UT alumna aspires to empower women through Austin-based fashion blog

Anna McCreary

In 2014, fashion blogger Jessi Afshin was on track to graduate from UT with a degree in fashion merchandising and planned to launch her career in New York. But four months before she walked the stage, she canceled her plans and decided to stay in Austin instead. 

The change was a risky career decision — it took two years for Afshin’s blog “The Darling Detail” to take off after its launch in 2013.

“If you have the expectation that you’re going to do really well and make a ton of money, that’s when it will flop,” Afshin said. “You’re not going to have supporters for a long time. My mom was my only reader for so long. But if you love it enough, you’ll be successful.” 

Afshin channeled her passion through “The Darling Detail,” which is now supported through brand partnerships, collaborations and rewardStyle, a platform that pays bloggers for influencing brand sales. Afshin’s blog documents her daily personal style, travels and adventures around Austin with her dog, Chloe. 

But contrary to the easygoing, chic demeanor of her Instagram feed, Afshin said her day is often consumed with photos, emails, analytics, number crunching, ordering and accounting — a far more demanding routine than most new bloggers or readers anticipate. 

“I work every single day, because the thing about blogging is that it’s something you can’t really turn off,” Afshin said. “Then you work nights, too, because of social media. If you’re not a good planner, you’ll find yourself working at the worst times, when most people are playing.” 

Afshin said she planned the blog for one year before it ran live. Part of that she contributes to stubborn perfectionism — the other, to fear. 

“To start — that’s the hardest part,” Afshin said. “Fear prevents us from doing so many things. Fashion blogging is a really competitive industry. [You] can get so caught up in what other people are doing.” 

Now, Afshin said she has a team of five, consisting of an assistant, her mother; a photographer, her brother; her collaboration manager; and an intern, textiles and apparel senior Rachel Spross. 

Most of Spross’ work is in marketing and social media, but she said the most valuable part of interning under a full-time fashion blogger like Afshin is that she’s able to see both sides of the social media fashion scene.

“It’s hard not to look at what other bloggers and brands are doing and wondering if you should be doing or wearing the same thing,” Spross said. “It’s important to realize that you are the only person exactly like you. You are your own brand, and at the end of the day, that makes you unique.”  

Afshin said the industry’s dependence on quantity — sales, likes, and follower numbers — can lead to empty and superficial goals, and that she needed to find a deeper passion to drive her work ethic. Ultimately, Afshin said she wants “The Darling Detail” to empower women and help her readers develop a sense of self-confidence through fashion.

“Find a purpose in your goals, because once you get there it doesn’t stop,” Afshin said. “Find the fuel to your fire. What makes you get up in the morning? What makes you feel good? Be happy with where you are, and everything else will fall into place.”