Part-time beauty blogger blossoms into full-time social-media influencer

Posted on Mar 5, 2019 in Alumni News and News

Sarah James of

When Sarah James started blogging in 2005, she was searching for no more than a creative outlet to offset the somewhat draining days as a pharmaceutical sales representative, a role she held through most of her 30s.

“I wasn’t looking to completely sidetrack my career,” says James, c’97, “but sure enough, that’s what happened.”

“Hair Thursday”

Soon after launching, a site dedicated to beauty recommendations and tips for healthy living, James started a weekly series called Hair Thursday, in which readers submitted photos and asked for hairstyle advice. The regular feature, which ran from 2007 to ’10, stemmed from the overwhelming success of James’ own bangs-debate post, which revealed that more than 700 of her followers were eager to weigh in and participate in a web-based poll. The series became so popular that in 2008 The New York Times published a story on James and the growing trend of online reader engagement.

“That feature definitely led to a huge amount of exposure, including televised appearances, so my brand essentially blossomed that year” says James, who was a guest on the Rachael Ray Show and ABC’s Nightline. She also became a national commercial spokesperson for Pantene and was featured in a Levi’s campaign.

Rise to influencer fame

Nearly a decade after her unexpected rise to beauty-blogger fame, James continues to churn out engaging web content and connect with her readers, though she now uses popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where she has amassed almost 35,000 followers across all three platforms. “When I started blogging, social media was in its infancy,” she says. “No Twitter, no Instagram, and Facebook was only a year old. … To say the day-to-day operations involving my brand have changed over the past decade is an understatement.”

James’ beauty recommendations also have evolved. Since transitioning to natural, nontoxic products five years ago, James focuses her research on clean-beauty brands, which she reviews regularly, sharing her results with readers. Popular posts like “Best in Green Beauty” showcase James’ favorite cosmetic and skincare finds, and feature candid pro-tips and relatable, often humorous videos that take viewers through the blogger’s skincare and makeup routines.

Now in her 40s, James is shifting her attention to women just like her—those who are celebrating the effects of aging rather than trying to disguise it. She recently launched a new #CleanOver40 series, which addresses the challenges women face as they age and highlights effective skincare, makeup and lifestyle products for 40-somethings. She also plans to develop a one-on-one consulting service in the near future.

Although maintaining and its social media presence—not to mention finding new ways to stay fresh as a bona fide influencer—is a full-time job, it doesn’t really feel like work to James. “I am so grateful to have made a career out of doing what I truly love,” she says.

—Heather Biele

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