Digital Starlets 2014
Meet five women rocking the Internet, and building their own mini media empires along the way.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.