When you see that Eric Wertz, aka BlueCollarPrep, is a fashion influencer who grew up in Brooklyn, you probably get visions of celebrities hanging out at their brownstones, hipsters eating cool cuisine at trendy restaurants, or white-collar commuters taking the subway back and forth to their jobs in Manhattan.
But when Eric was a boy in NYC’s most populous borough, it wasn’t like that. It still hadn’t transitioned from its working-class roots that came from it being one of the nation’s leading manufacturers of processed goods.
Still, despite it not yet being dubbed the coolest place on the planet by various media outlets, Eric says his home neighborhood, as well as the trips he would often take into Manhattan with his family, were a big factor in his career path. “It influenced me by growing up around different cultures,” he says. “I think just by being raised in the city and being around creative people who were willing to take risks, it really exposed me to an array of styles that are out there.”
One of those people who was willing to take risks was his father. Most of the time he would dress like a regular dad, that is to say, uninspiring, but other times, watch out! “You’d have these days where he would throw on a random piece like a kimono and rock it without caring what anyone thought,” Eric recalls. “My dad wasn't afraid to express himself, so I definitely think that influenced my style in some way as well.”
With a role model like that, it is no wonder that Eric thought his future lay in the world of clothes and style. “I always thought I would end up in fashion,” he remembers. “Unfortunately, I was not a very good student in grade school and it took me awhile to really get my stuff together and figure out what I was good at and what I wanted to do.”
He was working at a dead-end office job when a friend told him to take the electrical union test. He took it, passed, and the next thing you know he’s making a living rewiring houses, swapping out circuit breakers, and installing lighting systems. “I never had a dream to become an electrician or anything, but I did want a career that was reliable, had good benefits, and that involved a skill that I could acquire.”
Plying his “blue collar” trade, Eric was making an honest living, providing for his family, paying the bills, while supplying a much-needed service to his customers. But, this wasn’t his dream job, and it took another family member, this time his wife Sarina, to show him the way forward. “My wife worked with mommy bloggers as a creative director, and she knew I had such an interest in fashion and could always dress well, so she suggested we start trying to build a following on social media,” he says. “One thing led to another, and that’s how the content creating path came about!”
Starting out as a daddy blogger, Eric quickly found a niche on Instagram showing off his skill for creating outfits that combine both sides of his personality, like an outfit that pairs ripped denim jeans with a double-breasted blazer or a New York Yankees hat with a peach cardigan.
With an innate ability to bring together divergent styles, it is no wonder his look has been called “all-American meets high fashion.” In fact, though he now lives in the Hudson Valley and it took a while for the old-school side of the family to understand what he was doing (“So you post pictures of your shoes...?”), it’s like he has taken the best of both the fresh and the familiar of BK and created a special vibe that’s simply electric.
FOCUS ON FAMILY
A lot of influencers are only in it for the likes or for some swag they can get by promoting certain brands, but Eric says there is a bigger reason behind what he does. Part of it is for his own well-being. “When I was growing up, even into my twenties, I always had low self-esteem, but when I got dressed up, it would always make me feel better,” he explains. “Fashion and getting dressed makes me feel good!”
He knows there are people out there who feel the same way, who want to express themselves but either don’t know how or are afraid to show the world their true selves. Eric is in the game to help these folks find their voice through their attire. “I just love when someone will drop me a comment or DM saying something like, ‘Wow, I’ve been wanting to pull out my bell bottoms from the 70’s but felt insecure doing so - thanks for giving me the confidence to rock them again.’”
Since Eric’s dad and wife were really the ones who inspired his dream and helped him create it, it is no wonder that family plays a huge role in the BlueCollarPrep brand and how it is represented online. Sarina not only takes the pictures and puts her technical and creative skill to great use for the company, she also runs the business side of things and, once in a while, will even show up in a pic or two. And they aren’t one-trick ponies: the couple's latest collaboration is Not the Color Blue, a lifestyle fashion brand featuring colorful and creative beanies, jewelry, socks, and hats.
Running not one but two thriving businesses would make a lot of husband-and-wife partnerships a little tricky, but Sarina and Eric have made it work. The key to their successful collaboration? “I stay out of her process!” Eric exclaims. That means that when he’s at work as an electrician from Monday to Friday, she’ll be doing something like editing the shoots from the previous weekend. For the content, there’s true collaboration as he styles the outfits and she directs; then they combine forces on storyboarding and video ideas.
But the kin-connection doesn’t stop with Sarina and Eric’s joint efforts. The couple’s son Nate is also a big part of what they do. He shows up in pictures with his dad and brings a youthful excitement to their photoshoots and outings. He’s even had a bit of an influence on his dad’s look here and there. “I definitely catch myself buying some pieces now just because I know my son Nate would think it's cool,” he laughs.
GET OUT, GET ACTIVE
If working a physically demanding day job and then coming home on the weekend to create content sounds like a lot, it is. But that doesn’t stop Eric and his family from having a good time. In fact, they often combine outings with work so that they get the best of both worlds.
“If we go out somewhere on the weekend to work on content, we always try to make a fun day out of it,” he says. “We’ll take Nate for ice cream after, or out to play mini golf, or we just bring his football with us no matter where we go and we’ll stop and play some catch while we’re out and about.”
But it isn’t all work all the time for the family, and when not fixing wiring or posing in front of the camera, Eric makes sure to get outdoors as much as possible. “Being outside makes you appreciate everything you have and to me, it's the best way to disconnect,” Eric says. “It's just peaceful and relaxing getting away from the clutter of the house and technology, and I just love being somewhere where I can appreciate nature and how beautiful it is.”
One of his favorite pastimes is mountain biking, but even less adventurous activities like sitting by the fire with Nate and Sarina, listening to music, can satisfy his hunger for fresh air. And there’s always room for a trip to their favorite beach spot. “Some of our fondest memories are vacationing and snorkeling in the Caribbean,” he explains. “It was one of the first places where my son needed a passport and ever traveled on a plane, so it will always have a special place in our hearts.”
Another place that calls to the Wertz clan is any mountain with snow on it. “My son is so obsessed with skiing, and he has made my wife and myself fall even more in love with the sport because we see how passionate he is about it,” Eric says. “I can’t even explain the feeling I get when it’s just us 3 alone in the middle of a glades trail (a trail with trees) on a mountain, with snow everywhere and no one else in sight - there's nothing else like it!”
Of course, when it’s winter or when you’re on the slopes, you have to look good and feel good. “When I'm cold, I want to be comfortable, but not feel bulky - so I either look for something that has a sherpa lining in it or something filled with down that is lightweight,” he notes. “When I'm actually skiing, I'm also about comfort, but I also like pieces that are tech and performance-driven.” No wonder he looks so comfortable in this Triple F.A.T. Goose gear that fits that description and Eric’s style to a tee.
In the end, Eric Wertz’s journey from electrician to fashion influencer is a testament to the power of staying true to oneself and embracing one's passions. By combining his blue-collar roots with his love for fashion, he has carved out a unique niche in the influencer world. And through it all, he remains grounded, focusing on family and the joy of connecting with others who share his passion for style. Whether he's on the job site or posing for a photoshoot, Eric’s electric and eclectic approach to life continues to inspire those around him.