When Lauren Faye arrived on the cusp of adulthood in 2014, she registered herself an account on Instagram. Contrary to the other teenagers, she was late to the social media game.
She was born in London but "moved to New Zealand when I was 12". Faye majored in art and design and relocated back home to London. At this juncture, she was 21. "I started my Instagram @C__L__O purely on the base of a mood board only."
"CLO stems from a drawing and I liked the name," Faye adds. Similar to the majority of social media content, it's a candid decision. All of these spontaneous, unthinking posts on Instagram don't usually prove to reward our career in any way. Yet, for Faye, it was a fast track into the fashion industry.
When @C__L__O started, Faye recounts there were 24 followers. She was working as a graphic designer, and the Instagram account served as a personal mood board of images. "I never intended for it to become anything more than that when I started with the account."
In two years, her account's following swelled to 40k. A year later, it hit 100k. Now, it's a whopping 502k. Her massive arsenal of followers is a Yellow Pages directory to the global and digital creative industry. Amongst her followers are aspiring designers, illustrators, artists, fashion labels, stores, photographers, and some renowned figures – Leith Clark, style director at-large of Harper's Bazaar UK and editor-in-chief of Violet magazine, Parisian hat designer Isaac Larose, London-based fashion designers Faustine Steinmetz, Renli Su and furniture designer Faye Toogood, writer Susiebubble and Milan-based designer Virgil Abloh.
Most of the images on @C__L__O are merely reposts from other Instagram accounts and few of Faye's own creative work. Speaking to her, she reveals that these are images that "triggered something in me". Taking the pictures that moved her, Faye crops them and posts them to her own feed.
It seems like her Instagram account is a visual diary of emotions and relevant experiences – similar to the Pinterest boards that many keep. "An emotional response to imagery is incredible and worthwhile revisiting as often. In future, you can find the reasons why it made you feel something."
To be exact, followers are not celebrating her creative work. They are applauding her ability to curate. Faye takes that thought further, "Having done work in graphic design, I quickly developed an eye for composition – which I believe is what I started getting recognition for."
An inflated number of followers may have affirmed Faye's prowess for fashion imagery. Soon, her fashion career took off. "Photographers started taking note of the account and got in touch, hoping to collaborate." They were after her style, "minimal, discreet and slightly abstract at times".
Faye would direct shoots, and eventually started a creative agency serving fashion brands. She later left the agency and is due to launch a new studio this October.
For what she does, she is crowned with the grand title of 'creative director'. On a traditional trajectory up the fashion rungs, it will take an entry-level fashion stylist approximately ten years of work experience to attain this position.
Is Instagram a highway to employment in the creative industry? There has been much conversation about companies scanning potential candidates' Instagram profiles prior to employment. It's vastly similar to a visual portfolio of original work that candidates submit during their interviews.
But there's a catch when hiring creatives based on their Instagram feed – reposting. Faye's account, for instance, is vastly composed of second-hand images. It no doubt, highlights that she has a good eye for images. Yet, the ability to produce quality is another set of skills altogether. Many can spot a beautiful picture, but few can create it.