#StandTall: Yelena Fairfax, editor and founder of Husskie

Yelena Fairfax was busy working in most people’s idea of the dream job: editor at beauty website BEAUTYDIRECTORY (think of all the free products!) when she noticed a gap in the market – people were starting to want to read more about – and know more about – the women they were following in their feeds, rather than those they saw on the TV or in movies. That’s when she started to conceptualise a new type of website – one that focussed solely on these influencers.

Before leaving her 9-5  job, she stepped out of her comfort zone and sent herself to coding school. Then, in November last year, she finally launched Husskie. Originally the site focussed on beauty and fashion, but she is continually growing it, now adding a lifestyle and culture section.

With so many websites out there, we chatted to Yelena about how she makes money, what lessons she has learnt so far, some tips for aspiring influencers and what’s next…

Age: 30+ 😉

Occupation: Editor and founder of Husskie

Home city: Sydney, Australia

Website: www.husskie.com

IG: @husskiepress / @thebraidedlena

Twitter: @husskiepress

I remember reading about you launching Husskie and thinking, “Why the hell has no one thought of this before?”. For those that are yet to visit your site, give us a rundown of what it is all about?
Husskie is an influencer-focused fashion, beauty and lifestyle news website in which we delve into the lives of social media influencers – taking a look at what their life is like from out behind their camera (or iPhone!). Since launching in late November 2016, we have published over 100 exclusive interviews with influencers – including everyone from Gypsea Lust to Steph Claire Smith. While we also feature news happening in the space, Husskie is really about talking to influencers one-on-one to get the real stories.

As the Editor of BEAUTYDIRECTORY you had what most people would describe as a “dream job”. What was the catalyst to jump ship and launch Husskie?
It was really a combination of three key things. At BEAUTYDIRECTORY, I was very much working within the influencer space right from the start – operating as a middle woman between bloggers/influencers and brands. It was a space that I found I really enjoyed and truly wanted to help grow and flourish.

At the same time, I was noticing that readers would be far more interested if I wrote a story about Nicole Warne as opposed to Nicole Kidman. Consumers were beginning to favour reading articles about influencers than those about celebrities.

And thirdly, there was no other publication on the market that was running content solely on influencers. While there was definitely more articles on influencers beginning to be published, it would just a small part of a title’s offering. I decided that I wanted it to not just be a small part, or even a main part of Husskie’s offering – I wanted it to be the ONLY part. It really was these three things that saw the concept behind Husskie begin to take shape.

How has your life changed since leaving the safe world of a big company behind and starting your own small business? We can imagine you are working around the clock!
There is definitely some around-the-clock action that happens! The first few months I was probably a bit tougher on myself than I am now. I was literally pulling 5am to 1am days! But it’s settled down since then, and I’m trying to make sure that I’m kind to myself as well as my pup (yes, I call Husskie “my pup”!) But it is 100 per cent harder than I ever thought it would be.

You’re not just responsible for putting up the content on the site but you have to do everything from being the tech team, the social media team, the marketing team, the editorial co-ordinator, the person on the ground meeting brands and attending events, the photography team, the advertising co-ordinator, and the advertising manager – although, I am getting a little bit of help now in that last area! 😉

What has been the hardest part of launching your own business?
I guess for me, the hardest part is the uncertainty. You have some crazy months where you’re signing off lots of briefs and everything is flowing nicely – and then you have a quieter month and go into slight panic mode wondering if this is what it’s always going to be like and thoughts begin to creep in that maybe you’ve made a bad move. The ebbs and flows definitely keep you on your toes – but it’s working out so far!

Reality is that we need to make money to pay for our rent, gym memberships, food and life in general. How are you monetising Husskie?
As I think is the case with most publications these days, Husskie could probably slip under the creative agency tagline. While we do work with brands on commercial content for the site, we also do a host of other things such as managing influencer campaigns, holding social media consultations, organising digital strategy sessions, and running photo shoots.

What are your top three tips for anyone that would like to become an influencer?
1. Keep your focus on your grid rather than being swayed by which pics get the most “likes”.
2. Don’t be too concerned with what others are posting. There’s a lot of same-same happening these days, look to be unique and think outside the square (literally!)
3. Engage. Engage. Engage. Engage… I could say this over and over. Definitely very important for anyone looking to grow.

Who is an up-and-comer we should keep an eye on from:
This is a hard one as there’s just SO many good ones to choose from. I’ve chosen the below because while they’re all sitting under 20K followers on Instagram, their feeds just speak for themself…
The Fashion Pack: @kla_ssh
The Beauty Pack: @whyhellobeauty
The Lifestyle Pack: Travel influencer @shanamakins
The Culture Pack: Filmographers @theneverlandboys.co

Who inspires you to #StandTall? 
I really hope this doesn’t come across as sounding cheesy, but the people who really inspire me to #StandTall are those people in the industry that are willing to stand up and support one another – that don’t believe in competition, but believe in working together. People like Taryn Williams from Theright.Fit and Alison Rice from Allure Media. I am so much of the view that we should all be doing what we can to help each other out – not just in careers but in life. The ones that forge ahead and then do what they can to back others, that’s who I’m most inspired by.

Husskie is yet to turn one, but where do you hope it will be in five years time?
I really want Husskie to be the global one-stop hub for all influencer news. The place where readers can come and discover more information about their favourite influencers. The place where influencers can find out stories, tips and tricks from each other. The place where anyone interested in the influencer space can come and learn together and grow together.

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