Starting your own business is a little like raising a human. The hours required are endless and you never stop working. Or thinking about working. Or dreaming about work. So if you're going to turn a hobby into a business, it better be something you love. Something that Tina Craig and partner Kelly Cook of Snob Essentials (formerly Bag Snob) know plenty about.
In 2005, the site began when the then stay-at-home moms were sharing their love of bags via a Moveable Type account. This was before the ubiquitous presence of social media. Before there were models for affiliate partnerships. They were Internet pioneers dreaming of Birkins-- and it paid off.
Originally Bag Snob featured on-point and honest reviews that readers came to trust. Over the last ten years, the site has grown exponentially, incorporating seven different Snob categories including: beauty, fashion, and even "Tot Snob." The duo also launched their own line, Snob Essentials in May of 2014, which sells through their e-commerce platform and HSN.
Today with revenue reported in the seven-figure range, it's clear Tina and Kelly have hit their stride, and managed to get their hands on a couple of Birkins in the process.
We caught up with Tina to chat bags (obviously), blogging, and her best piece of #snobwisdom. Be sure to catch Tina on her home turf at #CreateCultivateDallas this January!
You’ve been at this since 2005. Which means, you're officially double-digits and turned a blog into a booming e-commerce affiliate marketing business. How have you seen the industry change for the better? For worse?
I think change is always good, and it’s also a necessity. On the upside, the shift and consequent growth has created an entire industry of multi-media platforms from where individuals are able to share their opinions with the world.
Where do you see it heading?
I think true experts will emerge as important curators to help edit the constant influx of material absorbed (and in most cases, not quite absorbed) by our increasingly overloaded generation, as well as help mitigate the habit of over-sharing that comes with the prevalence of social media.
What have you learned about being a non-snob “Snob” in the fashion industry?
Being nice is easier and less time-consuming than being rude. Also, treat everyone the same. It’s the right thing to do, you don't know what hardships or battles people are going through-- a kind word or gesture can change and brighten someone's day. Plus you never know when the person sitting next to you will turn out to be the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company. (This has happened to me more times than I can count.) Lastly, helping others just feels good.
When you first started, social media platforms like Instagram weren’t a thing. How have they changed your relationship to your work?
Platforms like Instagram have not only allowed for a closer connection to our readers but a direct dialogue with brands. I met one of my (now) IRL besties, Aliza Licht, who’s also known as DKNY PR Girl, from Twitter. She saw a scathingly negative review I wrote on a Donna Karan bag and challenged me on it via a tweet. I respected her forthrightness and began tweeting with her regularly. Our tweets became well-known and attracted a bevy of other friends we called the Twitterazzi (our Twitter squad includes Erika Bearman, a.k.a. Oscar PR Girl). Our relationship blossomed and we (Kelly and I) subsequently designed a capsule bag collection for DKNY, the first of its kind between a major brand and a blogger.
Do you think it’s possible to enter and be successful in the blogging world at this point? Especially for fashion bloggers who don’t have a “snob” budget?
Absolutely! We started Bagsnob.com with $20 and our love of bags. There is always more room for new and unique voices in any industry.
If your favorite bag could talk, it would say?
Pay more attention to ME! You have too many bags.
Your best piece of #snobwisdom?
Never give up, and don’t be afraid of change. I am the most persistent person, I will try and try again and rarely give up. Even if I don't achieve a certain goal, I always feel I have succeeded as long as I learned something along the way.
What does “It’s in the bag” mean to you now that you’ve established your brand?
It means I now have to work twice as hard! Achieving your dreams is one thing and as satisfying as it is, once accomplished, it doesn’t mean it’s time to relax. Maintaining your dreams is another issue entirely, and that’s what true success is all about: Working hard, enjoying success, and never sitting back and declaring yourself “done” is what it’s all about.
For everyone coming to Dallas for Create & Cultivate, what are some secret must-shop spots you are willing to give up?
Dolly Python! My friend from LA scored a full-length blonde mink coat with Neiman Marcus tags for $250 from this vintage boutique. Also, VOD, which is a supremely well-curated store from former Dallas Morning News fashion editor Jackie Bolen. And finally, 4510, the ultimate one-stop shop for luxury goods (and my favorite!).