A few weeks ago, I attended an event sponsored by the NYC Department of Small Business Services called "Building a Sustainable Fashion Brand." The event featured panelists with expertise in manufacturing, marketing/branding, and financing including the founder of The Lip Bar, which is a lipstick company that was featured on Shark Tank. Not only did I learn a lot from the panelists, but I also learned from the attendees. I met a young lady who started We Speak, which is a modeling agency that "represent[s] models of all sizes who are healthy and drug free in an environment free from exploitation." I also spoke at length with a fashion journalist who gave me tips on how to navigate contacting bloggers and other journalists.
Our conversation veered toward product reviews because I mentioned that I had recently received an email from a blogger who I will not name. I had sent this blogger an email several months ago in regards to collaborating on an article about big bust fashion. In response, I was sent advertising rates that included rates for reviews. As I relayed this story, the journalist became horrified that anyone would charge money for reviews and lambasted the blogger for being unethical. I had not planned on working with this blogger, but the reaction from the journalist further solidified my stance. It's not a matter of being cheap, it's a matter of ethics and I want potential customers to have an honest overview of Exclusively Kristen's products.
Reviews are great, especially coming from a reputable reviewer who does not take payments (*cough* bribes) for reviews. I'm not really a tech person, but I recently found out about Marques Brownlee who is VERY well respected for his reviews of tech products. Companies send him free merchandise (including the IPhone 6s) to review because, with over 1 million views for many of his videos, they know that a good review from Marques will equal big profits for the company.
I'm currently in the process of manufacturing some new garments, which I will send out for reviews. However, stay away from anyone who wants payment for a review. Do your homework by going to bloggers' advertising pages in order to make sure that they do not have rates for reviews or posts. Also, sponsored posts should be clearly labeled as such. However, keep in mind that some reviewers are clandestine about their unethical activities and will not post rates on their websites. Our friends at Hourglassy state that their "writers do not accept sponsorships for their posts or cash payments to write a review of a product." I want reviews of my products to be honest and I want reviewers to have a respected reputation that readers can trust. This is why I like blogs like Hourglassy and companies like We Speak because they are bringing ethics back into business.