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How One Entrepreneur Worked with More Than 300 Influencers Last Year

If you are a brand trying to work with influencers, or an influencer trying to sign with a brand, experiential expert Claudine DeSola shared her advice with Jessica Abo.

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Inside Caravan Stylist Studio, you will find Claudine DeSola working with brands and influencers. DeSola helps creatives like actresses, musicians, bloggers, editors and others get ready for red carpets, TV appearances, photo shoots and other major events, and introduces them to different products and fashion designers. Her New York studio is open to creatives who want to come in and have a "me" day or have an event, date night, style shoot or birthday celebration. Entrepreneur Network partner Jessica Abo sat down with DeSola to learn how she brings brands and influencers together.

Q: Claudine, tell us about Caravan Stylist Studio and how you are creating authentic interactions between influencers and brands.

DeSola: We have our gallery space that includes glam stations, a full-time ambassador for brands, an art showcase and a lounge. Programming happens inside the studio and then we recap everything on our website and through social media. There is more consumption of a brand or service after someone attends an activation and experiences that brand firsthand. Our hope is that after guests visit the studio and learn about a brand, they feel 100 percent more like they understand that brand, and share information via word of mouth to friends and families. At least 70 percent of consumers share something about the brands they have used via social chatter, which creates authentic relationships.

Q: You work with everything from OGX and LifewayKefir to cast members of Orange is the New Black and The Americans. What makes Caravan unique?

Our business revolves around these tenants: Visit. Learn. Sample. Influencers get to experience their next favorite product or service. At Caravan, we try to create that place, guests come and can relax, and while they are there they can hear about new products they might find useful. We are a marketing tool, so our goal is to talk about our brand sponsors. However, we umbrella that with just being like your girlfriends sharing other fun information with you from our favorite new art shows to our favorite new band -- we make sure to only have the best playlists. As far as I know, there is no other full-time experiential hub in New York that is curating this type of influencer marketing as a program. We exist throughout the year so we have repeat influencers and we are constantly trying to meet new guests as well. We offer services every day, but we sprinkle that with events we feel will be of interest to our guests and our brands. With everything happening online it is important to have something that happens in an actual physical space where our brand partner ambassador can interact with our guests and tell them about products and services, benefits and how to use them. Our influencers often tell us our human touch in an online world is refreshing.

Q: There are so many brands working on influencer marketing, but they are typically short and expensive campaigns. How do you set yourself up for success?

We get a mix of creatives that come through and it ranges from those with millions of followers to those that might have a few thousand. The way we create our invite lists is by looking at content creation or projects they are working on. We have worked with actresses when they got their first role and had 2,000 followers because we believed in them and now some of those same actresses may have 1.5 million followers. We try to really get to know our guests and we love meeting actresses from new television shows to a new author to a cool blogger from Bushwick. They are entrepreneurs too, and it is all about supporting other entrepreneurs.

Q: What mistake do people make when it comes to influencer marketing?

I often see an influencer post a pretty photo with a bunch of products and tag the brands in the picture. To me that is not interesting. It would be so much better if the picture told a story about the person using those products. I am also seeing a bit of mismanagement when it comes to influencer marketing. I think brands need to be more careful. I see influencers talking about one hair brand one week and another one the next and being paid by both. I think brands need to seek out new influencers as well as working with the well known ones.

Q: What three pieces of advice do you have for brands?

1. Take your online, offline and back to human interaction.

2. Focus on bigger programs and strategies, such as what we offer at Caravan. Paying one person to post one time can produce beautiful content, but creating an ongoing program allows for continuous content and authentic interactions.

3. Be different. I love content producers and I too have some of my favorites, but there are tons of creatives that could create programs with brands that are unique.

Q: What is the number one tip you have for influencers?

Test products and learn if you like them before you agree to doing a campaign, so that you stay authentic.

Watch more videos from Jessica Abo on her YouTube channel here.

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