Many college girls, including myself, would love to spend our money on a new outfit every month, but most of us can’t because of a limited budget. Yet, for Flagler College freshman Bradi Rother, buying her own clothes almost seems foreign. Since her Junior year of high school, she has received free clothing through posting photos on her Instagram account, Stylincafe, which she originally created to express her passion for fashion and her creativity. With over 84,000 followers she continues to inspire others with her impeccable style everyday.
“I originally created my Instagram to document my outfits and express my creativity,” she said. “I never imagined it to grow as big as it is today.”
Rother has always loved fashion. As a little girl she would play dress-up with her mom’s clothes, run around the house, and perform mini fashion shows. She would dress up her dolls and play online doll games. However, it was not until high school when she truly became passionate about it. She began to follow fashion bloggers on Pinterest, and inspiration instantly struck. Over time, her personal style — which she describes as “delicately chic” — developed by shopping at Forever 21, her favorite store.
When Instagram took over the social media world, Rother decided to get on board and create her Instagram account, Stylincafe. For inspiration, she began to follow some the same fashion bloggers as she did on Pinterest, along with other big Instagram fashion accounts such as, Fashionliveson and Fashionfury. The first few months, she had about five pictures and a few hundred followers. She knew that she could inspire more people if she had more recognition, so one day she sent an e-mail to fashionliveson asking them to re-post one of her pictures. The instant exposure helped her gain thousands of followers within a few hours.
“After they re-posted my photo, it was like a snowball effect in terms of the number of followers I got,” she said.
Within a few months, many retailers from online boutiques and even some high-end stores began to notice her eye for style and asked if she would tag them in her photos to promote their brand. In return, they sent her free clothes. Plus, it gave her more exposure and more followers. Today, Rother receives about four packages a week and posts at least one photo everyday.
“The first brand that sent me clothing was a clothing brand called Debshops. I used to be able to pick out two entire outfits each month from their new arrivals and style them. Eventually, they gave me a $250 store credit for anything from their website,” she said.
Stylincafe is a virtual community of fashion enthusiast who are able to discuss their personal style with Rother. It allows her to create personal connections with her followers through commenting back and forth. When you look at her photos, you can see the effort she puts into styling her outfits. It is clear that she does it to inspire others and assist them with their personal style, not just to receive more clothes.
“Getting a lot of likes on a photo feels nice, but I think that it also brings people together in that they can relate to each other with the things that they love about fashion,” she said.
One of Rother’s fashion inspirations is Coco Chanel, an acclaimed fashion designer known for her luxurious designs and class. Her favorite quote by her is, “Beauty begins the moment you moment you decide to be yourself.” She feels that the quote truly speaks to her, in every aspect of her life.
“I like the Coco Chanel quote because I am a big advocate in being yourself. Once you start wearing the clothing you feel comfortable in and the clothing you find cute, your personality shines, and to me that is beautiful,” she said.
Check out Rother’s fashion blog at http://stylincafe.com/