Influencer Justus F. Hansen – Stay true to yourself

Photo: Justus F. Hansen

Now 28 years old, Justus Hansen was actually studying law when he started posting his outfits on Instagram back in 2014. And then everything changed. Over 390,000 followers later, he has shelved his studies to follow his mission of providing modern gentlemen with styling tips and advice – which has brought him success and also the jet set life. But he still doesn’t fit into the typical influencer cliché.

This Interview is from J’N’C N °77

What does being an influencer mean for you?
First and foremost, it means being able to share my views on fashion and giving people examples of how to dress and style their outfits.

Are you aware of the influence that you have on others?
Let’s put it this way: I just do my job and share it with others, but I think it would be wrong of me to assume that I’m influencing hundreds of thousands of people with what I do. That’s not even in the back of my mind, so my answer would have to be no.

Let’s consider Instagram as a purely business tool; how much of the business potential do you see as an advantage and disadvantage?
The more money is pumped into the market, the more the influencers accepted offers from brands that they otherwise wouldn’t accept. I think that, in a lot of ways, people are being put to the test.

How do you mean that?
Are their followers still liking the content or has the person become a sort of lacklustre advertising space? That’s something I’ve seen happen quite a lot. The positive aspect is that you get the chance to switch from being an influencer to an entrepreneur and create your own market value.

Let’s talk about your own market value: what criteria do you have when it comes to choosing your cooperation partners?
As a matter of principle, I only take on jobs and market products, brands and ideas that I can get behind and that I like personally. On the one hand, I choose the ones I am familiar with; and they are mainly heritage brands because the fashion sector in particular defines itself by quality – or at least some of it. If the cooperation is well paid, but the quality isn’t good, then I won’t take on the job. It’s as simple as that.

Is it really that simple though? After all, you meanwhile have 360,000 followers. Was it easier when you didn’t have as many?
It doesn’t really matter whether I currently have a million followers with 20 requests a day, or 370,000 and a request every now and again. The main thing is that you stay 100 percent true to yourself. Of course it gets harder the more followers you have, because you also get offers with a significantly higher budget and then you have to really ask yourself whether you should accept them or not. And if so, are they a good fit for me and my account? Can I communicate that? The downside is that the bigger the brands you’re working with, the more of a negative impact it has if you turn the offer down. If you want to stay true to yourself as an influencer, you can also quickly end up falling by the wayside.

“Being an influencer is about more than just taking photos.”

So authenticity runs the risk of falling victim to capitalism?
Authenticity brings in the least money and isn’t always popular with the big names. Companies want to have their advertising space and they want to see their products being photographed and presented really well. All the better when it’s a good fit for the brand, but at the end of the day they really only want the reach you have. Some don’t even really put any thought into whether the influencer even fits in with their advertising concept. I don’t do any competitions or swipe-ups, for example, but that doesn’t seem to make a difference in terms of the job offers I get.

What do you suggest to counter that?
In order to achieve the best possible result for both sides, they should ask themselves from the outset what would suit me and my Instagram account. After all, an idea, even if it’s a good one, doesn’t necessarily have to be as much of a good fit for influencer A as it is for influencer B.

Speaking of which, to what extent does the world of the male influencer differ from that of the female?
In terms of the budget and the opportunities offered. I would claim that the beauty industry has a lot of money to spread around. There’s simply a much bigger choice of cooperations out there for women, and I would also say that there’s more interest there too. You just need to take a glimpse into a Zara store to see that: there’s usually one floor for menswear and the other three floors are for women. It shows you where the money is in the fashion industry. Despite that, I believe that the world of the male influencer is developing, also as far as the cosmetics industry is concerned.

Which influencer stereotype would you like to break down?
The idea that being an influencer is as easy as just taking the odd photo. That’s an important point for me because a lot of people tend to sneer at the influencer profession. But there’s a whole lot more to it than people think – whether the photo is taken professionally or just on your phone; there’s a lot of work that goes into it, a whole lot of communication, fashion editing, styling, it’s basically an entire production. And you have to have a lot of know-how for your community. And you have to build up a certain reach to even be acknowledged as an influencer. For me, it took five years before people could say: “He only uploads one picture a day”. It took me a long time to even start earning anything, but I was still having to make a lot of investments. Now I have a photographer to take and edit my photos professionally, I can pick and choose my cooperation partners and do what I enjoy doing; all aspects that a lot of people simply don’t see.

Thanks a lot for talking to us, Justus.