Three Salt Lake City fashion creatives discuss the impact of social media marketing

Story and photos by BRITT BROOKS

A swipe, a like, a comment, a follow.

To get a look at marketing in the 21st century, go no further than your smartphone. Today you can look at any online platform and find a person, product, or brand that sparks your interest. But the businesses that perhaps utilize social media the most are those in the fashion industry.

Whether it’s celebrity-sponsored posts, live streams of runway shows, or notifications for product drops, fashion can be an immersive experience now more than ever. The elite fashion gods such as Gucci, Versace, Chanel and Balenciaga all have millions of followers on social media. But what about the startups?

Three up-and-comers in Salt Lake City’s fashion industry gave insight to their experiences with social media. The impact can be positive or negative depending on how active users are with the content presented to them.

Sydni Zaugg sat in a window seat at Salt Lake Coffee Break, her platinum blond bob stood out against head to toe black clothing and silver jewelry. Zaugg, 19, is a college student who attended the International Fashion Academy (IFA) in Paris in 2017. The program spanned three weeks and allowed her to attend Paris’ spring Fashion Week in early March.

Zaugg said she wouldn’t have even known about the opportunity had it not been for Instagram. After following IFA professor and trend specialist Agus Catteno on Instagram, Zaugg realized her wish to be educated about fashion in France was a possibility.

Zaugg direct messaged (DM’d) Catteno and asked questions about her job at IFA and  the opportunities for classes. Without her connection to Catteno, Zaugg wouldn’t have had a welcoming person to show her the ropes, and probably wouldn’t have gone to Paris for classes in the first place.

Parisian fashion influenced Zaugg’s personal style. And it serves as her template for advising others as she pursues a career as a stylist and photographer in Utah.

Social media give Zaugg a platform to share her availability for styling sessions and examples of her work such as dark, moody and romantic photoshoots with friends and models. But as with everything, it isn’t perfect. Zaugg mentioned the downside of pursuing likes and comments: a loss of creativity.

Avant garde clothing still graces the runways, but Zaugg has noticed brands moving toward more streamlined, minimalistic styles. This can be attributed to regular trend cycles. But Zaugg sees it as a reflection of the heavy use of social media marketing. Current fashion can be more about who you are, not what you wear. Big entertainment names like Kardashian and Hadid can be more influential than the brands themselves.

The integrity of the fashion industry can quickly fall victim to the whims of celebrities and influencers. Copycats are bad for any creative-based industry. To combat this ever-present sameness, Zaugg has a perfect mantra: “Clothes should give you confidence to express yourself how you want to, not how everyone else dresses.”

Someone curating new and wearable pieces for women is Madison Martellaro. A 21-year-old senior at the University of Utah, Martellaro has already started a company. In April 2017, she began working on her online clothing store, Fleur Fashion Boutique. She can be seen wearing multiple pieces from her boutique’s line including jeans, bomber jackets and everyday T shirts.

Martellaro came into the fashion industry alone, with virtually no connections. After months of research and hard work, she was able to start her business and advertise through social media to grow a following before the boutique launched on Nov. 9. She credits her online following of nearly 1,000 people to creating brand awareness before items were even available for purchase.

To get a good idea of what her customers actually want, Martellaro used polling features on social media. Polls and comments influenced the way the boutique website looks and functions. For example, followers wanted to know the models’ sizes and dimensions as well as see the clothing from multiple angles. These are two details about Fleur Fashion Boutique that came directly from future customers’ wish lists.

During her first photoshoot, Martellaro held a livestream. The feature on Instagram enabled her to connect even more with her future consumers. “I want to show people really what goes behind a business,” she said. In a world where new competition crops up every day, a behind-the-scenes connection with followers is priceless.

Martellaro takes a lot of pride in curating pieces that women of all sizes can wear and personalize. One of her biggest goals is to sell clothes that can be worn day to night, and look glamorous no matter the occasion.

Packaging is an important part of her brand’s final presentation and delivery. For a cohesive image, all clothing and accessories come wrapped in tissue paper with the greeting “Hello Beautiful” in bold font on the outside. Fleur Fashion Boutique encourages its recipients to take selfies with their deliveries, creating a wider community of people that talk about the products.

“That was the biggest thing for me,” Martellaro said, “making sure women felt empowered and special.”

Keeping a cohesive and unique image is one of the top priorities for Davis Hong. A polished and composed 24-year-old, Hong graduated from Salt Lake Community College with a design degree. Sitting in a wrap-around black coat of his own design, Hong said he likes to wear his own creations.

Recently rebranded under its new name, BYSHAO has been in the works for over two years, and is set to launch in 2018. Hong has made huge strides toward creating his ideal company and style.

Sustainable, ethically sourced materials are of utmost importance for BYSHAO. Only natural fiber fabrics like cotton and linen blends are used in the designs. To avoid creating more waste on our planet, Hong prefers working plant-to-piece with certified organic materials, and avoids polyester. Natural textiles and humane working conditions are the core of his passion for sustainable clothing, and it’s something he’s sticking to.

The pieces of BYSHAO are best described in Hong’s own words as minimalistic, gender-neutral and timeless. Specializing in overcoats and tops, BYSHAO is both modern and classic with structured silhouettes and neutral colors.

Participating at the 2017 Art Meets Fashion show in Salt Lake City, Hong’s brand was one of the five main shows. Events like this help secure a following that he hopes will subscribe to BYSHAO’s e-newsletter. Emails are more of a personal connection with consumers, directly informing them about lookbooks and future sale dates. A great way to foster a connection that leads to loyal customers is to start on platforms like Instagram and Twitter.

As Hong’s demographic isn’t necessarily in Salt Lake City, he finds it important to get to know his followers through social media. He mentioned his use of geo tags, event announcements, stories and live videos to view people from the other side of the planet. “You can basically be right there and see the people there as well,” Hong said.

Networking locally and internationally has furthered Hong’s knowledge and increased the presence of his brand. Social media form connections that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. He’s found photographers, models and hair and makeup professionals to work on photo shoots and runway shows.

The internet is a fantastic way for startup businesses to get their name into the hands of others. “Social media is very much an open portfolio,” Hong said. The ability to view others’ work passively before making real-life connections is something new to the world. This can acutely affect professional creatives, as a lot of their work can be judged from a 5-inch screen.

Without social media tools, Hong would have had a much harder time making local and international connections in the fashion industry. It’s unlikely that Martellaro would be the owner of a business she built from scratch at such a young age. And Zaugg never would have known about the opportunity to study fashion in Paris, or launch her career as a stylist.

Connecting with customers, mentors and possible collaborators — no matter where they are in the world — is perhaps one of the greatest online inventions of all.

To Monitor the Monitors

Story by Alex Goff

On Friday, Oct. 28th, a group of people gathered to hear opinions on how the media are considered the watch dogs for the government and the people the watch dogs for the media.

The panelists who spoke on the subject included John Daley, a reporter from KSL-TV.  He said that, “citizen involvement is plus because we do it for the readers.”  Daley was referring to the relationship between the media and the public, specifically how he thinks it’s the communities’ responsibility to inform themselves of what’s happening in the nation.

In regards to the panelists’ talk, Katie Christiensen said, “I liked how Susan said that we are the watch dogs of the media and it’s our job to get any vital information because it’s our responsibility as journalists.”

“Who watches the media?”  This was quoted from another member of the panel, Susan Tolchin.  It seemed that she was mostly focused on getting to the truth behind the messages that is received from the media. “Nobody is checking the facts, anyone can write an opinion,” she said.

Journalism student, Amy Murakami said that she barely checks her sources for accuracy, “it just never occurs to me that they could be creating a story from false accounts or facts.  I guess since it’s publicized I thought I could trust the source.””

The overall message conveyed by the panel was that the community needs to be responsible for the media, and it’s also their job to keep themselves informed about the now.  Consumers rely on the media just as much as the media rely on consumers.  It’s a balanced relationship and a win-win one as well.  The people need an informant and the informant needs people to pay for their message.

Another message, expressed mostly by panelist Matt Canham, was to challenge the media and make them accountable for what they write.  “As a consumer it is your responsibility to point out errors because they become incorrect facts,” he said.

The general consensus that appeared to be reached by the panel about the media was that they have a positive effect on the nation.  It was implied that there would be no other way of knowing what was going on in the world without help from journalists or reporters.

Whitney Smith, a political science major, stated, “as a political science student, this event was great insight as to how the media helps the government.  Sometimes the media can fall short and give information that may not seem as important, but I become more aware of our government issues because of our media and their ability to report.”

It’s clear that the population depends on news, whether it be from the newspaper or television.  However, the important part is that the facts get straightened out and the public holds the media accountable for what is being reported.  It’s the community’s obligation to know the truth about what’s going on, not just some reporters or journalists account of what’s happening but to see it from more than one angle.

“It is important to read the other sides views, which is a great way to keep from bias,” Tolchin said.

The group of people who gathered to hear these panelists speak have left with a greater understanding of what it means to monitor the media and how to challenge what they report as facts.

The Politics of Journalism

Story by Kaitlyn Christensen
When a new issue in the world arises, many use the media as a resource to understand what is going on. The media are how information gets circulated to people around the world.
On Oct. 28, a panel discussion was held at the Hinckley Institute of Politics at the campus of the University of Utah about political reporting. This event was open to the public and gave the audience the opportunity to get insight from a panel with experience in government and journalism.
The three panelists included John Daley, a reporter for KSL; Susan Tolchin, a professor at George Mason University; and Matt Canham, a reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune. Each of the panelists was able to give his or her knowledge and input as to how the media is a valuable resource to its consumers.
“The media is the watch dog of the world,” Tolchin gave her thought as to why the media is needed. It is the media’s job to get any vital any information to the consumers.
“Citizen involvement is a plus, because we do it for the readers,” explained Daley as to why the consumers are the most valuable part of media.
“Readers have ways to point out mistakes, as a consumer it is their responsibility to point out errors because it becomes incorrect facts,” Canham explained how that he loves the feedback from his audience about his work.
“Who watches the media?” Tulchin questioned the credibility of the media, “Nobody is checking the facts. Anyone can write an opinion.”
When consumers of the media point out any mistakes made, it helps from continually putting out false information to the public.
The seminar gave great insight as to how helpful the media are and how they help the country. Those who attended the seminar found all information given very useful and interesting.
“As a political science student, this event was a great incite as to how the media helps the government. Sometimes the media can fall short and give information that may not seem as important, but I become more aware of our governments issues because of our media and their ability to report,” said Whitney Smith, a political science major at the University of Utah.
Katie Andrus, a journalism student at the University of Utah, gave her insight as to what she thought about the seminar.
“I like how they came from different backgrounds and had different perspectives on how journalism and the government work with each other to relay the information to US citizens,” she said.
Without the media, getting vital information circulated to the public would be completely impossible. The world of journalism has evolved so much over time. One can find information in more sources than just the newspaper.
”News journalism is very exciting; I hope media corrects our government,” said Daley about the evolution of the media and journalism in the world.
The media will continually remain to be a vital resource as the world progresses.

Trust in the Media is at an all time low

By: Callie Mendenhall

Americans are relying less on the media for their news because many feel that the information reported to them is either inaccurate or biased and one sided.

According to a survey of 1,501 people done by the Princeton Survey Research Associates International, media accuracy is at an all time low in the eyes of Americans.  Whether the media are trying to be biased or not, the viewers are getting their voices heard. In the recent survey polltakers say that in 2011, 77 percent of Americans feel that the media is one sided compared to only 53 percent in 1985.

The survey shows that there is a difference in the views of Americans according to their political views, but in any political party it still shows the same trend that people are becoming more and more intolerant of the media. Between Independents, Republicans and Democrats, 30 percent of them believe that stories are often inaccurate.

According to Rene Woody, a mass communication major at the University of Utah, “the news is definitely biased even if they don’t mean to be.”
Media may be hitting a low when it comes to accuracy, but there is still hope to bounce back. Madison Allred, a business finance major at the University of Utah, said, “I don’t notice it [the media] being biased and I think it’s pretty accurate.”

According to another University of Utah student, Lucas Falk, the media is “in general mostly accurate.”

There are two sides to every story and the consensus of America is that they would like to hear both and accurately.

Who Watches Government and Media?

Story by Max Lennardt

According to a trio of media panelists, the media is the watchdog of the Government. But in today’s economic times the decline of newspapers and layoff of news reporters makes it tough for the media to be the government watchdog. Susan Tolchin, professor in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University; John Daley, reporter for Deseret News/KSL; and Matt Canham, Salt Lake Tribune Washington correspondent gave the message to students on who watches the government and the media.  “It is a relationship with tension in some times. We are the watch dog of the politics by asking tough questions, we confront them,” said Canham.
John Daley added: “There is a constant rise in government money, but there are less reporters than 10 years ago. But is more money always better, is it always legal, or is there maybe corruption involved? It will be hard to find out because there a fewer watchdogs than ever before.“
Tolchin said, she is really excited how it will turn out and she personally hopes for a better government. Also she stated, “that it is an interesting time to be in business.“
But who watches the media? How can the people trust what the media tells the readers about the government?
“Nobody checks facts, reporters make mistakes everyday. There are no check factors. It worries me. Blogs and Wikipedia have so many mistakes,” said Tolchin.
Because of the Internet it is easier to upload or post things. Everybody is a journalist today. People own cameras or have camera phones. According to the panelists, a journalist must be more careful than ever before.
“As a reporter you are a figure today. It is important that you check what you write because readers point out when you do something stupid, and they have ways to do that. It is so easy for people to find out your email address, “said Canham.
Because of the technology, more engagement of people is good and bad. But all three agree that there is no direct or official fact checker of the media. The only ones who can point things or mistakes out are the people.
“It is your responsibility. Once something is posted it is gospel and will be repeated by others. If it is not right, we need the help to point it out”, said Canham.
The audience judged the feedback on this topic positive.  Katie Andrus, a communication student at the University of Utah liked how they highlighted the role of journalism: “It was interesting to hear who the media is the watchdog over the government and how important is that the readers check facts on the stories.“
“They did a really good job of giving insight about how it is important as a journalist to report the right information to the readers”, said Kylee Mecham, a mass communication student.
More information about the event can be found at the Hinckley Institute of Politics webpage: