A passion for fashion and footwear drove Kibbee Miller to Converse. Now a member of their global social media team, Kibbee works closely with influencers of all scales every day on multiple active campaigns.
We sat down with her to hear what it takes to get a gig with a brand like Converse. Are you an influencer hoping to score a collab with a brand of this scale? Are you a brand trying to understand what you should be looking for in your influencers?
Kick up your heels … or chucks … and listen up. Kibbee breaks it all down.
- Big brands like Converse want to work with influencers who are well-rounded and passionate about a lot of different things.
- Brands want to work with influencers who are true to themselves. Don’t change who you are for others or for a brand collab.
- There seems to be a resurgence of tangible ways of communicating with each other, such as print media, newspapers, magazines or film photography.
- Sustainability-centered campaigns are popular right now in line with many people’s sustainability social issue concerns.
- Be open to learning new things.
Perlu: Hello and welcome to the Perlu Podcast: Influencer Marketing Reimagined. A podcast where we chat with influencer marketing professionals, social media influencers, bloggers, YouTubers, podcasters, you name it, about what has led to their success. Today we’re speaking with a member of the Converse global social media team, Kibbee Miller.
Thanks to her passion for fashion, Kibbee began her marketing career working at Clark’s, the world’s largest casual footwear brand, and today she’s combining consumer insights with social media best practices to create one-of-a-kind of digital experiences to engage the Converse community. Kibbee is also a founding partner of a full-service marketing and event agency in Boston, Massachusetts. As an active lifestyle blogger and content creator, you can catch Kibbee styling outfits, writing her friends’ Instagram captions, eating and traveling in her free time. You can check out her personal brand and blog at kibsta.com.
I’m your host Alexis Trammell. If you enjoy today’s episode, we hope you sign up for Perlu to learn more about how you can grow your influencer marketing career. Thank you so much for joining us today, Kibbee.
Kibbee Miller: Hey, thanks for having me.
Perlu: How did you find yourself at Converse, and could you tell us a little bit more about your role with influencers in your current position?
Kibbee Miller: Yeah, so I feel like I’ve always wanted to work here. That sounds really weird, but I always knew I wanted to be in fashion and footwear. Growing up I would wait outside and camp out for shoes, and Converse was the only tie to Nike that we have here in Boston. So I always had it in the back of my mind. I’ve probably applied to this place five or six times and this last time it finally stuck. So that’s when we finally got here.
Kibbee Miller: In terms of how I work with influencers in my current position, I work with them every day, whether that’s working with them through content initiatives for upcoming jobs or product launches or collaborating with them on their own personal takedowns of campaigns that we’re running in market.
Perlu: Okay, cool. So Converse’s image just seems to be mostly powered by the people who have worn them, and most people I know have worn a pair of chucks in their life. Everyone knows what this brand is.
How do you choose who you should be working with in influencer marketing?
Kibbee Miller: To your point, Converse is definitely a well-known brand, an iconic silhouette. The Chuck Taylor is what everyone thinks of when they think Converse, and the brand is doing a lot of things to change that mentality to market to different types of game changers. So for instance, we’re starting to bring back our basketball line, but when it comes to choosing people we work with, we’re really focused on picking people who have that progress mentality of constantly changing things. These people are pushing the limits and boundaries of whatever field they’re in. So if that’s photography or they’re a skateboarder, they’re the ones that are the leaders of their group.
LinkedIn meets Basecamp meets Upwork.
Perlu: Well, it’s really exciting. So basically it sounds like you work a lot with influencers who are professionals in their niche and who are experts in their particular area. Am I following that right?
Kibbee Miller: Yeah. And it’s also more of an ethos – they are not necessarily always the loudest people or the smartest people in the room that are going to constantly be advocating for themselves. But they’re really about creating a cohesive environment or they’re team players, and they do a lot of different things, right? We’re not just working with people who only talk about beauty. That’s really just one facet of who they are as a person. I think because we’re so versatile – People wear [Converse] on their wedding day or people will wear it to a concert – those are the types of people we’re going after. People who are really well rounded, who are interested in a lot of different things and are passionate about those things. And if you were to ask them how to define themselves, it wouldn’t just be one area.
Perlu: Right. Definitely.
What kind of advice do you have for influencers who would love to work with Converse?
Kibbee Miller: I think honestly, just being true to yourself. That’s a huge mantra here in the office and outside of the office. I think people here within these four walls definitely live and breathe who they are every day and I think that’s what makes working here great. And then also, that’s what makes our product great and how we take it to market in the actual world. Being who you are is awesome. Don’t change who you are for others or for us. So I think that’s my one piece of advice: just be you.
Perlu: Oh cool. That’s a great message.
Kibbee Miller: Yeah.
Perlu: So Millie Bobby Brown recently launched a shoe collection with Converse called Millie By You. And it has already sold out. We all know this wonderful actress from Stranger Things, and I’m curious.
Did you get to meet Millie Bobby Brown or work with her during this time with Converse?
Kibbee Miller: Not yet. I started here a little bit too late for when the photoshoots were going down, but we do have another drop coming up next month. So maybe she’ll be around the office and I’ll get a chance to be in the meeting with her. I would love to get to meet her and some of our other key star talent that we’re working with over the next couple of years, like Tyler the Creator.
Perlu: Oh, Tyler the Creator. That’s so exciting. Tell both of them I say hi.
Kibbee Miller: Yeah, totally. Will do.
Perlu: Who are your favorite social media influencers that you work with and why are they your favorite?
Kibbee Miller: I don’t really have any favorite names that come to mind, but it’s usually people who have – from a personal perspective – a really sharp sense of style. If I see a photo of them, I might not necessarily be able to know their handle off the back of my hand, but I know who they are by face and by the clothes they’re wearing. They have a certain aesthetic. If I come across them in a brand campaign or out in the world, I know who they are just by how they present themselves, whether it’s a signature pose or just how their clothes fit, if that makes sense. So kind of tying it back to being true to you. I always remember people who have a strong sense of style or an aesthetic online.
Perlu: Yeah, definitely. Are these influencers typically micro size, mega size?
Do you like to work with micro influencers a lot?
Kibbee Miller: Yeah, I think especially here, the talent we work with runs the gamut. There’s a dedicated team here that handles top tier talent, like Tyler the Creator and Millie Bobby Brown and some others all the way down to folks like people on my team and on the media team who handle some of these micro influencer relationships. And we worked with Neeva, which was a huge group on YouTube, they have a really large presence. And also PAQ, so people of that size. And then, of course, people who haven’t really been discovered yet. I feel like, again, not to sound super cheesy, but as long as you have a vibe that is authentic to you, it’s going to resonate no matter what your following looks like. I think that’s kind of all that matters for us.
Perlu: That’s so cool.
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What kinds of social media tactics is Converse experimenting with right now?
Kibbee Miller: Yeah, we’re really focused on differentiating within ourselves how we tell stories on social. So for instance, we work with Tyler the Creator. We’re going to be at Camp Flog Gnaw – that’s his signature festival – and we were just chatting through today like how are we going to differentiate the stories we’re going to tell while we’re there versus all the other stories we tell normally, and how the look and feel change between the different days and how users will be able to differentiate something new from the brand or how it sets itself apart when it comes to the different storytelling aspects, if that makes sense. So our creative team does a lot of work with trying to do that in house, but we’re definitely working with other people and agencies to help figure that out for us as well.
Perlu: Sure, yeah.
Do you guys work with PR agencies on this kind of stuff or do you use them for your social media campaigns?
Kibbee Miller: More in terms of the content development. Are there people that are doing it well? How can we help? Maybe we can collaborate with them to ideate or is there something that we can just let them run with by giving them product and then maybe we re-circulate that in our own channels. But just starting to really think more broadly on how we’re telling different stories and making them feel different.
Perlu: Where do you see the social media influencer landscape going in the coming year?
Kibbee Miller: Over the past five years being in this space, I started off doing influencer marketing when I was at Karmaloop many moons ago, and it was super organic, super grassroots. It was sending people product and hoping they talk about it somewhere. It was before YouTube was super bold. But I feel like now we’re on the other complete side of the coin where everyone has an Instagram account; everyone feels like they’re a social media manager at this point. Everyone’s super familiar with how to use the different platforms, and with that, I feel like there is a little bit of saturation with all the different terms for talent and just the scale of how many people are out in the marketplace doing stuff and creating content.
I would say that from what I’ve seen, a lot of people are not reverting back to analog stuff, but I’ve seen a lot of people do print media newspapers or little magazines or shooting on film. I feel this huge resurgence of bringing things back to more tangible ways of communicating with each other. I’ve seen a lot of that. Someone else was talking about pen pals and specifically writing letters to each other versus sliding into the DMs.
I feel like we’re in this shift where people are, not necessarily done with social media or working with influencers in that way, but I do feel like people are starting to miss the old days when things were a little bit more analog if that makes sense.
What has been your favorite campaign that you’ve worked on?
Kibbee Miller: I would have to say Converse started this new initiative called Renew, and they’re super focused on sustainability. So however they can switch out materials or source their materials that are being used, reduce the overall energy and resources that are being used to produce a shoe and make it from start to finish –, I feel like they’re doing a lot of work on the back end to make that public-facing.
For instance, we’ve come out with a few different lines. Now there’s Renew Canvas, Renew Denim, where a lot of the materials that are being used to actually make the shoe are reused or recyclable. So there’s a lot of up-cycling happening, and I feel like the campaign itself was super interesting ‘cause I feel like – going back to the previous question of the resurgence of analog and going back to the olden days – the idea of trying to be focused on sustainability from an overarching sense of the world. I feel like that’s being tied into a lot of products and the way people are shopping today.
Perlu: Yeah, totally. So cool. I didn’t know Converse was doing any sustainable work and recyclable materials. So that’s awesome to hear.
Kibbee Miller: It’s important, especially with the new generation coming up, it’s the number one thing that’s on their mind, especially for people that are in certain geos like Asia, China specifically. That’s the number one thing that younger kids are focused on. It’s the environment, sustainability and climate change. And I feel like maybe in the U.S. and other regions maybe it’s not really a top priority, but these are the thoughts that kids are having every day, and I think that the more brands can do to help quiet those fears or at least do what they’re doing in a more sustainable way is great. So it was great to be a part of that campaign to help it come to life, and I know it’s something that’s going to continue in the future, so hopefully, we can iterate on that and make it better.
Perlu: That is so exciting for you guys. Love what you’re doing there. Let’s back into the fact that you are a lifestyle blogger and content creator yourself.
Do you want to tell us about your career in that and then maybe a little bit more about your Kibsta blog?
Kibbee Miller: Sure. My blog started off when I was in high school, a really long time ago, as a way for me to talk about things that were bothering me, like a super stereotypical, angsty teenager, “nobody understands me” type of thing.
Kibbee Miller: Finding my voice, finding my style and then documenting all that stuff and the passions that I have. So I was super interested in fashion, food and design. And that became more and more true when I was in college. Getting to meet new people from different places all over the world, getting to wear new things, buy my own clothes and stuff like that. I feel like I really started to find my own sense of style and voice.
Once I graduated college, I knew I wanted to work in fashion – footwear specifically. So I landed a job at Clark’s, another great iconic lifestyle footwear brand. So I feel like starting off on an ecommerce team really helped me understand how in my day growing up, you can buy things online now. So it really helped me understand how that happens and what it takes to get that done for a brand. And then from there, using a lot of what I was learning on my own, starting in business and putting things out and creating content online myself, how to marry those two things and help both sides of myself – my professional side and my creative side – get better throughout the year.
So from there, I migrated to the brand side of marketing where I got to work on social and then media as well. So working with influencers, developing digital out of home campaigns like billboards and digital display ads and in New York City to crazy malls. And on the West Coast, getting to work on things that are going to be printed in GQ and crazy other publications. It was really great to have my personal blog that I feel like I got to let all of my creative side out from five to nine and then in my nine-to-five I could use what I’m learning in the fields and take that to work.
Perlu: Cool. That’s so cool. So you’ve been on the brand side, you’ve been on the influencer side.
Do you have any advice that you just are dying to share with any of our Perlu members?
Kibbee Miller: Yeah, I feel like we’re in this weird time where you don’t have to be just one thing. I feel like when my parents were growing up you’d go to school for this thing, or you don’t go to school, or you had some great craft or trade talent and you’re just this one thing. I feel like now we’re in this age where you can be so many different things. If you want to learn how to knit, you can go on YouTube, pop a video on and you can be wearing a scarf the next day if you want.
So don’t close yourself off to things that you don’t feel like you have access to. You have the internet, or you hopefully have access to a public library that has the internet if you don’t. But just be open to learning new things. That’s been one piece of advice that’s always stuck with me. And always be curious. I feel like that’s always a good trait to have, especially if you’re in marketing.
Perlu: Yes, yes. Curiosity is so important for people in marketing and I feel like that’s some advice that we’ve heard from several past podcast guests as well. So yeah. So happy that you shared that with us. Cool. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Kibbee.
Kibbee Miller: Yeah, thanks so much for having me. I’m so glad we finally got to talk.
Perlu: Yes, me too. Thank you to everyone listening. We hope you really enjoyed hearing from Kibbee Miller at Converse. If you like our show or are interested in what it takes to succeed in influencer marketing, check out our blog at blog.perlu.com for more podcasts and blog posts and sign up for Perlu at perlu.com to meet mingle, connect, collaborate, and grow your career. We hope you join us for our next installation of the Perlu Podcast: Influencer Marketing, Reimagined.