Anna Andres: Social Media are a Great Power and an Excellent platform for Business Growth
Interview by Mariia Grazhina Chaplin
Anna Andres, a model and fashion Influencer, spoke on how her social media audience has changed since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, using a personal brand for business growth, and the qualities that help her stay balanced during these challenging times.
Twenty-eight-year-old Andres has more than 800,000 followers and is one of the most famous Influencers with a European audience. After marrying French businessman David Barokas, Ukraine-born Anna moved to France. This spring, she opened a Greek restaurant, Anna, in the heart of Paris and is now thinking of establishing the chain. Anna is helping her homeland, keeping her audience, which is almost as big as the population of Amsterdam, motivated and emotional with her content.
Tell us about your followers. Where are they from?
The vast majority of my followers are Russian, Ukrainian, French, and American. Although after the full-scale invasion began, I lost around 50,000 Russian followers because I was actively and truthfully covering the developments in Ukraine. Obviously, a lot of Russians didn’t like it.
Ninety percent of all messages I received, and still continue receiving from Russian users, are very negative every time I mention the war. They are all mistrust, ridicule, and strange reactions. Most of these people have no idea of what’s really going on, and they support the dictatorship. Russians who are more educated and have the opportunity to know the situation not only from within their country with the help of propaganda media – have a more objective view of the situation. These people have sent me words of support and sympathy—but they are few and far between.
How would you rate the impact of Influencers in general, and what do you think about their responsibility for what they post on social media?
Today, in 2022, Influencers have a significant impact on their audience, especially on the younger teenage followers, on people who don’t have strong convictions or a stable worldview yet. They spend a lot of time on social media and see Influencers as role models, taking cues from them and hanging on their words. That’s why I think we, as Influencers, must be very careful in what we choose to post, and we have to make sure the information we share is true. We need to remember to self-censor, be responsible and avoid sharing suspicious or banned content. Social media are a great power and offer an excellent platform for monetization, business growth, and attracting audiences.
You have built up quite a following on social media. When did you start thinking of launching it as a business?
It took a while. At first, I was just blogging for fun. Photos, selfies, travel – the usual stuff. When did I first think of monetizing it? About five years after I started my blog. So, if I started this blog in 2013, then it was around 2018 that I began thinking of launching a business and started doing brand collaborations to monetize it.
What were the kinds of brand collaborations? Were those brand partnerships?
I collaborated both with huge, major brands and with new upstarts. I always try to work only with the brands I like or services that offer good customer care. The quality must be good, with no compromise. If it’s clothes, then it’s something I actually wear and like. If it’s cosmetics, it’s always top-notch, good-quality products that I use myself. I’ve got a strict vetting procedure for all brands, and even when the offers are lucrative, I reject them at the slightest hint of doubt. Over the years of my brand development, I have worked with Guess, Tom Ford Beauty, Estée Lauder, Balmain.
This year, Anna Restaurant opened its doors to the demanding Parisian clientele. Is it your first major project? Tell us how you came up with the idea.
The idea had been knocking around in my head for quite a long time. The final push was the fact that my husband is in the hospitality business. He’s got his own company and many restaurants in some corners of the world. Plus, lots of experience, of course. I’d been observing his work for a while, trying to get the feel of it. One day I announced my wish to be involved and open the restaurant together with him. My husband was on board and also suggested to name the restaurant after me, which was very lovely from his side. Thanks to his help, experience, and team, Anna restaurant opened its doors in the central 8th Arrondissement of Paris. It is a big and serious undertaking.
How does your popularity help your business grow?
Instagram is the best platform for business promotion. And that applies to the restaurant business also. Of course, I use my Instagram to promote my restaurant, regularly posting about it. Hashtags, mentions—all these things doubtlessly have an effect on a place’s popularity, recognition, and ultimately success. If you have a social media following, growing your business is easier, quicker, and more straightforward. But the most important thing is to keep a clear head to have a good understanding of business, strategy, and concept. Having a platform with an audience is not a guarantee of business success.
Why did you choose Greek cuisine, and have you thought of opening a Ukrainian restaurant?
The choice of Greek cuisine was not random: I knew a Greek chef from Athens. A talented chef who makes delicious food is essential for the success of any establishment. Besides, there are only a few good Greek restaurants in Paris, so there isn’t much competition. Yes, in light of recent events, I’ve thought of opening a Ukrainian restaurant to popularize our superb cuisine. And hopefully, I’ll be able to do it in the nearest future.
What about opening an Anna Restaurant in Ukraine—say, in your native city Lviv—after the war?
Great idea! Let’s hope the war ends soon. I actually intend to turn Anna Restaurant into a brand and establish a chain. And I would love to open one of my restaurants in Ukraine. Either in Lviv or Kyiv
Do you cook?
I do, but I’m not a fan of cooking—it’s not like a favorite hobby or anything. It’s a matter of being in the right mood. I mostly cook breakfasts and usually go out for lunch and dinner. But once a week, every Sunday, the family dinner is on me.
Would you like to share anything else with our readers?
I just want to wish everyone some cheer and optimism. Now is not the easiest of times, not just for Ukraine but for the whole world. It’s a time of global changes, which bring new problems and affect our lives. We have to stay optimistic. The most important skill is being able to adapt to any situation. Being able to find happiness in the darkest of times.