Consider Jen Coleman and Laura Wiertzema your personal Target sherpas. That's what they are to more than 500,000 Instagram followers, who shop right along with them as they post real-time updates on @TargetDoesItAgain.
The account, which they've been running since 2013, serves as a feed of the coolest hidden gems to shop right now in store at Target. That could be John Robshaw for Target designer sheets or minimalist slides or a striped top with on-trend lacing. The majority of their picks are under $20 — perfect impulse-buy territory, both for themselves and their followers.
"They'll shop in Target with our account pulled up so they know what to look for and weed through the things that they don't want to look at and go straight to our finds," Coleman said.
A Racked source (OK, one of this writer's best friends) confessed: "I have bought so many things at Target because of those ladies."
How did this all get started? The two friends met via the blogging world, before Instagram even started. Both worked in fashion: Wiertzema was a visual merchandiser at Anthropologie and Coleman was a buyer at a store in Dallas. Eventually, they realized the Target clothes they styled in their #OOTD posts on their personal accounts were getting tons of comments, so they started a separate account in 2013 focused on Tar-zhay.
That was many, many Target runs ago.
"We've had a really engaged following since the very beginning," said Coleman. "I mean, who doesn't love Target? Everybody's in there, you're grabbing diapers for your kid and you end up leaving with a pair of shoes or a new pillow. We had no idea that it would be this huge. It's just been so much fun."
Coleman and Wiertzema aren't the only ones out there on Instagram with a brand superfan account. There's @WhoaWaitWalmart which is dedicated to, you guessed it, finding cute things at Walmart. Bloggers who obsessively track their favorite stores have added Instagram accounts too, like StyleOnTarget (who includes one Target item in every outfit post) or J.Crew fan blogs J.CrewAficionada or @JCrewIsMyFavoriteStore.
The @TargetDoesItAgain duo takes photos whenever they're out shopping at Target, which is frequently.
"We're not organized shoppers, so if we need stuff for groceries, I don't like plan the whole week out of what I'm buying. I'm like, oh, let me just run to Target for that," Wiertzema said. "We're there anyways. We're always texting each other pictures back and forth. Part of the thing that's cool is Jen lives in Texas and I live in L.A., and so demographically, stores carry different things and they get them at different times."
Needless to say, as with so many bloggers, this has turned into a full-time gig. Coleman and Wiertzema have monetized the account through sponsored posts by brands — often food and personal care brands — that are stocked in Target and want to get in front of Target superfans.
"All of our sponsored posts are products that we'd actually use and buy or do use and buy. It's cool to over the years be able to be a voice for some smaller brands that are getting their foot in the door at Target," Wiertzema said. "We're really impressed with the way Target has expanded their natural, non-GMO organic, healthy lifestyle range of brands so it's cool that we can help get the word out."
Coleman and Wiertzema don't work with Target in any official capacity, but the store's corporate office is definitely aware of the Instagram, having featured it on its corporate blog. Coleman said she's heard that Target knows the impact their account has with shoppers. "They'll tell their buyers to tell their brands to reach out with us to work with us," she said.
In the meantime, the success of the Instagram helped them build an actual fashion business. They'd always wanted to own a store, and nearly three years ago they opened online shop Ascot + Hart, which sells boots, vintage tees, and ball caps that could mix in easily with their boho Xhilaration finds.
"[We thought] OK, we've got the customers, we have this engaged following. It's kind of a natural progression for us," said Coleman.
They're still hard at work on @TargetDoesItAgain, though it doesn't feel like a job. "It doesn't feel like we're working when we have to go in and take photos," Wiertzema said.
"Any store we go to, Laura and I, we just text each other back and forth whatever we find. We love Zara, we love Home Goods, we love Costco," Coleman added.
In fact, they just launched @CostcoDoesItAgain a month ago to show off the best watermelon water and quinoa macaroni to buy at the big box chain. It already has nearly 40,000 followers.
Can a @ZaraDoesItAgain account be next? Both Coleman and Wiertzema laughed when asked. "We would love to but someone already stole our 'Does it Again.' There are a lot of knock-off accounts that have stolen the 'Does It Again,'" Coleman said. Darn. May we suggest Zara's Really Done It?
By Racked.com's Adele Chapin. Read the original article here.