Arielle Charnas is the jack-of-all-trades: a female founder, entrepreneur, blogger, designer, style expert, and most importantly, wife and mother of three.
Charnas founded her famed blog, Something Navy, back in 2009.
A trailblazer in the influencer space, Arielle became a trusted style authority as she evolved Something Navy into an all-encompassing lifestyle brand.
While her platform is fashion-centric, it has grown into the go-to destination for pregnancy, relationship, and motherhood advice. Many refer to Charnas as the earliest “Mommy Blogger.”
Charnas launched the first Something Navy clothing collection in the fall of 2018, and following its wild success, created her own standalone brand featuring wearable wardrobe staples and elevated basics.
We sat down with Arielle to discuss how she balances her personal life and career, the importance of authenticity, and staying true to yourself in the face of adversity.
As a pioneer of the influencer industry, what is your biggest secret to success?
I know it’s cliche and I’ve said it over and over, but staying connected to my community has been imperative to my success. Truly listening to their feedback on both product and partnerships is of utmost importance to me and it’s what drives our business. I love my audience and I always aim to deliver for them! And of course, staying true to myself and who I am.
Your platform has drastically transformed throughout the years as you have become a mom, started your own clothing business, etc. Can you talk a little bit about this evolution, and where you see yourself headed?
I first started Something Navy as a hobby in 2009. In the beginning, I’d share my fashion finds and styling advice with anyone who was interested. I also shared a lot about my personal life from day one. My boyfriend turned husband, apartments, trips, family, and then of course pregnancy and babies. I feel as though my followers just enjoy growing together. As far as work goes, as my following continued to grow, brands began approaching me to work with them and collaborate on partnerships, brand ambassadorships, and limited-edition pieces/collections. That was really my first introduction to creating products and branding. Some of my earliest collaborations were with Revolve, Tresemme, Loreal, and Steve Madden. So many amazing brands that I grew up wearing and using!
Then in 2018 Nordstrom approached me to create a capsule collection, which was a dream. Seeing my name in a store that I grew up shopping at was honestly one of the most incredible moments of my career. The collection sold out within an hour of the launch which exceeded my wildest expectations. I learned so much from working with Nordstrom, but at the end of the day, the goal was to always have our own line with stores, collections, etc. so we could deliver exactly what the Something Navy community was asking for. The best way to do that was to break out on our own, so in 2020 we launched Something Navy as a direct-to-consumer brand. We originally launched with a line of women’s apparel and since have evolved into a full lifestyle brand with women and children’s apparel lines and now bed and bath collections. We’ve also opened three brick-and-mortar locations - two in New York City and one in LA - with plans to open doors in even more cities like Miami, Dallas, Chicago, and more across the country in 2022.
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It’s so surreal how far the brand has come and I owe it all to my amazing Something Navy community. They've truly been with me since day one and I’m so grateful. It’s been a wild ride, to say the least, but the truth is we are just getting started. 2022 will mark some major accomplishments for us --in addition to opening a handful of new stores across the U.S., we will be evolving our wholesale strategy to include strategic retailers that our customers know and love, and will unveil new and exciting product categories based on audience feedback! We also have a number of key brand partnerships and product collaborations in the works that I can’t share more on just yet :)
How have you balanced your personal life and your career? Is it difficult when you’re expected to share so much of your life online?
Balancing my personal and professional life is something I work at every single day. As a mom and a businesswoman, I want to do it all! I haven’t mastered the balance yet, but I try to take it day by day and give myself grace. I’m still getting used to life with three kids and right now I’m really trying to take more time with my girls each day.
How have your goals shifted since becoming a parent? Where does that identity fit in with your identity as a designer, businesswoman, influencer, etc?
My goal since day one, particularly with social media being at the forefront of my business, is to make all women feel welcome and accepted just as they are. At SN, we do not condone cyberbullying or bullying in any form. The importance of acceptance and knowing that we are all good enough just the way we are is something I preach to my children, but also what we hope to enforce across Something Navy channels. Our community is built by women and for women; we should support and encourage one another always.
Something Navy just launched an exciting collaboration with Bandier. What do these brands share in common? In other words, why is this a smart and mutually beneficial partnership?
We did! Bandier is a brand that has supported me professionally and personally since day one, so a collaboration just felt natural. Both Something Navy and Bandier’s designs are fun and fearless with a feminine twist. They’re perfect for the girl that works out but also wants to look cute running errands, who wants to be comfortable yet elevated, and who really does it all. Most importantly, we designed it with the purpose of making women feel comfortable and confident - that’s the goal in everything we do.
What questions do you ask yourself before representing a brand? Is it challenging to stay authentic to yourself when a business relationship is involved?
First and foremost, I will only partner with a brand whose product, service, and mission I believe in. Sometimes that means it's a product I use every day and swear by, other times it's a service that I have used occasionally over the years but ultimately think my audience should be aware of and would want to know about.
I also like to represent a mix of high and low brands as, in general, I take that approach to my own belongings and know that my audience likes to see that variety. Something Navy is growing rapidly and we are fortunate to be faced with new business opportunities almost daily -- it's a good problem to have, but nowadays we turn down more partnerships than we take on in order to preserve our authenticity.
We don't want to scale fast and it's paramount we don't lose our community’s trust. I would say this is the biggest challenge -- prioritizing authenticity over the revenue opportunity. While it's difficult, it's always worth it.
How do you typically respond to criticism on social media? In a world obsessed with cancel culture, are you ever worried about being “canceled?”
As most of my followers know, I was “canceled” at one point in time. While this was incredibly tough to deal with, I've grown so much professionally and personally from these moments. This was one of the most transforming moments for me in my career thus far. I’ve learned so much from my mistakes, and mentally, I’m in the best place I’ve ever been. I no longer ever let random people I don’t know control how I feel or tell me something I am or am not. I’m secure in the human being that I am today, the woman my parents raised me to be, and my intentions are always pure.
In the public eye, you’re of course going to make mistakes but are your intentions good? That’s what matters to me at the end of the day. Something Navy has become this incredible community that’s been so uplifting to me and today it’s about being much more than an “influencer.”
We’ve created content and clothing, home and bath collections, but most importantly, we’ve created a safe, fun space for so many people. That has all stemmed from the authenticity that’s at the heart of Something Navy. This whole brand is about so much more than me, so I want to keep being open and honest and giving back to my community.
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What is one thing you wish you knew when you started your career? What has been your biggest growing moment throughout the years?
That you can't be everything to everyone! It's so important to stay true to yourself and your brand vision. I think I've done a good job at that, but it's extremely challenging at times - it's easy to get bogged down in the negativity and criticism that comes with being so exposed on social media.
Photography by: Courtesy Something Navy