Girl Crush: Elizabeth Scherle of Influenster

8 January 2015

We have a new Ocean Violet Girl Crush joining the ranks of Jeanne, Emily and Davina. This particular Girl Crush is one I hold near + dear. I’ve been pleading with her to do this interview for quite sometime but she is one of the busiest human beings I know. Rightfully so given the success with her company Influenster, a community of tastemakers, social media hotshots, and educated consumers. (Don’t fret, I’ll tell you how you can join the club, read on…)

Elizabeth Scherle and I first met during a phone interview for an Account Executive role I was applying to at Shecky’s Media. During the interview she was eloquent, confident and had this sing-song way about the way she spoke. Elizabeth didn’t ask the textbookwhat’s your biggest weakness” questions, nope, it was more of a conversational interview. She peppered me with questions about my experience but kept it light enough to make me feel comfortable to give her real answers. You practice for the seemingly obvious questions, but everyone knows the question,”tell me a little bit about yourself” is the silver bullet. She knew that’s where she’d find the most telling answers.

Fast forward to landing the job (whew!) and upon meeting Elizabeth in person, I was transfixed. She commanded respect from everyone in the office, not out of the way she managed, more by the way she hyper excelled in her role. She was an innate leader, leading by example. I wedged myself under Elizabeth’s wing, shadowing her for over a year. She showed me how to be scrappy yet poised, demanding but sincere and ultimately – successful.

Part admiration, part adoration topped off with utmost respect, it’s a phenomenon every girl (whether they want to admit it or not) has experienced = the Girl Crush.  You’ve met her before, she’s got “it” but you can’t define what “it” is.  In this example with Elizabeth, it could even be her trademark hair. She’s inspiring, relatable, ambitious and kind. You want to be her friend, scratch that… you want to be her best friend. I wasn’t freely able to be friends with Elizabeth at first given our manager/employee relationship, but after a couple years, our roles shifted and she came around + let me into her circle of friends.

I am lucky to now call her one of my closest friends and couldn’t be more proud of what she’s built. Enough of the gushing, let’s get on with it!

tumblr_static_influenster_logoName: Elizabeth Scherle, Co-Founder + President, Influenster
Location: New York, New York
Instagram: @elizabethscherle
Website: Influenster.com
Facebook: Influenster 

Q: What exactly is an Influenster?

A: A tastemaker. That friend you call when you’re on the hunt for a new playlist, mascara or tablet. They also have an insatiable desire to try new things with unique and valuable opinions to share. They also have to be social media savvy to vividly express those opinions. That is the definition of an Influenster and right now we have just over 950,000 members.

Q: So how’d this idea come about?

A: The idea was born almost five years ago at a cafe in Nolita with my BFF and present business partner, Aydin Acar. Aydin was working in an “old school” market research firm that had become inefficient, slow and expensive in executing its research studies for clients.

During this time, I was working at a fast-paced indie fashion shopping event/marketing startup with THE Jessica Arb (running product sampling programs for brands – which basically meant we distributed their products to shoppers who attended these events. While the ladies went bananas over the free goodies, there was no data collection before or after they were given products to test. This baffled Aydin. He couldn’t believe companies would give away their products without any sort of data in return!

We brainstormed how we could combine our strengths and experience to come up with a better way to test products but was still fun for the consumer.

“It’s really quite simple: Influenster came about the old-fashioned way, identifying a gap in the market and jumping head first to fill it.”

The Influenster Headquarters, New York.

The Influenster Headquarters, New York.

Q: So as an Influenster, you’re sort of like guinea pigs that have the ability to tweet, Facebook and Instagram?

A: Well, that’s one way to think about it! As an Influenster, our members can earn invites to test everything from beauty products to workout clothes to electronics, where yes, they review on social media. But getting products and being involved in testing is just one of the perks. Our members also get feedback on products from other Influensters and discounts on products and services.  *Editor’s note: this includes my favorite, Club W.  

There’s also an Influenster iPhone app that allows you to scan certain products for even more in-depth reviews from our members.

Sounds like the circle of trust! I stand corrected!

Q: Alright, so how much weight does the Influenster opinion actually carry? Would a brand go as far as repositioning their messaging/product if many are saying they don’t like it? 

A: Influensters are heard loud and clear, no matter what they have to say. This is one of the reasons we started Influenster: to empower the consumer to communicate directly with brands they buy. We meet with each client to chat through both negative and positive results and their implications. So yes, everything the Influensters share including their not-so-great experiences has an impact.

A few of the products we loved this year:

Q: Call me a skeptic, but so many of the products get glowing reviews. Any products that totally bombed?

A: There’s a reason for that. Most products tend to do well because there is so much data collection, targeting and personalization that goes in upfront for picking specific Influensters for various product testing. Members are asked to give us the scoop on just about everything: skin/hair types, where they shop, children’s age, eating habits, etc. We then use this information to pair them with brands and products we think they would be most likely to enjoy. We wouldn’t send a fitness product to someone who doesn’t like to work out for example. It just wouldn’t make sense.

This is why she’s the boss!

Q: What about the dudes? Any male Influensters?

A: Yes! While the majority of our members are women, we do have some social savvy men too. We’ve worked with Speed Stick, Vaseline, and Dr. Scholl’s — all of whom have targeted male Influensters, We also have products that work with men and women, like eBay for example. We’re awarding thousands of eBay gift cards to members who write shopping guides on eBay.com. So come on over to Influenster, boys. We want you!

Q: I’ve personally been “influenced” by testing products through Influenster and continue to use these products today. Getting a girl to step outside her beauty routine is really difficult! Throwing a new product into the mix is a great way to test it out to see if it fits your style. What items have you been influenced by and continue to use? Any beauty items you swear by?

I'm on my fourth tub of Olay Regenerist thanks to the introduction by Influenster.

Me getting influenced! I’m now on my fourth tub of Olay Regenerist thanks to the introduction by Influenster.

A: It’s funny – brands send products out in the hopes that members will repurchase, but I definitely get sucked in myself.
As far as products I swear by, there were many standouts in skin care I tested this year, but my big aha moment was discovering the power of a good serum. My top two: Elizabeth Arden Flawless Future and Boots Protect & Perfect Intense Advanced Serum. 

I’ve recently rekindled my love of lipstick and learned that a good one doesn’t have to break the bank. After spending an hour shopping for the perfect $30+ shade at Sephora, the next day I was sent Rimmel’s Moisture Renew Lipstick in shade “As You Want Victoria.” Tried it on and voila! It’s my shade. A whopping $5.

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Elizabeth pouting pretty top left!

Q: Sorry, I’m getting distracted, your hair. It’s just so big. It’s like out there. It’s certainly your signature, tell me about it!

A: Thank you! Yes, my hair is not just hair to me. It’s my identity. I love to experiment and have had everything from gray hair to jet black, short crops to long & flowy, curly fros to pin straight. The only thing that remains constant is volume. I try to make it as big as possible.

A few basic steps:

1. Do NOT wash often. Hair is like pizza – it’s always better the second (or third!) day around. Just get yourself a good dry shampoo like Fekkai Blowout Hair Refresher Dry Shampoo and you’re good for at least half a week. 

2. When you do wash, throw in some Schwarzkopf Osis+ Dust It Mattifying Powder after it’s dry. This is a must for attaining optimal volume on those flat freshly washed roots.

3. Tease! Don’t be afraid to tease it like it’s the 80’s! Take a comb, tease at the roots directly under your top layer, add some hair spray. Really loving Aussie Instant Freeze right now, then blow dry the sprayed section, let the top layer down and you’re set – instant huge hair! 

Q: Any moments you wish you could take back, do over, missed opportunities?

A: Obviously! As an entrepreneur you have many moments of triumph and pride, but with those also come times of doubt and bad decisions. Maybe it’s hiring the wrong person or something simple like saying the wrong thing in a meeting.

“I try not to dwell on the past or be too hard on myself.”  

When you’re in uncharted territory and developing new products that will push the business to higher levels, mistakes and “should haves” are inevitable. As long you recognize and learn from them, it’s all a part of the ride. So you had better enjoy it!

Q: Last question that I know everyone is asking, how does one become an Influenster?

A: Super simple. Just create a profile on Influenster.com.  From there, we ask you to link your social accounts to your Influenster profile, so we can see where you’re the most active online. The more information members share about themselves, the more likely they are to receive a box. So many of our programs are targeted at a specific demographic, it helps to tell us as much about yourself as possible! Being an active member is also important — we award points to members based on how many reviews they write on our site, how many badges they’ve earned, etc., so we like to see this sort of activity as well!

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Finally, a quick thank you to Elizabeth for sitting down with me to gush over her success, (you too Aydin!) Elizabeth, I’m beyond thankful for your mentorship, guidance, no-nonsense advice, but above all, your friendship.

Let me know if you sign up for Influenster in the comments! I promise you’ll be hooked!

 

  • Karen Potter

    I’ve got a girl crush on this one, too 😉