University of La Verne student Mariel Cornel literally never stops blogging. Even on her way to an interview, Cornel eagerly had her Canon camera rolling and saw an opportunity for a fashion moment in asking her interviewer to participate in her fashion blog, “Polydeux.”
Today, the once fiercely exclusive industry has been broken wide open by none other than the “fashion blogger”, a common citizen with an extraordinary sense of style and entrepreneurship. For Cornel, her journey into the fashion world began during her middle school and high school years, where she attended a private Catholic school that strictly enforced a uniform and no makeup policy that often left Cornel visiting detention due to her efforts to creatively break through the dress code barrier through wearing an assortment of accessories.
In her case, the need to express herself was inherent; “I was always an artful child growing up. I loved writing, playing instruments, dancing, and fashion was another way to express myself.”
It wasn’t until she began college, that she had the freedom to begin channeling her creative sense through her clothing, “I tried thrifting in college and saw how you can use your wardrobe to say a lot about yourself” she said.
When the online fashion blogging community really started to evolve beginning in 2005 with the introduction of revered blogs such as “The Sartorialist”, “Style Rookie”, and the “Man Repeller”, the landscape of the fashion industry began to change as stylists and designers began to look at bloggers to set the trends for the season instead of socialites and celebrities. Cornel was aware of this massive shift in fashion, and after feeling inspired by her favorite blogger, Olivia Lopez, of “Lust For Life”, she and a friend created the blog, “Polydeux” (“poly” meaning “many” and “deux” meaning “two”).
As her friend became more intensely involved her business studies, Cornel struggled at first to maintain the blog as an ongoing group effort, but soon realized that she was just as strong giving her solo effort to the blog as she realized one day, “What am I doing? It’s something that I’m only passionate about and not something that you can just force others to do” she said.
In a 2013 article called, “Blog Is A Dirty Word” by founder of the mega popular blog, “Man Repeller”, Leandra Medine, argued that the millennial generation has been forced to become entrepreneurial as a result of not being able to find adequate jobs in a lagging economy. Medine also explained that there is a fine line for aspiring bloggers in that, they must learn how to balance the creative integrity of their blog along with making money through sponsorships.
Cornel herself is no stranger to that concept as she has watched her blog skyrocket she says, “It’s been profitable for me since a year or two ago, companies are booking me for photo shoots”, she continued, “for my first sponsorship, I was a company’s catalogue model.”
She often employs different giveaways, discount codes, and contests on her blog that attract her loyal followers and keep retail companies interested in her blog. Learning along the way how to cross market herself through the use of social media platforms, such as Instagram and YouTube has also been beneficial.
The rise of social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter have helped Cornel to reach a much wider audience as well as help her find inspiration, “A lot of my inspiration comes from Instagram because I follow so many bloggers and I have started to develop an eye for what is trendy, what looks better and what doesn’t” she said.
As far as competition is concerned, she is always aware that it is a constant threat and forces her to always try and stay on top of her fashion game, “In general, I feel competition all the time” she continued, “Within the industry, everyone is constantly trying to be innovative and trying to figure out how to be better than anyone else.”
The bulk of her competition lies with bloggers competing fiercely to stay at the top of the industry, and Cornel’s blog has caught the eye of another fashion blog production on campus, “La Vogue” of which student Remy Easterling is a part of. “I think it’s a great blog! And I know she has worked extremely hard to make it what is, from the photography, to the clothes, and the aesthetics of the blog itself which are beautiful” Easterling said.
And while the staff at LaVogue appreciate Cornel’s blog, they do not see it as competition, “It’s something that has never come across any of our minds in LaVogue” Eastering continued, “For one, the blogs are completely different in what they showcase, and second, Lavogue was never created with intentions to compete it was created to solely promote, express, and showcase the interesting outfits and the personalities matching these outfits on campus. That is it and that is all.”
As for the future, Cornel pictures herself continuing to further her blog into a full time career and eventually be able to collaborate with one of her favorite designers on a collection. For those wanting to build their own name in the industry, Cornel offered some sage advice, “For anyone wanting to start a blog I would say, “Why not, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t” she continued, “You’re going to learn everything along the way.”
Photography by Justin Quebral