How two OSU students are racking up Insta-followers with their fashion and beauty accounts.
It’s the burnout time of year, Buckeyes, and we know some of you are looking to social media for any sort of validation these days. Looking for a way to step up your profile to the next level? Look no further than Valerie Veak (senior) and Char Westfall (junior), two Ohio State roommates who share one important thing in common: they’re crushing it at all things fashion, beauty, and Instagram.
As I interviewed the two, I couldn’t help but notice their outward positivity and inspiring connection to each other. They found themselves finishing each other’s sentences and bouncing from professional opinion to personal preference when it came to social media and fashion. While Westfall (@charlene_westfall) grew up doing pageants and taking more and more interest in all things bling and couture, Veak (@valveak) credits her Insta-fame to her simple desire to share the clothes she’s always loved wearing.
“In high school, I would post my outfits because I liked to share what I was wearing and it would take off little by little. I had 6,000 followers and back then, that was so much to everyone. Being an influencer wasn’t even a thing,” Veak recalls.
Today she sits at 54.1K followers and is only moving up. I asked them what their most-liked Instagram post was, and why they thought it was so successful.
“A dream experience always gets a lot of attention, and I think accomplishments do, too. On social media people want to congratulate you,” said Westfall, referencing her win as Miss Buckeye State and most-liked Instagram from 2017.
Veak’s “dream experience” came in the form of attending Coachella, which she said a lot of people who don’t get to go always want to see, and putting the photo in their line of sight just takes a couple quick things to include. “I tagged the location, hashtagged it, and it has way more impressions than my other posts.”
When it comes to the photo itself, they recommend keeping a couple things in mind. Most important of all, is lighting. They both agreed that outdoor lighting during the day is the best and that Adobe Lightroom is the best for making your feed feel more cohesive.
Posts on Instagram aren’t just for the entertainment of others, however; at the end of the day these selfie queens prioritize their own interests and preferences when it comes to their posts. Veak is very passionate about loving what you’re doing while you’re doing it.
“I think one of the best parts about Instagram is that you can express your creative side,” Veak said. “Your personality shows through the Instagram. I’m bubbly and positive so I want my photos to be brighter and colorful, so that’s how I tend to edit my photos.”
For those of you starting to take interest in being an influencer, Char encourages you to be confident and bold. “Sometimes I’ll ask them myself. I’m not afraid to say ‘Hey! Do you want to send me this outfit in exchange for a post?’ Sometimes they say yes and sometimes they don’t, but I’ve gotten very comfortable with asking. One day I’m hoping to get to the point where I can make money off of a post, but for now getting free stuff in the mail is really nice.”
To help know your numbers, anyone can turn their Instagram into a “business profile” by working through your settings; it’s just another way to think analytically about the impressions your posts have on both followers and non-followers. You can use this to your advantage if you’re making the turn from personal to passion.
The two share important perspectives about using social media while still prioritizing your mental health. They want to dismantle misconceptions about women who obsess over their posts, and advise people looking to take it more seriously to take caution.
“I have to remember that the minute I stop enjoying Instagram, I shouldn’t do it anymore,” Veak reminds herself. “I still like going outside for no reason to take photos. Not everything’s an ad or a paid post. Everyone is too busy comparing themselves, thinking ‘I don’t look like that’, ‘I don’t have the money to do that’, but remember a lot of it is curated. Enjoy someone’s picture but don’t think too much about it.”
It’s not about cloning yourself to fit someone else’s definition of success or aesthetic, it’s about making it the best version of your own brand, according to Westfall. Social media isn’t just about updating the world with what you’re doing or where you’ve been, it’s about inspiring people to get moving and travel or to feel something new, the way art is supposed to be.
“Make your profile stand out, and know that that’s better: that’s my motivator to not compare myself to others. I see Instagram as my own personal gallery,” Westfall explained. “I know Val’s feed by heart [laughs], I know how many likes she has, we are constantly looking at each other’s profiles. We do it because we truly enjoy it, we enjoy the artistic aspect of it.”
Veak agrees that Instagram’s diversity in style and content is what makes it so addictive and enjoyable to work with.
Thinking that their profiles are misleading or “fake” however, is far from the truth. When Westfall thinks about what she wants to see in others’ profiles and even her own, the answer is diversity
“I don’t want to have the same pose in all my photos. I don’t have my hand on my hip standing in every photo. People want to see real life, but you have to make it look good. Life is never perfectly staged. It’s a balance between making it look good—” said Westfall.
“—but not being fake about it,” Veak finished. “They just want relatable content.”
Still needing some more inspiration? Feel free to follow these two on Instagram to check them out for yourself! Char Westfall (@charlene_westfall) and Val Veak (@valveak).