Creator Convo: How Genuine Recs can Pay off with Maya Asher

Maya Asher, a TikTok creator & social strategist, spills how she is building an authentic connection with her audience over genuine love for sharing recs.

“Alright I’ve seen this video, please delete it before this brand gets sold out!”. A comment section that looks like this is a tell-tale sign of social content that has reached its target audience and is about to go viral.

That’s just a glimpse of the power that social media and creators have on influencing how and what consumers shop for. 82% of consumers reported relying on social media to decide what to buy. At the same time, consumers are also growing tired of being given recommendations that have brand influences in the background — their trust index, particularly towards celebrities and larger influencers, is going down. They want real opinions, from real people, unbiased by brands.

The problem often lies in the contradicting forces of the creator economy. People rise to the status of “creator” as they begin building an audience through genuine connection, and often this also includes authentic and transparent product recommendations. As they grow, they garner attention from brands, and often strike deals or receive PR packages — this is necessary, in order for them to monetize — but it’s a slippery slope into coming off as inauthentic to their audience when not done right.

“One of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen new creators make is they assume that people by default care about them… you can’t expect them to care if you haven’t taken the time to connect with them,” says creator Nicky Reardon in his Deep Dive series on the creator economy. “If they are making the experience about delivering value and passion, that’s what creates an audience and community.”

It takes an appreciation for social strategy, and a genuine love for sharing recommendations, to resonate with your audience time and time again, while being able to earn via your social media presence. Just ask Maya Asher.

Maya, known as @cryinginablazer on TikTok, is a professional social strategist who views content creation as a creative outlet, with consistent perks. She has 4.8K TikTok followers at the time this article is published, yet her post engagement looks like that of someone with a much larger audience. She’s also hit multiple milestones in the nate Creator Program in just a few weeks, meaning hundreds of users are following her curated shopping lists and buying her recs.

Numbers aside, Maya doesn’t consider herself to fit into the typical tiers of creators (from micro to macro). In fact, she may not even consider herself a creator at all, but she’s certainly earning like one.

Below the Head of nate Creator program Mary Grace Scully sits down with Maya to understand how she taps into the perks of the creator economy without compromising her authenticity.

How long have you been producing social content, both personally and professionally?

I’ve been producing user-generated content (UGC) for brands, including in-house marketing shoots, for 8–10 years. I also run an agency that does content creation and social strategy for small businesses.
I started creating short-form video content personally in 2021, on TikTok, where I would consider my niche to be fashion-focused but with a ‘big sister’ approach. I didn’t have a big sister growing up and my mom was never too into fashion, so I felt like I didn’t have a way to learn about fashion. So now I create content as if I am making recommendations for my little sister.

This makes so much sense after having seen your videos — they feel like a FaceTime about why you like (and sometimes don’t like) certain trends. What’s your process like for creating content?

I feel like I’m just working my own thoughts out loud and sometimes even surprise myself where the video ends up. It’s kind of like a diary for me. I enjoy getting the views and likes but I would rather have 5–10 engaged comments than hundreds of likes or views. I wouldn’t necessarily even consider myself a “creator,” because I didn’t go into it with that intent, it’s really about conversation.

That’s an interesting realization, because I’m sure so many creators also started out this way then realized it could become something bigger (if they wanted it to). Since you may not consider yourself a “creator” by label, how do you think about monetization that may come from your content? What’s your preferred type of collaboration?

If I receive PR or a gift in the mail, it’s always a genuine surprise that a brand, especially small businesses, want to share their products with me — it just feels so sweet and kind.
When it comes to paid partnerships, because of the nature of my professional work creating videos for other brands’ channels, I tend to ask to create content for their channel as UGC instead of on my own account. I would only post on my own channel if I really, really loved it and already genuinely used or already posted about it personally.

Would you say most of your collaborations started as a genuine online conversation, like your TikTok about Gap? Why do you think it blew up?

So it’s funny, because I think very analytically about social media, I’ve thought a lot about what specifically made this video resonate with so many people. It came down to two things: The genuine surprise I had while chit chatting about coming across Gap, which was nostalgic and likely also created surprise and peaked interest for a lot of people. Secondly, I emphasized their basics and solid price point, which again people likely remembered from their childhood but might not have thought about again since.
I think because of the genuine way in which I shared these products in a clearly non-sponsored post, led to those items selling out on Gap’s website. I had also added my favorite items from Gap to a nate list, which also made it accessible.

Maya’s TikTok of her discussing her reaction to Gap’s new collection and her fav picks on nate.
Maya’s viral TikTok about her fave picks from Gap on nate.

It’s so wild that a video with around 50K views was able to sell out multiple products on a site as big as Gap. It’s awesome you had already linked some of your fav picks in your Linktree via nate and could also earn from that interest through our milestone rewards and cash back. Did Gap trace the spike in sales back to you?

So shockingly, they did in fact see it and reach out offering to send products! Initially they were going to send me some of my picks, but they were literally all sold out. Thankfully, they pulled some strings and I was able to get some great basics and we will continue the conversation for a potential partnership. They also offered to boost the video as an ad, which then increased the views exponentially to 5M+ views.

Can you share how you were able to run with the momentum to confidently pitch yourself to Gap? Any advice for other people who also might not consider themselves creators per say, but would love to engage in genuine partnerships?

Even though it can feel weird pitching yourself, it can’t hurt. I recommend saying something like, “If there’s any opportunity to work together again in future in any capacity, I would love to.” But be sure to share a specific example or idea of content that only you can produce and is unique.

I know this is true because of my own professional work with influencers: It makes a social media/influencer manager’s job so much easier when they have a roster of creators who are already interested in the brand for when a new campaign rolls around, or may have already even pitched a great idea.
On the other hand, if a brand reaches out that I don’t feel aligned with at the time, I’ll never ignore them because they could always later on adapt to be a better, more genuine fit.

These are really strong tips, for all types of creators, even the ones who might not consider themselves creators quite yet ;)
Last question, I’ve gotta know, where did your username “cryinginablazer” come from?

Lol. I had a Finsta where I posted about my old corporate “work uniform” of jeans or a dress with a blazer (our office was always cold).
A colleague once told me that if I were to ever write a book about my life I would have to call it “Crying in a Blazer” because I used to cry in the bathroom all the time at work, and it became a funny inside joke/alter ego amongst close friends.
So once I started my TikTok, with the intention of keeping it like a diary or Finsta, that username seemed like the perfect fit. Now it’s even funnier when my videos gain traction, because I never intended for my “diary” to become public, but I’m glad it’s resonating with people.

At the nate Creator Program, we’re all about helping creators own their influence, without restrictions. We believe the future of social commerce is a world where everyone can be a tastemaker, and our nate creators are just the beginning.

To join us:
-Apply for the nate Creator Program in one minute here
-All niches and follower counts welcome, and perks include 5% cash back on your recs from any brand, milestone rewards for List follows
-Plus personalized support, events, authentic brand partnership potential, and so much more

To get inspired:
-
Check out Maya’s candid fashion and life advice on TikTok, and you can shop her Gap picks that are finally restocked on her nate list

-Plus, we recommend learning more about creators who are at the forefront of genuine influence, by checking out Nicky Reardon’s TikTok Deep Dives playlist

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Introducing in-life shopping. nate unifies your shopping world — enabling you to list, gift, buy & pay like magic.