Introducing Chantal Sarkisian as an Ottawa Influencer would be a bit of an understatement.
In addition to managing her popular Instagram account (boasting over 10,000 followers), Sarkisian runs her own fashion, beauty and lifestyle blog, works a full-time job with the Canadian Medical Protective Association and spends as much of her off-time with her husband and son as she can, though even her off-time is occasionally interrupted by work.
After graduating from the University of Ottawa in 2008 with a degree in biochemistry, Sarkisian decided to continue her studies there, with a focus on business.
“I really enjoyed project management and marketing and communications and that’s sort of where I got the taste for what I do today,” Sarkisian says. “I was always creating something. I loved photography. This was the time I could take everything that I love and make it into a potential career.”
As she worked towards getting her business administration certificate, Sarkisian also began exploring her love of fashion and beauty in one of the best ways she knew how: social media.
Without knowing it at the time, Sarkisian began using social media like the experts do today; not just as a place to tell a story and share photos, but as a platform to test audience reactions to business and personal profiles.
“I’ve been on the social media train since it came and so I’ve grown with it and adapted with it. So that’s how you learn to master it because I’ve been there since day one,” says Sarkisian who, admittedly, was always the one to post the photos from parties onto social media ASAP. It’s pretty much second-nature to her at this point.
Things began to snowball for Sarkisian once she decided to start her blog. “There weren’t really any blogs that I liked or could relate to. I still believe in style. I don’t want to compromise that because I’m a bigger size,” Sarkisian says.
Thus, Mode XLusive was born and Sarkisian’s “home base” for content creation (and promotion) was established.
“I know what to post. I have learned as well. My blog posts are, a lot of them are sponsored posts, where I sell my work because there are back-links and people want you to link back to their business and that sort of thing. So that’s the value of my blog.”
As Sarkisian created social media platforms to link to her blog, her followers began to multiply. Local and national businesses began to take notice and soon she was being pitched products and projects from McDonalds, Vichy, La Croix and more. Sarkisian says that pitching is about half and half; with her reaching out to her preferred business and others pitching to her.
“I offer different services and depending on what people are looking for and what their goals are for their business, I tell them what’s the best place for that ad space to buy from me,” Sarkisian explains. “Sites like social blue book can give a baseline value for promotional posts depending on followers. But because people buy a lot of engagement on their channels, it’s not my preferred tactic.”
One of the many skills that Sarkisian has developed over the years is one that is essential for bloggers and influencers; consistency.
Ottawa fashion blogger, Roda Hussen, has found this to be a tough skill to maintain, “I do sometimes go a week without posting and that could slow down traffic and growth to the page. But consistency is the key to a healthy page and I work on maintaining a regular blogging behaviour,” says Hussen.
Despite her heavy workload, Sarkisian keeps in contact with her followers and her authenticity and cheerfulness shines through her online platforms. She is more than willing to give advice, listen and tell her story to anybody who wants to hear it.
So, for anybody out there who thinks that being an influencer is easy, Sarkisian has this to say,
“Don’t wait. Get started. The earlier you start, the more polished your work will be later. I’m a do-er. If you’re thinking that this is easy. It’s not. Work comes and goes in ebbs and flows, which is why I have my full-time job. You have to be business-minded, but you also have to be very creative. I always say inspire yourself by other people but find your own voice and do something different.”