Girl Boss is BACK! And we’re kicking it off with one of my favorite Girl Bosses (that you all may be familiar with), Style Collective’s Annie Spano! Annie is the very definition of a girl boss – she is hard-working, knowledgable and passionate about both her business and helping others succeed. Not only is she a powerhouse businesswoman but she has a heart of gold and is one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. I’ve been a long time member of Style Collective and am astounded at how much she’s grown her business. Through her, I’ve also had the pleasure of mentoring my fellow SC sisters and speaking about my blogging journey as a guest on her podcast. So excited to share this interview with you. Enjoy! <3
I’m the Founder of Style Collective, the largest online platform for influencer community and education and host of The Becoming Fearless Podcast. I have a degree in Mathematics Education and an MBA, along with several years’ experience in corporate marketing at a three-billion-dollar global CPG company where I helped grow the retail division through my roles in product development, marketing, and merchandising.
Tell us about your journey to becoming an entrepreneur:
I’ve always been interested in social media and the online space, and when I was 15 years old, I learned how to code my first website. I loved forums, meeting people online, and also had a Live Journal. I am really dating myself here lol. But I love the online space and after graduating from an MBA program in 2014, I found myself diving right back into the space. I was in the midst of a work crisis at the time, being bullied and harassed on the job by another female co-worker, so I jumped back in not really knowing what I would find. When I started my fashion blog back in 2014, I couldn’t find the support or the resources that I needed to relearn the space. I searched everywhere and all that I could really find were $$$$ courses that I couldn’t afford (I had just graduated from business school and taken on a lot of student loan debt). So I got to know other bloggers, started doing some loop giveaways with them, and saw that we formed deeper connections through a shared passion. I opened a Facebook group for my new friends and I guess you could say the rest is history!
What is your favorite and least favorite thing about being a business owner?
I am highly driven by intrinsic motivations, so I am incredibly grateful to be able to make a positive impact on women’s lives through Style Collective and The Becoming Fearless Podcast (which Liz has been a guest on!). I screenshot and save every single message that I’ve received over the years from the girls who have reached out with positive feedback. I also love having total control and freedom of my schedule; not answering to someone else’s demands has been extremely liberating.
In terms of the least favorite thing, it would have to be the stress of managing a business. At the end of the day, I am a solo entrepreneur with a few awesome contractors who I appreciate so much. But if we have a down month, I might have to cut someone’s hours. The good and the bad is that there is no stable paycheck every single week, so while it can still be tight each month, I know that in 5 or 10 years from now, I will be in a much better place. I am in this for the long term, which is why intrinsic motivations are important for staying motivated if you’re building the financial part of your business still. There is nothing wrong with slow and steady progress!
What is something that people are surprised to learn about you?
I am a bionic woman! I had scoliosis corrective surgery right after I turned 20 years old, which is really old for that surgery, and I have two metal rods and about a dozen screws in my fused spine. I had an almost 100% correction, so a natural by-product is that I have perfect posture now!
What are some common misconceptions about the blogging space?
That you have to go on endless shopping sprees or go into debt to be successful! I know that affiliate platforms are a popular way to earn an income for some bloggers, and more power to those girls, but there are other ways to do it. There isn’t just one path. I have an entire masterclass video that I created about the three myths of influencer success, debunked that I think is a game changer. It’s free and I invite anyone who is interested to come check it out! I’ve applied a lot of the principles that I learned about business and leadership from my MBA program to the influencer space, so it’s a unique
What advice do you have about remaining authentic in the digital space?
You have to create a strong brand where you know who you are, what you do, and why you do it. The fluffy posts are not going to cut it for new and upcoming influencers, you must tell your story and explain WHY you have this burning passion in your heart to inspire someone. Were you bullied? Did you lose a family member? What is the transformative experience that you can share with others to help them find themselves?
What has been your biggest “pinch me” moment?
I have to be vague because I had to sign an NDA, but last summer I was flown to NYC to teach social media workshops over two days in Times Square for a fortune 500 company. When they approached me, it was such a major pinch me moment and it was such an incredible honor to be valued for my knowledge that I could share with 100+ of their team members.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
Ohhh I just love me some Tim Ferriss. He inspired me to take a leap of faith and leave my corporate job to start Style Collective. Also, my leadership professor from my MBA program gave me the tools and confidence to feel like I was worthy and capable of making a positive impact in the world. I will be forever grateful to these two mentors, they changed my life!
If you weren’t running Style Collective, what would you be doing?
I love what I do with SC, but I do have other passions, which I have been pursuing on the side! I love interior design and have started to pick up some client work in Raleigh. Also, after my Mom passed away from cancer when I was 17, I became extremely passionate about health and wellness. I’ve always wanted to teach spin or inspire others to eat healthy, so maybe I can figure out a way to incorporate that into my business one day!
What advice would you give to those wanting to start a blog or business?
You need to know why you are different from everyone else. How is your product or service different from what’s already out there? And what is the story behind it all? Strong brands focus on these four things: fostering community, having a great aesthetic, creating a unique niche, and building an emotional connection with customers/readers.
Words to live by:
I have these posted on my personal website.
- Reframe negatives and use them as motivation.
- Everything happens for a reason.
- Sometimes we’re tested, not to discover our weaknesses, but to discover our strengths.
- Nothing worth having comes easy.
- Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things
that will ever happen to us.
- Stop holding yourself back. If you aren’t happy, make a change.
- In understanding and framing your story, you will find the calling to lead authentically.
- Leaders are defined by their unique life stories and the way they frame their stories to discover
their passions and the purpose of their leadership.
Thank you so much to Annie for sharing with us! Be sure to follow along on the Style Collective Instagram as well as Annie’s personal Instagram. You can also find her on Twitter (Style Collective / Personal) and Pinterest (Style Collective / Personal).
What do you think of today’s interview with Style Collective’s Annie Spano?
Let me know your thoughts below! And feel free to pin or share 🙂