FEATURED INTERVIEW: HALLEY ELEFANTE
Interview by Angel Quintana
Photo Credit: Halley Elefante
Magazine: Issue #36
What inspired you to start blogging on Instagram?
My sister, Jess. She was on my case about it for a couple years before I even started this venture, back when I was still living and bartending in NYC. She saw there was this new wave of successful influencers documenting their outfits and lives and thought I would be a great fit because of my shopping problem. I was too scared, embarrassed and afraid of what people might say or think so I just never did it. It wasn't until I moved to Hawaii, with this amazing backdrop and mixing my East Coast pieces with my new found tropical vibe that I saw it could be something. If not, just a great place to showcase where all of my hard earned money went. I started a secret/separate account and kept it from my family and friends because I was embarrassed. I started snapping away on the lanai with my camera timer and found that I loved it and was kind of decent at it. These days I couldn't be prouder of what I've built and no one should not do something because of what others might say. If I didn't put myself out there I would never be here.
We love your laid back, effortless style - Who was your first style icon?
My mother. Hands down. I would give anything to have her wardrobe from the 70s, 80s and 90s. She was a disco queen and had my Grandma sew her these absurd outfits that I would kill for today. She never cared what other people thought and just rocked these badass outfits around a small town in Upstate NY. My mom always said as I was growing up that we had the same style and I loved hearing that. Now she takes all of my clothes and I send a package home almost weekly..
When and how did your popularity really start to grow on Instagram?
I honestly don't really know the exact moment. I just started snapping away with old outfits that I would put together from my closet and tagging the designers and brands in hopes to get reposted. It started happening and my following started to grow. I also think being myself and sometimes brutally honest in my captions was a little bit different to what people were seeing and has helped me along the way. I don't like to take myself too seriously or try and pretend I'm perfect. Far from that!
Who generally takes your photos?
My amazing soon to be husband, Tom. We joke about it all of the time that it's his second job, but I honestly wouldn't have The Salty Blonde without him. He is such a huge support system as well and has helped me through this entire strange process. He's such a man's man and the last person you would think was an "Instagram Husband", but he has gotten pretty into it, which clearly I love. That being said, we still get into hilarious fights on the beach when shooting. Like when I end up with 8 chins in 500 shots or his surf buddies catch him shooting.
Which Instagram posts typically get the most love? What do you think people like most about them?
The not planned, 100% real me shots. There is something so relaxed and raw about them and I think my audience responds well to that. They prefer the authenticity of them and that's why I love my followers.
Your Instagram is so beachy and tropical— Is that how all your days are? How much work and planning go into all utopic photos?
I wish! I'm not going to lie, I do take work breaks at the beach because that's the only time I can genuinely relax when I'm there. Otherwise there's always something to shoot, I'm changing in the middle of the beach in 85 degree weather, people are around and so on. However, I am NOT complaining. It's a dream job, but it's definitely still a job.
You have such a huge Instagram following - Do you ever interact with them or read their comments? Any “best practices” to share with our readers to help with engagement?
Yes! I try to answer most questions. I also try and be mindful of my phone usage at the same time. As you can imagine, I am constantly on my phone for work, so once I post I try to put it away for awhile. Unfortunately, you can't answer all of the questions you get or else your phone would be glued to your hand all day. That's why I make sure to tag all the labels I'm wearing in every single post so the audience can see. And yes, we see all comments! Especially the shitty ones. Cyber bullies and trolls can beat it..
What’s the greatest benefit of doing what you do?
Working for yourself! The clothes and amazing opportunities don't hurt either..
What piece of advice would you give to someone who’s aspiring to build their brand using Instagram?
Just do it! Be yourself, original and have fun with it. And always remember good lighting is key.
Have any other amazing opportunities come up from being such an Instagram sensation?
Yes! I have traveled to amazing places I thought I would never see in my entire life, hosted rad parties, met awesome people and made new friends along the way. I am so grateful and still a little bit in shock.
Do you have any collaborations or features on the horizon?
Always. Which is a great thing!
Lastly we have to ask, filter or no filter - and if you could only ever just use one, what would it be?
Filter, for sure. I love the moodiness of them and if they blur out wrinkles and make you a little better looking in the process then it's a win/win. I'm a huge fan of VSCO app and pretty much just use their filters, especially Instant.