Salem Mitchell Talks Modeling From Home: "Shoots Are Happening From Behind a Screen"
Salem Mitchell has been spending her time like many other models during the pandemic — adjusting to a virtual world of castings, shooting campaigns, and using her platform for the greater good. Mitchell, 22, is dedicating a lot of her time to activism (she's currently working to support nonprofit Beauty For Freedom), but she does her fair share of shopping, too.
I was curious about whether Salem prefers working from home — does she like keeping to herself or does she feel disconnected from the rest of the fashion world? Turns out, even though Salem is making the most of her Zoom calls — and experimenting with her outfits more than ever before — she still misses the hands-on experience that comes with being on set. "There's nothing more special than an entire group coming together to create one final product," she told me.
Ahead, Salem sheds light on what it's like to be a model while social distancing and gives us a few great ideas for small brands and women designers to support if you, too, are shopping from home. Scroll through to shop some of Mitchell's mood board and learn how she's stayed in touch with her personal style after so many months at home. "Having style means finding a way to showcase your personality and express yourself through clothing and accessories," she said. Clearly, this is something Mitchell is well-versed in. I'm sure her followers and fans will agree.
POPSUGAR: What do you feel it means to be an influencer in 2020?
Salem Mitchell: Sometimes I think they just slap the title of "influencer" on you as soon as you have a bit of a following, but I guess an influencer is someone who creates content with the intention of inspiring others to follow suit or buy products they are promoting. I don't consider myself an influencer. I'm just a model and content creator. I post fun pictures because I like to take pictures. I don't post with the goal to influence or inspire because then comes the great responsibility to be a perfect role model. While I value my platform and do my best to always represent myself in the most positive way, living with a constant goal to influence those watching you is a lot of pressure for a 22-year-old who's figuring life out just as my followers are.
PS: How do you think social distancing has affected personal style and the eagerness to get dressed?
SM: Social distancing has pushed my style in a variety of directions. Without set events or hangouts to base outfits around, it's given me way more room for freedom to experiment without fear of judgment. Lately, I've been trying to create playful looks with fun colors, statement shoes, or unique patterns. I think right now people are more likely to follow trends because we're all spending much more time online, so we're being constantly influenced by what others are doing/wearing.
PS: What work have you been doing virtually from home during the pandemic?
SM: I've done some home shoots where brands send me the product to shoot myself. I've done a few shoots through Zoom, where the photographer takes screen grabs on their end. Aside from modeling, I've also been working on a really cool brand collaboration from home and we've been meeting via conference calls, web chats, and group text threads. Working from home is challenging. I have to be a model, stylist, location scout, makeup artist, and photographer all in one. Meeting wise, it's also challenging working around time zones, conflicting schedules, or poor connections. I enjoy working from home since it gives me more time to sleep in and I don't deal with the minor inconveniences that come with driving or traveling, but I really miss working with full creative teams. There's nothing more special than an entire group coming together to create one final product.
PS: How has casting for projects, fashion shows, or campaigns changed during the pandemic?
SM: Castings, shows, and shoots are all happening behind a screen. I have had a few in-person castings, but even those started with a Zoom casting first and the callbacks were in person, while socially distanced. I've done a handful of in-person shoots, but due to the pandemic, the creative teams are smaller, we all have to sign waivers, and I'm actively getting tested for COVID-19 before and after jobs.
PS: How are you staying connected to the fashion industry and supporting your peers?
SM: Through social media. I get to see what all my friends all over the world are up to. I've also been purchasing the work they've been producing, whether it's magazines they're in or that they've shot, posters, or clothing. It's little things like that that show love and support.
PS: What are the craziest fashion trends you've pulled off while at home during the pandemic?
SM: I've been dressing a bit more sultry since the pandemic started, and I know that's not a trend, but it's still a bit crazy to me because I don't think I would've had the confidence to dress like this before quarantine. I've been wearing cute, sheer tops and outfits with unique cutouts. I've been playing with heels and more fitted silhouettes. I turned 22 during quarantine, so I really want to tap into a fiercer, more confident version of myself.
PS: What outfit have you been living in at home?:
SM: I've been living in these dresses and lounge sets from Pretties! They make me feel pretty, but they're still light and cozy enough to wear as I work from the couch or my bedroom.
Purchase Salem's exact Pretties dress ahead.
PS: How are you connecting with your followers and using your social platform right now?
SM: Aside from posting regular content on Instagram, I recently started doing mini vlogs on TikTok, and that's been a fun way to be more personal. A lot of my followers didn't even know what my voice sounded like before. It's also been a very heavy year due to the social and political climate, so I've been trying my best to amplify helpful information, petitions, and especially voter information. While I've been staying connected, I've also been disconnecting as well. Social media is an amazing tool, but it's hard to ignore the impact it has on my mental health. Without drawing a boundary, it's easy to compare myself to others, lose hours scrolling, and waste too much of my own life worried about the lives of others.
PS: What fashion must have does every TikTok user keep in rotation?
SM: The fashion on TikTok is so versatile, it's hard to give a concrete answer, but I'd have to go with big pants and a little shirt.
PS: What are you shopping for right now?
SM: Right now I'm shopping for clothes with a twist! Asymmetrical clothing, abstractly constructed pieces, two-tone colors — anything that feels really unique!
PS: What has been your favorite fashion purchase that you've made while social distancing during the pandemic?
SM: I don't even know where to start. I've been doing so much online shopping, but I'd have to say my favorite thing is this gorgeous brown swirl Paloma Wool dress that I have. I've been filling my closet with a lot of Paloma Wool clothes.
Purchase Salem's exact Miaou set ahead.