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New York Called Amy Levin

Some of you may know my first interest for blogging was sparked during my senior year of college by the opportunity to write for College Fashionista, a college street style fashion website. This site has built a community of students who feel inspired by fashion photography and journalism, giving them an outlet to contribute to a publication where they feel connected to people who also have the same passion. CF allowed me to explore my interests in journalism, fashion and photography through a weekly post featuring a photo and accompanying description about the street style of different students on campus. This opportunity opened many doors, mainly those guarding my creativity.During my internship I periodically spoke to Amy Levin, the founder of CF. She was always this mystery girl on the other side of the phone until I moved to New York where I finally met her in person. Since our first face-to-face meeting near her TriBeCa apartment Amy has become a mentor and large influence in the direction of New York Called. You can imagine how excited I was when she agreed to be featured on the site and invited me to her apartment for an interview.Amy grew up in Chicago with a family that, aside from her father, was pretty disinterested in fashion. It wasn't until her path of self discovery at Indiana University that Amy realized her wardrobe was becoming an expression of the person she was growing into. Her junior year she studied abroad in London and developed an appreciation for the documentation of street style and its impact on designers and brands. Upon her return she landed an internship in Los Angeles for an intimate trend forecasting company that focused on fashions of the young on the west coast. Her experiences in London and Los Angeles heavily contributed to Amy's eagerness to move forward with her career and instilled a feeling of restlessness and boredom upon her return to IU her senior year.It was at this time Amy decided to start her own blog. In 2008, around the same time blogging was taking off, she began taking pictures of classmates and writing about their style. "I was embarrassed at first because starting a blog at the time was kind of a dorky think to do," Amy said. Little did she know this concept would take off. Her friends started expressing their interest in having their own campus's style represented on her website. After much encouragement from friends and family she decided to bring on investors after her graduation and build out the site. In August of 2009 she launched CF.When she first started she was intimidated and nervous. "What was nerve racking was that I would sit in meetings and try to sell the concept and think, 'No one knows who I am and I have no credibility.'" But she was able to build passion and confidence and spent her first year focused on great content and growing an audience. It was't until she moved to New York and the site entered it's second year that she focused on brand partnerships (her most recent with Seventeen Magazine) and advertising to make money. Amy has since taken her concept from a single campus to over 300 schools internationally.Amy moved to the city about a year ago and since then has focused on networking and meeting with the right brands and influencers. She's met amazing people and spoken at Columbia, Wharton and Penn, as well as at the Teen Vogue Fashion University on a panel alongside Alexander Wang and Diane Von Furstenberg. Her greatest joy, however, is her connection with students. "One of the hardest things to do when starting your own company is to delegate because you want control over everything. And, while Im hiring full time help in the fall, one thing I will never let go of is my involvement with students." Amy describes herself as a big sister to all of the students who write for CF. It is important to her to be an inspiration as she didn't have any connections in New York or the fashion industry when she started. "It is such a misconception people have that they can't make it in the fashion industry because they 'don't know anybody' when I think some of the best people in this industry didn't know anyone and fought their way to the top."Amy has definitely fought her way to the top and has worked hard to gain her credibility.What is everyday like for the young entrepreneur? "Every day is crazy! I feel like I haven't had a second to catch a breath." She spends most of her days in meetings or personally answering the 300 emails a day she gets from students and brand representatives. After all, most people are unaware that the site is run entirely by her and her 3 siblings, one of which is in finance, one a lawyer and one in the tech industry. "But I LOVE what I am doing. This industry is a game of endurance--if you are looking for a nine to five then fashion is not for you and this makes sense to me so it is all worth it." Has New York aged her? "Yes, but I feel like I am always talking to 18 and 19 year olds. It's like I should be going to college parties!"I had to ask Amy whether or not she thinks there is room for entry for bloggers in the current market. "I compare bloggers to designers in the sense that there are thousands of them but there's always room for someone with a unique idea and differentiation. Look at Alexander Wang, for instance, who came up over night." Her advice to anyone on the road of entrepreneurship in New York is to, "stay dedicated to your concept because it's easy to become unfocused in this city and if you have a good product people will be drawn to you." While Amy's product has drawn much attention a part of her attraction is her personality. She is nice to everyone, builds genuine relationships, and always follows up with students, brands, mentors, etc.What's next for Amy? "It is hard to say where I will be in ten years because even five years ago I didn't know where I was going to be now." One of her favorite parts about her job is the traveling and visiting different schools, which she would love to do more of. She also wants to get more involved with charity work and receive her MBA from NYU Stern. She currently sits on the junior board of a charity that assists Latin American women with micro-financing and business development to jumpstart their companies. This is all part of her entrepreneurial spirit.Amy is a complete inspiration to me because she is only three years out of college and has built a brand that is recognizable internationally, yet she manages to find time for those that really matter. Saturdays are her time to check out from email and dedicate all of her attention to friends whether at the Brooklyn flea, participating in her obsession Soul Cycle, or out vintage shopping (she is definitely a shoe and coat girl). She tries to spend time on her personal style, which, since moving to New York, has become more sophisticated and simple. On downtime Amy finds inspiration from websites started by people who inspire her like Dani Levy of Daily Candy, Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist (who graduated from UI), and The Selby.This is such a changing time in the industry because five years ago nobody knew you could have a career doing what Amy is doing. She has managed to be her own boss as well as a mentor for those who are passionate about self creation. As she concluded, "If you really believe in something, push full force ahead."

See what your University is up to at CollegeFashionista.com and follow Amy Levin and CF on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr.

This Post Has 1 Comment

  1. kimmie says:

    A truly inspiring story (esp. considering that I’m a blogger trying to carve my own niche), and um, can I have her entire library? I swear I geek out whenever I see fashion and photography books lol!

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