This Central Ohio woman is a wardrobe stylist by day and a social media maven by night.

Candace Read has become one of Central Ohio’s most popular Instagram influencers with more than 22,000 followers. She describes herself as a “style influencer bringing you all things lovely, Parisian & style with a touch of color.”

What inspired you to take your love of fashion to blogging and social media? In the fall of 2012, I moved to New York City to pursue a graduate degree at New York University and started a blog to keep my hometown family and friends up to date on my adventures in the city. During my time there, I found myself inspired by the heartbeat of the city, its many fashion influences and the beauty of its various art forms. My content shifted from just sharing about my day-to-day adventures and evolved into a fashion-focused space.

You currently have more than 22,000 followers on Instagram. What has it been like to be an influencer with that large audience? Has this become your full-time job? I still can’t believe that I have a community of over 20k. There are so many choices when it comes to the internet and who you are following, so I consider it a huge honor to have that many eyes tuned in at @candacemread. In understanding that there is a range of choices out there, I make it a top priority to create content that is well curated, thoughtful, stylish and honest to who I am. What I have learned in this journey of influence is that your community often feels a connection with you personally in a unique way. You want to keep feeding and deepening that meaningful connection and the only true way to do so is to continue being you. 

I pursued being a full-time influencer for a short while after completing graduate school. While I loved it, I also realized that I wanted and deeply longed for community in life. Additionally, I wanted to hone and express my personal styling skills. So, I have two jobs: a full-time wardrobe stylist with Wardrobe Therapy by day and an influencer by night at candacemread.com.

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Do you have any advice for people who are looking to start their own fashion blog or build their social media following? The most important thing to identify before starting a blog or developing a social media brand is knowing what your end goal is. Is it to be a well of inspiration for others? A creative outlet? Perhaps it’s a stepping stone to get you to your next career goal? Or maybe you feel strongly that you have a unique perspective that warrants the monetization? 

By identifying your end goal, you will set proper expectations and standards to build upon. Also, you will have an understanding of how you are adding value to the influencer sphere and knowing your worth (value) is key. It allows you to say “yes” to the right things and “no” to the things that aren’t right for you. 

How do you handle any negativity you may receive from internet trolls or cyber bullies? On the few occasions I’ve experienced, I take a moment to acknowledge that someone has something negative towards me and then move forward. I’ve learned when you lean into that negatively it destroys you mentally. When you are mentally distracted and cluttered by negativity, you have no room to give to yourself and be your best creative self.

Where do you see the future of the influencer industry in five or 10 years? I think the influencer space will be thriving for sure, but I know it will look vastly different than it does today. We are currently going through a huge shift in influencer marketing right now. … The game is changing as the space gains more players, they understand their worth and brands’ budgets increase for influencer marketing. What I am most interested to see is what the next big social media platform is by then, and to see if I’m still cool enough to be in the influencer game. 

Who are your style icons and inspirations? How do you translate their style into yours? That’s so hard, because there are many that I love. But here are my top favorites: 

Blake Lively—She’s not afraid of color and dares to do unique things. Last year, she did this double velvet blazer situation. It was so good. She is my street-style gal. 

Olivia Palermo—She’s classic with a twist. Much like me, she's a fellow lover of classic silhouettes, but always finds a way to make things extra unique and dimensional.

Kerry Washington—She’s multi-dimensional. There aren’t many people who can play in different lanes stylistically speaking, but she can. She works with a stylist, but a client/stylist relationship is incredibly collaborative, and I contribute a lot of her fashion richness to that unity.

When it comes to translation of their style to mine, I simply look to them for inspiration. As a stylist, I’ve come to learn that we are all truly unique in our personal styles, and our style language is deepened when we continue embracing our uniqueness. Being inspired is key to honing in on your style, but it's imperative that you only glean and not replicate.