people like Emmanuel Alt from the French Vogue cause they always wear the same things to fashion week. Even when they have the opportunity to dress up, they still wear their jeans and their ankle boots. I really find them inspirational. They stick to that and that works for them and they reinvent the classic wardrobe every season. So I look to them for inspiration and also just Pinterest. I love Pinterest so much.
So what are some of your favourite Australian brands?
Josh Goot, Camilla & Marc, Dion Lee, Ellery. They’re like the four keys ones. And then for international I like Joseph. More like the classic type.
Catch Fashion Bloggers at 10pm every Wednesday night on Channel E! (Ch712 on Astro).