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Digital Starlets 2014

Meet five women rocking the Internet, and building their own mini media empires along the way.
From bottom left going clockwise: Liz Cherkasova, Babe Walker, Kelly Oxford, Geri Hirsch and Kristin Ess
Brigitte Sire

In 2014, it isn't hard to make yourself known online. These days, personal style blogs, witty Twitter feeds, even a single YouTube high jink can catapult you into a stratosphere where private life no longer exists. But the true testament to any online persona isn't the buzz, but the staying power. And we found five digital darlings who are making major strides in the world of online brand-building, while creating the trappings of bona fide media moguldom along the way. 

We chose our five ladies -- Kelly Oxford, Geri Hirsch, Lara Schoenhals, Kristin Ess and Liz Cherkasova -- for their abilities to score book deals, launch editorial operations that rival legacy glossies and create video platforms on YouTube's biggest multichannel networks.

In addition to learning about their work, we thought it would be fun to play dress-up and base each modern girl's look off of a starlet of the past. 

The digital starlets have arrived. Welcome to tomorrow. 

PHOTOS: Behind the Scenes With Pret-a-Reporter's Digital Starlets

Digital Starlet: Kelly Oxford

Based On: Elizabeth Taylor

Why We Dig Her: Never mind that Jimmy Kimmel is one of her besties and she has 566,000 Twitter followers. This Canada-born funny gal -- who started an anonymous blog in 2002 to discuss all things motherhood and housewifery -- has sold a script to Warner Bros., been hired to write a pilot for NBC and is a New York Times best-selling author. Her book of essays, Everything's Perfect When You're a Liar, was released by Harper Collins in January, and she's already at work on her second. 

What She's Wearing: RED Valentino dress, $995 at Saks; Jimmy Choo Agnes pumps, $575 at Neiman Marcus; BaubleBar earrings and bracelet; vintage hat.  

STORY: Get Kelly's Beauty Look

 

Digital Starlet: Lara Marie Schoenhals (aka Babe Walker)

Based On: Marilyn Monroe

Why We Dig Her: Have you ever found yourself complaining that the Whole Foods parking lot was too full or that you experienced a bit of chafing during your morning Runyon Canyon hike? Welcome to #WhiteGirlProblems, the hashtag that single-handedly changed the mindset (and humor level) of an entire demographic when it became a thing in 2010. Schoenhals, a Columbia College Chicago graduate, started the Twitter feed with friends Tanner and David Oliver Cohen, taking on the persona of "Babe Walker" and starting a movement that poked fun at monied, Real Housewives types and the vapid problems that plague them. Her first book, simply called White Girl Problems, was released by Hyperion in 2012 and debuted on The New York Times Bestseller list, with its follow-up title set to hit shelves in April.

What She's Wearing: Notte by Marchesa Dress (similar style available at The Outnet). 

STORY: Get Lara's Beauty Look

 

Digital Starlet: Kristin Ess

Based On: Rita Hayworth 

Why We Dig Her: She started doing hair when she was 15, and her first bold-faced client was Amber Valletta. So it should come as no surprise that the enterprising redhead would go on to create a beauty empire of her very own. In April 2011, Ess launched The Beauty Department with makeup artist Amy Nadine (the pair received generous support from pal and client Lauren Conrad), which boasts a bevy of hair and makeup tutorials and product recs. In addition to running and expanding her editorial operation (she just hired a business development exec), Ess still works on Conrad's mane, the beachy braids in which can be seen on her oh-so-popular Instagram feed.

What She's Wearing: Custom sequin dress ("[Stylist] Elizabeth Stewart 's friend recommended an amazing tailor," she told us at our shoot); vintage jewelry. 

STORY: Get Kristin's Beauty Look

 

Digital Starlet: Geri Hirsch

Based On: Audrey Hepburn

Why We Dig Her: Hirsch knows how to build brands the public wants to consume. This L.A. lady went to business school and got her start as a market analyst at AEG before moving over to GOOD Magazine's marketing department. It was there that she started her personal style blog Because I'm Addicted -- which quickly turned into a popular life guide for stylish girl's on both coasts (want to know how to make a decent bowl of minestrone soup or properly arrange peonies? Geri's your gal). Then StyleHaul, YouTube's largest fashion and beauty multichannel network, came calling. And Hirsch (along with co-founder Erin Falconer) set up shop with Leaf TV, her collection of clean, consumable 90-second clips that have eclipsed six-digit views on more than one occasion. In January, Hirsch and Falconer launched a stand-alone Leaf.TV full of enough fashion, beauty, DIY and lifestyle videos to make any boring workday bearable ("We make our videos without sound so people don't have to worry about getting caught watching at work," Hirsch once told Pret-a-Reporter). In March, the dynamo launched her first clothing collaboration, with L.A.-based Lovers + Friends. We can only imagine what 2015 holds. 

What She's Wearing: Tadashi Shoji dress, TadashiShoji.com; Ban.Do Headband, shopbando.com; Christian Louboutin heels, The Outnet. 

STORY: Get Geri's Beauty Look 

 

Digital Starlet: Liz Cherkasova

Based On: Catherine Deneuve

Why We Dig Her: Cherkasova was never supposed to be a blogger. Back in 2008, the Cali girl was busy studying social psychology at UC Santa Cruz and started Late Afternoon, her dreamy, light-filled ode to California style, just because. Fast-forward to 2014 and the married L.A. denizen has been featured in Women's Wear Daily, Glamour, Nylon and a slew of other major fashion must-reads -- not only for her vintage-infused Cali look, but for her brand-building prowess, too. She's worked with Barneys and Seven Jeans and is currently consulting on digital marketing for brands including Supermuse. 

What She's Wearing: Herve Leger dress, $582 at The Outnet; Baccarat Fleurs de Psydelic ring, $305 at Baccarat.com.

STORY: Get Liz's Beauty Look 

Credits: Photographer Brigitte Sire, Styling Heidi Meek for Opus Beauty, Hair Charles Dujic for Grid Agency, Makeup Christina Guerra forCelestine Agency. Vintage images Getty Images Entertainment Archive Photos. 

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