I started Instagram and blogging about 2 years ago this month (no I'm not going to buy a big number 2 balloon and make a big deal of it!). The journey and growth has been better than I can ever had imagined but most importantly I've enjoyed every minute of it. Actually thats a lie, sometimes when you are doing a photoshoot hungover in the rain with passers by laughing at you, isn't ideal! So why did I start Instagram and why the name HawkinsAndShepherd?
Instagram was a way to get free promotion for my own business called Hawkins & Shepherd hence the name. Hawkins & Shepherd is my own brand where I sell men's formalwear such as shirts, suits, coats and ties online through our store. After a good few months of wearing my own shirts and suits and posting on Instagram, I realised that this would soon dry up and content would become pretty one-sided, boring and stagnant. That was when I decided to start buying and wearing other menswear brands and use my knowledge of the fashion industry and styling to help men dress better. My style is incredibly varied mixing smart formal attire and casual everyday wear, I like to appeal to a large variety of guys whether they are dressing for an interview, first date or just going to the shops. As you can see from a few of my early posts on Instagram, it was very much about the Hawkins & Shepherd shirts, some of my celebrity friends wearing them and of course Charlie, my French Bulldog.
THE EARLY DAYS
Looking back at the middle era of my blog, I didn't really have anything different about me, my style and imagery and felt like it wasn't really going anywhere. If I'm honest with myself, I didn't care enough, I just brought cheap clothing for the sake of photographing something and just posted it regardless. Now I'm much more picking with what brands I wear and who I promote - it has to be in my style and I truly have to love what I'm wearing. Back to this grey period of my Instagram evolution, I didn't care much about the locations in which I shot my outfits, even a dirty brown brick wall would do. This showed in my feed, I was also totally over editing my photos, especially with contrast which I look back now - what was I thinking!
THE MIDDLE GREY ERA
Late in 2015 was when I started to realise the potential of what could be achieved with Instagram. By both promoting my own clothing through Hawkins & Shepherd and also creating a new influencing business promoting other brands for a fee. I started to find my style and was much more confident with everything from working with PR companies, directly with brands and was even starting to feel pretty comfortable behind the camera and a videocamera.
FINDING MY UNIQUE STYLE
Early in 2016 was a time where I sat down and said to myself 'I need to up my game' and from that moment on, I never looked back. I spent time critiquing my work and tried to work out how I could be different and why would brands want to work with me, what can I offer to show real value? My basic conclusion was to just be myself and don't try to emulate someone else who is deemed to be successful in the Instragam world - whats the point in doing Instagram if you are just copying style, astetics and ideas from others.
THE LIGHTBULB MOMENT
It still took me a while to find exactly what my uniqueness was, it was a major period of trial and error. The biggest game-changer was working with some incredible photographers Becky, Ella and Kylie and speaking to them to find my perfect balance of style and showcasing London's hidden corners. I've started to use my dog Charlie in more photos, as he is an absolutely gorgeous dog but the main difference is that both myself and the photographers I use spend hours trying to find the best locations around London - fashion meets London archeteture is what I like to be known for. I've worked out a unique editing to my photos which took a very long time to perfect, using a mixture of Photoshop and Instagram's own editing options. It's kind of like a recipe...a splash of contract, a cup of shadow and a teaspoon on saturation!
I just want to finish off this post by saying thank you all for your support and advice during this incredible 2 years of mine. What's in store for the next 2 years? Maybe a bit more travel but certainly a lot more fashion, style and interiors...oh and of course Charlie!
Thanks for reading, Carl xx