Norma interviews blogger:
Norma interviews blogger:

Norma Kamali (NK): Tell us a bit about your blog. What makes you different?

Second City Style (SC): What makes us different? We've been around since 2005. When we launched, I was living in Chicago and we really wanted to be an online fashion magazine. We were doing new issues weekly. What happened was- we had more to say, and more we wanted to talk about, like news. So then we scouted the blog component. We then we were a blog and also this magazine. We only combined the two last summer. We knew our traffic would die for a bit, so we waited until we werecomfortable with that. I used to hate being called a blogger because it was derogatory back then. But now, I’m not offended by it now.

We have a staff of writers. There are different points of view. Our age demographic is women over 30, like 30-50. We try to be a little more about attainable luxury. Into the high low concept. I think women should buy really nice things. Buy a really good suit, or buy a trendy top. Another thing we like to do- show readers how to assimilate trends for your age group. There are certain trends I look at and I know I can’t, or I want to wear a variation of it. Today, I did a post- I do trends for the seasons and show women that are not 22 how to wear something. I did cutouts today. Unless you have a Gwyneth Paltrow body- you shouldn’t wear it.

NK: Or layer it over something underneath.

SC: Exactly. Something like that. We also do a lot of fashion news- fashion headlines, once a day. We still are Chicago based, but since I moved here 5 years ago, I hate to say we’re “New York,” but we really are. One thing we do differently- in some ways, we are like Fashionista updating five days a week. And update about 6-8 times a day. So updates every hour so people can come back to our site and see what’s going on.

Now we’re getting really into Twitter. Thank God I didn’t get on Tumblr. I don’t have enough time in the day. I don’t need to do that. It wasn’t working for me. Now I’m a sucker for Pinterest. It’s also trying to keep up on what’s going on. I love change, but this makes more work for me.

NK: There’s a lot of change all the time. And I don’t think it’s appropriate for everyone. I made a conscious decision that if I was tweeting throughout the day , I would have to be too revealing about things I shouldn’t be revealing. I see the benefit of doing it. I could get suckered into it. I decided rather than let myself be in that, I am going to protect myself and sometimes I get really tempted on the weekend, but then I don’t do it. How many things can you do?? There’s no halfway.

SC: What I do like about it is that some designers I follow show really cool stuff is a way to show a glimpse into their head and what motivates them. The things, style that motivates them. You get to see a different aspect to someone. For Twitter, you see that they are pumping their lines anyway. It comes off as definitely in one direction. I’ve been finding Pinterest really interesting.

NK: When you are doing your daily thing, you consider this your fulltime job. Since when?

SC: Since 2006.

NK: And you can support yourself?

SC: I hated my job and needed to get out of Corporate America.

NK: When was the point when you started to feel like you were making a living?

SC: About 3 years ago. Right now, I know style blogging is really huge. There are some really good ones, but there are some really bad ones. A lot of the style bloggers, their style doesn’t resonate with me because they are too young.

NK: They all have a different audience. So you said up to 50 years. For your demographic.

SC: Some a little older, and some younger.

NK: I have been doing this since 1967 and for some reason, I do my thing and it eventually- you may be interested at this point in your life, and you have six kids, I’m not going to buy her stuff and you go somewhere else. Ever since I can remember-, people would say- what happened to you? It’s about style or budget.

SC: Right

NK: I’ve been thinking about that more and more because KamaliKulture addresses 0-18 or XS-XL and it’s under $100. So women who have physically changed, these are pieces you can have in your wardrobe, and it’s appropriate for a wide age group.

SC: I got some of your stuff from Walmart and it came in handy after I had my baby. My body was changing and I didn’t want to buy anything with a zipper.

NK: And comfortable clothes.

SC: I wore it a lot then.

NK: I'm glad. We were successful on and a lot of people who would never even shop at Walmart heard about it thanks to bloggers. We didn’t do anything but bloggers found out about it. There was no campaign. We realized that bloggers go it and interpreted it for their following. So when my 3 years was over, I thought- I want to do more in this category. I want to go up to $100 and add other products. Do things that I couldn’t do there because of the price and find a way to reintroduce this timeless style concept. Clearly the opportunity to bring this experience, and bring it forward was my re-entry back into this. I forgot about where I started here but the idea of looking at this as a way people will shop. Not just for today but for the future, and being smart and being empowered by being smart.

Women in the older age bracket- are not as connected online. I’ve been asking everyone here - what does your mother do online – how can I reach that customer? From 45-50, 55-60. I’m 66. In my age group, they think I’m a freak. What do you do? Why would you go online. Do you shop? You can shop so easily. You can compare prices, get information from other sources.

SC: I’ve gotten my mother to embrace that.

NK: How old is your mom?

SC: 71, 72 this summer. She’s got a great sense of style, but it hasn’t changed in a while. She waits til everything goes on sale. She doesn’t have a ton of clothes, but what she buys she will wear forever. I’ve gotten her to change a little.

NK: How much do you know about 45-50 year old in your group. How are you connecting to her and what are you doing? It’s a different conversation.

SC: We tend to get the women who- there’s one that’s the MidWest Chicago, still gotten out of Mom jeans and she needs us. There’s that person. We have to be careful that we don’t writethings that offend them. Then we have the person that my business partner Carol and I can be guilty of- almost dressing younger than we are?

NK: It’s a different time.

SC: I think it works. Carol has a younger mind and she’s got a fantastic body and she can wear. She doesn’t look her age, so why should she dress it? She doesn’t dress like a 20 year old. We’ve got that person, who has a sense of style and they want to feel like they know what’s going on.

NK: They want to feel connected.

SC: They want to feel like they are going in the rightdirection. Don’t give up, don’t let it all go. You’re as young as you feel. Don’t make it all about your kids. Things like that.

NK: They are going to leave the house..

SC: And they are not going to remember that you spent $200 on them. And nothing on yourself. Well thank God I have boys. I just went to DVF for Gap and it was adorable and I think I would go BROKE if I had a girl. I just dress them in Gap and Ralph Lauren. That means I can spend more money on myself!

NK: And they’re going to grow out of their clothes.

SC: Exactly. And they’re slobs!

NK: (laughing)

SC: It is what it is. They’re boys. On one hand, I think- who’s going to get their nails done with me. On the flip side I think- I can spend money on myself! So those are the two types of women we talk to. One- you are going in the right direction. Women dressing like you. To be truthful, I’m surprised about the number of 20-somethings that read our blog.

NK: They probably have a different sense of themselves and an agenda that’s different. It’s difficult to assume that all 25 years olds are the same.

SC: I was the typical 25 year old. I’m meeting so many that have it together. I’m amazed at the feedback that some young people are reading us. We’ve got some young staff. I tell them- pretend that you are writing with your mom in mind, like her style. We don’t want to write about what Lindsay Lohan is wearing.

NK: No because that’s a big turnoff. My concern is that I’ve created my website that you fall on to a product page. So that people who aren’t used to shopping online that it’s as easy as possible. Yesterday we were at a meeting for something else and a couple of girls in the office and I said “Do your Moms shop on the internet?” Their moms are all younger than I am. Do they shop on the internet? Do they read blogs?

SC: My Mom knows how to Google. You’ve brought up a good point. Her frustration level- if she can’t find what she’s looking for right away, then she’s gone. Too much flash, that’s tough. Nobody cares about the flashy thing. They just want to get there, and buy it. There are certain sites that I know she will buy from. Neiman Marcus or Saks. Then the rest of it is Google. Or I’ll help my Mom find things.

NK: They all say that. If they send Google links to their Mom then they will find it.

SC: I can send her pictures and stuff. How hard is it to find things from your phone? She does things on her iPad. I send my Mom things- and I Have to call her and I sent her an email. She says “Oh, I keep forgetting to check.”

NK: I think that’s the thing- this device hasn’t hooked in. It’s not part of what happens in a day. Especially if you don’t work as a woman in that age group.

SC: MY father is worse. He still has a flip phone. If you ask my Dad to find something on the internet, he asks her to do it. I give him credit he’s almost 80. He gets a little bit of a pass. But he’s been resisting it forever. I could have too. I mean I am on the verge of that older age bracket…

NK: So how old are you?

SC: I’m 44.

NK: Wow. I thought you were much younger! Then when you said kids…

SC: I have babies. I had a baby at 44. I’m a late bloomer. I’m a ridiculously late bloomer. All my friends are in their 20s and 30s. I don’t have a ton of friends in my age group. Even other mothers. I’m not always the oldest. This is New York. When I go home in my high school class- when they wrote in my school newsletter that Lauren Dimet Class of ’85 gave birth to a child- they must be thinking WHAT! All the kids I went to high school with have kids who are teenagers now, kids in college. And I got- yeah I had a baby.

NK: If you had a looking glass and you could look into the future about what you will be doing and what this world you live in will belike, what do you think?

SC: You know what it looks like? I looks like the Jetsons coming true. That cartoon I used to watch feels really close and it scares me. I think things are moving so quickly and as soon as. This is where my age starts to show a bit- it’s almost exhausting.

NK: When’s your birthday?

SC: In May.

NK Beginning?

SC: No end. I’ve always embraced change and been good about it. There are certain things. In technology I get it. I’m very routine and there are certain things that I’m not as good at change. I am learning I have to be…

NK: It’s fun. It’s irresistible.

SC: How did we do about it without cellphones? I remember having to stop at a payphone. I can’t imagine having a kid and letting them go without a cellphone.

NK: I grew up in the 50s. I was born in 1945. And in the 50s, I thought I was hot shit. My visual memory of myself is wearing flat slingback flats with taps on them and pedal pushers and big tops and walking hand in hand down the street, and scraping our shoes so you would hear them. I grew up in New York City. It was a low income neighborhood. Nobody had a phone. Except for my father’s candy store. My mother remarried the only Jew in the neighborhood. Nobody knew what a Jew was except for Milton Grenovsky who owned the candy store. I had to work in the candy store. I know how to make egg crèmes and all that.

SC: Oh my God that’s so cool. I would weigh like 500 pounds.

NK: There were four telephone booths and that’s how people in the neighborhood would communicate. In order to know you got a call, youwould scream out. And people would scream back out. “Do you have the keys- “ “Yeah.” “I forgot my bag” or whatever. Everyone had their windows open. It was like the Honeymooners. It was exactly like Jackie Gleason. That’s my early reference when there is no phone. I remember when TV- one family in the neighborhood got a TV- a 5 inch in a big console and the Howdy Doody show was on. We would go at 4 o’clock and all the neighborhood kids we would all watch in a circle on the floor. And it would go “buzzzz” and we would sit there in anticipation. We would sit there waiting in anticipation. “It’s Howdy Doody time!” Then we would sit and watch the circle again. This is where I came from. The reason I asked you that it IS moving that much faster. Now it’s happening at speeds. Because of the internet and everything speeding along.

SC: It’s exciting, but sometimes I feel like it’s too much.

NK: You just pick your ride.

SC: I experiment with things and find out what works for us. My partner- I'm always asking her to Twitter. You can’t do it when you get home. It is like dealing with my mother in some respects.

NK: I think this is an important topic now- I think that entrepreneurial connection to being a blogger and how it’s done, and making it not affect the content. Is really the conflict that a lot of bloggers must have.

SC: Content is really important to us. When you are talking about a style bloggers, you’re not talking about content. It’s pictures.

NK: They sell those products?

SC: Yes through affiliate links. The reader can go and click and buy it. They sold the bag. They made some commission on it. At first I was like- oh my God. I didn’t see anyone whose style I liked. I didn’t want to see someone I didn’t connect to. Not in my age group.

Then we had some people saying we had some feedback and we wanted to see what you guys do- practice what you preach. I’ve had Carol do some style blogging. I’m trying to lose weight. They want to see what we’re wearing. A couple times a day, we’ll put up personal style up. We sell stuff sometimes. I like doing trend posts. A pastel and I’ll show it on the runway and then find ten items. That’s to get people to buy stuff. Also to teach them how to wear it, but to buy.

NK: If we were to show you a preview of KamaliKulture and we were to show you styles that you authentically liked. Would you do a business model with us in an entrepreneurial way- and posted them in whatever way you wanted. You would get a certain amount of money from us? Like a wholesale account?

SC: Mostly we do things through an affiliate brand. Love RewardStyle. I really like them. What’s nice is that if someone is looking for a black skirt – and put it in search, then yours can pop up. There’s a discovery component. What I like about them- they are constantly trying to improve it. There’s a new widget that gives you your own link. Brand new. I’m testing it. Sometimes I will want to post a high end dress, like say a Gucci dress, and I’ll be able to create a link and receive a commission from it.

NK: Cool.

SC: I like that they are constantly listening. There are certain sites that I won’t link to. Bebe, for instance.

NK: Who is that customer?

SC: They’re starting out. Jersey Shore.

NK: Jersey Shore! There’s one store in the Columbus Circle.

SC: Sometimes I will walk into a store that I would never walk into- if I have spare time. Just to see what it’s like.

NK: But you would never do that online. I wouldn’t.

SC: There’s been a few stores like comfortable shoe stores. When we first started, my biggest pet peeve was “Please don’t wear sneakers with a suit.” There are cute flats, too. I walk too much.

NK: My goal with KamaliKulture is to get the most comfortable last that you can walk forever and feel good and build series around them. There are a million shoes out there, but for me- if they don’t feel comfortable, then what’s the point?

SC: There were a pair of Louboutins that I wanted SO badly.

NK: They don’t fit. I won’t buy them anymore. You only display them.

SC: I would have plopped down money. I put them on, and I couldn’t even stand inthem. But to me, YSLs are comfortable.
NK: What’s your horoscope sign?

SC: I’m a Gemini.

NK: I thought you were a Cancer. Your personality feltCancer-like.

SC: I definitely have Gemini traits, but I’m Cancer.

NK: It’s exhausting. True Geminis are exhausting.

SC: You know what I have and wear all the time? The motorcycle jacket in terry from Walmart.

NK: Oh!

SC: I wear that all the time.

NK: Have you washed it in the machine? That’s when it looks even better.

SC: I couldn’t get my hands on one, so I bought it on eBay.

NK: Do you know how many people would buy tons of stuff and then sell it on eBay. I actually bought some stuff online that I missed and one of the executives from Walmart- she had to buy it on eBay.

SC: Yeah, you couldn’t get your hands on it.

NK: Our first day with this site- we had a little thing that was written. Racked posted – and we sold thousands and thousands of dollars worth of three dresses, which gave me a nervous breakdown. In a good way. But what happens is we need to understand the speed at which all of this happens. Then we immediately put in a million purchase orders and to have more individualstuff- separating – you can only find this on one site or whatever.

SC: The dress that you can wear a million ways.

NK: This one?

SC: I think it’s cool to send out to people to style in different ways. I know you sent it out to get people to post it. I just put mine on. I’m not very creative.

NK: Well we would love to see what you do with it. Seriously.


Huffington YouTube Facebook Twitter Hulu