If you've perused your explore feed at all on Instagram, it's pretty likely that you've ended up -- one way or another -- on Helen Owen's profile.
With over 1.6 million loyal followers, Owen is one of the OG influencers on the platform, with a level of authenticity and a carefree nature that has proven to distinguish her in what's grown to be a saturated market.
Often sporting her signature (and enviably perfect) smile, the UCLA grad has made a career out of Instagram modeling, blogging and as of recently, a foray into the world of fashion retail and design.
Owen's latest collection is a capsule from It-girl swimwear brand PQ Swim, with pieces as unique and girly as they are practical.
AOL caught up with the Bristol, England native to chat about traveling for a living, the new collection and what life after Instagram may look like.
AOL: This collection is a dream! Tell us a bit about where you drew your inspiration from while putting it together?
Helen Owen: My inspiration for this capsule was drawn from both my experience in living so much of my life in swimwear mixed with my love for travel. I tried to encapsulate the styles that I know I would reach for over the course of a trip to say, Tulum or Hawaii. It’s very much a collection that I wanted to reflect my love of travel and of those warm destinations where I truly live in bikinis and coverups, and I went for colors and styles that would compliment whatever backdrop I may find myself in front of.
Travel is such a major part of your job these days -- any products or routines you swear by?
As I become more well traveled I pick up different habits and routines. As someone with acne prone skin, I’ve started to incorporate in-flight facials on long haul flights and it’s made the biggest difference in the appearance of my skin. Now I swear by packing a mini kit with everything under 100ml that I need to cleanse and hydrate in the air. I love the Summer Fridays jet lag mask as you can give your skin a deeply hydrating mask treatment that you don’t need to wash off!
Would you say your personal sense of style played a role in the overall decisions you made for the collection?
I’d describe my style as California casual, playful but comfortable. The pieces in this collection are definitely an extension of my personal style, with a little extra flair because I like my swimwear to be more on the fun side. When deciding on styles, I made sure each I felt confident in each suit, and went for cuts that I feel are flattering on my body. That little extra pizzazz, whether it be ruffles, lace, straps, fun stitching, bright colors, textures -- all just adds to the experience of wearing a bikini that is anything but plain and ordinary.
Shop our favorite pieces from the Helen Owen x PQ Swim collection below:
Feeling confident in anything you wear -- especially swimwear -- is so important. Where do you channel your confidence from when it comes to rocking swimwear in front of millions? What would you say to your followers that are struggling with finding that within themselves?
I don’t think there is a single person out there who hasn’t had a moment of extreme insecurity surrounding their appearance. It’s something we’ve all experienced, and after living and breathing swimwear for so many years, I know it all really boils down to your mentality and what makes you, personally, feel confident in your own skin. Not everyone is going to feel their best self in the same fabric, and that is okay! I think it’s important to identify what makes you feel confident and at ease, and lean into that. I know that if I stay active and take care of my body, not just for aesthetic purposes, but to work on my own strength and push my capabilities physically, I will feel good. Confidence isn’t always looking good. I’ve noticed that some of the most beautiful, outwardly attractive people that I know in my personal life are also the most insecure. Confidence is a mindset.
Here’s a helpful practice I read somewhere that really resonated with me: Visualize the very best version of yourself. The person you wish you could be every day. What does that person do? How do they act? How do they react? How do they treat others? What is important to them? That person is you.
If you met me five years ago, you’d be meeting a much more reserved, unsure person. I am naturally very shy and I tend to be an over-thinker, which leads to self doubt and insecurities, but over time I have grown into myself. Confidence is something that you can learn.
This is your second major capsule with a brand after the success of your Helen Owen x Aqua collection for Bloomingdale's -- amazing! What were the differences in curating both collection? Did you always envision yourself expanding beyond the Instagram platform into the fashion industry?
For both this swimwear collection and my clothing line with Bloomingdales I followed my personal style instincts. I have first-hand experience styling my own looks over the years and knowing just what I like and what I don’t like. I wanted both collections to feel like a natural extension of what I’m wearing and loving, and what I envision when I think of encapsulating my brand and personal style into a collection. My approaches to creating both collections had much more similarities than differences. I sat down in person with both teams to conceive the feel for the collection, the exact pieces, and the characteristics of each piece.
I honestly did not have a clue that I could parlay posting photos to my amateur Instagram feed to a full time career and thriving business in just a few years, and from there be given the opportunity to delve into the fashion world. I was studying design at my dream school, UCLA, when I caught the tidal wave of social media at just the right moment and it positioned me to grow as a digital entrepreneur, creating an online presence and brand for myself. It was all timing and organic growth, and I was in no way working toward or anticipating being an “influencer” when it all began.
I love my job, and I’m really making up the rules as I go and constantly course-correcting and thinking ahead to where I can take it. I would love to continue down the path of design and storytelling as that is where my passion has been as long as I can remember.
Any advice for those just starting out in the influencer space or wanting to tap into the fashion market?
Although the space is becoming more and more saturated as becoming an “influencer” is now a highly desired career path, I actually think we haven’t even scratched the surface of the potential of social media marketing and I think there is still so much potential and room to grow in the space. My best tip for those looking to begin their own online presence, whether it be a brand or a personality, is to avoid copying other’s successes to find your own. Shift your focus from worrying about how many people follow you to who follows you. If you copy someone else’s success, you aren’t sharing your own authentic perspective and thus you won’t attract the right followers: the followers who will engage with you, who will trust you, or who will find value in your content. When you can find what it is that you love, and how to share it authentically, you’ll attract engaged, interested followers. 5 people who care about what you have to say is better than 5 million who don’t.