Mixed Print Kimono & Black Slip Dress: A Cautionary Tale

Mixed print kimono, black slip dress and sandals.

Recently I had an interaction with a brand for a potential collaboration. What transpired is something that I believe all bloggers need to be aware of…

THE STORY

…On Monday I received an email from the brand inquiring about a potential collaboration. As per usual, I checked out their website. That includes perusing the products as well as reading their “About” and “FAQ” pages. I also googled them for reviews/information which I always do if the brand is not one that I already know about. That’s something that I recommend you do as well. If there is a high number of credible negative reviews, I walk away. I can’t in good faith recommend a company to my readers if the internet is blowing up with bad reviews. It reflects poorly on my blog and myself personally. The fact that all of you trust my word means the world to me.

Anyway, back to the brand. They checked out in that I didn’t find anything negative. I liked the fact that the company had been started by a woman who was looking to fill what she saw as a deficit in the women’s clothing market. I was also intrigued by the products; a line of shape wear in the form of leggings, skirts and tank tops. Several pairs of the leggings had really cute details and they appeared to be well made. Therefore, I emailed back stating that I’d love to collaborate because the products seemed to be a good fit with my blog and my readers.

A short while later I received a response. It was the usual “We’re so excited to work with you! We really think that you’ll love our products…blah, blah, blah…” But tucked discreetly in the middle of all of the gushing was this statement:

“Just a small note, would it be possible to have the link in the post a follow link to……under the anchor text “shapewear leggings” ?”

Just “a small note”? Are you kidding me? Using a follow link for a product that was gifted to you for review or for which you were paid is no bueno friends. It is a violation of FTC guidelines and it angers the Google gods.

I decided to give said brand the benefit of the doubt and responded with the following:

Hi ……….,
As I said I would love to work with you, but I cannot/will not include a follow link. My sponsored post/ collaboration links are always nofollow. 
Using follow links in compensated posts violates FTC guidelines, and can get both of our sites flagged for spam. 
If you’re agreeable to the link being nofollow I’d love to move forward with the collaboration.
Debbie 
I should have just immediately said, “NO.” But truth be told, I was curious as to whether they were perhaps new to the game and simply didn’t realize or if they were indeed being shifty. At this juncture in time, I’m going with shifty. I discovered via The Fierce 50 group on Facebook that a number of bloggers had been approached by the same company at the same time. That in and of itself isn’t the problem; plenty of companies do advertising blitzes with several bloggers at once. The problem was the follow link nonsense. Getting even a few unaware bloggers to play along would increase their Google juice. Using someone because of their lack of knowledge is, plain and simple, bullshit. The other reason I’m going with shifty is after I sent the above email, I haven’t heard from them again…I can almost hear the crickets chirping. I guess they didn’t appreciate being called out on their shiftiness.
Blogging can be a tricky business and there is still so much that I’m sure I don’t know. There is definitely a learning curve. When we first start out with our blogs it’s all innocent fun, but when the collaboration offers start rolling in things become more complicated. Not all brands will be a good fit. and if a company asks you to do something that you are not comfortable with, or is downright illegal, like using a follow link as opposed to a nofollow link, just walk away. You’re self-respect and good name isn’t worth a pair of leggings.
To simplify the process for those of you using self-hosted WordPress as your blogging platform, there are several plugins that address the issue. Once you install the widget, you simply tick the box for “nofollow” when you add the link. Remember, any time that you are publishing a post for which you have been compensated, either through cash payment or product gifting (this includes affiliate links), the links to the company must be nofollow. Using the default follow links (all links are by default follow links) for all other links such as other blogs, other pages within your own blog or even links to products that you love, but weren’t gifted are fine. For an even more detailed article on follow and nofollow links, stop by Not Dressed As Lamb and read what Catherine has to say on the subject.

THE OUTFIT

Okay friends, can we all take a moment of silence for this off the rails gorgeous mixed print kimono? I became obsessed with it (along with a dress from the same line) about two weeks ago after I spied it on social media. As fate would have it, it was a brand that appears to be only available in Australia. After much searching, some direct messaging, and some more searching I found it on St. Frock. They are an Australian based retailer, but they ship worldwide with reasonable rates. Bonus points because my package arrived within 5 days! From Australia? Impressive considering plenty of U.S. based companies can sometimes take weeks.

I realize that the crazy hodgepodge of prints and bright colors might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but for me, I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. The dress is the same way; an explosion of beautiful prints and colors. While that might make it intimidating, that is also what makes it so versatile. I love how I was able to take a simple black slip dress and turn it into something extraordinary simply by throwing on this mixed print kimono. I can’t wait to try pairing it with my black and white striped dress…and shredded jeans with a white tee…

THE TIP

If you’re looking for some unique and beautiful boho style pieces for your wardrobe check out some of the Australian based boutiques on Instagram. Just be sure to calculate the cost of the items and the shipping in US (or whatever country you are from) dollars.

Bonus tip: If you don’t own a simple black slip dress, you should. It is the perfect plain canvas to build a stand out look on. Here I wore it as a tunic layered over and under other pieces. The options are really endless.

THE LINK UPS

Check out the weekly link ups I participate in for even more fashion and style ideas…

Mixed print kimono, black slip dress and sandals.Mixed print kimono, black slip dress and sandals. Mixed print kimono, black slip dress and sandals.Mixed print kimono, black slip dress and sandals. Mixed print kimono, black slip dress and sandals.Mixed print kimono, black slip dress and sandals. Mixed print kimono, black slip dress and sandals.Mixed print kimono, black slip dress and sandals. Mixed print kimono, black slip dress and sandals.

Kimono: St. Frock;  Dress: H&M (Similar);  Sandals: Payless (Similar)

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34 Comments

  1. 07.20.2017 / 11:42 am

    First—the kimono is stunning…and I love that you left the outfit underneath subtle so the kimono takes all the stage!!
    As for the no-follow. I need to be better about that…it’s funny because I thought I just read that google doesn’t really care anymore, but maybe I need to do more research. Do you know if there’s a plugin for it?? I’ve become so lazy in my old age..ha ha!!
    XOXO
    Jodie
    http://www.jtouchofstyle.com
    Jodie filogomo recently posted…Wearing Accessories is Fun with PrintsMy Profile

    • debbies
      07.20.2017 / 11:46 am

      Lol…I’m lazy too…I have the plug-in! If you can find it, send me the link to that article. Even if Google doesn’t care, I’m not so sure about the FTC…they scare me…lol!

    • 07.20.2017 / 3:24 pm

      Hi, Jodie! If you find the plug-in, it would be great if you could do an article about it like Debbie does…or maybe that’s not okay…since I’m still new to blogging, I don’t know about all these things…I don’t even know what a plug-in is! Lol! I’ve had web designers work on my site so far since I’m not familiar with it myself. And thanks to Debbie for keeping her blogging followers informed!! Love to you all, Angie

      • debbies
        07.20.2017 / 6:23 pm

        Angie,
        I use the Ultimate Nofollow plugin. Plugins are extra little gadgets that can be added to a self-hosted WordPress blog to increase the blog’s usability and functionality. There are currently over 50,000 different plugins that serve a multitude of purposes. There are several nofollow plugins, but as I said, I’m currently using Ultimate Nofollow. 🙂
        Debbie

  2. 07.20.2017 / 11:56 am

    That kimono is seriously mind blowing! I’m obsessed! I’m so clueless about the whole follow/no follow link you are talking about. My lack of computer skills really holds me back in this whole blogging world. That’s part of the reason I walked away the first time…
    http://styleforlessvegas.wordpress.com
    Darlene Fadem recently posted…My Leopard Game is StrongMy Profile

  3. 07.20.2017 / 1:52 pm

    I read Catherine,notdressedaslamb, blog yesterday and I ve been spending hole afternoon understand the nofollow deal. I get it now! It s simple! I am so happy!
    What a beautiful kimono that is! And I really should buy a slipdress!
    Nancy Baten recently posted…GREEN CULOTTES AND BLUE SHOESMy Profile

    • debbies
      07.21.2017 / 9:21 am

      Thanks for the heads up on Catherine’s piece Nancy. I read it and of course it was excellent! I revised my post to include a link to it. And yes, you should pick up a slip dress! 🙂

  4. 07.21.2017 / 10:19 am

    They contacted me too. First email I was too busy to check out their website. Second email (today, two days later) a reminder email. Answered “Not interested”. Immediately got a third with links to other bloggers’ campaigns. No means no!

    Your kimono is a beauty! Love that print.
    anne the SpyGirl recently posted…What to Wear To an Art ShowMy Profile

    • debbies
      07.21.2017 / 10:23 am

      They also had sent me the email with the other bloggers’ campaigns. If there is anything that I have no tolerance for it’s shiftiness and deceit. I found it interesting that after I called them out I heard nothing…

  5. 07.21.2017 / 11:32 am

    Thank you so much for this info. We are not really new, been blogging a year, but very uninformed about a lot of things. I do love that kimono, so pretty. I hadn’t really thought of wearing one till Jodie at jtouchofstyle.com wrote something about them.

    • debbies
      07.21.2017 / 7:43 pm

      I’ve been at for four years and there is still so much that I don’t know! We learn as we go, and if we share what we’ve learned then everyone benefits.
      I’m a huge fan of kimonos…they make just about anything fancy! 🙂

  6. Michelle Rosborough
    07.21.2017 / 3:41 pm

    Ok, gorgeous kimono.
    I’ve not worked with any brands so none of this makes any sense to me. Just recently I had a brand approach me saying they would send me merchandise in exchange for 3 IG posts. I have not excepted but if I did does the above mean I can’t tag the brand in the post ? I don’t have a blog

    • debbies
      07.21.2017 / 7:39 pm

      No, the info in the post only refers to links on a blog post. You can certainly tag the brand in your IG posts. Just make sure to include hashtags that indicate the product was gifted. For example: #ad, #sponsored, #sponsoredpost

    • debbies
      07.21.2017 / 7:40 pm

      And thank you…the kimono is pretty fabulous isn’t it?! 🙂

      • Michelle Rosborough
        07.21.2017 / 8:02 pm

        Thanks, this is all new to me so I want to make sure I’m doing it correctly

  7. Michelle Rosborough
    07.21.2017 / 3:43 pm

    Accepted, I really hate this spell check

  8. 07.21.2017 / 4:34 pm

    Thank you so much for this post! They reached out to me this week too as we finalized our conversation they threw the same language in my email. Not knowing the significance, I said yes. I just wrote them back saying I couldn’t use the link language they proposed. I wonder what they will do. The title of the person I am working with is “junior” account rep. At a marketing agency..

    The Kimono is gorgeous! Thank you again!!!

    • debbies
      07.21.2017 / 7:36 pm

      You are so very welcome Nina! I’m glad that my post helped. Let me know what their response is…if you even get one…

  9. 07.22.2017 / 7:15 am

    Debbie,

    I love your blog posts not only because of your great fashion style but I learn so much from you!
    I have been approached by companies that found me through the fierce 50 group but they have never asked about a follow link.
    I know about the FTC rules but didn’t know about the widgets.
    Great post!!
    ROBIN LAMONTE recently posted…Seine River Cruise from Paris to Normandy: Day 1My Profile

  10. 07.22.2017 / 10:00 am

    Debbie you are so super smart and have your act together! I’ve been reading your blog for several years now but only started commenting recently. As a newbie blogger I have much to learn and your posts are helpful. I know I’ve read things in the past about -no follow, etc. but no one even knows my blog is out there so it has slipped from my memory, ha! I’m afraid if someone asked to work with me I’d get so excited I’d say yes to anything, so needless to say I’m going to install that plug in and save this post and then go back and read Catherine’s too. I have fewer than 100 followers so I think it’s safe to say no one is interested in working with me yet but maybe one day…and I want to do the right thing. I so appreciate the information!
    xo,
    Kellyann
    Kellyann recently posted…The LootMy Profile

  11. 07.23.2017 / 10:44 am

    This is such a good reminder about the nofollow links and to read all of the collaboration details thoroughly so you don’t miss anything! I’m obsessed with your kimono! This has to be one of my favorite looks on you!

    Jill
    Doused In Pink
    Jill recently posted…Blush + Black Outfit (& TFF Linkup)My Profile

    • debbies
      07.24.2017 / 10:27 am

      It’s so sad that people have to be shifty like that. We shouldn’t have to be wary, but it is the way of the world now. And thank you! This kimono is hands down, one of my most favorite pieces. The pictures don’t do it justice!

  12. 07.24.2017 / 11:02 am

    Absolutely love this look on you, Debbie! That kimono is gorgeous! Love the print!

    Thanks for the insight on nofollow links. A great reminder to read and re-read collaboration details.

    • debbies
      07.24.2017 / 2:50 pm

      Thank you Mary! We do have to stay on our toes as bloggers, that’s for sure! 🙂

  13. 07.24.2017 / 8:22 pm

    First of all, gorgeous, gorgeous kimono! The colors and pattern are stunning. They look beautiful against your black slip dress.

    Second, I do use a no-follow plugin. I primarily installed it to benefit my own blog juice, but until I read this post I didn’t realize I might be violating FTC rules if I didn’t while working with sponsors. Even before I read this post I was considering altering the wording on my Contact page to include all the things I will Not accept from sponsors in an effort to weed out the unwanted asks. Sounds like I need to include this as well in my verbiage.
    Jennie recently posted…Black & White Gingham, Stripes & LeopardMy Profile

    • debbies
      07.25.2017 / 9:49 am

      Thank you Jennie…the kimono is really a work of art!

      We do have to be vigilant as bloggers. It seems like for every three great collaboration offers, there’s one that is definitely not on the up and up.

  14. 07.25.2017 / 10:00 pm

    Hi Debbie, just catching up with some of my favorite blogs since I have some time. I love your whole look. You are such an example that age doesn’t mean anything about what you should and shouldn’t wear. You must be a teacher on summer break!

    Julia visiting from http://www.whenthegirlsrule.com

  15. 07.27.2017 / 10:08 am

    I was so niave at the beginning, heck actually until recently about the no follow. I understood if I was paid but not when it was gifted. I was such a little….. well you know where I am going. Great outfit. Don’t forget to come link up on A Labour of Fashion. Would love to have you join us