I recently had a chat with the lovely Lauren from Ei8ht magazine to discuss my thoughts on being a male lifestyle blogger and my career as a visual merchandiser and stylist.
JAN 14, 2016
INSTA-VIEW: BOY IN BRETON
From an early age, Michael Parker loved fashion. He recalls his younger self asking his mother to keep her fashion magazines so he could cut out the models and dress them up (what a cutie, and resourceful too!). It’s only natural then, that he now works as a visual merchandiser and stylist, as well as running his successful blog; The Boy In Breton. Michael originally studied fashion design, but after deciding that it wasn’t for him, he concentrated his career on a different, yet still creative path. He now influences the way we shop, by creating displays and layouts that make us want to spend! He runs his blog in his spare time, and creates stylish, inspiring content based on not just fashion, but lifestyle and grooming too. I caught up with Michael to see what it’s like for a guy in a girl dominated ‘bloggersphere’ and to see just what inspired that blogging name!
For those people who haven’t yet discovered Boy in Breton, could you tell us a little bit about yourself, what made you start a blog?
“Sure, I started Boy in Breton really as a hobby a hobby at first! I wasn’t too keen on being a blogger that just wrote only about things that I personally liked – I discussed with my friends and family about how to make it work for others. What would I want from a blog? Advice, guidance and inspiration, whether for fashion, grooming or gorgeous things for the home! There seemed to be a gap in the blogging scene for a male blogger to cover these areas. The name comes from my love of Breton Stripes, which make up around 80% of my wardrobe!”
You’ve studied fashion design, did you ever want to get more involved in that side of the industry?
“I loved studying fashion design, however, I dropped out after a year as there were a lot of lectures and there wasn’t an awful lot of designing involved! I started working in retail and realised I could put my eye for detail to good use…”
You’re currently a Visual Merchandiser and stylist. Could you tell us a little more about what this involves? What does a typical day at work consist of?
“The role of a Visual Merchandiser is to ensure a brand is presented in the best possible light at all times and involves a lot of stock analysis and commercial understanding. Quite a lot of people think being a VM is just dressing a few mannequins and putting decals on a window – I can tell you it’s a lot more intensive than that!
A typical work day starts at 7am before the stores open to review the windows and make any changes if needed. Then I look instore and ensure everything is presented to the brand guidelines – from product placement, mannequin styling down to the folding of and steaming of garments! I will then check the figures and assess if any crucial changes need to be made to the store layout to increase the takings! I also work nights once a month to install new window campaigns and completely refresh the shop floor to keep it enticing for new and returning customers. Other days can be spent in our showroom setting up the space for press appointments and VIP fittings! The role certainly keeps me on my toes!”
How do you feel about being a guy in the fashion blogging world, do you think it’s a different experience from the girls?
“I think the scene for male bloggers is a lot smaller – Perhaps at the moment, it’s the best time for a guy to be getting into the blogging world. It’s a very competitive game and surprisingly, quite a cut-throat one whether you are a guy or a girl. I think the most successful are those who are polite, humble to a degree and create useful content without being too hung up on follower counts!”
Do you think social media/Instagram has helped with your career?
“Instagram has been a fantastic way for me to promote Boy in Breton. I’m a visual person so being able to get creative with my work is always a bonus! And it’s true – a picture paints a thousand words! It’s been proven that any social media post has a higher click-through rate if an image is attached. Twitter has been great for chatting to fellow bloggers and readers of Boy in Breton.”
What has been the best experience that you’ve had since starting your blog?
“I’ve been able to meet with some really lovely people and go to some great events. I think the best experience so far was travelling to Manchester Arndale to film a Vlog as part of their Christmas social campaign and also becoming a contributor to Winq magazine. Seeing your work in a publication is a buzz like no other.”
Where do you see yourself in the future in terms of your career? Would you like to spend more time blogging?
“I would love to spend more time blogging. I can see how if you become very successful you could do it full time – writing content, shooting pictures and editing them takes up most of my free time after work. Writing a blog, attending events and press days whilst working a full time job is a challenge. An enjoyable one though! What’s life without a challenge or two to overcome?
In terms of my career, I’d love to see where Boy in Breton takes me! It’s given me some wonderful opportunities in its first year of creation, so I have high hopes for the second year!”
And finally, do you have any tips for people who want to get into visual merchandising? Is there a particular path you would recommend?
“My advice would be to get involved as early as you can. Talk to your managers – build a relationship with your VM teams from head office and put a lot of hard work in. Be prepared to be folding a lot and tagging stock from mannequins at first. That’s how I got into it – by saying what I wanted to do and by putting the work and hours in. You have to be a morning person too – being a visual merchandiser means you forget what a lay-in feels like!”