Meet The Instagrammers Who Are Redefining Beauty In The Best Way
We've never wanted a 'fro more...
Under her profile @frogirlginny, 20-year-old Nià (who juggles her Instagram career with her university studies) is encouraging women with natural afros to embrace them and love themselves exactly as they are. Meanwhile, 19-year-old Ellie’s combining make-up with the natural world to create stunning flower-incorporated eye looks, and Lewys (who’s 18) is proving that make-up is in no way just for girls.
We sat down with them to get the low-down on how their Instagram journeys began, what life as a famous Instagrammer is really like, as well as finding out what it took for them to get their big break.
When and why did you decide to start up your Instagram account?
Nia: I started when I was 16, but I didn’t invest a lot of time into it as I do now. I just did it as a kind of outlet to get away from teenage life… to express myself, and it just happened so naturally. I just loved taking pictures and reviewing products, so that’s how it all started really. Everyone laughed and made fun of me at school for making videos and doing this stuff because I was the only one doing it. At first I had low self-esteem because of it and I was ashamed, but now I’m happy with it.
Ellie: I didn’t really create my account knowing that it was gonna become a thing, I just created it and posted now and then, whereas now I do it in all my spare time. There were these flowers in my garden and when I posted my first flower look, compared to the other stuff I’d done, it took off - it got about 4000 likes, compared to my normal ones which would get about 100 likes. It was really weird, but it felt like I had found my niche and I thought, “I’ve gotta carry on doing that”. So now I’m just always in the florists because my garden has died.
Lewys: I started off on YouTube before I even really knew about make-up. After about two years of doing vlogs and skits and stuff, I started watching make-up tutorials but I didn’t see any guys posting them (this was like two, two and a half years ago). So I got interested, bought my first stuff, practised for a week and just uploaded videos - it got a really bad reception at first because there was no-one else doing it so it was really weird. Then that just progressed into my Instagram. I did quite natural make-up for a year and then after a year I started to do false lashes and more intense looks. I’ve practised and grown from there.
What’s the reaction been from your friends? Have any of them been inspired to follow in your footsteps?
Nià: Some of my friends are like, “put your phone down and live in the moment”, but with some when we go out we’re looking for the perfect light and the perfect place to take pictures. I have two different types of friends - I have Fro Girl’s friends and then I have Nia’s friends. It’s a bit of both.
Ellie: I just find that most of my friends want me to do their makeup really, and they’re like, “Oh, I’ll be a model for the flowers” – it’s mainly people I know, and I sometimes do let them.
Lewys: With my friend friends it’s not like, “oh can we all do this?” I’m more like, “can you take a picture of me?” I guess none of them are really interested in doing it themselves but they’re interested in other people who do the same thing as me, which is cool because we can talk about it. But then I’ve also made friends with people who are doing the same stuff as me, and with them it’s always fun to take pictures ‘cos when you’re together you can create much better content. It’s hard to take non-selfies on your own.
What are the coolest opportunities that have come out of your Insta careers?
Nià: I’ve been approached by L'Oréal, Deva Curl, and lots of others. I help with campaigns and go to events, which are really helpful. I often go for brands that I dream of working with but obviously you have to start somewhere to get their attention, especially because there’s so many of us wanting to work with those brands. But when you have a positive message, you will naturally attract whatever is meant for you.
Ellie: I work in store for Mac five days a week so I always have to Instagram when I come out… it’s more of an on-the-side thing because work has sort of taken over, like they’re letting me do demos and stuff now - that’s just taken off.
Lewys: I’ve just finished school and it went on the back burner in my last year because I had to focus on exams, but my followers are about the same age so they understand because they’re doing the same thing as me. I didn’t go completely dead, I would try and post once a week. But I still did some exciting things like being the face of a Rimmel 2017 campaign which was really fun.
ls there anyone that especially inspired you to carry on?
Nià: I met this influencer who started a natural hair movement when I was 16, and I cried when I met her. She was huge and she just inspired me to keep going. She always used to tell me that one day I’ll be big, I just don’t know it yet, so I would keep that in the back of my head somewhere.
Ellie: My mum. She’s really honest and forward so if I do something that looks bad she’ll be like, “it doesn’t look good”. She always says that you don’t get success overnight, which is so true because I think a lot of people just starting now think they’re just gonna get 4000 likes straight away but that’s not how it works.
Lewys: Yeah they don’t really understand how much work goes into it behind the scenes - they think you just sit down, take a selfie and upload it. I can never really think of a certain individual who inspired me straight away, it’s just everyone in my life and people who I just come across day-to-day.
Three things that it takes to be successful on social media?
Nià: Being creative. Another thing that I’ve done recently that really helps is planning your feed, like whether your feed is colour-coded or there’s a mosaic, ‘cos people are all about the visuals, they really like that. Being consistent is also really important – I post once to twice a day, and sometimes three times. But even on YouTube for instance, I’m sure if you don’t post for a while…
Lewys: Yeah people have got short attention spans, if you don’t post for two weeks they’ll forget about you – there’ll be someone else posting and they’ll move on. I think individuality – no one wants a carbon copy of someone else, they want someone new, unique and individual. Definitely drive and being interested in the things you do, because you should actually want to do what you do. I could post stuff about gaming because that gets lots of views but I’m not interested in it - it shows, and you’re going to produce much better content if you’re actually interested in the thing. Also to stay genuine. I feel like with some people who blow up quickly it goes to their head but I think it’s really important to stay grounded and to always keep talking and interacting with your followers.
Ellie: I think definitely being creative or inspirational. Probably collaborative - I think it’s good to collaborate with other people and to make sure you keep in touch with your followers as well. And I would say probably pushing boundaries.
What's one piece of advice you'd give to someone looking to kick-start their own Insta career?
Lewys: Don’t be put off by the hate or anything like that – some people who go into it just expect the nice stuff, but if you’re going to post content online you need to accept that you are gonna get negative comments.
Nià: My negative comments came recently, like a month ago - it really upset me. But you have to overcome it.
Lewys: You have to think, “so what?” – someone might think that but look at all the other people who love it. Some people don’t even mean it they just want the reaction… they want the attention, so just don’t give it to them.
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