In a post-Kardashian world, every millennial thinks they have what it takes to go viral, but few consider what that online fame actually looks like in a person's daily life. In Elite Daily's new series Life Behind the Likes, we speak with the people you know on the internet — from the people behind major Instagram accounts to the Daaaaamn Daniels of the world who went viral for one remarkable moment of their lives — to meet the people behind the screens.
Kate Lindello spends a lot of time on Instagram. But rather than mindlessly scrolling, her days are spent curating the @noihsaf.bazaar Instagram account with modern, sustainable clothing from boutique brands. Lindello’s Noihsaf Bazaar gives her a chance to flex her styling muscle as she decides which items to feature for sale on her feed. Since creating the account in 2013, Lindello has aimed to make it an approachable place where people can buy quality pieces to add to their closet.
Lindello, who lives in Duluth, Minnesota, came up with the idea for the account in February of 2013, when she was dealing with postpartum depression. The Instagram account acted as an outlet as she put time into creating a space where she could sell her used clothes. Lindello focused on creating a space for the resale of her boutique items, because she thought websites like eBay, Poshmark, and The RealReal only seemed to offer an outlet for fast fashion or luxury items. "There was kind of that middle section missing," she says. "Instagram at the time wasn't really being used as a marketplace at all," she says. "I thought, ‘This would be a really easy way to sell some of my items.'"
Lindello came up with the unique name pretty quickly. The first word in the name, Noihsaf, is “fashion” spelled backwards, and Lindello didn’t really put that much time into creating the moniker. “I didn't know it was going to turn into what it is, and I just thought it was kind of clever and it sounded a little bit sophisticated," she says. Lindello also likes how the backwards spelling helps indicate that fashion doesn’t have to be so rigid. To round it out, she chose “bazaar” because it reminded her of “a fashion magazine or marketplace,” which is essentially what the account is: a virtual fashion marketplace. The added mystery of the name was a plus for Lindello as well, since it meant users could “have an ah-ha moment” when they figure it out.
This community has been built little by little these last seven or eight years, and now it's a full-fledged company, which still [makes me] pinch myself.
As of publication on Sept. 9, the Noihsaf Bazaar Instagram account has over 37,000 followers, and Lindello has created seven spinoff accounts — including @noihsaf.vintage, @noihsaf.men, and @noihsaf.home, securing nearly 110,000 followers in total.
To buy an item on a Noihsaf account, users leave a comment with their ZIP code and tag the seller. Whoever comments first wins the item. Then, they connect with the seller via DM and arrange for the payment to be made. When she first started, Lindello asked prospective buyers to leave their email, but that eventually created a bot problem. "Then it got to the point of, 'OK, leave your ZIP code,' and that was so the seller could maybe estimate shipping," she says.
Lindello says the unusual setup came as a result of "what Instagram allows." According to Lindello, the collective accounts post hundreds of times per day, and Instagram apparently limits how many times an account can post per day. “Since we do not have an online store, the feed is essentially our store, so we are limited to how many items we can post [per] day, which is why curation is so important,” she says. “We still do not utilize Instagram's Marketplace features because we do not live natively anywhere else.... yet!” As of publication, there is a new Noihsaf Bazaar website underway, which will become the business’ main platform.
Despite the buzz around her account, Lindello’s success didn't come overnight. "It's been a very slow burn," she says. “The intention was never to grow this thing as big and as fast as we possibly could." Noihsaf accounts have never shared sponsored posts, and Lindello has no plans to do so in the future. (Lindello does collect a small fee from the seller when an item sells.) She credits some of her early success to redirecting her blogging connections to her Noihsaf Bazaar account. It wasn't long before friends began asking to sell their clothing on the feed. "At the time, I just gave out the password," she explains. "So, this community has been built little by little these last seven or eight years, and now it's a full-fledged company, which still [makes me] pinch myself," Lindello says.
For four or five years, Lindello remained anonymous, partly due to her hesitancy to link the account to someone outside of the typical fashion world. "I think for a while I was in denial that I could actually turn [Noihsaf Bazaar] into a full-fledged company. And then I just got to the point where I was like, 'No, this is who I am, I have a story to tell,'" she says.
One of Noihsaf's main goals is to encourage sustainable fashion and wearing used clothing in order to avoid fast fashion and its environmental cost. While she tries to do her part with the Noihsaf accounts, Lindello doesn't believe fast fashion can go away entirely. "You have to be in a pretty privileged position to: A. have the time to shop, B. to look into who is making your clothes, and C. to afford smaller and emerging designers," she explains. "My hope with Noihsaf is making that more accessible."
I have to really represent what I believe in and follow my ideals and my original mission.
In the beginning of 2019, Lindello decided to reveal herself as the creator of the account. "I felt like it was important for the community to know, ‘OK, who is this person doing this and making these decisions?,’ because it’s a curated feed and we’re not accepting everything," she says. "A lot of it's based on my personal aesthetic, so I thought it just makes sense if I introduce myself."
Since then, she's felt more pressure. "I consider it a very big responsibility. Especially in this day and age during a racial uprising and a pandemic, and the whole social, economic, environmental impact of fashion," says Lindello, "I have to really represent what I believe in and follow my ideals and my original mission." As she continues growing her company, Lindello features women-led brands and lesser-known designers, and she says "giving a voice to other people" is one of her favorite things about Noihsaf.
For the bulk of her time working on the account, Lindello didn't count Noihsaf Bazaar as her full-time job. She was regularly working as a photo stylist, interior stager, art director, and creative consultant. It was only about a year and a half ago that Lindello "transitioned out of [her] styling company" to give the account her full attention. As of September 2020, Lindello works full-time for the company, and she's hired five team members.
Currently, Lindello is focused on big picture changes for her company: rebranding and moving the bulk of her business to a website rather than relying solely on Instagram. "I am in a constant state of learning," Lindello says of all the changes, but she's gotten more comfortable with asking questions when she doesn't understand something in this new undertaking. Lindello advises anyone starting new a new venture not to get down on themselves for not knowing. "Ask questions!" she says.
As Lindello's daily duties have shifted, much of the curation and listing duties have been handed over to her five contract employees: April, Leslie, Meredith, Sarah, and Saba, most of whom are based in Minnesota and New York, and have backgrounds in fashion and art. Lindello says they share a very similar aesthetic to her own, and remain focused on sourcing items from small designers made with earth-friendly materials. "It probably takes three-and-a-half to four hours of listing [per] day. And that’s something I did myself for, like, six years, every single day," Lindello says.
Although Lindello loves her job, it can be taxing being on social media all the time. "We literally have to be on our phones, we're opening email, we're using our thumbs for six hours straight, like copying and pasting on Instagram," she explains with a laugh. Despite the hours spent on Instagram, Lindello is thankful she's been able to turn her passion for sustainable clothing into her full-time business: "I look forward every day to doing my job."