Natalie Hughes talks LiveJournal, Louboutins and supermodel cats with the digital girl boss...
Dina Fierro has an impressive resume. The New York-based girl boss spends her days in red soles as Global Director of Digital at Christian Louboutin (where we first met), and her spare time mentoring digital start-ups. This isn’t her first rodeo as a digital multi-hyphenate – she’s been working in the fashion digital space for over a decade, holding roles in PR and marketing at the likes of Coty and Attention agency, as well as penning her successful style blog, Eye4Style. I sat down with the digital doyenne to talk LiveJournal, Louboutins and supermodel cats.
NH: Hi Dina! So, tell me about fashion month.
DF: Yeah, we had quite a bit happening in New York this season. I think we had seven shows.
NH: I love the photography on @louboutinworld right now, it’s dreamy. It’s evolved so beautifully.
DF: I'm glad you think so. I think we're always evolving our strategy in that way. I think that when you had been working with a brand in those formative years really in social, I think that Christian and the team also weren't necessarily so involved. Now he's actually quite interested in what's happening on Instagram. Whenever he's at a cocktail party or that kind of thing, it could be a friend of his or an editor or just someone random that he meets at a P.A., it's he is always hearing comments on social so that's nice.
NH: That's awesome. People are getting more excited about social, and that’s a great thing.
DF: You and I are both people who have been working in this space for a pretty long time.
NH: Yeah, totally. I'm loving the fact that people are now more actively hiring in social media experts.
DF: Yeah. Do you know what I've observed that’s super interesting? I see that companies are fragmenting their social teams. I'm seeing jobs listed for some media brands and also some fashion brands [such as] art director for Snapchat or a Snapchat producer, which is kind of crazy to me.
NH: I’d love to know your thoughts on Pinterest. It’s my favourite platform.
DF: For a luxury brand like Louboutin where it's at a certain price level, the timeline for consideration is much longer. Whereas if you're working with a beauty brand I think it's super interesting to see what Pinterest can drive in the more immediate. The recent Burberry campaign is quite smart. I think you actually wrote about it on your site.
NH: We did! Now, tell me about your career so far – how did you end up as Global Director of Digital for Christian Louboutin?
DF: I think my career path has probably been a little bit unconventional. I went to school at FIT and my intention was to be a buyer. I was part of their fashion buying program. I believe very much that anyone who is at university should dabble in different parts of the industry, just to get an understanding of what speaks to you. For me, that meant internships in editorial, in styling, in PR and marketing.
It just so happened that my last internship in my senior year at FIT was a PR and marketing role [at Girl Shop], and there was an opportunity for me to join their team full time before I had even graduated from FIT. It was the LiveJournal days. Maybe the Friendster days. It was really pre-Facebook. I think MySpace might have been around.
[Next] I went to work at a large international agency with many different offices. I worked there on some fashion clients like American Eagle Outfitters. I worked on the American launch of Uniqlo, which was probably the most fun project that I actually worked on there.
[While I was in] my second job, the blogosphere was beginning to bubble. It was 11 or 12 years ago. There was just this little community that was beginning to form online, whether it was in the blogosphere or on these other fashion-specific communities like Style Diary for example. I don't know if you remember that.
NH: I sure do, I had a profile!
DF: So did I, although I was never very committed to it. I started my blog at that time, which was called Eye4Style. I think that opened up a world of digital and social that I hadn't necessarily been aware of.
I bounced back and forth in a couple of other PR and marketing jobs…then I reached out to a man who has been a mentor in my career. He was in the process of beginning an agency called Attention. I worked with a lot of amazing brands there and created their social strategies for launch. Folks like Rachel Roy, DVF and MAC Cosmetics.
I spent three and a half years there and then I wound up transitioning to another agency in New York that is the HL group. Hamilton and Lynn brought me on board to essentially create and manage a digital practice. I worked again with really incredible clients there for a few years, and then Christian Louboutin came calling.
NH: Those red soles are hard to resist.
DF: Yeah, how do you say no? I had such a personal connection to the brand, there was no way I couldn't have been interested in pursuing [it].
NH: Can you tell me a little bit about an average day in your life at Louboutin? Your role really does span so many areas.
DF: It does. My team sits within the communications team at Louboutin, so we definitely touch any and all brand communications. Generally speaking, almost anything that involves the written word crosses my desk at some point in the process.
In terms of day to day, I think the heart of what we do is definitely social strategy and content development. It could be immersing ourselves in the archives, it could be brainstorming with using new platforms. It could be taking a field trip to the museum of ice cream which we did a couple of days ago to shoot an Instagram story and test that platform. We work very collaboratively with the photography team, so we now have a dedicated digital content photography team that sits in Paris very close to the studio.
NH: You do so much – heading up digital at Louboutin, mentoring start-ups, Eye4Style… How do you balance it all?
DF: I don't really blog anymore, and I don't know if you can relate to this at all. I just don't find that space as stimulating as it once was.
DF: For me I just found that I'm actually much more interested in working to build a brand. I think it's such a luxury and such a pleasure to work with an iconic brand and an iconic designer who will go down in fashion history.
NH: Yeah, I get that. Having said that, I would love an Eye4Style newsletter in case you find time to do another thing!
DF: You know what's funny, that actually was my plan. I had set up a Tiny Letter and I just haven't managed to put one into the universe yet.
NH: Do it. I'm loving my newsletters at the moment. Especially Things I Would Buy if I didn't Have to Pay Rent. You mentioned LiveJournal and Style Diary, but what was your first social media memory?
DF: I was part of some fashion-specific communities online. Obviously the Fashion Spot was extraordinarily early in terms of fashion forums and community.
I always joke about this, but I feel like Twitter has brought me so many opportunities in my life. I have made real-life friends from Twitter. I have dated men I've met on Twitter. I have had professional opportunities presented to me on Twitter, and I adopted my cat after I met him on Twitter. Social media is the gateway to good things in my life. It's kind of amazing.
NH: That's incredible. What's your cat's name?
DF: Lilo. Like Lilo and Stitch. He's super cute. He's orange, which is my preferred colour for a cat. Do you know what I like to say? He looks a little bit like Gemma Ward. You know how Gemma Ward is magnificently beautiful, but she also looks like an alien?
NH: Is he on Instagram?
DF: No, he's not. I can barely maintain my own social network.
NH: Lastly, what are your favourite podcasts at the moment?
DF: Oh, that's such a great question because I'm extremely into podcasts right now to be honest. First and foremost, I love Garance [Doré], I really respect her as a creative and I think her podcast is just such an authentic quest for thoughtful conversation. I also listen to The Glossy Podcast, which is fashion and media specific. The Moth is incredible. I also love Alec Baldwin's podcast Here’s the Thing. He chooses very interesting subjects.
NH: I’m subscribing to all of those now. Thanks so much for your time, Dina.
DF: Thanks, Natalie!
Words: Natalie Hughes