#GramGen is a series profiling the most radical characters in youth culture, who continue to shape trend behavior and spark controversy through their avant fashion sense and candid social media personalities.
Meet Clarissa Henry, @vintagedollrisa. Based in London, the 21-year-old has amassed a sizable following thanks to her insanely dope style and seasoned tastes in all things fashion and sneakers. When she’s not flexing for the Gram, Clarissa spends her time working as a member in the Design and Communications team at female-lead creative agency InBloom, as well as being a student ambassador for ASOS.
A recent graduate of the London College of Fashion, Clarissa applies her fashion styling and production expertise to capture, create and curate compelling written and visual content. We tracked down the young fashion enthusiast to discuss her love of fashion and her plans to monetize her craft.
How old are you?
I am 21, soon to be 22 in August!
In three words, describe yourself the best way you can.
Tricky one, but I would describe myself as bubbly, driven and passionate.
Have you always been a UK native?
Yes, born and bred in East London. Being from and growing up in London has made me very independent, open-minded and humble – I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything.
From mastering the art of patience to self-validation, your blog merges acceptance and internal experiences with your style influences. How did you decide this would be your approach?
It was actually something I introduced more recently to my blog. Up until this year, my posts were mostly based on my style and clothing, but I realized my readers and followers were interested in me, my journey and who I was, genuinely. I’ve grown with my blog for over five years and I started to discover what many other young girls were experiencing, so I thought it would be cool to combine my advice and views on life in relation to each post. It’s also helped me to really see my growth and find comfort in expressing my experiences on my blog.
In the fashion industry and the blogging world, we see images that are made to be so perfect without taking into consideration that the people in the photos are human. I want my readers to know who I am and know I’m just as real as they are, going through life and overcoming obstacles. I think having that connection is priceless. I don’t just want my blog to be somewhere to find fashion inspiration but also a space where girls can feel better about their own situations or gain confidence!
Often times creatives struggle with turning their craft into something monetized. Is blogging and styling your full-time occupation? Was that an easy transition?
It isn’t actually. I’ve recently finished my fashion degree at university where I was a full-time student, so I’ve been blogging, styling, designing and any other creative work I’ve done alongside my studies for the past five years. It’s been a rollercoaster!
You’ve worked with the likes of Nike, ASOS, Urban Outfitters and countless other industry heavyweights. What’s the next milestone you hope to reach?
Working with established brands has allowed me to see how things work and how to conduct myself professionally, as well as understanding the business side to what I love. The next milestone is to develop and create something that reflects my style and reflects the many girls that relate to me.
I also want to work with brands on a higher level and create a product that stands as a collaboration piece. One day it will happen!
What are you studying at the London College of Fashion?
Fashion styling and Production.
How important would you say an educational background in fashion is to being successful in the industry?
I think there’s never any excuse to not want to educate yourself, whether it be for fashion or not. There is a history and cultural context to fashion that is documented and written for decades and deserves to be researched and taught.
Gaining this knowledge does not need to be within an institution but I think it is extremely important to know the ins and outs of whatever craft you decide to pursue. Of course, true talent is something you’re born with, but to make anything 10x stronger, the knowledge of your craft is essential.
On the outside looking in, one could assume that you have acquired quite the reputation for personal style. However, you also freelance as a stylist! Do you find it more challenging to style a project or yourself?
Definitely styling a project! I know myself so well so it’s almost a no brainer when it comes to styling myself. However, styling a project requires a different type of understanding which I think is the beauty of it. I get to put myself in someone else’s shoes or put myself in a totally different time, embracing a concept or theme and researching, testing and brainstorming. Styling others is a challenge because you have to understand someone else’s body, aesthetic and their personality.
It’s a common misconception that fashion blogging is nothing more than a hobby, when in reality, maintaining a successful brand requires a lot of work. Have you learned a lot more about marketing and the logistics/analytics behind what may just seem like simple photos to rack up social media attention?
WOW, so much! The routine I picked up when putting out posts and photos could definitely be considered a full-time job. I still do it now. From scouting locations, putting pieces together, filming/shooting, EDITING (which can take forever) and then the layout, to then understanding your audience and how to appeal to them online. I mastered it all subconsciously without realizing and now it feels just natural.
Introduce us to the female creative agency, In Bloom?
First and foremost, In Bloom are my sisters. We are eight friends from all walks of life and all ages with different skills and talents. We realized the power and creative juices we had individually and then realized how much we could do together. Two years later, we’ve established ourselves as a creative agency and have worked with the likes of Nike, Sure, Converse, Casio and Eurostar…just to name a few.
We set ourselves apart from other collectives because we provide a variety of services from creative direction, campaign production, styling, photography, videography and events. We believe in the power in numbers.
How much time do you spend curating your next Instagram post?
I don’t really think about my next post, I just go with the flow and always keep my personal brand in mind, which is fun, vibrant, clean, sassy and tomboyish. I try to keep a consistent schedule with my blog posts which reflects on my social media feed.
On an average shopping day, how much do you spend?
I do a lot of my shopping online with the occasional bargain hunt in random vintage shops. I would say it ranges from 200 to 300 pounds!
Who do you dream of collaborating with?
I would love to collaborate with MISBHV and MM6. Two of my absolute favs!
What would you change about today’s fashion scene?
Cultural appropriation and the mistreatment of fashion interns. Also, one thing I’ve grown to dislike is the egotistic characters formed by the concept of “it’s not what you know but who you know” or how many followers someone has. We’re all equal and hard working and talent should be respected and celebrated equally.
Read this previous installment of #GramGen to see why Instagram is losing the interest of young creatives.
- Words: Karissa Mitchell