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Meet Pasadena Business Owner, Blogger, and Stylist: Chantal Boyajian

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chantal Boyajian.

Chantal, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I am of Armenian heritage, born in England and grew up most of my life in the Middle East, in Qatar.

I returned to England to study Fashion Design at university and returned to Qatar to pursue my career. At the time, the fashion industry was still very new, and though I started off working as a designer, I didn’t feel fulfilled, and so when I was given an opportunity to work with a magazine, I immediately took on what was a new challenge for me.

I started off working as a client executive, managing existing clients and accounts and pursuing new ones. This was a very new area for me and one I will always cherish as it led me up the path I’m on today. I also took on the role as a fashion editor and stylist with the same company, which was the beginning of my stylist days which, over 10 years later, is my primary love today.

Over the years I shifted from magazine to events management, and then to an advertising agency where I worked for a few years before moving to the US. Although I almost accidentally fell into advertising, I absolutely loved it. I also went on to work in film, mainly commercial and corporate, as a Producer.

During my free time and weekends, I would continue to do styling for editorial shoots and personal clientele.

In 2013, I was honored as one of the Best Dressed in the Middle East by Harpers Bazaar Arabia.

The following year I left Qatar and was between LA and London before settling here and starting my online business, Boyajian Trend Gallery.

While I was in this confused position of wanting to get back to designing but also starting my own business, I decided to start with one first. With my passion for styling and absolute love for accessories, I decided to curate interesting jewelry collections from independent designers from different countries, along with an Italian handbag brand I was introduced too years ago during my blogging back in Qatar whom I fell in love with.

I personally love unique pieces that can elevate and update any look and wanted to share this by providing a shop for like-minded women to find cool pieces.

I wear many of my clothes over and over, and this is where the beauty of accessories play a huge role in my wardrobe. You can change up the same look with different jewelry, purses, shoes, scarves and so on.

Has it been a smooth road?
I wish!

To say I had no clue when I started my business is an understatement.

Well, perhaps I am being harsh on myself, but there are things I would have done differently. Though at the same time, I am grateful that I had the opportunity to follow my dreams in the first place.

The best thing I can advise is that you are never ‘ready’ if you want to start something new, you just have to go for it.

If I never started I wouldn’t have learned everything I know today.

Would I have opened a business knowing what I know today? Yes, but I would do much of it very differently and not focused on areas I thought was more important and given more time to others.

It’s not news that the online world is saturated. We are thrown information, photos, videos, content on anything and everything all day long. But, when you do stand out and you are acknowledged, be it a customer, a follower, someone sending some love, it is such a sweet feeling and a reminder of why you started in the first place.

Nothing good comes easy. I will admit looking back now, I had it pretty easy in Qatar. I was blessed with great opportunities and it is a completely different bubble there. So looking back now on me 2 years ago, starting a new life in a new country, getting into the ‘real world’ after growing up in said bubble, and starting a business, I can say I’m proud of myself.

But… And yes, I always have to add a but when it comes to me, because I am my own worst critic, I still don’t feel I’ve ‘made it’ just yet, and this is what keeps me going. I think in life we should always have the desire to grow and improve.

One thing I missed the most was styling. I miss the energy on set, be it film or photography, I miss picking out looks and working with hair and makeup and working closely with the photographer to create beautiful concepts for shoots.

So to feed my passion, I got back into blogging, to provide me both a space to share my tips and finds with my audience and somewhere I can mentally ‘escape’ to and just write about things I love.

Having also evolved a lot in my day to day habits and ways, I have become increasingly conscious of maintaining a healthy balance, be it through what I consume, the products I use and being more active, and so by blogging I get to share this side of me too.

What’s your outlook for the industry over the next 5-10 years?
Already we are seeing many storefronts closing, including large chains. I personally still love to walk around shops and see things up close, but increasingly people are looking for more and more convenience, i.e. online shopping. The world is becoming more fast-paced, and companies need to keep up.

I think the world of online shopping will continue to grow, but more through apps and social media. I am starting to see small businesses popping up without even a website and just relying solely on placing social media and selling through these channels.

Instagram is now starting to roll out their updated platform where users can shop directly from the app. I’ve also seen other apps popping up which are allowing for users to buy products directly from them, or at last linking directly to the websites where they are available.

I think over the next 5, the importance of having a website may be of less value to having a presence on shoppable apps/social media. People want options and choices and having the choice to shop several shops on one platform makes for increased competition, especially for smaller businesses.

With that said, I see the power and importance of influencers continuing to grow and making their content, for instance, outfit of the day and such shoppable for their followers to be able to buy their pieces allows for this. This means brands allocating more budget towards influencers and less on what has been traditional advertising until now, print magazines, billboards, even banner ads online.

The number of online ads has been increasing more than ever, and now there are programs becoming available to block online ads, which isn’t good news for marketing companies. Where we would go on to websites or apps to see only what we wanted to see, these eventually have a need to become profitable, therefore allowing advertisers. However, if these ads will be getting blocked, brands need a way to reach their audiences, and I believe influencers, bloggers with honest content marketing is the path that will continue to grow.

What would you say has been the biggest challenge for you over the course of your career?
Reaching my audience in a saturated world and social media platforms like Facebook and now Instagram (since being bought by Facebook), changing their algorithms has had a tremendous effect on small businesses, making it harder for them to reach even their followers.

Everything has become increasingly pay-to-play, where now even compared to a year and a half ago, you have to pay more to reach your audience, and this amount has a much smaller reach in comparison.

We’re not getting the same amount of worth for the amount of spend as before, which is where content marketing is of more value and importance.

It’s also not just the challenge of reaching your target audience, it’s maintaining their interest. There are so many competitors in the online world, and while competition is healthy, it doesn’t make it easy for the smaller businesses, but no matter what we have to move with the times and make sure we are keeping an eye on trends and offering our existing and potential customers what they want.

Let’s change gears – is there any advice you’d like to give?
Nothing good comes easy. It is a challenge. If you are starting out online, I really recommend taking advantage of all the free resources out there.

For instance, building a website is easier than ever. Even for a small amount, in comparison to years ago where you’d have to hire designers, you can now create your own, and don’t over complicate things. Sometimes simple is enough.

People don’t have much time to look through websites to find what they are looking for, always keep the customer in mind. When you are looking through websites yourself, take note of your thoughts, if you don’t like the way a site works, why? How can you avoid that and offer something better?

Also, this is a given, but be present on social media. You don’t have to go overboard and be on every single platform, but I recommend at least 2-3, as different people have their preferences and you want to make sure to reach them.

Be honest and genuine, just be yourself. There are so many bots out there, people buying followers, buying likes, buying comments, and more people are catching on to this. Just try to be as organic as possible, many of us miss human interaction as we are so consumed by technology and apps, just be a genuine voice and be present, even if it is online.

One last word, what works for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you, and vice versa. But don’t let this hinder your spirit. There’s going to be good days and not so good days but always keep learning. I cannot begin to say all the things I have learned over the past 2 years, and I am thankful for every lesson, good and bad. Just be patient, and as long as you are true to yourself and at the same time to your audience, they will only appreciate you and your efforts more for it.

Contact Info:

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