It all started with some online shopping and Internet surfing.
"It then morphed into reading fashion blogs and saving links to new shopping websites," said Kori Perten, founder of the Fashion-Y Blog (modernmagik.blogspot.com), which she launched in February 2007. The Internet surfing and shopping came as Perten recovered from an illness that kept her out of Wayland High School for a year.
Now, Perten, 18, posts almost daily, and has developed a sizeable following - just shy of 1,000 daily readers across the country.
Her work has been featured on Coutorture, a popular fashion blog, and on occasion Perten receives makeup to test-drive, handbags to sample, and fashion books to review.
Last October, Perten was accepted to Teen Vogue Fashion University, a weekend of seminars and workshops that included top designers such as Erin Fetherston and Doo-Ri Chung, fashion consultant Tim Gunn (who is also the on-air mentor for a Bravo television reality program, "Project Runway"), and various writers and editors from Teen Vogue magazine.
But the biggest surprise came last month when Perten was invited to attend a fashion show featuring Victorya Hong, a designer from season four of "Project Runway." She wrote about the show on her blog, and posted photos that she took with her digital Canon A610.
"In the beginning I wasn't sure how much personal information I wanted to put up on the Internet," said Perten. "I primarily wrote about things like a cool dress I'd found, a designer collection that caught my interest, or my picks on what to wear for Valentine's Day."
But Perten soon concluded that the blogs that she enjoyed the most, like Kingdom of Style (kingdomofstyle.typepad.co.uk), and the Sartorialist (thesartorialist.blogspot.com), which was included in Time magazine's top 100 design influences, were the more intimate ones, where writers posted their own outfits, opinions on the fashion world, and bits about their lives.
It wasn't long before Perten jumped on the virtual soapbox, posting her thoughts on things such as accepting your physical flaws, a polka-dot skirt that she saw online (with a link to the store), why she has started taking bee pollen supplements, and the art of wearing glasses, which she does. Hours after the eyeglass story posted, an online retailer contacted her about writing a blog for its website.
Perten uses a free Web tool, Feedburner.com, which tells her how many hits her site gets, and how people got there. She's also able to see whenever other bloggers link to her site through Technorati (technorati.com). "Everything that I use is free," said Perten.
Perten also gets contacted from people who want advice. The most recent example, she said, is a girl who said she was looking to go for a short haircut, and was on the hunt for style ideas.
Perten says that one of her initial inspirations was a British blog called stylebubble (stylebubble.typepad.com).
"The styles are so out there, and nothing that I'd ever wear, but her creativity is very inspiring," said Perten. And she recently discovered a French blog, the Cherry Blossom Girl (thecherryblossomgirl.com), that's all in French. "I can't understand it, but the outfits are amazing," said Perten.
On a recent Wednesday afternoon, Perten sat on the edge of her bed wearing a black, short-sleeved shirt, a print skirt and mid-heeled black combat boots.
"I wear a lot of dresses and like to toughen them up a little bit," she said. "I also have a pair of motorcycle boots that sort of do the same thing."
Her walls are filled with pages from fashion magazines and plastered with Polaroid photos. One of them was from a trip to Israel in 2006. She had gone overseas with Teens for Tzedek, a community service group that spent three weeks in Israel working at an Arab-Israeli day camp in Haifa, and a shelter for women with AIDS back in Boston. Ten days after she returned from Israel, Perten became very ill with symptoms that still plague her nearly two years later, including fatigue and nausea. She also suffers with orthostatic hypotension, a severe drop in blood pressure that occurs when standing.
"At first you just figure your kid's sick so you don't really worry about it," said her mother, Ruth Levine, "but a couple of weeks into it, it wasn't getting any better."
Levine said that it's still unknown how her daughter got sick. After countless visits to specialists across the nation, Perten was told that she also had a form of chronic fatigue syndrome. Blood pressure medication now controls the fainting.
"I'd say for about a year, our house was a very dark place," said Levine.
During the first 10 months that Perten was sick, she was bed-ridden and unable to do any schoolwork. But she did have a laptop, and Perten began her virtual window-shopping. With an interest in fashion, and a love of reading and writing, Perten had the perfect ingredients for blogging.
Fortunately, Perten had taken more than the required number of classes during her freshman and sophomore years, so she will be able to graduate from high school on time this spring. She's taking a few online classes to bolster her transcript and will take a year off before looking into college.
"Disappearing for a year is not great for your social life," said Perten, laughing.
Even now that she's back at school taking a few classes, Perten said that she hasn't got the energy to go to parties, or take the T into Boston for the day.
Another milestone that Perten missed was her junior prom, which she took in stride, concluding that the most fun would have been picking out the dress - which she did anyway.
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