Interview: Willabelle Ong
60-odd thousand blog followers is no mean feat by the age of 19.
Not many teenagers can claim being featured in the New York Times, but then again, Willabelle Ong is not your average teenager. At only 19, the young fashion blogger has garnered an impressive 63,000 subscribers and appearances in publications such as Teen Vogue. Her blog, PALE DIVISION, is where her work takes place as she uploads pictures of her own ‘personal style and fashion’. Her unique take on chic styling is a breath of fresh air, drawing upon an array of brands to achieve an end result that is on-point and charming. Such styling has not gone unnoticed with the young blogger appearing on ASOS and being praised on Twitter by celebrity A-lister, Vanessa Hudgens.
Amidst her busy schedule balancing both university and blogging, Willabelle found time to talk to us about life as a blogger.
Hey Willabelle thanks for the chat, so could you tell us a bit about yourself and what you do?
Hello! I am an Australian-based full time student and writer behind the fashion blog, Pale Division. Mainly, it is a space where I collate my thoughts and observations on fashion, but it is also fairly lifestyle-focused; an area made quite obvious with the endless exposure of travel and food visuals.
What drew you to blogging and the fashion side of things?
My mum always had a knack for dressing up so naturally, her style sparked my interest in fashion. Blogs also began popping up all over the web and I saw that as an opportunity to document my own personal style.
Who are your main inspirations, does your style derive from any influences?
I do adore Anna Dello Russo - she’s fearless and crazy with fashion, in all the right ways. My style changes over time but I'm always big on mixing up colours, patterns and textures. At the moment, it is fairly menswear-inspired preppy with a dash of brights here and there. I always reach for a structured jacket, regardless of season.
You’ve become fairly renowned in the blogosphere having been featured in Teen Vogue, MTV, Nylon and numerous other publications. Can you take us through some of this recent success?
Every feature or collaboration is a blessing. In particular, I am grateful to have blogged for a diverse clientele, with brands ranging from Gucci Australia, BONDS and Sunglass Hut, to Sony Intel, Masters and Magnum. Recently press-wise, I have made appearances in The Sydney Morning Herald Newspaper, on ASOS and the FashionTV site. High School Musical sweetheart, Vanessa Hudgens, also shouted us out as her favourite “inspirational” style blog the other day! That was awesome.
With new outfits every week how do you manage to afford all the clothes on your blog?
Thankfully, I am paid and sponsored to style and feature different apparel and items on my blog. Aside from the adverts on my sidebar, I generate revenue via commissioned links and relevant Instagram/Facebook/Twitter shout-outs
Is the website hard to run and who actually takes the pictures?
The blog does take quite a bit of my time; imagine all the planning, styling, shooting, photo-processing and writing tasks, plus an exploding inbox and the constant rolling in of questions and enquiries, all on top of my university, family and social commitments. And contrary to popular belief, I do not have a professional photographer. My oh-so-very patient mum actually shoots for me majority of the time!
And how does your mum respond to all the Pale Division hype?
She’s seemingly proud of me, and I love her for that.
What has been your best experience and worst experience blogging?
Building a loyal readership is one of the best experiences. I started taking Pale Division as a brand more seriously when people initially came forth to express their appreciation for what I do. Interacting with my readers is also both heart-warming and helpful, because I receive firsthand feedback and constructive criticism, without the awkwardness. Being flown around for photo-shoots and to cover events is definitely another experience I have been and am enjoying. In truth, there hasn’t been a terrible experience and even if there might’ve been, I don’t remember it anyway.
Do you have any future aspirations for the blog?
Building myself personally as a brand is something I'm working on. Hopefully, it goes smoothly!
And lastly, where do you see yourself in the future?
Jet-setting all over the world. Amen to that.