Influenced by an influencer

We can all summarize how we chose our current college major or profession. Some may say they dreamed of their career since childhood. Others may say their parents strongly suggested it. My story of how I chose communications, and particularly, the industry I’d love to work for, is a little more complex.

Testing The Waters

When I was younger I loved the arts of all sorts. I loved to dance and sing, and I swore I would be a Rockette. I was crafty; I would make costumes for my stuffed animals (complete with homemade pulleys that hung from my microphone stand to enable flight). I painted on and carved into everything. My mom still has the end table I carved a heart into with her nail file.

As I got older, I realized that passion and talent are two very different things. And because I couldn’t devote myself to just one art, I never mastered one. I was in dance and cheerleading, and was forced to pick cheerleading due to scheduling conflicts. I loved attending acting camps and drama club, but I couldn’t devote myself to truly become a character. I was plain bad at painting, drawing and singing.

For four years, I competed in my high school pageant. Each time, I essentially became my own public relations professional, but I didn’t realize it then. I had to develop my brand complete with a platform that was my own type of corporate social responsibility. I had to explain my best qualities and accomplishments and create talking points for interviews and on-stage questions. I had to consider if each and every piece of my wardrobe and accompanying accessories reflected the image I hoped to project.

When I finally won that pageant and I needed to decide on a college major, I remember thinking, “I’m ready to help someone else accomplish their goals.” Public relations and integrated marketing communications just made sense.

Many integrated communications professionals chose the field because of the variety it has to offer. You can work within public relations, advertising, marketing and of course social media. If you have a passion for a particular industry, there’s a way for you to find a career within it in communications. The variety factor definitely drew me in, but I was still uncertain of the direction I would take with a degree.

Passion Meets Purpose

Through all of this, one thing remained constant in my life: cosmetics. I’ve been wearing makeup since I was a toddler in ballet. It was just a little pink lipstick, but that’s all it took. Each year I begged for more makeup. I’d sneak into my mother’s bathroom and rummage through her Clinique bags for anything she might not miss. In fifth grade at Catholic school, I was the first one to wear eyeliner. I even got called out by my history teacher for it (granted I’m sure I looked like a raccoon). As a freshman cheerleader, one of my teammates said I looked like a drag queen because I had doused my eyes in glitter. I think I even cried about it, but now I’m proud for being daring like that. I’d say I was ahead of my time based on what I see on Instagram now. Makeup has been there through all of my endeavors, making an appearance on my face almost every day, even if it’s just a touch of concealer.

Until I studied abroad in Australia, I never thought about pursuing cosmetics in conjunction with my profession. I was homesick for the states (and missed chicken parmesan served with pasta, not fries like they serve there), so I spent a lot of time online watching Youtube videos. I figured that with my extra time, I could at least improve upon my makeup skills. I found a Youtuber who goes by the name @glamlifeguru, otherwise known as Tati Westbrook.

Tati became like a friend. It sounds crazy, but that’s exactly what a good Youtuber does. After watching every video on her channel, I couldn’t wait for her next upload. I realized her advice is heartfelt and trustworthy. Since I studied abroad in 2014, I’ve watched her channel grow to reach over 1.6 million subscribers. To this day I almost exclusively watch @glamlifeguru videos. I know that whether a brand sends her on vacation or sends her hundreds of dollars worth of makeup, she will tell you the truth about the quality of their products.

That, my friends, is influencer marketing.

  • Influencer marketing uses key leaders to drive your brand’s message. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you can pay or inspire influencers to deliver the message for you.

Influencers have become such a powerful tool; never doubt the power of social media (think Kylie Jenner). If you’re in my field/major of integrated marketing communications, failing to understand the strength of a far-reaching and trustworthy influencer is blasphemous. It’s even more perplexing to be completely absent from social media, but that’s an entirely new rant for another day.

This new world of social media and influencers has created communications careers that didn’t exist a decade ago. @glamlifeguru inadvertently taught me that I can combine my communications career with my love for beauty by working for cosmetics brands and connecting to influencers like her. I truly think that’s what I’ve been put on this earth to do: foster relationships for brands within the beauty industry. I don’t know exactly how I’m going to get to this dream career, but hey, I’m still crafty. I’m sure I’ll figure it out.