A New Creative Class

Clara Perlmutter Is Betting On Herself

The fashion-focused TikToker, otherwise known as Tiny Jewish Girl, broke from the traditional path to becoming a lawyer to become a creator. Now, she's ready to put pen to paper.

By Clara Perlmutter

Photos by Morganne Boulden


In the spirit of the "new" work world, we teamed up with Urban Outfitters and Dickies to celebrate creatives who are on the rise and hitting their stride.

I’m too old to be a prodigy and too young for booze sponcon, but apparently, I’m successful for 24. There was a ruckus in my family when my cousin put his Yale chemistry degree towards dental school. Strangely, “Influencer” went over better.

Another cousin of mine is building a nuclear reactor; yet, he took the time to ask me about my 900,000 TikTok followers and tell me he’s impressed! When I’m in my apartment filming, my job feels like a simulation. It isn’t until I hear my grandmas bragging about my New York Times mentions that any of it feels remotely real.

This was an accident. My parents have three Ivy League degrees betwixt the two of them, and they raised a straight-A student. But it was the summer of 2020, and I was so over Zoom school. There was little joy in my life as I studied for the LSATs, writerly dreams denounced.

“I’m too old to be a prodigy and too young for booze sponcon, but apparently, I’m successful for 24.”

I was overwhelmed by the thought of a writing career being dependent on fame, but “lawyer” seemed like a pragmatic choice. I was balls-deep in social distancing, and I’d given up on the cutiepie looks I’d wear around NYU’s Manhattan. Picture me in a depressive fugue: period-stained sweats, body hair a jungle, plus a full head of hair, frizzy and mousy, and stark-white January skin in mid-June.

In a desperate attempt to get myself dressed, I started styling my wardrobe on TikTok with videos intended for my eyes only. Trolls flocked in, repulsed by my body hair. In came defenders, who stayed for my confidence and style. And soon, the haters acquiesced (apparently, guys, I’m an acquired taste). As my following grew, I could envision a new path for myself. I didn’t take the LSAT, but I did take a semester off of school to write a book. I finished school and got a full-time job, all the while creating my fashion videos.

I was balancing the tedium of a nine-to-five, the commute, corporate ladder bootlicking, the company culture of quick turnover, the loss of treasured allies, and, lest we forget, the constant exhaustion and resultant neglect of my social life. Moreover, I was starting to lose out on money by working, turning down paid appearances during business hours and brand deals I wouldn’t have time to film. My friends were becoming full-time influencers, and their lives were, in turn, becoming glamorous. While I was creating videos for a brand, I realized doing my own content was more fulfilling. This was a happy accident. I put in my two weeks after logging six months.

Dropping out of school never felt like an option to me, but joining the workforce hadn’t been entirely necessary. Nevertheless, I’m glad I did it. I still struggle with my career as a full-time influencer. Downsides include the emphasis on follower count, networking with difficult personalities, creative burnout, the mercurial algorithm gods, partnership droughts, and so on. Still, I am quick to remind myself that I am a self-employed 24-year-old who has significantly out-earned her 23-year-old self, and the year is not even over. I’ve known subordination, and I’ve known drudgery, but they’re foes from a different lifetime.

People tell me that what I do online is brave because I am unapologetically myself. Truthfully, any time I’ve tried to be someone else, I’ve been miserable. I am doing what is painless for me, and I am lucky enough to have an audience who finds that compelling. When people see my vibrant style, they think they know me inside and out, but I do try to maintain strict boundaries with the internet. I divulge bits and pieces of my personal life, relationships, and past, but I’m not much of a public over-sharer. I’ve tried to save most of me for myself and my loved ones. Every time I have a gross and unusual medical problem or a bout of incontinence, my Close Friends story is sure to hear about it, but the rest of the world likely won’t.

“People tell me that what I do online is brave because I am unapologetically myself. Truthfully, any time I’ve tried to be someone else, I’ve been miserable.”

It’s been three years since I finished my book, and I’m trying to get myself hyped up to edit and publish it. Oh, reader! You honestly scare me much more than a faceless hater on TikTok who tells me I’m a disgusting hag. I had always expected to get by on my intelligence, but instead, I’ve leaned into this career reliant on my looks and verbal communication skills. Sharing my writing makes me feel so much more vulnerable than posting videos of myself on social media. I’ve been able to keep most of the pieces of the real me off the internet, but in my writing, I can’t hide. It’s okay if someone doesn’t like a stupid outfit, but as I enter the writing phase of my career, I will have to lay my tender soul bare for the world to see.

I would love to end on some kind of jaded, self-deprecating note, but I have been trying to practice my gratitude. I’m grateful I have this built-in audience and to know that, as I begin writing more, I won’t have to grow an audience from scratch. I’m grateful to be my own boss, choose my own hours, and have the time to write my best friend a 4000-word birthday letter.

I’m grateful to make enough income that I can take on a less lucrative writing gig as a passion project and not have to worry about finding enough of them a month to pay my bills. I’m grateful to be liked and respected in my field at 24 and to have the rest of my life and my career ahead of me. And, although it’s the biggest cliché, I am endlessly grateful for all of you. Thank you for buying what I’m selling, literally and metaphorically. Another cliche incoming: In spite of my insecurities, in spite of my ego, you guys are letting me live the dream.

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