Arielle Charnas — the 32-year-old influencer and entrepreneur behind the brand Something Navy — started blogging about fashion a decade ago and slowly let people in on her real life. She opened up about being a woman in her twenties working in retail, looking for the right man and ultimately even let her growing social media following in on her life with her husband, Brandon Charnas. But never could she have imagined the “uncharted territory” that she would find herself in as a fashion influencer turned mommy blogger and lifestyle entrepreneur.
While discussing her latest partnership with Aveeno Baby, the mother-of-two tells Yahoo Lifestyle that the transition from focusing her personal brand from solely fashion to family was natural.
“I think it was seeing the fashion in those real everyday moments of life and I think that it just felt super natural to just kind of intertwine the two and then of course when I had the kids, they are literally my life,” she explains. “I think that this whole social media thing and my platform is all about documenting that, and I would’ve gotten a lot of angry emails if I didn’t share my children in that aspect. [My followers] live for them. And they live for seeing that whole evolution of where I started to where I am.”
Still, making the decision to put her three-year-old daughter, Ruby, and one-year-old daughter, Esme, on social media comes with challenges – which includes feedback from her followers.
“Unsolicited parenting advice is like my least favorite thing ever,” she says. “I mean someone told me the other day that [Esme]’s walking weird and needs to get her hips checked. You gotta take it with a grain of salt.”
But trusting her intuition and being skeptical about the diagnoses that followers float about her children on a near-daily basis is something that Arielle continues to work on herself — not without the help of an on-call pediatrician.
“I have my pediatrician on text and every time I get a DM and someone’s like, ‘Her eye is not reacting well to the flash, she must have something…’ I literally send the conversation to my pediatrician and she goes, ‘Stop it. Do not write me again,’” Arielle shares. “It’s nice in this day and age to have pediatricians who are really, they’re very involved. I don’t know about everyone but the practice that I’m at, they’re very involved. She answers my calls within like 5 minutes, my texts right away and I could send her pictures, so it’s nice to have that support. Also, I have my mom and my mother-in-law and they’re like doctors in their own right.”
What she doesn’t have an expert to consult on, however, is the impact that sharing her children’s lives with her audience of over 1.2 million people might have.
“It’s uncharted territory. Like I don’t know how this is going to affect them in the future. But when I do read these articles, it is a little alarming,” she says. “Especially when things happen on social media and you get some weird people writing weird things about your children or not such nice things about your children, it actually scares you.”
Arielle referenced a recent New York Times opinion piece on this phenomenon of “sharenting” — parents sharing content about their children online — which has children as young as 7 years old confronting their parents about oversharing photos of themselves on social media. A study from 2010 shows that 92 percent of children under the age of two in the United States already have a digital presence and a paper published in 2017 suggests that this practice is against a child’s best interest.
For someone catering to the interests of her social media audience, however, Arielle and her husband Brandon continue to post about their daughters on their own accounts. As for giving that control to other people, they have rules put in place — including not allowing fans to take photos of the girls, and even restricting family members from posting them.
“We’ve asked my parents, [Brandon]’s parents, siblings to refrain from posting them on social media, just so they’re not in a million different outlets. And recently I removed all highlights of them,” Arielle explains. “I’m not gonna remove my kids from being on my platform, but I don’t want videos of their every move living there that people can revisit and just watch whenever they want.”
Ultimately, Arielle maintains that her platform works because it so candidly captures all aspects of her life. The proof of that success is in the $10 million she and her six-person Something Navy team raised from investors — including Silas Chou, the billionaire who backed Michael Kors – to start her own lifestyle brand.
Now, she says that that $10 million investment speaks for itself as people continue to question the legitimacy of influencers, and even take aim at Arielle’s personal life and physical appearance.
“A lot of the things that people say about me are mean physical things about my body weight. I’m not gonna try to prove anyone wrong because I know that I’m healthy. Or the fact that what I do for a living is just posting pictures of myself, and my parents paid the way for me to get there, which is completely false,” Arielle says about the biggest misconceptions people have of her. “But at the same time, with that, I don’t feel the need to prove that just because that’s a waste of time. What’s not a waste of time for me is a woman who started on her own, with no money from her parents, built a brand and is trying to change the mold. Change the fashion industry, change retail.”
Already, Arielle refers to her upcoming brand as “the future of fashion,” led by her team of all women — with the exception of new CEO Matt Scanlan, who the influencer says wants to “mold himself” into Something Navy’s existing culture. She also recognizes that being the future means being inclusive and serving every woman.
“How am I doing to do that? I’m picking a really good team, picking a great team that understands the space, really smart hardworking women. I’m working really closely with my followers, I’m trying to incorporate them in the entire process so that they feel involved and so that I can create a brand that they actually want,” she says. “And I raised $10 million. So, I think that was a pretty good start.”
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