GoDaddy Q&A: Lyn Slater slays the web to become fashion’s Accidental Icon
GoDaddy is thrilled to partner with Accidental Icon founder Lyn Slater for our “Make the world you want campaign” — empowering makers to change your world if it doesn’t quite fit you.
A professor of social work at Fordham University in New York City, Slater started Accidental Icon to fill a niche in the fashion and beauty world. Unable to find a fashion blog or magazine that offered an “urban, modern, intellectual aesthetic but also spoke to women who live what I call ‘interesting but ordinary lives’ in cities,” she started her own. The 65-year-old style influencer creates, curates and collaborates to bring beauty and fashion to “women (like me) who are not famous or celebrities but are smart, creative, fashion forward, fit, thoughtful, engaged, related and most importantly, clear and comfortable with who they are.”
During her interview with GoDaddy, Lyn Slater talks about taking a chance to create the world she wanted — and landing in a place that feels like destiny. She talks about challenging the status quo, owning her image, and fighting for inclusivity in the fashion world. We hope her story inspires you to make the world you want.
You’ve got the power, we’ve got the tools. Make the world you want, and share it with everyone.
GoDaddy interview with Lyn Slater, founder of Accidental Icon
This interview has been gently edited for clarity.
GoDaddy: What inspired you to start your business?
Lyn Slater: Well, I was feeling very bored in academia and very controlled, and I wanted to find a different way to express myself creatively. A lot of people told me I had good style and that I should start a blog. So that’s what I decided to do.
GoDaddy: How did making mistakes help you along your path?
Lyn Slater: Mistakes are the way that you learn — so if you don’t make them, you’re going to be in big trouble. My rule is to make a lot of mistakes on your path because you’re gonna learn a lot of things every time you make them.
GoDaddy: Have you faced any unexpected hurdles and, if so, how did you overcome them?
Lyn Slater: I’ve been very fortunate in that I have had more support than I’ve had challenges. But when I needed to learn new things, like Snapchat, for example, my students were very helpful. They showed me how to do it, and it became easier and easier the more that I practiced. So at the end of the day, it’s not really a challenge.
“I reinvented myself. I created a whole new world with a website and the internet and social media.” ~ Accidental Icon Lyn Slater
GoDaddy: Why is having a great website important for you and your business?
Lyn Slater: That’s how I represent myself in the world. And it’s how I do the two things that give me the most pleasure. … My website is the home for my blog, which I love writing. It also allows me to show my skill at creative direction through the photos that I helped my partner compose, and that we post on my site.
GoDaddy: Have you always felt like you fit into our world?
Lyn Slater: Actually, probably not. I think that I’ve always been sort of in-between. Just as an example, I’m the oldest of six children. Even though I was a sibling, I was the oldest — so was I a parent or was I a sister?
I got very comfortable with being able to cross boundaries and find ways to fit into multiple places.
GoDaddy: What kind of world would you want to live in?
Lyn Slater: The world that I would want to live in is one where people can control their own representation. Where people feel free to reject a social category or a label that someone might want to put upon them — sort of like what I’ve been doing with age, and a lot of other people are doing with things like gender.
It’s a world that lets you be who you are, and not who others tell you that you are supposed to be or have to be.
I’ve made this world happen for me through technology and social media. … Before technology and social media, someone like me would never have been in the world of fashion. But because of social media, because of technology, I’ve been able to put myself in there in a way that I probably couldn’t have before.
So I think my own story as the “accidental icon” is a great example of how we now have the power — if we want to take it — to own our own representation.
GoDaddy: What made you realize that a change needed to be made?
Lyn Slater: I’ve always been inspired to action because of my prior work in the world of social welfare. So I’ve always understood that there is a lot of unfairness and a lot of labeling and a lot of attempts to control us socially. I’ve always pushed back against that.
When I was young, it was a time when my generation was burning bras and demonstrating, and the government actually listened when people demonstrated back then. So I’ve always had that, “I’m just going to go against the status quo” mentality. So for me, this feels very refreshing, and something that I’m happy and comfortable with, because I’ve been doing it my whole life.
GoDaddy: What roadblocks have you encountered?
Lyn Slater: Well, I think sometimes what happens is there’s a danger that people will want to fetish size you. Now there is this trend that, oh, older women on Instagram are the next big thing. And they’re not really looking at you as an individual; they’re still, once again, trying to put you in a box, trying to put you in a category.
I resist that all of the time.
I really believe that fashion and beauty, which is the world I operate in now, that designers and people who are developing products need to make them be for everybody.
All women should be able to wear something from a designer. All women and men and trans people should be able to use beauty products if they want to. So my approach when someone tries to put me in that box is I am going to say, “Sorry, not having that.” I might do something very unexpected of a person my age to sort of show you, hell, no.
GoDaddy: How do other makers inspire you?
Lyn Slater: I get inspiration from many different places — and I’ve always been very interdisciplinary by nature. So I think that somebody who is doing something really interesting in music inspires me; somebody who’s designing a couch that helps people who have experienced trauma feel relaxed inspires me…
There are so many sources of inspiration now, because we are in a time when people are being allowed to be entrepreneurs, and they’re being encouraged to be innovative, instead of going into a set job for 20 years of your life.
I also get a lot of inspiration from younger people. I told you before that I was the oldest of six. So from the time my brother was born, I’ve always been around younger people. In my career, and in teaching, I’m always around younger people. So if I want to be understood by them and to understand them, which I do, I have to push myself and be inspired by them.
That’s how I became an early adopter of technology, because my students were using it. I wanted to be able to communicate with them in the way that they were finding very exciting. So I think I love looking at people who are trying something new, who are taking a risk — they inspire me more than big, established giants.
GoDaddy: What advice would you give people who have a dream?
Lyn Slater: Just do it. And I’ll tell you a little story about that. I have my partner Calvin to thank for this … I had done a lot of planning and researching and talking about starting a blog for probably about a year. One day I was talking about it yet again, and my partner, Calvin, said, “Put on some clothes. I’m getting my camera, we’re leaving this house, and you are going to just do this.”
Don’t think you have to have a five-year plan. The world is changing so fast. For me, I just put myself out there. I focus on creating good content — and then I just see what can happen to me. … Just do it. And be open to any possibility that can come your way.
Many thanks to Lyn Slater for sharing her story. Be sure to check out her website and follow Accidental Icon on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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