We love introducing our community to women with big dreams who serve with both purpose and passion. Today on Style Collective, we’re chatting with Victoria Paniouchkine of The Mr. & Ms. Collection about what makes her hustle, the important components of working with brands to build a successful influencer/brand relationship, and the one thing that can make or break a long-term partnership.
My name is Victoria Paniouchkine and I am the co-founder of The Mr. & Ms. Collection, a personal styling service that connects members to apparel and accessories they can rent. I own and operate the business with my husband Vladimir. We started the business out of our home five years ago, and have grown it into what it is today.
What drives you to do what you do?
Seeing the business that my husband and I began from our garage, turn into a full operation with a team of employees who care about our customers and the service we are providing them, is one of my biggest motivators. The other motivator is when our customers let us know about how we help make a difference in their lives, whether it be that our styling made their day, or that we helped them discover their style, or that wearing our clothing made them feel even better about themselves. Days are long, and stresses are many, but watching an idea that we conceived to become a reality and making our customers feel good, means that we have done our job, and makes the long days worth it.
What would you tell someone to inspire them to succeed?
My best advice would be to choose a job or career path that you are truly interested in and passionate about. We are at work more than we are at home, so finding an industry that you love and a job that you are excited to pour your heart into, is the most important thing. Success can be measured in many ways and isn’t always determined by how much money you have in the bank. I think taking the time to appreciate the smaller goals you achieve is vital. As a society, we often chase after “the next best thing,” or the notion of “if I have this, then I will be happy,” but I really believe in giving ourselves credit for the mini triumphs we experience daily. Doing this will instill even more confidence in your skills and lead to daily successes.
You’ve worked with a lot of influencers on campaigns, what deems a successful partnership?
It depends on what goals you are trying to achieve. It could be about freshening up content, gaining new followers, or getting more visits to your site. If the goals are clearly specified and the return on investment has been met, then this is a successful partnership. To make this happen, pay attention to deadlines and any requirements that were agreed upon. This will show the brands that you care about their product or service, and about producing quality work.
How important is follow through and communication when working together? And why?
It’s everything! Being thorough about the project scope of work and clear about expectations from the start is paramount. If you have an idea or an angle you would like to pursue, mention it. If you have a question, ask it. Communicating with the brand that you received their product, and informing them of the various stages you are in during the time of production, is also a smart extra step to take. If something comes up that pushes a deadline back, contact the brand. Don’t wait for the brand to contact you. This will taint the experience no matter how good the end result may be.
What’s an example of a great pitch you’ve received?
We haven’t received a pitch that stands out from the rest, but what I can share is about an experience with an influencer that caught our attention and can help you begin to think of new ideas for your pitches. This experience was when we worked with Annie Spano. We sent Annie a styled pack and she wrote a review about how our service works and about the choices selected by our stylists. This was the blog post structure that we had discussed. While she had our clothing, she emailed us about how a dress we sent her could be worn for a celebratory anniversary dinner with her husband, or that she could take it with her to Miami Swim Week, which she was just about to attend. We had already established a deadline of when to return the pack back to us, so instead of ignoring this deadline, she checked in with us about it. We agreed that the dress was the perfect choice for Miami, and adjusted the return back date. She then surprised us by creating a secondary blog post centered around the dress and the event. It was unexpected and left an impression.
I share this with you, as an example of excellent communication and how to go above and beyond of what is expected of you. Think about what you can do to make a similar impression with the brands that you work with. This could be an IG Story that was not in the contract, or a cross promotion or tie in with some of your past partnerships. The goal should be to create partnerships that are not just one and done. Not only does this help the brand, but it also shows your audience that you really do believe in what you are promoting. It makes a difference.
How can bloggers establish long-term partnerships with brands?
I would say to step into the brand’s shoes and evaluate the content that you are creating. They have selected you out of all other bloggers for a reason. Double check all work for spelling mistakes and ensure that you have correctly linked websites, handles, and hashtags. If the brand is not providing you with a contract, you should have one. Follow the deliverables to a T. We all know that the first hour in social media is what really matters. When you miss that golden window because of needing to correct a mistake, the value you are providing the brand becomes diminished. Taking this extra time may seem like an obvious thing to do, but with pressing deadlines and multiple partnerships initiated at once, these details are often missed. Quality of work and follow through will lead towards better results for both parties. From my past experience, these simple steps set apart an influencer from others and give me (and our company) even more of a reason for us to want to partner with an influencer again.
Any other advice for bloggers looking to work with brands?
The best thing you can do is to think about whether the brand gels with what your interests are, and then think about your audience and whether they will be able to relate. Your audience is smart and they understand who you are. The influencer space is growing and your audience has come to expect sponsorships. They will know if you don’t really believe in the brand you are representing, which will hurt your authenticity and translate into the brand not getting what they want out of the partnership. Also, don’t take on more than you can handle, or work with too many brands back to back. Your audience will begin to see you as a commercial instead of representing a lifestyle or vision. The money may seem tempting, but you would be risking more than what you would gain, if you don’t choose partnerships wisely.