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There is no short version to my journey!: ) It’s been a blast every step of the way, with challenges and adapting, and evolving with my own personal passions and life chapters. While in college, I was a division 1 softball player at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In 2013, before my junior year began, I started to get really into fitness and nutrition to the point that I was doing extra workouts on my own outside of mandatory ones with my team. I loved it, and I started sharing that passion on my Instagram page. I was posting the typical gym selfies and healthy meal prep photos. I was also trickling in some outfit photos as well. I’ve always had a love for fashion, it just took me until I was out of my parents’ house to actually get to shop and wear what I wanted to. The fitness and athlete life content started to gain me followers who were interested in what I was posting, which validated my content, and encouraged me to keep going. After I met my now wife, Kelsey, in August 2015, my content started to slightly shift from only fitness to now me and my girlfriend, working out together, sharing our relationship online, etc. This is the type of content I posted for over a year--fitness, food and supplements, me and Kelsey. When we met in 2015 I had around 4,000 followers. By the end of 2016 I had over 10,000 followers. During that time we did our first brand partnerships with companies as a couple, and were influencers before there was a name for it. Brands saw the value in us together and the platform, the leadership role, we had for our community. We were living in Mississippi together for a year and a half before we decided we wanted to move to the West Coast, and sharing that decision and the process of selling all of our belongings, driving across the country to Portland, Oregon, I think was inspiring to a lot of people, especially in the LGBTQIA+ community living in the south. It’s like breaking free from the south and starting over, to actually leave and go to a progressive area of the country that accepts you wholeheartedly. That move changed our lives, our lifestyle, and helped us grow as people. Since 2017 living in Portland, we have become the best versions of ourselves yet, finding and chasing our passions and dreams (i.e. fashion, books, travel) and our content has evolved with us. We have always stayed true to ourselves and shared our lives authentically both as a couple and as individuals, so my content has evolved because I have evolved over time. I’m not the same person I was in 2013-2015 when I was only posting about fitness and meal prepping, so of course my content isn’t the same as that. My following evolves with me and with the content I am creating, and with the brands I am partnering with. To wrap this all up, I became an influencer and content creator out of the desire to share my passions and use social media as a creative outlet.
Getting to work with dream brands whose values align with mine, and who see value in working with me. With this being my full time job, it’s important for me to form those great relationships with the brand and their team.
Sometimes the biggest challenge is simply calling myself an influencer and bracing myself for the puzzled looks and eye rolls that almost always follow, always from people who don’t understand the work that goes into it every day. When I’m sick, having a hard day, or going through something in my personal life, I don’t have the option to stay off my phone and not post content. I have due dates and contracts that require me to produce content on specific days at specific times. Most of the time I love it and wouldn’t ever complain that this is my job, but those small number of days that I wish I could have a “sick day” can be really tough. Finding a way to balance that, and handle criticism from not only trolls, but also sometimes friends and family, who don’t understand what I do for a living, is frankly, painful. Almost every time someone asks me what I do, whether it be in an Uber or Lyft, a social gathering, or meeting family friends, I brace myself internally and weigh my audience before I create a “more acceptable” job title for myself:
- “I’m in marketing!”
- “I do brand marketing through social media!”
- “I do social media marketing!”
It all means the same, but if I spout influencer to a group of millennial-hating boomers, we can guess how that will play out. Some people might ask why a job title matters. Honestly, I prefer to call myself a content creator, but even saying that to people at times has gotten the same response as influencer has.
There are so many variables! It depends on what I am doing that day, where I am, my mood (it’s true), what’s been on my feed lately, and what I think will look great on my feed next.
Set some intentions for your page based on 4-5 themes of content. Ask yourself what is the purpose of this post: Is it purely for the aesthetic on my page? Is it to share a significant moment or story? Which content theme of mine is this sharing?
If you feel like there is purpose behind your content, you’re going to feel like it flows because you’re being intentional with the content. Another strategy that some people have is to edit their photos similarly using presets or filters through editing apps. Find a way that you like to edit your photos and try to do that on 9-12 photos in a row so you can see how your feed looks with it. There is no wrong way for your feed to look!
I have two. First, sneakers with suits. It’s still just as stylish, but more comfortable and practical to walk around all day looking dapper, and adds versatility to the outfit with or without the suit jacket. Second, oversized graphic tees. These can make a great grungy look, or tucked in with a blazer it can be an elevated edgy look. Graphic tees are a fun way to express yourself and get creative.
For fall and winter, my staples are jean jackets, long overcoats, beanies, and boots. Every outfit I wear in the fall and winter will have one of those on! In the spring and summer, my staples are linen shirts, bright colors and patterns, short-sleeve button ups, and sneakers. I will always have at least one of these in every outfit for spring and summer!
I predict there will be a huge trend in men’s accessories, specifically purses and bags. I think purses and bags will be marketed as more gender neutral, and there will be some incredible products made ethically, with luxury vegan materials. That’s my hope at least! I think the industry is on its way there.
Do a complete audit of your closet first and foremost. Anything you haven’t worn in a year, get rid of it. You’ve been through every season and not chosen to wear it! Next, tally up your staple items and categorize them. These are the foundation of your wardrobe. Solid colored shirts (button ups and t-shirts), patterned shirts, jeans and pants (casual, dressy, trendy), neutral colored jackets (denim, blazers, overcoats), shoes (dressy, sneakers, casual). This is how you know what you actually need. What does dress better actually mean to you? Do you need help with dressy clothes like a suit? If so, you have to start by going to get measured by a tailor. Get your actual measurements so you know them and can shop accordingly. If you are buying a suit off the rack, you can find the closest fit and then take that suit to get altered to fit you perfectly! For your first suit, I suggest doing an all black or navy one that can be versatile with a button up but also a t-shirt. You will feel like a million bucks without spending a million bucks just by taking that extra effort to get that alteration.
I create content full time! I’m lucky enough now that my wife is also a full-time influencer with me, so being able to work from home (or anywhere in the world) with her is such a blessing and incredible opportunity. We each have very different styles of content that we like to create--poses, editing styles, angles--so we work really hard to be patient and communicate those preferences with each other.
Honestly, I have so much fun putting together outfits and taking and editing photos! Outside of that I love to read (mystery and thrillers!), be outside and go for a hike (the PNW is gorgeous), exercise, and travel! I want to see as many places in the world as I can.
Yes and no. when i was in preschool would cry kick scream about the outfits my mom put me in. dresses with leggings that had stirrups on bottom were pure evil opinion. a tomboy preferred softball tournament t-shirts shorts until age then going into middle school started realizing how cool fashion wanted to express myself. didn care what girls wearing focus boys wanting their polos khakis sperry knew parents weren let shop boy section so got away buying girl clothes little bit bigger than size because it felt better body. this is wear from set up digital camera bookshelf or countertop use self timer take outfit photos for myspace account--the original instagram even change times day several hours before home could upload them delete they home. wasn doing anything bad but some reason like trying more masculine. always dreamt of be able comfortably confidently no matter gender without worrying other people say.
Pad Thai with tofu and veggies, no egg. Vegan, baby!
I’m going to assume you meant to put an ‘s’ on the end because how can anyone have ONE favorite movie?! Here’s my list: Tommy Boy, Harry Potter (all of them), Just Go With It, Billy Madison, Lion, Due Date, Late Night, The Heat, The Dark Knight, and Bohemian Rhapsody.
The most incredible thing to know about me is that I have the most amazing, beautiful, and inspiring wife of my dreams. She is my best friend and teammate in life, and we are both sober and vegan, with dreams to inspire others through our content and sharing of our lives and stories both online and in books. My wife is currently in the editing process of her first fictional novel. One day we will write a book together!
The floral bomber jacket from SS19!