It’s seems like spring has finally sprung! On a brisk Saturday afternoon, I met up with Lauren Riley and Merlyn Oliver of the popular street style account @BklynMavens.
True to their aesthetic on Instagram, their energy and friendship transferred seamlessly into real life. From their effortless poses during the shoot and natural chemistry during the interview, it made for a fun afternoon.
While in the lobby of the Brooklyn Museum, we talked about their favorite fashion trends, their creative process and who they’re loving on Instagram right now. These fashion mavens are helping to shape the landscape of the Brooklyn fashion scene and I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Saturday School: Jumping into it, how did you guys meet?
Lauren Riley: Well we went to high school together and then we went to college together.
SS: Oh that’s cool, where did you all go?
LR: We went to Penn State for college and Edward Murrow, right here in Brooklyn for high school.
SS: You all have been friends for a long time! How old are you all? I realized I never asked that [laughs]
Merlyn Oliver: We’re 25!
SS: What made you start BK Fashion Mavens?
MO: A lot of people are in the blogging industry and it looked fun so we figured why not be a part of it! One thing we wanted to do was differentiate ourselves from New York bloggers. A lot of people take pictures in Manhattan and only go to Manhattan places but since we’re both from Brooklyn and we hang out in Brooklyn we figured why not make it about Brooklyn! Our goal is to highlight our fashion and others who support the Brooklyn move.
SS: What has been your biggest struggle when coming up with new ideas or making sure you’re still differentiating yourself?
MO: I think the content. It has to be different. It has to be more than ‘oh this is what I wore today’, you have to be strategic about where you’re shooting, what photographers you’re working with, etc.
LR: We try and work with photographers who have more of a creative eye because they might see things that we might not think about.
SS: I think you all do a really good job of that because when I first stumbled on your account I thought it was super cute but outside of the style part, I started using it as a travel guide. When I see a cool spot you all post that I’ve never visited, I’ll favorite it on my map as a reminder to check it out.
MO: That’s kind of the point too. We try and shoot in different neighborhoods and places we’ve never been either.
SS: I’ve only lived here a year and a half but I only really hang in Bed-Stuy when I am in Brooklyn.
MO: There’s a lot in Bed-Stuy though!
LR: Girl, we’ve lived here our whole lives and we’re still discovering things [laughs].
SS: That’s what I love about the city. There’s always something new to find and I really appreciated that about your account. So run me through your creative process.
LR: A lot of times we’ll look through Instagram and something might catch our eye that we might not have seen before and we’ll make a note to try it out. We also use an app called UNUM and it helps us plan our posts. Shoutout to Merlyn because she’s good at that [laughs].
MO: We also look at certain events that are happening in the upcoming months. For example in April we knew Easter and spring were approaching so we tried to scout out locations that had a spring theme and plan our outfits around that.
SS: That’s really smart. Do you have your own photographer or do you use different ones each time?
LR: We use various. We used to have a go-to photographer named Edward but unfortunately he’s gotten very busy. We like to use a variety because every photographer has their own creative outlook.
SS: Are they all Brooklyn based?
MO: No, the one we’re shooting with tomorrow is actually from Jersey. As long as they stay within our aesthetic it’s fine.
SS: How often do you shoot? And do you shoot multiple outfits in a sitting?
LR: Twice a month a least. We try to scope out the area before so we can figure out where the bathrooms are for us to change and we go from there.
SS: That’s always my question to bloggers because I always wonder how do you all find the time to get these poppin’ outfits and shoot consistently. It’s like a second job!
LR: Oh it definitely is!
SS: What is your favorite location you’ve shot at so far?
LR: I’d say Vinegar Hill. It’s really small near Dumbo. It reminds me of a run down town.
MO: It’s a ghost town.
SS: I’ll have to check that spot out sometime! Do you all ever collaborate with other bloggers?
MO: We’re starting to. Especially when we go to events and meet other bloggers who want to work with us.
SS: Since you’re always on Instagram and looking at other people’s content, who are some of your favorite bloggers?
LR: We really like NYCxClothes We know them personally from blogging and going to events and their content is really great and they stay consistent. You can tell it’s true to who they are. EveryStylishGirl is great too.
MO: Personally I love following Kahlana Barfield, obsessed.
LR: Shiona Turini, she’s amazing. She travels a lot!
SS: I love her, I’m always thinking “can I have your life” [laughs].
SS: Have you all ever been offered sponsorship from brands?
MO: Recently a photographer asked to work with us and other small companies have reached out as well. We’ve also reached out to other micro fashion brands that don’t charge. It’s a good way to help each other out.
SS: That’s awesome! So what do you all do full time?
LR: I work in finance.
SS: Wow that is so different [laughs]. God bless you.
LR: Yeah it’s a totally different world [laughs].
MOl: I’m a community manager for Revlon. So I’ve been in the social media world for three years but only in beauty, not fashion.
SS: I think beauty and fashion go hand in hand though. Especially with content.
MO: They definitely do!
SS: What advice would you give to someone breaking into this blogging industry?
LR: Consistency is key and stay true to yourself. Don’t get discouraged.
SS: That’s what I hear across the board.
MO: Yeah consistency, because people fall off! Also ask for help when you need it. Don’t get too cocky like you don’t need it.
SS: That’s advice I need for myself! A little random but what fashion trends are you looking forward to this spring?
MO: I like the monochrome trend that’s going on right now. And floral but I feel like that’s always in trend.
LR: I’m always happy about the sneaker trend. I am not a heel girl [laughs].
SS: I am definitely not a heel girl [laughs]. Wrapping up, what advice would you give to high school you?
MO: I would say try and get out of your comfort zone. In high school I was mad chill and didn’t do everything I could’ve been doing, but everything happens for a reason.
LR: Definitely get out of your comfort zone. Just to try new things and not being afraid to put yourself out there.