This semester I’m enrolled in Magazine Project, a class in which (as you may have guessed) students create magazines. We work in teams in specified roles to fashion cohesive, interesting, visually stimulating publications. As Production Editor and a graphic designer, I created the illustration and typography for our cover. Our Editor-in-Chief determined the style of the writing and vibe of the publication. The Lifestyle Editor brainstormed articles for the lifestyle section. After setting up our structure, we were ready to fill our pages with insightful articles.
Last week I pitched an idea to my Magazine Project team: in a world full of famous YouTubers and Instagram renown, what does it mean to be a popular pinner? The feature story seemed perfect for our media-savvy, student-targeted magazine. The feature got the green light, and I got excited.
Since Pinterest’s very beginning, I’ve been hooked. It is a place dedicated to curating collections of your favorite things. What could be better? One of the first accounts I followed was that of Katherine A, who pins inspiring quotes, adorable housewares, and hippie-inspired ensembles. To date, she boasts 92,952 pins and 1,178,912 followers. Suffice it to say, she holds a lot of influence over an influential platform. I pinned her top picks for years, always curious about her account and her motivation. What would make someone cultivate such a huge collection of pins (and such a lovely collection at that)?
I can finally cease my wondering. This semester studying at the University of Westminster in London has afforded me the opportunity to interview this personal inspiration and ask her some of the questions that have always plagued me. How did she gain her followers? Why does she pin? What’s her professional life like? Are her pin boards an accurate representation of her tastes?
After a little Internet digging, I found my famous pinner on Facebook and gave her a quick pitch. And she responded that she would love to help! It was that simple. I interviewed her via Facebook messages and followed up with email, learning all kinds of behind-the-scenes info about this Pinterest celebrity and her pin boards.
The first thing I learned: Katherine Accettura is the face behind the “Katherine A” Pinterest brand. The Illinois native and West Coast frequenter turned to Pinterest in early 2012 as a creative resource, primarily in search of baby booty patterns for Happy Solez, the baby booty company she owns.
The popular pinner never set out to create a Pinterest empire saying, “I was definitely surprised by the amount of followers I gained early on… I have always been a pretty consistent pinner, and I believe that the high-quality images I choose to pin helped grow my number of followers pretty quickly. My growth has been pretty regular ever since.”
She attributes the success not only to the quality, but also the consistency of her pinning, which are at the center of the platform’s uniqueness. My interview with Katherine brought to light how Pinterest and YouTube or Instagram celebrate such vastly different skill sets. To be popular on Pinterest, you have to be a good curator. You’re essentially a taste-maker. You can be fairly anonymous with a really wide reach. You can continue traveling and running a small business in peace. Everyday Katherine A shows people the stuff she likes. With almost any other platform, you must be a content creator. You have to invest time and energy into producing. If you become YouTube, Instagram, or Twitter famous, you’re likely to lose some of your privacy. Pinterest isn’t about the pinner, though. It’s about interests. And, really, that’s magical.
Being able to pick this Pinterest lover’s brain and tell her story has been an amazing experience, and writing this feature has made me unbelievably excited to see the magazine as a finished product. I’m so grateful I’ve been given the opportunity to work with a team in a real-world environment, and I’ve learned so much already. Like, sometimes it pays to just ask for an interview. And, Pinterest is not a waste of time—it’s research.