Prom influencers rewarded for modeling dresses

Anna Kinasewitz | Staff Writer

Style, price, color, size.

Junior Mariah Norman is an influencer for Bridal & Formal, receiving discounts for modeling their dresses and promoting them on social media.

Prom dress stores are capitalizing on the frenzy of finding a dress while giving high school students professional experience. Prom influencers have become more prominent for boutiques in recent years due to the rise of social media and online shopping. 

Junior Mariah Norman is on the 2020 team for Bridal & Formal in Cincinnati and is working towards meeting the sales goal for the Mason area, a clientele hot-spot. Norman said she is motivated by the incentives of the program to meet her goal.

“By being an influencer, we get the opportunity to get a discount on our prom dress if we meet a standard,” Norman said. “They give out different awards, based on who was most active, who got the most people for that certain month, and you get things like gift cards. So you get a lot of different rewards just from being a part of it, but the end goal is getting a free dress.”

Norman is able to reach those goals through her responsibilities in the program. She balances her schedule with the flexibility of the program by going in to take photos wearing the dresses on her own time. She also has opportunities to host groups of girls at the stores for fitting parties, promoting the brand and aiding fellow students.

“Some people are super involved and go in every single week and others go in a few times a month,” Norman said. “We go in and make Tik Toks and Boomerangs for Instagram, and take pictures to post later. Most importantly, we just keep people engaged and remind them to go to Bridal and Formal whenever they want to find a prom dress.” 

Senior Paige Monley has done prom dress photoshoots for the formal-wear store Kotsovos, located in Montgomery. Monley has found benefits that go beyond just what’s in-store. 

“I think it was really fun to just go out with my friends and take pictures in the dresses and make yourself look pretty for fun, even though it’s not for a dance,” Monley said. “Something that was really special that I didn’t expect was when we were outside in downtown Cincinnati, a bunch of little girls kept coming up and asking to take pictures with us because they thought that we were princesses.”

As a part of the influencer program, Kotsovos hosts Prom Preview runway shows to highlight upcoming styles, in addition to the photoshoots. Last year, Junior, Kara Stone took part in the program at Kotsovos to gain modeling experience. 

“There’s no compensation involved; it’s like a collaboration,” Stone said. ”I get modeling exposure, content, and really great discounts, and in return, I post the pictures and document the experience. One of the best experiences was the runway show to kick off the prom season and I actually got to work with and meet Miss Ohio during that.”

Aside from the attention and free advertising that the business gets on social media, the program’s promotion of confidence and body positivity is also important to Kotsovos Manager Emily Stevens. 

“We look for influencers of all different body types, races, and ethnicities to make sure that we are representing every high school girl,” Stevens said. “We don’t just have size 0 and size 2 dresses, we go up to size 24 W, and that should be represented. I think it’s great to let girls know that there are dresses for every person, every size, every style, every body type, and it just empowers them knowing that they have a place to come shop for prom and not look the same as all of their other friends.” 

Photos by Mia Sweitzer.