April 15, 2024

Ashcroft quit her “promo” job to become a full-time fashion influencer
Sarah Ashcroft has the career that tops many a teenager’s dream job list: she’s a fashion influencer who’s launched her own — flourishing — clothing brand. SLA the Label’s sweatshirts and sequin suits are now sported by celebrities including Eva Longoria, Nicole Scherzinger and Craig David; turnover topped £2 million last year.
It started when the entrepreneur was 21 and looking for jobs in fashion PR.
“I hoped that starting a blog would get me a job,” she says. “At all my interviews they asked if I had one, so I started posting my outfits daily on my blog, That Pommie Girl — with photos taken by my mum or boyfriend.
“I also launched on other social media platforms including YouTube. Before I knew it I had a rapidly growing following which gave me the opportunity to start collaborating with brands.”
She started to get sent clothes to wear in exchange for coverage — “a fringed kimono was my first gift, I think,” she laughs. “Who knows why I was so excited about that! Initially I felt so overwhelmed that anyone wanted to send me something, let alone for free.”
It grew fast: six months after launching her blog, Ashcroft was earning enough from affiliate purchases — her followers clicking her links and buying what she wore, earning her commission — that she quit her “promo” job “which mostly involved handing out Tic Tacs at festivals and Knorr stock cubes at train stations” and become a full-time influencer.
Her follower numbers shot up and she was earning as much as £10,000 a month from affiliate marketing. When fast fashion brands Missguided and In the Style asked her to design clothes it led to “sell out collections,” Ashcroft says. “That helped me understand my selling power and gave me the nudge I needed to turn everything I had built — engaged following, understanding of the social media space and fashion industry — into something more.”
In 2019, when she hit one million followers, Ashcroft, 27, put in £50,000 of her own savings to launch her own clothing brand, SLA, initially selling loungewear. “I had become known for my ‘airport outfits’ which often saw me style up oversized loungewear, so it felt like a natural place to start. It was all promoted through my personal platforms and SLA’s socials.”
Sales hit £900,000 in the first year: “and then heading into Covid, we were super lucky to be a loungewear brand,” Ashcroft adds.
“Everyone was looking in their wardrobe and wanted nice sweats to lounge in.” Sales surged, but the entrepreneur had to tackle the infamous logistics issues: “We had huge shipping delays and a lack of warehouse staff so everything was much slower.”
When pandemic curbs eased, Ashcroft realised she was no longer reaching for loungewear in her own wardrobe. “I knew my followers would also want to make up for months of missed socialising, and launched SLA Luxe in July 2021.”
Last year, this party range made up 60% of the firm’s sales: “Since then the luxe side of SLA has become more and more popular, and we have [fewer] customers for our loungewear. I think lockdowns have a part to play in this — no one wants to see a pair of joggers again. They wanted sequins and sparkles.”
Her current aim is to set up logistics operations overseas to boost foreign sales. Demand is already high in the US and Australia. “I’d love to have logistics centres there because it costs so much for our customers to shop from abroad.”
And what does she say to those who dismiss being an influencer as a career? “We’ve trailblazed a completely new career path — now, how powerful social media is, it’s a career. Everyone’s able to create their own business, it’s amazing. It’s not easy, you give up a lot of your time and life, constantly putting yourself out there for criticism — we make it look easy but it’s not.”


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