We first met several years ago when she was still working at an agency and side hustling her blog. As a female entrepreneur who I had previously interviewed for work, I was extremely curious to see where her professional life was taking her a year on. Keep reading below for Yanie's inspiring words of wisdom.
Can you briefly walk us through your career story?
I started off as a fashion intern in New York for a Korean American fashion designer who was dressing stars like Julia Roberts and Madonna. I received a scholarship by my university at the time, which helped me travel to Milan and France in addition to NYC. Following on from this, I completed a masters in fashion, it gave me an educational opportunity to travel between Shanghai and Paris.
Because of the business scholarship, I was supported to attend Parsons or FIT to study fashion or design, so found my own way to enter the industry.
It wasn’t until I got to Shanghai that I was recognised as an influencer with significant monetisation. I worked with brands that had larger budgets and it went on from there. Back in my day influencer wasn’t a mature term or career path, it was just a fun hobby.
How were you able to successfully establish your agency Pompom?
Pompom rebranded only several months ago, and now it is a boutique creative agency of eight people. I strongly believe everyone in Shanghai can do PR as it is based on execution but a creative agency is about thinking creatively and strategically. We try to see more of a visionary, see what the fashion and cultural trends are expecting from advertising, videos and editorials. We created Pompom to help clients amplify their brand’s image and now 95% of the brands we work with are international brands.
What experience based advice can you offer aspiring entrepreneurs who are interested in starting their own agency or becoming an influencer?
It has to come within, it has to be an intrinsic passion not an external interest. You have to ask yourself if you would be a blogger even if the money was not much? Would you do this for fun? Often you will have bad months when there are no gigs, but you have to believe in yourself and focus on what sets you apart from the other bloggers.
Being a female entrepreneur in this industry in Shanghai at this current moment is invigorating as we are celebrating feminism and all thing women empowerment. I feel very lucky to be a woman and working as an entrepreneur today.
You have to identify your niche in the market and think of innovative ways to use that as your strength. A year and half ago we created a localised adapted campaign for one of our clients where we invited and managed over 75 KOLs and celebrities to participate at this super brand day resulting in 35% increase in sales on Tmall. This is an example of the KOL campaign pushes we specialise in.
In terms of China marketing, what trends are currently on your radar that you feel brands should be watching?
One of them is KOLs, which are divided into three different tiers and much more fragmented than before. Red (Xiao Hong Shu) and Douyin are two of the hottest platforms for brands to watch out for. Red has over 70 million users and Douyin has around 100 million users and fans registered on the app.
Another factor for brands to bear in mind is localised content, this is very important in China. We offer brands a service to support them in localised content campaigns whether it is an H5 campaign or aimed at Dragon Boat, 11/11 or 5/20 festivals etc.
How has blogging in China evolved since you started your platform?
Blogging has really evolved since I started my platform, people are doing such crazy things now from using drones to high tech make-up. The industry has changed a lot, photography was essential seven years ago but now it’s about movies, film, qualitative live streaming etc..
What's your trick for staying relevant as an agency and influencer?
As an agency I have seen that if you produce good stuff, you get paid well and you have a great reputation in the industry. If you do good work, people will notice this and the message will spread.
As an influencer, it is important for you to stay with the trends, to adapt and stay relevant to your audience. For example, the Marginalist is going under a little reconstruction, I am changing it back to the original name which was Yanie Yanson, my fans are more aware of my name and found it hard to recognise the Marginalist. I actively take feedback from my fans, to constantly improve myself and my brand and make it more personable.
Not sure if you know this but I my hair has had a few drastic changes over the years from being very long once upon a time to very short and fuchsia which expresses how my style has changed. My clients have also evolved with my style, it is important to always stay true to yourself and your style.