Chiara Ferragni's Secret to Winning on Social Media

The Pomellato for Women ambassador preaches a very millennial message of self-empowerment.

A vision in fluttery pink Dior, Chiara Ferragni wafts through Milan’s glass-domed Galeria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade like a character in a Fellini film. Today Ferragni is shooting for Bazaar, and she’s all smiles for the camera. Teenagers in velvet puffer coats swarm around Italy’s most famous influencer like moths to a social media flame, reflexively extending their arms into the universal selfie pose. “Chiara! Chiara!” they scream, as they frantically adjust their positioning to catch her in the background of their photos. “I think we got it,” Ferragni says to our camera crew, turning decisively on her heel as two burly security guards swoop in to escort her through a secret passageway to escape the verklempt fans slowly closing in on her.

Graciously enduring mass hysteria is all in a day’s work for the OG of fashion bloggers, who is accustomed to sharing every minute of her glam-packed life with more than 16 million Instagram followers (to put her reach in perspective, Man Repeller has a following of 2.1 million, and Bryanboy is just shy of 700,000). In September, she’s poised to become even more of a household name when Italian director Elisa Amoruso’s documentary about her hits theaters. The film charts the meteoric rise of this dentist’s daughter from the bedroom community of Cremona, Italy, to number one in the fashion category on the 2017 Forbes Top Influencers list.

Ferragni was also recently tapped to be an ambassador of Pomellato for Women, the Milanese jewelry brand’s campaign celebrating female leadership. “Chiara’s drive and resilience are remarkable,” says Pomellato CEO Sabina Belli. “She invented a job that didn’t exist, and her message is powerful: It is up to each of us to break the glass ceiling to live the life that we imagine.” The 31-year-old new mother is happy to return the compliment. “Pomellato’s values really resonate with me,” says Ferragni, whose son, Leo, just turned one. “I believe it’s possible to be both a boss and a mom—just keep working toward everything you dreamed you’d do.”

Of course, Ferragni’s free designer clothes and front-row seats didn’t manifest themselves immediately. In 2009, when she first began posting #ootd photos on her blog, the Blonde Salad, she was still a college student studying international law. Those early looks—a strategic mix of designer handbags, vintage finds, and Zara—captivated fans, who followed her to Instagram in 2012.

In 2013, she parlayed her loyal base into a cash cow by developing a namesake fashion line. As her audience continued to grow, she negotiated endorsement deals with a select group of luxury labels, which not only paid her handsomely for sponsored posts but also helped further elevate the profile of the Chiara Ferragni Collection by association. In 2015, Harvard Business School published a case study on her entrepreneurial success. Ferragni’s brand, which has an emoji-like winking eye as its signature motif, is now carried in more than 400 stores, including flagships in Milan, Paris, and Shanghai, and generates $25 million in annual revenue. ‰

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