(Kveller via JTA) — Arielle Charnas, 31, is famous for being a stylish mom. She has more than 1 million followers on Instagram. And even though I’m not a mom, I’m one of them.
Yes, I follow her because I like her style — her look is always put together and cute. But I think I follow her mostly because her life is also so aspirational — her adorable kids, her loving husband, her beautiful apartment.
For whatever reason, Charnas is super popular among tons of non-parent millennials like me. It’s hard to pin down the ingredients of her secret sauce: Is it her so-called “authenticity?” Her Jewishness? Her glammed-up familiarity? Whatever they are, she’s used them to great success.
Now Charnas is transforming her Instagram fame into an actual business: This week she launched her own clothing line with Nordstrom. (There was a bit of drama that she was launching on Sukkot, so she obviously took to Instagram. Her dad, an Israeli, speaks in Hebrew on her story there: “Arielle didn’t mean for the line to come out on Sukkot, since it’s Yom Kippur I’m asking you all to forgive her and let’s go into the New Year with happiness and love.”)
Her brand comes after Charnas created a special collection with Nordstrom in September 2017. In less than 24 hours, that collection (a collaboration with Treasure & Bond) racked up over $1 million in sales.
“As an influencer, my platform has given me the resources to real-life data and feedback by listening to my followers and seeing what they got excited about on my Instagram,” she told Women’s Wear Daily.” We felt an obligation to use this incredible knowledge to give my followers what they wanted.”
What they wanted, it seems, are “feminine, accessible, elevated basics.”
The Something Navy story began when Charnas — then Arielle Nachmani — was 22 and started a blog “for all of the wrong reasons.” She had been dating a guy and wanted to impress him. They broke up two months later.
Afterward, she said, “I went full force with my blog. I wanted to take the prettiest, sexiest, coolest outfit pictures and post them thinking he’d be watching. I became obsessed. I was posting and writing every single day and when I look back at those posts now, I laugh. They are embarrassing and I sound ridiculous, but it made me feel so good and powerful.”
Nine years later — plus a marriage, two kids and four employees — and Charnas is a powerful force in the influencer game. Instagram started in October 2010; nine months later Charnas joined the platform. She posted her outfits, but often just directed people to her blog. As she explained, “I started off posting personal pictures … not really understanding the concept of what Instagram can do/was for in regards to being a blogger.”
By April 2017, she made it to 1 million followers, and Instagram is now the main entry point for most of them.
“My job is to document my life,” Charnas said in an interview last year. “I don’t think my followers think of me as a businesswoman. They think of me as an everyday girl who they’re friends with.”
Same goes for her sisters, who often pop up on her Instagram stories. Michaela Podolsky, her younger sister, is a beauty influencer in her own right (@michaelapodo), and her older sister, Danielle Nachmani (@daniellenachmani), is a professional stylist who works with celebrities like Laura Harrier.
Even their mom, Carrie, has a bigger Instagram following than anyone I know (nearly 17,000 followers); she posts recipes on her account @carriestable. (Their dad, Oded, an Israeli immigrant, keeps his Instagram private.) And we could not forget her husband, Brandon — he has nearly 60,000 followers.
A Charnas follower — Emma, 23 – told me that she thinks people follow Charnas because “she feels like your friend.” She said there is a certain type of realness that Charnas embodies — she’s a very secular Jewish girl from Long Island in a way that feels so familiar.
Her style, too, seems like something anyone would wear (or, at least, a cheaper version of her looks — she’ll post a dress that costs $385, leggings that cost $158).
When other influencers promote things, “it doesn’t feel organic,” Emma said, but “with her it very much feels like ‘oh she uses this and happened to post it.’”
Charnas gives her followers a peek into her world.
“I’m always so open and honest on my Instagram, I really don’t sugarcoat anything or photoshop my photos or try to find perfect backgrounds to take my pictures, everything is very impulsive,” she told Elle magazine. “I don’t plan anything out, my Instagram stories are super organic and real. Staying true to who I am made me more relatable, so when I promote something, whether it’s from a restaurant or company, they trust my opinion.”
Our option: Charnas is arguably the world’s most Insta-famous Jewish mom. And now that she’s on the verge of helming her own fashion empire, she’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Emily Burack is an editorial assistant at Kveller.
Kveller is a thriving community of women and parents who convene online to share, celebrate and commiserate their experiences of raising kids through a Jewish lens. Visit Kveller.com.