Inside the world of professional social media influencers: Esther Santer

Esther Santer – Fashion and lifestyle blogger (esthersanter.com).

By Bill Motchan, Special to the Jewish Light

Social media influencers are increasingly changing the media landscape by virtue of their popularity, with many having the power to affect purchasing among their many followers. Among the Jewish social media influencers with substantial audiences are five St. Louisans, three of whom still call the city home. Today, meet one of the five, Esther Santer, a fashion and lifestyle blogger (esthersanter.com), who has 85,000 followers on Instagram.


Esther Santer

Fashion and lifestyle blogger (esthersanter.com)

85,000 followers on Instagram 

New York Fashion Week is one of the hottest tickets in Manhattan. VIPs who regularly attend include Kate Hudson, Rihanna and Issa Rae. You’ll also find Esther Santer among the glitterati. 

Santer, an alum of H.F. Epstein Hebrew Academy and Agudas Israel and U. City Shul, is a popular fashion and lifestyle blogger. It all started eight years ago when she was in her last semester at Touro College, sitting in class when she texted a friend.

“I was living across from Lincoln Center where Fashion Week used to take place, and I wanted to be a part of it so badly, but I had no connections,” said Santer, 30. “It was extremely exclusive, basically just celebrities. I was trying to wrap my brain around how I could go. It was the last day, the last show, and I said to my friends, ‘Let’s just crash it. Let’s do whatever we have to do.’ 

“There was security, and you really needed tickets but we somehow got in, and it was so magical that that night I went home and I said, ‘I’m starting a blog and next season, I’m getting invited.’ So that’s exactly what happened!”

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Santer had no formal training, but she quickly developed contacts, covered fashion shows and used online resources to develop her voice and her blog. One year later, she received an invitation to a show from designer Nanette Lepore.

“I thought, ‘OK, if I can do that, what else can I do?’ ” she said. “So over the next couple of years, I continued doing what I was doing until I was getting probably over 50 invitations a season.  That’s when I figured, if I can go from literally nothing with no connections, just a St. Louis girl moving to New York, I can turn this into a business. So that is what I did.”

In the process, Santer discovered that you can earn a good living from being a social media influencer. Blog posts that collaborate with top brands, from H&M to Starbucks, earn her real income.

Standing out in the blogging world requires creative content, and Santer has achieved that in both her blog and Instagram feed. Her personality and point of view are reflected in the first-person account of a fashion-loving New Yorker. Those posts are also accompanied by photos of Santer wearing fabulous clothes, posing around Manhattan. Now that Santer is married, her husband (who is Jewish and works in the restaurant industry) is also featured regularly.

Her posts also frequently address Judaism. That was a deliberate editorial decision based on both Santer’s upbringing and her audience.

“I actually didn’t bring any religion into my posts for a bunch of years,” she said. “But then I started to become really popular in the Jewish world. As I started to realize that my Jewish base was growing so large, I realized I needed to relate to them. Being Jewish is my strong identity, so it just made sense.”

Santer said being a social media influencer with tens of thousands of followers requires her to constantly come up with new photo ops and stories. It’s a full-time job and real work, but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“What’s really cool about it is that you get out what you put in,  and I love that,” she said. “The access and opportunities that bloggers have is just insane. Things have definitely changed but, prepandemic, I was attending events probably two to three times a night. I would have a private car service sent to get me. I would be given third-row concert tickets. I’d be sent to the Hamptons for the weekend. Life was a bit luxurious. 

“There’s obviously a lot of work that goes into it, but just from the opportunities and the things that are made accessible to bloggers, it makes you feel like you’re living the dream.”

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