Who: Sam Ushiro
Where: Greecologies, SoHo, NYC
What: Typical Workday; Aww Sam Aesthetic; Dream Brand Collab
Occupation: Industrial Designer & Lifestyle Blogger
We recently met up with industrial designer, stylist and self-proclaimed donut aficionado, Sam Ushiro - the creative force behind the colorful blog Aww Sam. Fittingly, as if she stepped right out of her own Instagram grid, Sam showed up in a perfectly pink outfit and necklace comparable to candy. Her blog has grown significantly since its start in 2015 and has amassed an audience of over 185,000 loyal followers. Grab a cotton candy doughnut (yes, those do exist!) and soak up some of Sam's awesomeness as she shares what it takes to succeed as a digital content creator.
Q: Do you consider yourself an influencer?
I wouldn’t consider myself an influencer because I’m not trying to influence anyone in particular. I'm simply sharing a source of inspiration. With my job, I find myself having to be a photographer, stylist, designer and even model at times, so the term "influencer" doesn’t encompass everything that actually goes into a blogging or social media career.
Q: Is the Aww Sam blog your full-time business, or do you have a 9-5 as well?
Aww Sam is currently my full-time gig! I've actually never blogged part-time. I went into blogging full-time during school and continued once I had graduated. I’m the kind of person who jumps in headfirst and figures out the rest later.
Q: Tell us about your typical workday – what does the behind the scenes of Aww Sam look like?
I’m usually up by 6:30am and work on answering my emails for the day. Once the sun peeks through, I start to make projects for blog posts and plan my posts for Instagram. I then move on to shooting anything I have scheduled, and editing the photos right after. My day usually ends around 11pm when I prepare and write blog posts and answer any additional emails. And there’s almost always a snack break thrown in there somewhere!
Q: How did you start working with brands to monetize your work on a consistent basis?
When I first started blogging, I had no idea what I was doing. There’s no guidebook or class you can take for this profession. So when I was contacted the first time by a brand that wanted to pay me for a partnership, I was shocked. After that, I started talking to friends who had been in the industry longer than me, and figured out pricing and ways to find more jobs. I've learned there are always going to be some months where the workflow is slower. As a result of establishing connections and relationships with brands, I’m definitely at a place now where my workflow is more consistent!
Q: What’s your strategy for collaborating with brands? How do you determine whether or not a brand is the "right fit" for you?
I think the biggest thing for me when determining what brands to work with would be to make sure that the message the brand is sending aligns with my own brand. My audience skews on the younger side, so if there’s a brand that I don’t feel resonates with my audience, I tend to pass on those partnerships. I think it’s important not to take every job that comes your way, and instead be selective in figuring out which projects can fit organically into the work you already do.
Q: What’s the best part of your job as a content creator? What are the biggest challenges?
The best part is definitely being able to do what I love every day and having fun with my job. There’s nothing else I can imagine doing where I would feel so fulfilled creatively. Being my own boss and managing employees is always challenging, and it’s a constant struggle to feel proud of something you create when you have to be your own biggest critic.
Q: We want to know more about your time at Parsons School of Design, and some of the “out of the box” ideas that your professors didn’t always support. How did this time in your life help shape your work today?
When I was in school, I was always creating furniture inspired by Surrealism, and coming up with very conceptual ideas that weren’t always the most practical in the real world. For one of my final projects, I created a chair that reacted to motion sensors to move and in a sense “breathe” with the user. I wanted to add a bit of whimsy to objects that were otherwise seen as stationary and rigid. Which I guess, in a way, has transferred over into what I’m doing now!
Q: You are definitely one of the “brighter” collaborators in our Community! Have vibrant, eye-popping colors and over-the-top accessories always been part of your lifestyle and personal aesthetic?
I’ve always been a huge fan of color and kitsch! When I moved to New York, I had to buy plates and home decor. Instead of going with things that matched, or things that might be more practical, I bought the most colorful, patterned items I could find. I’m a huge fan of graphic novels and comic books, so I think a lot of my love for bright colors and loud objects has stemmed from it.
Q: If you had an unlimited budget and could dream up your ideal brand collaboration, which brand would you choose to work with?
I’d love to work with Netflix, or on some kind of film, or for a TV network. Before going into Industrial Design, I had wanted to do Film Analysis and I’m a huge film buff. My friends joke that I’m like IMDB in human form because I know A LOT about actors and movies.
Q: What’s your favorite digital platform to post on right now? Why?
Instagram will always be my favorite digital platform because it’s the one that makes the most sense for my brand. It’s an easy way for me to promote my blog and direct traffic to my posts there, while also still allowing me to monetize independently from the blog.
Q: What do you think has been the biggest change in social media since you started creating content? How has it affected the way you work?
Since I started, there have just been so many new social media platforms that it’s been hard for me to keep up with them all. It’s definitely given me a lot more work and opened the door to many more opportunities. I’m now able to do Snapchat takeovers and sponsored Instagram Stories, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t neglect most of my social media accounts other than Instagram. Ha!
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is starting out in the creative space and would like to produce great content and establish solid relationships with brands?
There are always going to be people who don’t understand what you’re doing or understand that blogging IS a job. Negativity comes with the profession, especially when you’re putting yourself out in the public eye. My belief is that it doesn’t matter as long as you enjoy what you do. I know it’s easier said than done (Ha!), but learn how to shake off the negativity and do you.
Coffee with Collaborators is an interview series featuring the incredibly talented, creative voices in our community. Interested in having coffee? Email us.