In this installment of a new and occasionally occurring Creators for Good series, Lina Renzina – who handles Talent Relations and Partnerships at the Ad Council – will sit down with creators to learn more about how they’re using their voice to make a difference. And for more on the What and Why of the series, check out the first installment right here.
For Kristen McAtee, what started as a hobby while she was earning a degree in merchandise marketing from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising quickly became her full-time gig after she was handed her diploma.
Kristen and her friends (aka the David Dobrik-founded Vlog Squad) have amassed a loyal base of followers together, but have also been able to develop their own unique styles and identities. Kristen’s content — which has brought her 1.1 million subscribers on YouTube — includes glimpses of her life with her friend, boyfriend, and dog, Link. She’s been able to tackle any subject with ease and a bit of comedic relief.
Fashion and street style are among the long list of Kristen’s interests, and her followers are always asking about her fashion choices. To coincide with National Thrift Shop Day (this past Saturday, Aug. 17) we partnered with Kristen for our #BringGoodHome PSA campaign to help bring awareness to Goodwill’s mission in creating employment and job training opportunities for people in your community.
Lina Renzina: How did start creating content?
Kristen McAtee: I worked in the fashion industry for about five years before I made the switch. My boyfriend Scott has been a part of the digital industry since about 2013, and long story short, I began to build my own following from being in his content. People started requesting I make my own channel, and this was right around the time where I felt lost and unhappy at the job I was in. I made the jump and quit my job and fully put my time into content creating! I felt so free, and I felt like I was finally able to express myself how I wanted to! It was scary and very risky, but I always trust that the universe will steer me where I need to be and things will always work out.
LR: Tell us your journey in discovering your personal style.
KM: I knew I always loved fashion, literally since I can remember. My style has evolved so much through every phase of my life because it’s truly the only way I express myself. I notice that I gravitate to the same pieces in my closet when I’m in different moods (i.e. when I’m feeling confident and creative, I wear lots of colors and prints together). Now, you guys will know my mood based on what I wear!
LR: How did you first start thrifting?
KM: One of my friends worked at a store that had some really cool thrifted pieces, and it opened our eyes to the cool stuff we could find outside of our usual stores. We started getting creative and would crop, distress, and rip cool pieces we found because “Who cares, it’s only a dollar if we hate it,” but we never did! This was really the time where thrifting became more than a sustainable and affordable way of shopping. It was fashionable and more desired than just buying whatever fast fashion trend was currently in fast fashion stores.
LR: Thrift shopping and putting together an outfit is such a specific skill. Can you share some tips on how to navigate a thrift store?
KM: I think one of the biggest tips I can give is HAVE PATIENCE! Patience is super hard for me, but that’s why I kind of look at thrifting as a therapeutic activity. Some pieces might jump out, but honestly, they usually don’t. Look through everything with an open mind, because some pieces can be made into even cooler pieces! Thrifting and DIYing come hand in hand, so look at everything with the thought of, What can I make with this?
LR: Who are your fashion icons? Whose style are you most inspired by?
KM: I AM THE STYLE ICON, BABY hahaha – no, I truly just get inspiration from clothes themselves. I see a piece I like, and I build around it. I LOVE shoes, so I usually apply this method when I find a cool pair, and I build my outfit around them.
LR: You’ve become well known for your amazing style. Why do you love thrifting?
KM: It’s therapeutic to me! It gets my creativity flowing, and nothing feels better than that. I love finding old event tees (cookouts, races, school classes, etc.) and thinking about the history of the shirt and its past owner. Is that weird, lol?
LR: What is your history with shopping at Goodwill, and what has been your best find there?
KM: Growing up, my mom would have my sister and me go through all our clothes about once a year and donate everything we outgrew. She instilled the importance of donating clothes at such a young age, and I’m grateful for that! Throwing away clothes was NEVER an option, and ripped shirts became rags for cleaning. I would also shop there for things like movies, dishes, and home decor. As far as my best find…hmm, well, I can’t really think of one particular product, but one time I got a jacket and found $20 in the pocket! It paid for the jacket and loads of food at the Taco Bell across the street. 🙂
LR: We’re so thrilled to have you as part of our #BringGoodHome campaign with Goodwill. In your most recent video for National Thrift Shop Day, you were able to connect with a Goodwill trainee who is personally impacted by the job training and employment services that Goodwill offers. Can you tell us more about that experience?
KM: It was really eye-opening to connect with Robert. I have always been aware that Goodwill gives back, but not to the extent that Robert was telling me. One point he said that stuck with me was that Goodwill is a great resource for anything he needs, and if they don’t have a solution, it’s never a “No,” it’s always a “Let us get back to you.” I think that’s super important in any work environment! Taking care of your employees makes for a happy company, and I don’t know about you, but I feel better spending my money somewhere that I know treats their people well.
LR: What would you like other fashionistas out there to know when it comes to shopping at Goodwill?
KM: Look in every section! Stay open-minded. Be patient. Lastly, shop on Thursdays — items with the color of the week on the tag are $1.
LR: How do you think lifestyle content could focus more on social good, and how can fashion finders make a difference?
KM: I try to spread as much positivity as I can because I believe social media can get so toxic when it has so much potential to be an uplifting community. I strive to inspire others to do the same so that they spread it to their peers, too! I think we get so caught up in “cancelling” people we feel are ignorant, but that’s so counterproductive. I hope my social presence shifts people’s reactions to these situations. I really encourage people to take that passion and drive of telling people what they did wrong and instead, spread awareness of whatever the issue may be. With this, I think we’d move in a much healthier and effective direction as a society…As for fashion finders — vote with your dollars! I know it can be hard in this day and age, but buying from brands that are ethical and sustainable will help inspire others to do the same.
Lina leads Creators for Good, the Ad Council’s talent engagement program, which matches traditional and digital talent with the organization’s purpose-driven marketing initiatives. Working directly with talent, these partnerships have reached millions to drive impact surrounding such important causes as suicide prevention, breast cancer risk awareness and diversity and inclusion.
Her background in theatrical producing, marketing and talent management is a testament to her passion for the arts, authentically reaching audiences through digital storytelling. You can connect with Lina on LinkedIn.