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Kelsey Farrer Moves to Bali As Social Media Marketing Specialist and Travel Blogger

Kelsey Farrer Moves to Bali As Social Media Marketing Specialist and Travel Blogger

Kelsey Farrer transferred to FIDM from NYU. In the five years since she graduated with her Merchandise Product Development degree, she’s worked as a designer at GUESS and in social media marketing and art direction at Hot As Hell (HAH)—where she traveled from Shanghai to Sri Lanka, Miami, Paris, New York and beyond. Earlier this year, she moved to Bali, Indonesia, and set out on her own doing art direction, social media marketing, and interior design for global clients in hotels, fashion, and food—and founded a travel blog where she documents her journey @eternallyenroute. This year, she’s visited over 30 cities in seven countries, and counting. We caught up with this unstoppable, talented alumna to find out more.

Tell us about transferring to FIDM: After one year at NYU, I decided to transfer to FIDM's Merchandise Product Development program and dive right into fashion. My communication studies in New York were too broad, and I couldn’t wait another three years to start working in the industry that I loved. All I have to say is that it was the best decision I ever made. My Merchandise Product Development major at FIDM was well-rounded, challenging, and it really taught me about the cycle of creating a brand from start to finish. I think this really helped me become so entrepreneurial and suited to work in a startup environment.

Tell us a little about what you've been up to since you left HAH: Since leaving HAH in February, I've been working on my travel blog, Eternally en Route (http://www.eternallyenroute.com), while traveling around Southeast Asia and creating content for my freelance clients along the way. I recently worked with some absolutely gorgeous resorts including the Veranda in Chiang Mai and Sudamala Resort in Lombok, Indonesia, where I photographed their properties, documented my stay on social media, and created short films for their marketing and website platforms. I've also been working with brands like DIFF Eyewear and Frameless to shoot fashion content during my trips. I love being able to mix my two passions of travel and fashion into my job. This year, I've been lucky enough to visit over 30 cities within seven different countries (and counting!). And when I'm not traveling, I'm working from my home in Bali, Indonesia, where I create and manage social media content for my freelance clients. I have a lot of creative side projects I'm also working on—most recently I've been doing interior design jobs for restaurants as well! I love creating mood and concept boards—whether for a photo shoot, video project, branding for a new company, or interior design—and that's something I've come to realize is a very versatile skill.

What inspired you to start traveling/blogging? I've always been in love with travel, and I was lucky to travel a lot growing up—but there was a certain trip that really changed my perspective. In 2016, one of my best friends (and FIDM Grad) Rebecca Bunker and I decided to book a trip to Morocco, sort of on a whim...I remember doing it without telling my parents, and feeling so free. Rebecca and I had been traveling a lot for our work with HAH—from Shanghai to Sri Lanka, Miami, Paris, New York and beyond, and we knew we were good travel companions. We had both dreamt of shopping in the souks of Marrakech for textiles and lanterns, and sipping on Moroccan mint tea, so we made it happen. And it was so magical. It was the first time I had been somewhere so foreign, and so far from modern western culture—and I was in love with it. The local people, authentic foods, craftsmanship, and intricate architecture swept me off my feet.

I had my share of small fashion blogs through high school and college, which I slowly let go of, but after this trip I knew I had to start writing again—and this time focusing on my travels. With work trips included I had been visiting an average of seven countries per year, making sure I found the hidden gems in each one of them. So many of my friends would reach out to me for recommendations, so it seemed natural to start posting them somewhere.

How did HAH lead you to this new chapter in your life? HAH lead me to this new chapter of my life in so many ways, and I'll always be grateful for the incredible journey I got to experience with the women behind the brand. I was lucky to work and travel to many places around the world alongside HAH's Founder & CEO, Sharleen Ernster. A frequent world traveler, she has always been a huge inspiration to me. She helped me realize that anything is possible, and that you should never hold back in the pursuit of your dreams. HAH was also an incredibly eye-opening experience where my career transitioned from fashion design into graphic design, art direction, and social media marketing. These skills have become assets that are incredibly useful for travel blogging and art direction on the road.

What do you love about traveling? And how does it shape the work you do as an art director? I love everything about traveling. For me, the moment I book a flight is the moment my trip begins. I love researching the most unique and off-the-grid experiences I can find, reading about what types of foods I'll get to enjoy, and finding gorgeous places to stay—whether it be a trendy little hostel or 5-star resort. I love packing for my trip, thinking about what looks I want to shoot in which destinations. I love the feeling of arriving at the airport, all giddy that I get to see a new destination (even if that means waking up at 4am). I love arriving somewhere new, feeling a little lost and wandering around. Getting to know the culture, meeting locals, and trying all kinds of new foods. And I especially love the mornings when I get up before the sunrise to see a beautiful view or landmark before it's full of tourists. There's something so special about experiencing a special place like a famous temple in Thailand or a rice field in Ubud, all alone. It's peaceful, breathtaking, and you really feel like you're seeing it in its natural state—not crowded with cameras and matching t-shirts. I also love the spontaneous moments when I make friends with locals who give me a glimpse into their lives, so I can really understand a culture at its heart. Or when I happen upon traditional ceremonies and religious holidays. I feel that these experiences shape my creative mindset by offering new perspectives all the time. The more I can learn about different cultures and practices, the more open-minded and creative I become in my art direction.

What’s it like to be a freelance art director: My job is very versatile. I do an array of art and creative direction for clients, from hotels to fashion and food, and it's always changing. When I work with hotels, I'm usually coming to them with my own concept and creative vision for how I want to shoot their space. I bring a storyboard and a full set of styled looks for each of the scenes I'm planning on shooting, which is usually predetermined with their marketing team beforehand. I spend a few days on site creating photo and video content, making sure to capture all of the unique moments. It's really fun to stay at these beautiful places, but that's not to say it isn't hard work! I've stayed places for three days straight and never left the resort because there was so much content that needed to be covered. Alongside my photo and video projects, I also work on branding and marketing projects for clients where I design an array of materials from logos, to packaging, and even interiors in some cases. I just finished a branding and interior design project for a new restaurant in Bali that was completely Moroccan-inspired which I loved. This job was extra fun because I got to shop for all of the interior items!

Any advice for someone considering going to FIDM? My biggest piece of advice would be to choose a major you are super passionate about, and work really hard while you're there. Take it seriously, and all of the sleepless nights and hard work will pay off. Get an internship as soon as possible. If you don't dig your internship, try something new. It took me a few jobs to figure out what I loved—I thought I wanted to do showroom sales (crossed that off the list), then I wanted to be a stylist (crossed that off, too). Upon my graduation, I ended up landing a role as an assistant designer at GUESS, which led to the incredible three years that I spent as a fashion designer. After that I joined HAH, where my focus shifted to social media marketing, branding, and art direction. Be open to these shifts, and learn as much as you can on the way.

What is your biggest goal right now? Designing my own house!

Categories:  Merchandise Product Development Alumni Transfer Student