Elitist OGs of Influencer Marketing

Today we’re speaking with Lisa Jean-Francois of Consciously Lisa. Mom, Wife, Writer, Influencer, and Influencer Marketing Manager, Lisa Jean-Francois wears many hats and a cape!



All right, everyone, thank you so much for tuning in today. We’ve got such a treat for you. We have Lisa, who is a creator and influencer marketer, so she’s gonna share her story with you today.

You’re gonna get to know her a lot and welcome Lisa. How are you today? Thanks for having me. I’m good. How are you? I’m good. I’m good. I appreciate you being with us today and tell everyone where you are based. I am based outside of Boston, Massachusetts. So I’m in the northeast. And are you from there originally or are you a transplant?

I’m from here, originally. When I was 18, I went to college in Connecticut. I went to Yukon stores and then I graduated and went directly to New York. And lived there for almost 10 years. And I got my master’s at Sarah Lawrence in Bronxville. And then after I got married, I moved back because I knew I wanted to start a family and I knew here is where I would have the most support from my own family.

So we moved back and I’ve been here ever since, about 10 years now that I’ve been back in Massachusetts. Awesome. Yeah. And tell us a little bit more about, your professional journey too. I think it’s really interesting to me see someone so accomplished who’s having all those accomplishments on both sides, I feel like some people are like, Oh, I can’t make it as a creator, so I’m gonna be an influencer marketer, or I can’t make it as an influencer marketer, but I’m a killer creator. You’ve really been able to like successfully straddle both sides. So how long have you been a creator and tell us about your journey professionally?

So I became a creator, like right around when I moved back to Massachusetts. So it’s been about 10 years. And I just started on YouTube. I started watching YouTube beauty tutorials. I’m like this anyway, like I’m neurodivergent. So when I stumble upon something that is interesting to me, like I go in super hard, it’s like I become hyper, hyper-focused on it.

So I became hyper-focused on makeup and learning how to do my makeup and all of that. So that was like my existence for several years. So I started on YouTube and want to be like a YouTube beauty guru. I had so much fun. 

So it wasn’t for me, like I wasn’t just satisfied oh, this is new makeup that I like and I’m gonna show it on camera and talk about this makeup. I always had this sort of yearning for every aspect of it. So I immediately started Googling okay, now I have this YouTube video. How do I market it?

 What’s the next step? So there was Facebook. So prior to even Facebook-like pages, I feel like there was this other thing that came first and I went so far as to hire some design agency to design like my, I don’t know if it was like my page, intro cover, I don’t even remember what it was, but there was something before like the Facebook pages even before the groups, it was something.

So anyway, I went all in. I really did. I went all in. And then I immediately, again, you’re Googling, you’re like, oh, how do you market yourself? Then it’s oh, blog. And I’m like, oh look. I have an undergraduate degree in journalism. I have a Master of fine Arts degree in writing. 

So a blog, it’s up my alley. So I started blogging. Everywhere I could, I was like all over the place and I was so interested. I joined this Facebook group that was called Bloggers Like Me, and it was full of bloggers of color.

And we all connected. So when we were in that group released an ebook on like basically intro to blogging and ebook. But several members of the group had like a chapter they were responsible for. So again, I’m all in, right? I’m hyper-focused.

It became for me like a special interest which again, you know, being neuro diversion, that’s definitely something that we do. So I went all in and learned about SEO, search engine optimization. So I wrote the chapter on SEO, like I’m telling this is one year into the journey, by the way. 

So I’m like, I’m super hyper-focused. And this is before even understanding brand deals and monetization or any of that. Like I didn’t really understand that. I remember sending an email to NYX Cosmetics and not knowing the language. Cause I didn’t know anything about affiliate marketing or any of that, but just sending an email. 

Today we would call this a pitch. I didn’t even have a platform, I didn’t even have followers really, but I was gaining some, momentum people are interested and I was like, hey, I’d love to, talk with you and maybe connect and figure out a way we could work together.

Some sort of affiliate relationship is what I was after, but I didn’t know the language at the time. It didn’t work out, but they actually did respond. Whoever, they did respond. They did respond. 

And what did they say? I’m so curious. No. I don’t even know if it was a definite no, I don’t know. It didn’t work out. Did you keep in touch? 

It didn’t develop into anything. But they were responsive. They weren’t like rude or, unkind at all. And again, I don’t think this was a time when they were getting a lot of inquiries like this. This was so new. This industry was still so new.

So I’ve written this, chapter on SEO and this ebook. The book was called From Blank Space to Blogging Brilliance. Now I remember, which was fun. I started going to blocker conferences. Then I eventually redesign everything. I rebrand under a new name that I feel like more me and I, start monetizing.

I get my first brand deal, I think it was like 2015, 2014, and I’m like, oh, this is a thing. And then now my hyper-focus goes being, just figuring out how to make it as an influencer to understanding. The other side of things. And so what’s the new name?

Look I’ve rebranded a few times, so don’t laugh. Ready? Ready? I might laugh, but I’m laughing with you hopefully. What’s the name? The original name was Dime Piece On A Dime.

First of all, Dime Piece On A Dime. It was an urban name. Like you give to a woman who’s a 10. It means you’re a perfect 10. And I didn’t even speak that way. It was a friend of mine who was like, oh, why don’t you go buy this name? Because at that time it was like, you didn’t brand under your own name. Now everyone’s they used their actual names in a lot of branding.

But back then everyone had a moniker or a pen name. Everybody had one. Jackie Ina was Lil Pumpkin on YouTube. And my friend gave me that name Dime Piece On A Dime because my whole concept of my brand was about like looking your best without spending a ton of money.

So it was buying clothes at Target and Forever 21 and, all of these sort of fast fashion, cheap, inexpensive, sorry, stores. Is that a bad one though? Cause I feel like that’s a good name. I pride myself on being authentically myself and if I wouldn’t even use that word in my everyday language, like I just don’t talk like that. It wasn’t me. It really wasn’t me. 

And also, there comes a point where you get over just shopping exclusively at Forever 21 and wearing exclusively Covergirl and Revlon.

 So in addition to the name not fitting, the brand didn’t actually fit who I’ve evolved to become. You know what I mean? I rebranded to briefly, it was Inspired By Lisa, then it became Lisa ala mode, and Lisa ala mode fit more because, I’m Haitian and culturally we will say cuz in French, ala mode means fashionable or in style and it’s a word that I actually use with amongst family, friends, whatever. And expression rather. And so it fit.

Most people in America thought I meant Lisa apple pie because that’s what a mode means here. But no, it’s actually a play on my culture. And so I was, I existed under Lisa ala mode up until 2021, maybe. I didn’t remember you as that.

I’ve known you in that time, yeah. Yeah. Consciously Lisa is the new one that I promise. This is it. This is it. This is it. This is it. This is it. This is it.

And so Consciously Lisa, so I would love to dig into that a little bit because you shared with us how you consider yourself neurodivergent.

Yeah. And your blog or your whole persona online and your br your brand is Consciously Lisa. And I’m also very cognizant of the fact that it’s like mental health awareness month too. So that’s very top of mind to me a bit. I’m curious, like, how is that conversation with your audience, how does that affect your work?

Could we talk about that a bit for a minute? Sure. So my journey to even know, understand, and knowing that I was neuro-divergent didn’t happen until the pandemic. Where, just everything, our lives all changed, right? We’re in the house, we’re with our kids 24/7. It’s just a different way of being.

And so it was during that time. And it’s funny cuz this actually segues into marketing is a part of this, about this story. So I had been working for this one brand for a few years. We’re jumping around a little bit. I don’t know if that’s okay with you, but cause I didn’t get to the part where, how I got into influencer marketing.

But anyway, jumping ahead. So we’re in 2021 and I’m working for this, brand for several years. And this was my first full-time in-house when I say fell in love with this brand, fell in love with this brand again, I get super attached to things get hyper-focused and so I discovered this brand.

So I had been writing for this blog that’s actually now defunct, but it was a blog called Black Girl Long Hair. And that blog was originally about hair, and growing your hair long. And then it segued into having more culture pieces and just talking about different things within the black community.

And this is around like 2015 and one of the brands that we featured this black-owned brand because there was this, huge thing in like the summer, like 2015, 2016 where we just started all focusing on not all, but there was a big push towards supporting black-owned cosmetics brands. So we wrote a couple of blog posts.

In one of the brands that we featured, I fell in love with the packaging, the branding. I thought it was amazing. I went to the makeup show, in New York, and met the owner, connected with the owner for that blog. We did a couple of sponsor campaigns with that brand. 

The brand was new that year, so I really got to know the brand’s story. I met the owner and I just felt like this almost like kinship and like really wanting to support this brand. So even as an influencer, and I wasn’t an affiliate for this brand. I don’t even think they had an affiliate program set up, really.

I was just a big supporter. I had a Facebook makeup group that had I don’t know, 20,000 women in it. Just a huge group. I had been promoting and supporting this brand and giving the owner advice on how to work with influencers for a while.

And then, so I went in-house. They launched this new product and they wanted a consultant. So I started in-house as a consultant for four months, and then I became full-time working with this brand, as their influencer marketing manager.

I use the term manager loosely because there was no one above me. There was no one below me. So I was essentially the department, the head of the department, the only person in the department, frankly. And so that was where I was for years. And then the Consciously Lisa brand came about towards the end of my time in that position.

And truly that position just really opened my eyes and I think not only was it the position, that job and showing me some things about myself that I didn’t realize was a problem or didn’t realize period, but also timing, because now we’re at the pandemic, we’re home, we have a little bit more time to just focus on things that maybe we wouldn’t have focused on before or even paid attention to before.

And so I was really unhappy in that position. It got to the point where I did not see an avenue for growth. I felt stifled. I felt like there was zero opportunity for me to flex my creative muscles, in the role and also to really feel confident and successful. Like I just didn’t see how there wasn’t gonna be any success for me in that position.

 And I’ll just be frank, the owners of that company really do just pride themselves on just really being in control of every aspect of everything. And although they themselves don’t have a background in influence marketing, and don’t know what it is, they definitely kept their like, finger on the pulse of everything I was doing.

And it got to the point where I was like, okay, like, do you need me here? Because I can’t be a robot. And aside from all of that I genuinely care about creators and wanting to see them do well. I genuinely wanted to make decisions that were in not only their best interest but also in the best interest of the company.

And there were just some things from an ethical standpoint that I just wasn’t comfortable with, at all. I’ll give you an example. I had an experience where these influencers, in the UK and so when we sent them the product, they received customs fees and they paid the fees and it didn’t come to anything crazy in terms of money. Maybe it was like 50 bucks, but they invoiced us. They’re like, okay, we got a customs bill when you sent these products.

 So they invoiced us. I didn’t know why this was always happening, but it was always happening with this company. And I have worked with brands from overseas that have sent me products. I’ve never gotten an invoice bill, but okay, so these people got customs bills.

So I wrote back to the owner of the company and I was like, Hey, these two influencers, they received a customs fee of $50 in the total. Can we just go ahead and pay it? And the owner refused. Said, I didn’t tell them to pay it. And I’m like, but we hired these influencers. This is the kind of crazy stuff I dealt with.

We hired these influencers for a campaign. We wanted to work with them. We sent them the product. In order for them to do the campaign, they needed to pay the customs fee to be able to receive the products and do the job that we hired them to do. 

And now there’s this bill of 50 bucks and you’re refusing to pay it for that crazy? I feel like in those sorts of instances, like such a small… Exactly but knowing that who’s on the front lines? The CEO and founder are, behind the seeds, she’s not the person engaging with these influencers.

Her company’s reputation would be harmed, but I would also be involved because I’m in charge of PR and influencer marketing, so I’m just thinking like, this is gonna be a problem these influencers are gonna take to social media and it’s gonna be a problem.

This is a brand that’s had a lot of bad press in the years already. And ultimately it was just one of the ways in which the founder would do things like that to be harmful to me, because who does it hurt ultimately?

There are still gonna be millionaires at the end of the day. The owners of this company, are still gonna be millionaires, still gonna ride the waves. But it makes my life difficult. It makes my experience hard because now I have to have these uncomfortable conversations with the influencer.

So when the influencer sent the PayPal invoice, I paid it out of my own pocket. So these are the experiences I was dealing with, and I would routinely ask myself, why am I staying here? Here I am this person who, I am an intelligent person. I have experience. I’m a full adult. I could get another job. 

But I stayed despite the abuse, frankly, I suffered at the hands of this, position. And so it’s towards the end and I started really considering, I gotta get outta here, I gotta get something else going on. 

So I didn’t, but I finally, just ended up quitting the job. I couldn’t take it, and it was getting to the point where, because of the level of micromanagement, because of the instances of unnecessary stress.

Like just electing to not pay a $50 invoice just because you don’t want to, even though it’s gonna create stress and problems for me, it was coming to the point where I had so much anxiety that I had trouble sending an email out. I couldn’t even answer if an influencer emailed me and said, hey, I’m out of product.

I’m out of this foundation. I’d like a new foundation, you know, which is nothing. I used to do this all the time. In my first year at this company, I would send them, no problem. And even have to ask Slowly but surely, it just became this thing where it was like, I’m obviously being punished for reasons I don’t know.

I can’t take it anymore. It’s affecting my nerves, my anxiety, and my ability to function. And that’s when I really started to see the ways in which and I’ll be honest about, ADHD was showing up in my life. 

And I would have such a hard time getting things done because I’d be like this, like scared, nervousness, anxiety, but also it just was really showing up.

So I went, I got evaluated, I got tested. I found out, I have a couple of things going on in addition to, ADHD. My husband was diagnosed also with autism. My oldest son was diagnosed as autistic. I have also taken a couple of online self-assessments for autism that have all come back as showing that I am on the spectrum, although I haven’t gone and gotten a formal test, which I plan to do as soon as I possibly can.

So there’s a probability that I’m on the autism spectrum. I also have a mental health disorder. So all of this stuff came to a head and came to be a part of my life.

It affected my parenting, it affected everything. So I went on a healing journey. I’ve been on a healing journey. I switched to gentle or conscious parenting as it is known, and that’s where the whole, I’m sorry this took so long for me to get this out, but that’s where the whole consciously Lisa brand change came from. All of those experiences.

No, don’t. Please don’t apologize. First and foremost, I think it’s it’s really incredible for you to share this. I know you’ve had to have said this before. I know this is the life that you are living. So maybe it doesn’t feel like such a big deal, but I think it’s important to like pause for a second and just give you credit because I dunno.

I was listening to a podcast the other day. The guest was Howie Mendel of all people. Older guy. He is a comedian and he’s a big mental health advocate. And the host of the podcast, Nick Viall, was asking like, what was something that like really has helped you in your mental health journey?

Like you, you talk about it a lot and so you know in that if you could articulate one thing that’s really changed it for you in your life, what is that? And he said, just talking about it. He told this story is really interesting how he years and years ago was on the Howard Stern Show and he actually thought in a conversation probably similar to this, but he thought that at the moment that he was talking to Howard in one part of the interview that the microphones were off, like he thought they had ended the conversation. 

And they actually hadn’t. And so I don’t know, like I wanna dig into that about like, how did that air was that a little unethical to do? I don’t know. But in this current interview, he actually gave that moment credit because prior to that moment, he wasn’t public about his personal struggles with mental health and the things that he was going through.

And that sort of forced him into it, but he hadn’t looked back like he hasn’t looked back since. So while I don’t think that’s the right way to do it at all whatsoever. It’s a long-winded way. My long-winded way as well of saying that I just think it’s important to give you credit for being so open about it because I know that at least one person likely way more than one person listening to this or watching this right now, like either is experiencing one of these things themselves.

I was diagnosed with ADHD or know someone who is, and just simply talking about it, like the simple, just talking about it makes such a huge difference. And so I’m just appreciative of you being so like, willing to talk about it. And so could we get a little more specific though so this is, a pretty wild story about how you worked in this role and, just the way that the environment that you were in and the working environment and stuff like that, and obviously, I feel like what you’re describing would’ve triggered like somebody without any of these disorders.

Nonetheless, someone who has it. I’m curious, looking back on it would you have done anything differently, like having the perspective that you do now? I definitely wouldn’t have walked away without demanding, some sort of severance or compensation. And if I had to go the route legally, there’s nothing stopping me, honestly, because I do, I have talked to an attorney.

I do have a case, honestly, if I wanted to, but if I had to do it again, that would be number one is that I wouldn’t have stayed as long as I did one and two if I were to walk away, I wouldn’t have walked away without some sort of package. Because I walked away with PTSD.

I’m not even kidding. Like the day that I left. And I’ll just be completely transparent about the thought that came to mind. Cause I happened to be on the phone call with the founder and she’s calling, it’s eight o’clock at night. I get this random phone call. And she’s wanting a status update.

That’s essentially what she wanted. But instead of, just saying, hey, can you gimme an update on such and such? And obviously, a normal person would ask you this at nine o’clock the next morning or maybe would’ve sent an email, but no. 

So I’m getting this phone call. I think it’s even text, it’s text and it’s a barrage of text messages that are just saying, essentially you don’t do anything.

You’re terrible at your job. Like I’m repeatedly told, but then here’s the thing, people diagnose people with this personality disorder all the time.

So I’m not gonna diagnose anybody cuz I don’t know. But from what I have looked up, for a narcissistic personality disorder, this person definitely has some of the characteristics of that disorder. 

But now that I know what that is and what it looks like, I think I could have handled that situation a lot better than I did, and I wouldn’t have taken it personally because, in a real situation, when an employer has somebody who’s performing poorly and is doing poorly, they fire them.

They don’t keep him around for two and a half years telling them they suck every day. Do you know what I’m saying? I do know what you’re saying, but I don’t know. That’s a very optimistic lens to look at things, call me really pessimistic, cuz I can also share a slew of reasons why somebody could do the opposite.

So I hear you, but it’s a very optimistic view. Because obviously I have all of the context and I can definitively say that I didn’t suck at my job. Nobody could do the job that I did in the way that I did it and hasn’t since I left that role two years ago.

So I can pretty confidently say that I didn’t suck. This was just their MO. This is what they did with everybody in every position. People are routinely fired and rehired by this person every other month. It’s just what they do. It’s just what they do.

And knowing that now and seeing it on the outside, I can see that, that is what is. I’m glad that I left because really leaving really pushed me into my healing journey that led me to, I had the time now.

I hadn’t taken a vacation in two and a half years. Not a sick day, not a personal day, not a birthday. Okay, you work seven days a week. I remember when my grandmother died. My grandmother died it was November 2020.

 I didn’t get any bereavement leave. I had to pay one of my coworkers to cover for me all emails and all that, because if I had said, hey, I need a couple of days off, it would’ve been met with, just attitude and negativity, and I would’ve been docked my pay for three days.

You don’t work, you don’t get paid. That’s the culture. So I’m telling you that this was not a normal work environment. It’s not what anyone would normally experience. At least I am not from what I understand. 

Have you kept in touch with coworkers, like colleagues who are there because like I know that I’ve been in…

Most people are gone but yeah, there is one that I was friends with before I got the job who I have maintained a friendship with after. And do you guys have this shared experience? Do you look back and reflect and talk on it, or is it like, honestly you don’t even wanna look back on it? Is it helpful to reflect on or not? 

 When I was like right out of there, I couldn’t really. I could barely speak. I was a shell. Like I was a shell. I immediately had to go on antidepressants. My anxiety was so bad,

I couldn’t talk about it but I can talk about it openly now because I can confidently say, which is something I probably couldn’t say, before, is I can confidently say that it was not me. It was not me. And that’s not something that I could have done even two years ago, even though I, intellectually knew it, I didn’t feel it inside because you always wonder.

I come from a background of being a people pleaser and wanting to do well and always, following the rules. And you don’t quit a job. You don’t talk back to your boss, whatever they say goes.

And so that was the vibe that I brought to that job. But now, through the work that I’ve done in therapy and the healing, I’ve given myself permission to be like, you don’t have boundaries even at work. 

Absolutely. Especially at work, not even at work. I feel like, especially at work, like we spend most of our time working. We spend more time working than like with our families, taking care of ourselves, and a number of different things that are incredibly important. And so especially at work. 

So this leads me to, it was definitely a few months ago at this point, like when you and I spoke, I got a message from you.

We hopped on a call, I think this was like maybe back in December, I think. Yeah. Of last year. It seems like it wasn’t that long ago, but it’s a good five-plus months ago. And, you reached out and shared something that happened in Wiim. 

We spoke about it then and this is months ago and similar I guess to your story now it’s gonna feel different then than I’m sure that it feels now.

But the reason I’m bringing something up that happened five months ago. Days ago, you posted about it on social, you posted, you asked if you could post it in Wiim. And I said, so long as it follows the rules that everybody follows. 

Absolutely. Of course. Sure. And I’d love for you to share that story in a little bit more detail. I think it started out when you were having an issue with payment for the creator side of your business. You asked the Wiim community and got a reply. So if I can queue that up and let you fill in the additional details, I’d love for you to share your story.

Sure. So I have been doing a bunch of campaigns for this one particular brand through an agency, an influencer marketing agency that, we all know. And been working with them since 2018, pretty regularly. I do 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 campaigns with them a year. It’s a lot.

And so I have always liked working with them because they’re super hands-off. They don’t bother you, they leave you alone. They tell you here are your dates and you have this window of time to post your post. You don’t have to get approval. It’s very easy peasy. And I’ve always gotten paid within two weeks of a campaign.

But this time it’s different because at this point I’m not working any other job aside from this. I decided to focus almost exclusively on my healing journey and also on homeschooling my kids. 

At that point in December, my only source of income, obviously my husband works, but we live in the Northeast and we need a, we’re a two-income family.

You can’t live here on one income unless that one income is making half a million dollars a year. And that definitely is not the case for us. 

So I needed my money hell. And so I do these campaigns and the first one it had been like 30 days, right? So I’ll just be transparent with how much money it is.

So I had been hired for three campaigns. Two in November, one in December. So I completed two in November. One was in early November, and one was at the end of November. So by the time, I’m emailing my campaign rep, because this is, again, this is on the influencer side of the business, I’m emailing my campaign rep.

It’s been about 30 days since I wrapped the first campaign in about two weeks since I wrapped the second campaign. So technically, they’re not light per se, but I’m anxious because I’m like, oh shoot, Christmas is in a couple of weeks. Typically I’m used to getting my money within two weeks. I haven’t gotten it yet. 

I’ve got a couple of other friends in the industry who’ve told me they’ve had some issues with getting their payments quickly now through this agency. So I’m getting a little nervous. Also, you have to bear in mind that I’ve been around for a while, I’ve been around since the Mode Media days, and if anyone in this space knows Mode Media was an influencer marketing agency that was essentially like the precursor to this agency.

They ran all the beauty campaigns in the space for the most part, and it’s where a lot of us as influences not only got our money through brand deals, but we also worked with them through ads. They, actually had an ad network, so they would run ads like Google or Media Vine on people’s websites.

So I worked with Mode through both of those avenues. They ran ads on my site and I also got sponsored campaigns from that. And so when they went bankrupt without telling anybody, we all lost money. None of us got it, we were all out a few thousand dollars at least I was, and there was no real warning.

The only warning was several months before mode shut down, they were getting late with payments and they were, giving us the runaround.

So ever since that happened, I’ve always been really aware of when a brand is late or not paying or whatever. Cuz I’m always like, I don’t wanna be left out. I don’t wanna be burned again. And so when I’m emailing the campaign rep for this campaign, I was like, it’s been 30 days since, you owe me 5,000 technically. But I also did another campaign two weeks ago for another 5,000. So now we’re at 10,000 and I have another one due for you. Next week. 

So that will bring us up to 15,000, can you give me an estimate of when I should expect to be paid? What is the date that you say that I should be paid? This is a question I’m asking and I cannot get an answer. What they keep citing for me is what’s in the contract, which essentially says that you get paid when we get paid.

So either you get paid within 20 days of your campaign wrapping, or 60 days from when we get paid. But when that is, there’s no solid, so I’m seeing this is what’s written. I’m seeing that this is what’s in the contract and I get that, but now I’m a human being speaking to you, another human being, and I’m asking you, what is the date you anticipate payment, because I can’t believe for a second that an agency of this caliber with a brand that is this big, not knowing when they’re gonna get paid, it just doesn’t even make sense to me. 

And at this point, again, I’ve been working with this agency for 3, 4 years at this point. And I’m trying to add a little humanity to it, and I’m like, okay, look, it’s me, it’s Lisa. I know you maybe don’t know me personally, the campaign manager, because the campaign managers get replaced every other day. So this person probably doesn’t know me personally, but they can see my history, my account, and how long I’ve been working with them.

And I’m like, all right, this is my story. I’m not working. Christmas is coming, and I have two children. I need a date. Can you help me out with a date? Can’t gimme a date. Okay. Can’t gimme a date, we’re past 30 days now. Can you at least gimme partial payment? By next week? You’re gonna owe me $15,000 to date. You owe me 10.

I think I asked for 2,500 of the money owed. Like I’m, at this point, I’m like begging. Okay. It’s humiliating. Frankly, I get a response, but it’s more of a runaround. So now I’m triggered and I’m nervous. 

So I go to, Wiim. I say, hey Wiim and you know how when we do this in the group. Talent managers will say, hey, just give y’all a heads up if you have any clients working with this brand we’re having payment issues. 

It’s not a thing that’s not done in the space. So I say, hey, does anyone know if this agency is having a cash flow problem? I’m having some difficulty getting any answers, and I wanna see if anyone else is hearing anything. Cause I’m like, listen again, I’m nervous. I’ve been through this before with Mode Media.

I do get a response. It’s the vice president of creators for the agency. Okay. They’re in the group, which is great. Cause I’m like, all right, perfect. They’re like, hey, send me an email.

This is the response to the post. Send me an email. And I’m like, oh, great. Gonna get some help going to, hopefully, this person’s gonna help me out. So I send an email. The email again is essentially me thanking them for taking the time, for receiving my email and how much I enjoy working with them, and how I hope by even sending this email, I’m not getting anybody in trouble because I even take up for the campaign manager.

I’m like, she’s responsive. She’s not saying anything wrong. Cause I can imagine the position she’s in. She’s doing what she’s told. When the influencers ask about their money, copy and paste the contract. I don’t blame her whatsoever. I think she could have escalated it to the next person once she saw that I was, going back and forth and it really wasn’t getting anywhere. But whatever.

And so I emailed this person and the VP of creators who posted in Wiim. I sent this really long, really nice email. I think I maybe sent it to you, Jessy, I’m not sure. But I did send it to a couple of people. 

Hey, look at this email. Am I crazy? And I’m in the email, I’m essentially begging. I’m like, look, it’s Christmas time. I have two kids. I would really appreciate it if you can give me 2000 of the money that’s owed. I don’t really care when you’re gonna pay me the rest. I trust that you’ll pay me. Just give me this small amount. 

She did not like that. She didn’t like you asking for the money, a fraction of the money that you’re owed.

She did not like that I had the unmitigated gall to even say the words, does the such and such agency have a cash flow problem? Because when I send the email, she writes back, not even thanks.

Just was like, thanks, I’m gonna see what I can do to help you out. She copies a random from finance on the email which I never hear from. By the way, this finance person never gets back to me. Never acknowledges this email. For all I know, this finance person isn’t even a real person.

It’s somebody they throw on these emails to make it look like they’re doing something when they’re not doing something. I don’t know, I didn’t bother to go on LinkedIn to see if this finance person actually exists. And as far as I’m concerned, I don’t know who they are. They never heard from them.

So the finance person is copied on the email and it says, hey, I wish you had reached out to me before posting in Wiim, because by posting in Wiim, you have gone against creator terms and conditions, and so immediately you know, this person’s not here to help you. This person has given a F about your kids, about Christmas, about the money that’s owed, about the position that I’ve been placed into the point where I’ve got to demean myself by begging in this way.

They don’t care about that. It’s a reputation of this agency, that they feel that I’ve somehow maligned by posting, by simply asking the question, and so then she asked me to get on a call. In hindsight, I would’ve refused to get on the call because why do you need me on a call? What is it that you have to say?

You’ve already made it clear in an email that helping me is not what you’re gonna do and that you’ve copied on finance. So what is the extra we need on the call? But I’m trying to be optimistic even though my body and my nerves are telling me. Not to be optimistic. I’m trying to be optimistic.

So I get on the call. I don’t know how else to say it, so I’m gonna be as candid as I can, my experience with this person was, sociopathic is the word.

It’s where you feel like the person you’re talking to has zero empathy, has zero insight into your position whatsoever, and is completely focused on flexing their authority and you’re never gonna work in this town again. Which has been my experience after this call. I’ve never heard from this agency, never worked with them again.

I was routinely getting deals and campaigns with them. Haven’t heard of Peep, don’t work with them whatsoever. She made it clear again on the call by asking about when I might be paid or if the company has a cash flow problem. She was insulted that I asked that cuz she even scoffed at one point.

She’s does the such and such agency have a cash flow problem? Really. No literally that impersonation actually happened on this call. 

All she was concerned about was the reputation of the agency. And frankly, if you don’t have a cash flow problem, why would you be insulted If you have the money, why wouldn’t you just make sure that I got paid, whatever.

 Well here’s the thing is, as influencer marketers, influencers can definitely get on your nerves, right? In the company where I used to work, people used to go on Twitter, complain about payments, and complain about them. Nobody ever loved what even felt like bad press.

And it’s not like I don’t understand her position, but you can’t have so much ego that you show your hand. If I had been her and I had felt annoyed by me, I would’ve gone on the call. I would’ve figured out a way to get me paid. Just to get rid of me. 

And then if I wanted to never work with you again, never worked with you again. I wouldn’t have made it clear to you. I wouldn’t have spoken the words to you influencer that I’m never gonna work. The terms and conditions comment repeatedly, she told me that someone had screenshotted the post.

I was on this call being scolded like a child. She pulled me on the call to scold me and shame me with my own desperation to have a Christmas for my own kids. It wasn’t at all about helping me.

Even saying the words like, oh, it was a screenshot, and someone sent it to me. What the fuck am I’m not a kid. I don’t work at this company full-time. Like a screenshot, like you’re in trouble. I posted in a paid membership group for industry professionals. I wanted you to see it. no one had to screenshot shit. You know what I mean?

So cursing now. No, please. And also, I do wanna just also chime in for a brief second on that specifically, because you and I have talked about that before. And screenshotting anything in our private Facebook group actually goes against our rules and our, terms. I don’t know who did that.

And it’s not the first time that it’s happened. And there’s only so much that we can do. But, for somebody to rest their argument on that someone screenshotted it and sent it to them, that actually isn’t allowed in our group. So I also just wanna chime in and say that. So…

It’s a weird thing. Like She really wanted me to know. At a point where I’m low, at a point where I’m like begging for my money cuz I don’t have any, you’re making it clear that I’m not gonna get anymore because I have the nerve to ask for it.

I’ve been through stuff. I’ve been through some hell at the last job that I had and the job before that, I’ve been through some stuff, but this experience is sticking with me almost like it happened yesterday because I literally got off of that call 

I was a wreck. I felt so bad. She made me feel so so badly, cuz to be so confronted with somebody who lacks that much empathy, compassion, humanity and even though I shouldn’t be surprised by it, because again, I’ve been through a lot and I’ve been treated like shit a lot, by different people.

Not to say that I’m a victim by any stretch of the imagination. I take ownership for not always doing the right thing all the time. And perhaps, not always being, perfect myself.

So I’m not a victim, but I have felt victimized by people and there have been people who made it their business to want to make me feel victimized. And that’s how I think that this person handled it. 

And I think this person handles it this way because I’m not a big creator. I don’t have a big name and cloud and attorneys, so it can fly under the radar. Who’s gonna know who’s gonna give a shit? You know what I mean? Nobody cares. Nobody cares. 

But it’s important for me to just keep talking about it. And I don’t anticipate that I’m gonna stop talking about it any opportunity I can to talk about it, because it’s wrong. It’s wrong to treat people that way. And influencers, creators, and people in any business should never feel like they are breaking the rules or being demeaned when they’re asking for the money that they worked for.

And I do think that with agencies, and again I’m gonna just be a hundred about it, I do think that with certain agencies there is this practice of robbing Peter to pay Paul. And so maybe there isn’t a cash flow problem directly, but I do think that maybe money gets tied up in one area and that’s why there’s this delay in these weights or what have you.

I don’t think for one second that this agency does not know exactly when they’re gonna be paid by the brand that hires them so they can’t give definitive dates. There’s a reason why they can’t give definitive dates, and it’s not because that company has this, weird way of paying them. I just don’t think they would take on the liability of hiring thousands of creators to work for an agency or a company.

And not know when they’re gonna get paid. It just doesn’t even sound honest to me. So I don’t know what that person’s deal was and why they wanted to treat me so poorly I’ve essentially been blacklisted.

But it is okay cuz I’ve been a creator for 10 years. I’ve worked with a lot of brands over the years, a lot. And the experience with this person and also my experience at other agencies and influencer marketers, my experience as an influencer has really brought me to the place where I’m not sure how much of this space I’m gonna be in and how I’m gonna, be here unless a job falls in my lap and it’s like perfect.

I don’t see myself putting myself back out there to pick up any more influence and marketing work cuz I just… Traumatized, for lack of a better word, is where I’m at. 

Rightfully so. I wanted to let you be able to have space to share your own story. Everything that you’re saying now is what you were saying back then.

So I feel time can modify our memories and what have you, but like this is exactly what happened to you, the story back then, it’s very much like ingrained in your mind. I’m curious so you decided to share this in a really public way, first on your own platform in a carousel post where there were receipts, there were your thoughts.

I actually appreciate that you took a good five months to process it and then made a very conscious decision to share it in this specific way, which will link in the show notes so people can see in your own words, the posts and the carousel and the receipts, et cetera.

But I’m curious, like what led up to that decision to share it in such a public way, and then I’m so curious, what has been the response to it? So because I was still at that point, interviewing and submitting my resume and so forth for influencer marketing roles.

And so I was concerned, about how it would impact my ability to get another job if I were to talk about this experience. But now I’m at the point in my life where I just don’t wanna live in fear anymore or be scared. And I can understand if a brand or an agency would be like, I’m not gonna touch her cuz this seems like this person’s messy.

I can understand if they felt that way and chose not to move forward with me. But that would be okay because I would suspect that any agency that wouldn’t want our company, that wouldn’t wanna move forward with me would probably be one that’s doing some shady shit. And yeah. So it’s okay.

And so in finally coming to terms with the fact that I’m just gonna be myself. Speak and share what I wanna share, however, I want to share it, not naming names. Originally I did name names, but then I was like, you know what, I’m not. In deciding that I wasn’t really gonna be so gung ho about landing other roles in influencer marketing is what made me finally feel comfortable and okay, let’s just post it.

Because I also don’t do a lot of brand deals. I turn a lot of them down, not because I don’t need the money, but because I’ve been in this space for 10 years and pushing products. All day, every day is just not fun to me. I also don’t love the way the algorithm affects reach on sponsored campaigns.

And as somebody who likes to do well, I don’t feel comfortable taking money when the post doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do. And I know no other influencer feels that way. And they’re like if they’re gonna pay you your work, is your worth, your value? Is your value? I don’t know. Maybe this is the influence of the marketing side of me who feels like, you know what, no.

There should be some return on investment if someone’s paying you thousands and thousands of dollars. And from an ethics standpoint, don’t love the pressure of post not performing. And so I’m semi-retired, I guess that’s the answer to your question, Jessy, is I’m semi-retired from the space, so I feel more comfortable.

Transparently, that kind of makes me sad. And your story isn’t the first one at all whatsoever that I’ve heard. Where you are the victim of a ridiculous circumstance and situation and that you are the one, again, you’re not the only one, but like you, figuratively you are…

Of course, I’m gonna lose. This person that did this to me is loaded. Lives a very wealthy, privileged life. I am an unprivileged black woman, a mom in the Northeast. I’m gonna lose. That’s just, that’s par for the course. I expect it. I don’t expect better. This has been my experience, my life. I don’t know, call me an optimist say, or just stubborn, or whatever it is. I just can’t help but think that there’s a better way. It’s certainly not gonna be easy. It’s not gonna happen overnight. I keep hearing stories of people similar to yourself who very specifically in the influencer marketing world have gone through some crazy shit, myself included by the way.

And like if you want to continue there, or you should be cautious about, what you put out there or what how you impact, the people who seem to have the control or the privilege and things like that. And I just can’t help but think, and maybe this is delusional of me, that if enough of the people who’ve been victims of this, like just speak up and get together that you don’t have to run away and do something else because that’s what I keep seeing. I’ve literally heard multiple people tell me, I’m retiring. They’ve literally used that word like, I’m retiring from inland to marketing. I don’t wanna work at it anymore. I don’t wanna deal with this garbage.

That’s not the type of industry that I wanna be a part of, you know what I mean? And I think the problem is there’s so much ego, like me, I just wanna do the job. You know what I mean? I just wanna come in and do a good job and, like really do impactful amazing campaigns.

Get the best of the best creators on the campaigns, work with them, guide them, and mentor them. That’s what I wanna do is just make it happen. But there’s always all this other shit that gets in the way. And baby, I do not have it in me anymore to keep up the good fight. I really don’t. I’ve been beaten up. Beat up.

I hear that and like ultimately the first thing you need to do is take care of yourself. So that’s the absolute first thing that needs to be done. I just wonder I don’t know. I feel like they’re like these cool clubs, where like the people have just been doing it for a while and they like to feed each other’s egos and they are just giving each other all the power and they keep it very insular and the second that you fall out of favor or you challenge the status quo, you’re out. Yeah. 

I’m inspired by a lot of people who, for one reason or another different reasons have just gone out on their own and they’re like, I don’t wanna play by anybody else’s rules anymore. I just wanna do my own thing.

And that has insane amounts of challenges as well for someone who maybe doesn’t know how to like, register their business or, how does insurance work? All that stuff, right? So that has prohibitive challenges for a ton of people as well. But I almost wonder if perhaps that’s maybe one solution, just do your own thing, like create the rules yourself.

But I understand that has innate challenges. So looking forward, what’s on the docket for you? What do you hope to be doing in the next like year or two that will fill you up? I wish I could answer that question fully, honestly. My focus has been on my family and my kids, and I’m homeschooling them now.

If you’ve ever experienced neurodivergent burnout, I think that is a big part of where I am in my life. And so I am taking everything one day at a time and just focusing on the things that I can control and peace and being happy and not getting stressed out when it’s just like life is too short.

So I don’t have any huge career aspirations for the next year and a half. I really don’t know. Influencer marketing has been what I’ve been doing for 10 years, so I wouldn’t even know what I could possibly go into. I certainly can’t take on any entry-level role anywhere.

Cuz I sure don’t, you can’t be trying to pay me $30,000 a year. So I really don’t know. I gotta figure something out, Jessy. I really do. Going out on my own and doing it as a consultant, I did do some of that. That has its own set of challenges as well, especially since the people that seem to be looking to hire me are always people who are, they’re small businesses.

They don’t really have the budget for influencer marketing and I do not love trying to get influencers to be affiliate partners. That ain’t fun. So what about doubling down on yourself as a creator and maybe infusing some of this into the conversation? What, I don’t know.

What are your thoughts about that? I still create for sure. I’m definitely creating, I’m still, I’m launching a course, a conscious parenting course. I hired a consultant to help me with that eight months ago. So we’re still working on it. I’m working on a conscious parenting course.

I wrote in my first ebook and published that I’m monetizing my web. I’m building that side of my business up to look like, I don’t know what, to me, it’s like slow and steady wins the raise. I’m not in a rush. I’m really not. We’d all want money. We all want nice things.

We all want everything that comes with that. Listen, not having money is a problem too. I am not to the point where if I saw a role that hit everything that I needed to hit, then I would be completely like, no, I can’t do it. I don’t wanna do it. The problem for me now is I’m burnt out and I’m so shaken up by all of these experiences that it’s hard for me to even interview from a space of feeling like I could give another company my, all the way that I’ve done it before.

Because when I tell you, I go in and I give it my all. There’s no sleep. I don’t see my kids. When I was working for these companies, I had a full-time nanny in the house with me so I could really work and go in and, the salaries I was making weren’t even supporting that frankly.

But I just, I was so committed and so loyal in wanting to do such a good job, and so I don’t know if I have that for, and I know you’re saying like, just do it for yourself. How, what that looks like? I don’t know. Maybe we’ll have to talk about that offline in some way. I think you have to just do what’s right for you.

I personally just see you as having so much to give and to offer. I’m like, I don’t wanna see you give it to somebody else. I wanna see you reap the benefits of all this ridiculously hard work and passion that you have in you and I certainly don’t wanna see you just not do anything because of these insane actions of someone else.

But like all of that being said, I know that I can be idealistic a lot of times and what you’re saying is super valid and I what you’re doing, it’s best for you. Which is, you need to like to slow down and figure it out for yourself and be gentle with yourself like you have a family as well.

You don’t have one kid like me half the time you have two kids, right? So there’s a lot at play and it’s not as simple as I’m probably making it out to be. Just know that I respect the hell out of how you handled the situation because I see absolutely nothing wrong whatsoever with what you did.

And in fact, I think you handled it really wisely. I think that I respect the hell out of that. You took a good five months, you didn’t just you’re like, oh hell no. I’m gonna make this public and just spew it out there. No, you took five months to process this and think, what do I wanna do with this information if at anything at all?

And I think like I’ve read that initial carousel that you posted on your account multiple times and I’m like, you’re so reasonable. You’re so factual. Like you just laid it out, like how you had the conversation in real-time sounded perfectly logical to me. I don’t know if I would’ve done it as well as you, but I would’ve tried to I would’ve taken the same approach that you did all that you were saying earlier about Mode Media. I lived through that as well. 

Yeah. No one had noticed that Mode Media, which was a huge company in this space years ago, was gonna be bankrupt. It was a shock to people. So everything that you’re saying about that information and taking that into consideration with what you’re experiencing now, red flags going off, like everything in you with your red flags made logical sense to me and how you did it made sense as well.

So I just wanna give you full credit. I also I wanna challenge people who are watching or listening to just take inspiration from you, honestly, because I think that we all need to be more respectful of each other. 

It annoys the shit outta me when people’s egos get in the way. Because, the worst case scenario is that it’s actually hurtful to someone, and maybe the most pc, outcome of that.

It’s just that the work suffers, you’re talking about I just wanna do the work. Like I just wanna do the work. I wanna do great work. And if people’s egos get in the way, it harms that as well. I would just challenge people like, Is it really fucking worth it to have your ego get in the way that much like your life is now being driven by your ego?

Yeah. And I just challenge people to be self-reflective and just simply ask themselves the question. But 

I know that there are people within WIIM, within your community as well who are inspired by your story and who are appreciative that you have the balls to share this because you could have easily been silenced and felt like you should just move on and not talk about it and not say a thing about it.

So I’m just very appreciative that you did share your story with us and for anyone who is watching or who is listening and who wants to, share maybe their experiences with you or just get in touch in some way. 

 Should they connect on LinkedIn or Instagram? What’s the best way for them to connect to? Yeah, all of those plays are fine. You can shoot me an email, at lisa@consciouslylisa.com. Look me up on LinkedIn or Instagram. I’m all over social media and I’m pretty accessible. LinkedIn especially, actually prefer LinkedIn over all of them. 

Okay. So we’re gonna link all of that in the show notes. And again, I just appreciate you because I feel like I would like to see more women in this space talk about things that they’ve experienced, because I know you’re not the only one who’s experienced it with this person, with this company, or in general.

Yeah. They’re so huge and they’re so powerful and it’s unfortunate that we do leave live in a culture and a society where the big guy sometimes wins. I shared it the way I wanted to share it.

I know how to share it where it would probably go viral. I know how to do that because I would’ve had to name names very publicly. We’ve seen how influencers go viral when they call out brands, but they call them out over sometimes over things that are not like huge deals.

I feel like there are times when we need to be careful about the things that we’re calling out. I don’t know if you saw it, but just last week with the influencer trip and that whole thing. Maybe we could talk about that offline if you have it.

So we see things, but I would really like to be cerebral about things and really talk about them in a way that gets people to think as opposed to having an emotional response. And that’s why I do process things. Again, I have as we talked, I’ve mentioned a few times as being neurodivergent, I do process things slower than the average person maybe. 

And so it does take me, although I felt, what I felt then in the moment, I couldn’t, it was just all too much. And so I do need I do give myself a lot of time before I touch things. And so I’m glad I did that too. So I really appreciate your support, Jessy.

You took my call the night it happened, I believe when I was like hysterically crying and so I really appreciate your support and backing me and giving me this opportunity to talk about it. I’m not looking to get anyone fired. I’m not looking to make any agency like lose business. I just think it’s important for us to be like, hey, this is not cool.

And I’m not even looking for an apology. I think we need to talk about this type of stuff cuz it matters and it’s not cool to treat people like this. I appreciate that that’s your like final words because it’s let’s all be a little bit more human and just feed each other like humans.

Just remember like I was somebody’s mother, I was just trying to get some coins from my child for Christmas, my children, and that’s it. And it doesn’t have to be this big, ego stuff. There’s no room for it. There’s no need for it.

There isn’t any need for it. I really appreciate you coming on today. I know that others definitely have appreciated hearing your story and having you be brave enough to be able to share it. I want everyone to follow you and reach out and connect. And for all of you guys tuning in, we will see you next week. Thanks, guys.

Lisa Jean-Francois

Influencer Marketing Consultant

Mom, Wife, Writer, Influencer, and Influencer Marketing Manager, Lisa Jean-Francois wears many hats and a cape! She is on a mission to spread the message of conscious and gentle parenting, thereby hoping to break generational patterns of abuse. Lisa has been a creator and influencer marketing professional for over 10 years, but it’s only within the last few years that she has shifted both her life’s purpose and her social media platforms. Today, Lisa’s social media accounts showcase mental health and conscious parenting advocacy, and she’s just getting started. She’s currently working on a parenting course, and Her E-book No Right Way, a Beginner’s Guide to Conscious Parenting is the first in a series of digital resources for parents she’s created. You can also catch up with her on her Podcast, “The Consciously Lisa Podcast,” to get a more in-depth look at her life as a mother living with mental illness. Lisa resides outside of Boston, Massachusetts with her husband, Andre, and two children, Jackson-Blaise, 9, and Julien-Michel, 3

Book Your Session