( ENSPIRE She Did That ) Influencer Tiara Willis Tells Her Story of Becoming a Young Influencer and The Importance of Community When Dealing With The Negative Pressure Online
ENSPIRE Contributor: Alexandra Rivera
Willis took over the industry when she was just 14 years old, becoming the face behind many beauty campaigns and the voice of women of color in beauty. Her journey started when she saw the enormous gap when looking up beauty inspiration online. She then began working to eliminate the gap and empower women of color to own their beauty. She graduated high school with honors at 16 years old and had already created a strong foundation on social media providing tips and tricks on beauty to her followers.
Now 21, she has amassed half a million followers across all her social media platforms. She is a licensed esthetician and internationally renowned beauty and skincare influencer who has worked with CeraVe, Nissan, Target, L’Oréal, Ulta Beauty, POPSUGAR, and more. She was recently nominated for a Shorty Award, which allowed her to become the first beauty influencer to host a paid spaces Twitter chat. She also opened her first Masterclass highlighting the tools needed to negotiate top value for expertise in following, content creation, and community. The young entrepreneur has based her brand on advocating for her community, whether in beauty or marketing.
ENSPIRE spoke with Willis on her journey in the spotlight from such a young age and her business.
How did you get into influencing/ content creation?
I started my platform, Makeup For Women of Color, at 14 years old. It was an effort to provide education and inspiration for girls who looked like me. My platform grew quickly, and within the year I was an influencer full-time. I graduated high school early at 16 and opted not to go to college to pursue my passion.
After graduating high school early at 16, I already had a social media empire providing tips, trends, insights, and information to my loyal audience. Now at 21 years old, I am privileged to have a community of over half a million devoted supporters and followers across Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Pinterest. I continue to empower and motivate diverse women of color to be their best selves inside and out.
What was it like entering the world of influencing at such a young age?
Entering the influencing world at 14 meant I had to grow up fast. Content creation pulls out the creative side of myself that I’ve always had, but it’s a small part of my career. 30% of being an influencer is creating content, the other 70% is running a business. At only 14, I had to figure out taxes, investments, bookkeeping, and overall business management. It was a difficult task with a lot of trial and error, but I am thankful for the knowledge I have today as a Gen-Z entrepreneur.
Skin Care and beauty have taken over the influencer industry, especially on TikTok and YouTube. Does being an esthetician help you as an influencer?
Being an esthetician helps me as an influencer because my followers trust my recommendations more. They know the products I recommend not only work on myself but have consistently worked for many of my clients. My background as an esthetician allows me to understand the skin from a scientific perspective, not just pushing products.
How can your Master Class help others interested in becoming an influencer effectively secure a brand deal?
In my masterclass, students will receive the tools, education, and resources needed to optimize their careers as influencers & content creators. This class is for creators of small and large followings. The class will provide vital information on creating a brand, building a community, networking, pitching, and negotiating. Students will leave the class feeling empowered and confident in their journey of monetizing their careers as an influencer.
How can you create a steady income by becoming an influencer?
You can create a steady income by becoming an influencer using multiple streams of revenue. Steady income for an influencer comes from brand deals, affiliate marketing, selling usage rights, ad revenue, and launching your own products. It’s essential to not rely on only one avenue of income, especially ones reliant on other people, such as the brands you work with.
Was there ever a moment in your career where you questioned it and if so how did you overcome your doubts?
One of the most challenging things about being an influencer is dealing with negativity online. Receiving hate online can be brutal, especially when it lasts for days and it’s the only thing you see on your phone. Negative comments can really make you doubt yourself and who you are as a person because you start to believe the things people are saying. While it will always be challenging, I have been able to overcome negativity by reassuring myself that I have already proven myself and I am secure with who I am.
Focusing more on the community I’ve built that trusts me, appreciates me as a person, has given me grace, and allows nuance helps me to focus on the positive. I am very grateful to my loyal audience who have continued to support me, and it would be a disservice to them if I focus more on the hate than the love I already receive.
Willis has a bright future and loyal followers who look up to her as a voice of empowerment in the beauty industry. This allows her to use her platform to make the beauty industry more inclusive to people of color paving the way for the improvement of POC-friendly beauty and skin care products.
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