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When Emily Plummer walked into her first accounting lecture, fashion blogging wasn't even a 'thing' - let alone on her radar as a potential career. But that's exactly what this creative entrepreneur ended up doing after cutting her teeth in the world of business as a Chartered Accountant. So, what do accounting and fashion blogging have to do with each other? More than you might think, says Emily, who is also known as the Corporate Catwalker.
"At high-school, I was definitely a maths person - I always had that attention to detail," said 30-year-old Emily. "Dad is a Chartered Accountant and runs his own business and my mum is a high-school business studies teacher so there was a lot of influence from an early age to become an accountant."
Perhaps it was this eye for detail that sparked Emily's interest in fashion and style. Known as the Corporate Catwalker, Emily is a professional fashion blogger who is passionate about showcasing corporate style with the aim of inspiring women to achieve their full potential. She has more than 25,000 Instagram followers around the world and earns her living by collaborating with well-known brands and clients such as cosmetics retailer Napoleon Perdis and hair-styling products maker VS Sassoon.
From finance to fashion
While working in the corporate sector as a Chartered Accountant for international firm PwC, Emily wondered why the fashion industry was focused on casual wear when professionals needed stylish corporate wear five days a week. Why shouldn't women be able to look fabulous at work, not just on the weekends and evenings?
With this in mind, Emily started fashion blogging on Instagram in 2015 while she was still working as a Risk Assurance Manager for PwC. Within two years her Instagram account had become so successful she made the leap to become a full-time corporate fashion blogger.
"I was with my colleagues and I don't know what came over me, but I said to them in that moment 'I'm going to be a fashion blogger - that's my new year's resolution'. I took a risk and within three days, 125,000 people had seen my Instagram. It was then I really had to evaluate the landscape and understand what exactly a fashion blogger was, because I'd somehow become one," she said.
"Fame's never been something I've ever wanted and the only reason I kept going at what I was doing was because I saw the inspiration it would give others. I'd often get students send me photos of them studying on a weekend with photos of their accounting textbooks with messages saying 'I'm doing it too, you're such an inspiration', or young women would contact me saying 'thank you so much for showing us your journey' when I was on Wall Street," said Emily.
The secret to success
Emily says her experience as a Chartered Accountant has been the secret to her success in fashion, particularly with managing clients and approaching her business with confidence.
"When I was with PwC I specialised in risk, including business control, solutions and business control auditing. I had my own team, to which I can probably attribute some of my skills in business management," said Emily.
"As a manager for a Big Four [accounting firm] you have your own portfolio of clients worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. I could be working on a mining client one day, a financial services client another day or a government client. Every day was very different and you'd always be learning. Managing and juggling that is very similar to what I'm doing now," she said.
"There are a lot of bloggers out there with a lot more followers than me, but they don't have a successful business model. I think that's the point of difference. I have a lot of business acumen behind me," said Emily.
Best foot forward
Emily says fashion is not just about looking good, it's about putting your best foot forward to help achieve your goals.
"If you care about what you look like and how you dress on a daily basis, then it is perceived that you'll invest the same level of effort and care into producing high-quality outputs," she said.
"When clients or colleagues are presented with someone who is well dressed and put together they translate this to your ability to deliver."
"I've recently signed a contract with a firm which is going to combine both my financial accounting knowledge that I gained at PwC with a gender-diversity advocacy role. I will be in a position to make some real change with regards to supporting female entrepreneurs, so that's really exciting for me, to be able to use my social influence and eventually to make some really big changes in the workplace."
Emily's top tip
"If I could give advice to anyone considering studying accounting, it's important to understand that accounting isn't traditional accounting anymore. Accounting has a broad spectrum of application now, whether it be fraud or forensics, risk, data analytics or a whole lot of different things. It's about really understanding what you're good at and whether there's an application in the accounting field that's suitable, rather than just looking at the degree itself."
Images courtesy of Emily Plummer CA and approved for use with the following photographers:
Live Exposure (Elliot Tonks) @liveexposure, MHM Productions (Matthew Mendez) @mrmendez20, 400co @400co.