The misconception about being a successful influencer is that you have to tie yourself down to one specific niche in order to gain popularity. But that's simply not true anymore. Over the last two years, we’ve witnessed Black creators post whatever made them feel good and brought joy during the pandemic — no matter the topic. Many influencers were even fortunate enough to leave their 9-to-5 jobs to further pursue their passions. What isn’t discussed enough though is how Black creators maintain their success or how to evolve and expand your brand while staying true to yourself. Fashion and beauty influencer Micaéla Verrelien knows all about putting her true authentic self on social media as a creator and during each stage of growing her personal brand.
In 2014, Verrelien used her accounting degree to help fund her passion for the arts and moved to New York City, even though her heart was set on pursuing acting school. Verrelien started blogging to help grow her Instagram account in hopes that more followers would help her book auditions. She simultaneously worked in accounting and went on auditions for commercials which taught her to juggle her job and side hustle and also how to manage duelling responsibilities.
Now, Verrelien’s side hustle has become her full-time gig. The 29-year-old creator currently hosts Macy’s live beauty shopping events where she shares products she enjoys while chatting with industry leaders behind those brands. It’s refreshing to see major, reputable brands noticing the value in a Black creator and to get to see her work alongside them. In a phone interview with Unbothered, Verrelien shares what she’s learned throughout her eight-year journey of being an influencer and tips on how to evolve in this industry.
Establish who you are as a creator
“Before focusing on the brand partnerships and making money, establish who you are as a brand,” Verrelien says. “Utilise the early stages as a way to experiment with what you like. People say pick a niche but it’s more important in the long run to follow your purpose within what you’re creating.”
To differentiate herself from being just a fashion girl, Verrelien would post boomerang videos of her dancing to trendy songs — “Work” by Rihanna happened to go viral in 2018. The tactic worked to expand her brand beyond fashion but then she noticed that as she got invited to events and parties, people just wanted to see her dance. “I was kind of over it and wanted to be taken more seriously so I stopped doing the dancing videos,” says Verrelien.
“The best advice I can give is to enjoy the journey, don’t let folks (aka the internet) peer pressure you into moving quickly into leaving your 9-to-5 to become a full-time creator. We all need to pay our bills so don’t let the internet allow you as a creator to fake the funk and think you should do everything altogether right now,” says Verrelien
On switching up the content you post
She began to transform her content to be more editorial by putting together a concept and vision boards to execute personal and branded content. Which made the here work look seamless. Brands started taking notice and that’s when things ramped up, Verrelien says., “I do think that changing my page into more of an editorial space definitely shifted the ability of me working with brands on a higher scale.”
Verrelien says that it’s pivotal to experiment with your content and recommends diversifying before diving into brand partnerships and focusing on earning money. You have to know who you are, and what you bring to the table. “The beauty of growing slowly was that I was able to take my time and find myself without the pressure of getting it right immediately.” You can’t go wrong by being patient and allowing yourself the time to figure out your voice and what really drives you.
Experimenting leads to opportunities
Verrelien’s tenacious attitude towards her career ultimately led her to become signed with Wilhelmina model agency in 2019. While everything was at a standstill during the pandemic, Verrelien saw an opportunity to connect more with her audience and created an Instagram live series called Love To Hear It. In the series, she speaks with other creators and influencers on various topics regarding fashion, beauty, and mental health. The series, which was a departure from what she was doing before, furthered Verrelien’s experience and carved out a lane for her as a host.
Now that's she hosting weekly live shopping events for Macy’s, Verrelien is getting so much closer to her goal in front of the camera. “For my future, I see myself in films and on top shows on Netflix or HBO,” says Verrelien “I want to have a principal role, reoccurring role, even a lead role.”