Live from NYC

Today we’re speaking with Jessy Grossman of WIIM, Taylar Barrington-Booker of Agency Cliquish, Ayomi Samaraweera of Canopy, and Christie Childers of Best Day Ever.



Jessy Grossman: Hello. Hello guys. Welcome back to the WIIM Podcast. I’m your host, Jessy Grossman, and I’m also the founder of the Women in Influencer Marketing Community and membership. I am super grateful to have you guys here and we have got a pretty exciting episode today. I don’t know where everybody’s located.

Some of you guys are in New York, some of you guys are in LA, Chicago, overseas, all over the country, everywhere. Some of you guys have been enjoying these events that we’ve been throwing. We have hosted this year in New York and LA a couple of times each. And we are coming to Chicago as our last event this year on September 14th.

Check out our website for tickets, but some of you guys don’t have the ability to travel in or aren’t located in those cities, and I know that you’re feeling a little bit sad. So we spent a lot of money and hired a videographer for all of our most recent events, and we are bringing to you the panel discussions on this podcast.

So you can only have a little bit of fomo ’cause of course there’s so much more to our events than just the panel. But I do think these panel discussions are so fascinating. And I wanna make sure you get to listen. You guys are like the most loyal, awesome, fricking engaged, incredible people because you guys listen to this podcast week, after week.

And I wanna bring you good interviews. And sometimes they don’t happen off this podcast. Sometimes they happen in person at these events. So we recorded the last one, which was in New York City, my hometown. And it was a good one. So you are gonna hear from Aomi and Christie and Taylor and me about building in the creator economy.

I will give you the slightest bit of a preview of this conversation before we jump into it. I don’t think there are enough women building in the creator economy. There are a lot of men doing it, and I’m like, where are the women? I’ve teased the idea of what if we, crowdfund our own, investment fund where we would support women who are building businesses in the creator economy.

We just ran a poll asking that exact thing on our Instagram Stories, and a lot of people do you, they’re like, I would love to do that. Can we do that? Can we like seriously do that? And I’m like, yes. And I’m so glad people are interested. I’m interested. I’ve been wanting to put my own money into companies and I would love to be able to support women doing it, and I’m not really finding enough that are building. 

So this conversation is all about building in the creator economy and you’re gonna be hopefully inspired by three women who have done it, are doing it, and they’re doing a really incredible job, but they’re friends of mine and I love what they’re doing, but they do it with a lot of grace.

So I want you to hear from them. I’m excited for you to get inspired. Check out our last event of the year, Chicago. You guys travel in. We actually had so many people travel in for our New York event, they traveled in for our LA event. So if you don’t live there, it’s okay. Use it as an excuse to take a trip up to the best city.

It’s the best time of year to come to Chicago in mid-September. The weather’s gonna be absolutely beautiful and our venue is gorgeous. So shout us to FCB Chicago for sponsoring our Chicago event on September 14th. 

So definitely come and say hi. It is the last one of the year. We’ll have virtual events. We have all sorts of other stuff going on, but it’s the last in-person, one guy and like they’re just better. They’re just better. There’s no way to sugarcoat that. They’re way better than the virtual events because there’s just so much more that happens. The like magic is palpable.

Check out our website, you guys. It’s iamwiim.com/events. That’s Iamwiim.com/events. You’re gonna kick yourself if you haven’t gone to an event of ours yet and you missed the last one, I’m telling you. And Chicago’s gonna be good. All right you guys, I’m so excited for you to hear this panel, so enjoy.

Jessy Grossman: So we are super, super grateful to have you here today. I’m gonna stand up for the intro just ’cause I know there are some people in the back. Thank you, guys, so much from seriously from the bottom of my heart for being here. We have grown Wiim since 2017 and like honestly I get a little emotional sitting here and looking out at you guys.

And I promise myself I would be really present today and just appreciate that you guys are here and support this movement of women supporting women. Ooh, that feels good in the creator economy. I know it’s hot today and I appreciate you guys coming out in a heat wave. So first and foremost, please give yourselves a round of applause for being here.

You are in for such a treat today. First of all, this event could not be possible without our sponsors, so I need to give them a big shout-out. First of all, people have been like, this space is beautiful. What is this? Our sponsor primary is their coworking office. So I personally had my office here for about three years and I cannot speak more highly about them.

We grew from a two-person company to like an 11-person company and did it all here within primary. So they host events, but their coworking space is way better than WeWork’s promise. I am gonna throw shade. Their whole shake is about wellness and work. Anyways, we’ll talk a little bit more about them later, but did wanna give them a big shout-out?

United Sodas who are sponsoring the Great Drinks. And then we have some gift bag sponsors that at the end of the night do not leave without a gift bag, but we’re not giving ’em out till 8:30 because you can’t leave till then. So Equilibrium, Lulu might all Alka Seltzer, Marshawn Eyewear, and Cricket, which we are gonna be raffling. Off a couple of those items, like a whole cricket and all the accessories. 

Are there any DIYers in the house? Because cricket is a bomb, you guys. So we’re gonna be giving one of those away, around 8:30, or 8:45. So stick around. You have to be here to win. I don’t mess around. You leave and I call your name. I go to the next person. 

I don’t mess around with that. So you have to be here. And last, but certainly not least, all the members of Wiim who are like our super fans and who show up to events like this our virtual events, our mentorship, our Slack board, our membership is amazing. And I just wanna thank all of you guys who are members of the organization.

Tonight is all about connections. And just having a good time. So we have a super fun headshot booth, which some of you might have taken photos of. It’s to spruce up your LinkedIn. You can use it for whatever you want, but we could all use a beautiful new LinkedIn photo. I don’t know about all of you guys, but like a lot of us in this room are very used to promoting the brands that we work for or the influencers that we manage. And it’s all about having them look beautiful in a photo. And I want you all to get a beautiful photo that you can use on your LinkedIn, your social. I want you guys to feel really great about yourselves. 

We have dinner like I’m sure a lot of you have enjoyed. It’s gonna be throughout the night too. So if you didn’t get it yet, we’re gonna be serving throughout the night drinks. And then of course, like I mentioned later, gift bags and a raffle. And so we are about to get started with the first part of the evening, which are our panelists. So I’m gonna briefly introduce them, and then we’re gonna just jump right into it because I’m talking way too much.

we have an Ayomi Sama… I always pronounce it wrong. Samara, Samaraweera, right? 

Ayomi Samaraweera: You got it?

Jessy Grossman: Yes. Okay. I’m the worst. Christie Childers. We also have Taylor Barrington-Booker, and they’re from Canopy. Best day ever. And, Agency, and Clickish, respectively. So we are going to jump into that. The panel should last about 45 minutes or so.

And then we’re gonna have a Q&A at the end. Oh, and this is all being recorded for the podcast. So if you scan that QR code over there, you can subscribe to the podcast and then if you ask a question during Q&A, you can hear yourself on the podcast, which is fun. So thank you all so much for coming and let’s get into it.

So this is yours. Alright, So question number one. this is a very serious question and we’re gonna go down the line. Fuck Mary. Kill Instagram, TikTok. LinkedIn. Would you like to kick us off, Ayomi? 

Ayomi Samaraweera: Firstly, I love this question. Yeah. As obsessed. I worked at TikTok, so I’m gonna have to say marry TikTok and LinkedIn told me my last job, so I fucked with LinkedIn.

So I guess to kill Instagram. 

Jessy Grossman: Kill Instagram. All right. What about you, Christie? 

Christie Childers: Okay. Mine’s gonna be the exact opposite. For personal use, I would say fuck Instagram for sure. Marry LinkedIn. You wanna marry something dependable. You wanna marry something that gives you safety. And then, kill TikTok ’cause I don’t need another thing to scroll on. No offense. 

Jessy Grossman: She’s gonna kill TikTok. All right. Fuck Mary Kay Taylor, what say you? 

Taylar Barrington-Booker: Okay. So I am not gonna say the F word ’cause I’m just gonna pretend my mom is right here. So there’s that. But I feel like I would absolutely marry LinkedIn. Like I’m really into it. Maybe it’s my own selfish way as I consume Instagram and TikTok ’cause so much. I would sleep with, yeah. Instagram. I feel every three days I uninstall it like, like it’s taking up too much productivity time for me. 

But I feel like I’m in a situationship with TikTok. We’re trying to figure out what this is. 

Jessy Grossman: So I feel that really hard. I feel that very much so. I know you guys are thinking about your answers to this. Feel free to discuss this later amongst yourselves. It’s a fun one, right? 

So tonight we’re gonna be talking about building in the creator economy. That’s what this whole topic is about. And first of all, I hope that tonight by hearing from these three incredible women that they inspire you to build in the creator economy.

‘Cause I’m gonna get on my soapbox for, ah, 20 seconds. Not even. I just don’t think there are enough women specifically building in the creator economy. So I am very excited to have this conversation. So my first question is, I always wanna keep it real. Let’s start with Christie. 

What’s been your biggest hurdle as someone building in the creator economy?

Christie Childers: Honestly not gonna be like probably the standard answer that you normally hear. I have not faced many hurdles in this economy. I feel like I came into it at a really good time in 2016 when things were really starting to ramp up. Got in pretty quickly early, adapted quickly, felt comfortable with the software, and felt comfortable with data and analytics.

Quickly made amazing connections quickly. And then I’ve really just, not difficulty fostering them, but a lot of effort fostering those relationships for the past six or seven years. So less of a hardship, less of a difficulty, but a lot of effort really goes into these types of careers. And if you can’t put the effort in it’s not something that’s gonna be as easy for you.

Jessy Grossman: Okay. Sorry. No that’s your honest answer. And Taylor, what about you? 

Taylar Barrington-Booker: So funniest story, before I got into influencer marketing, I was in journalism and ex-journalism people in here. Yeah, okay. And I don’t know if anybody knows, but journalism never sleeps right? Like it’s 24/7, 365.

My first year at work I was like, wait, I don’t get a Christmas break. And so I left journalism and went into marketing so that I could have a work-life balance. I love that. That’s the punchline. So I would definitely say that my biggest hurdle has been work-life balance. 

And I think it’s something that we talk about a lot, like within our team and our culture. Like I try to get my team like, make sure you’re off at six or seven. Take a lunch break, and do not open emails on the weekend because it is relentless. Yeah. And so that’s my thought. 

Jessy Grossman: So raise your hand right now guys, if you also struggle with work-life balance Okay. Okay. Ayomi what about you? 

Ayomi Samaraweera: I would say for me I honestly always walking into male spaces has been really difficult. And honestly, it’s not to say that most of the men I’ve worked with have been incredible. All my investors actually are men.

So it’s not to say as if that’s a bad thing. I just think I personally feel more comfortable in these spaces and it’s so refreshing. And 70% of creators are female women. It’s really frustrating when you are working with people and there are not equal opportunities for everyone, whether it’s in the founder space, the creator space, or the marketing space. So I think that’s definitely a challenge that I’m trying to work through. 

Jessy Grossman: A hundred percent. Yeah, absolutely. Christie, 

what are some things that you wish you knew when you started your business? Going back to the beginning. 

Christie Childers: Let’s see. When I started my current business, I wish, someone did tell me this from day one, but I put it off for a year or so. Get an accountant just asap. Do not try to do your own taxes and your own expenses. It’s ridiculous and insane. So get a good accountant.

I would say definitely on the work-life balance note, when you come from an agency working 80, 90 hours a week and then you start a business and you think, oh, I’m gonna be so much more balanced, like quite literally, your business never sleeps.

You never sleep because the more hours in the day you work, the more money you make. And then you get really addicted to being awake and making money. Yeah, go to sleep. Go to bed, I guess I would say.

Jessy Grossman: I appreciate that, be healthy, but that’s real talk too I don’t know. There’s definitely such a thing as high-achieving women, like just high-achieving people and I think that you can fall into a lot of traps being in that. And if you’re a workaholic, I feel a lot of us like take pride, wear like a badge of honor if we’re workaholics.

It’s something to be proud of. And just because you can work till three in the morning and you also see that money coming in because of it, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should. So I really appreciate that. Taylor, what about you? What’s been, some things you wish that you, knew when you started your business?

Taylar Barrington-Booker: So I gave this a real good thing, and I have been in business for nine years believe it or not. So honestly, I’m still alive and that is the win. But what I will certainly say is like three key things have really helped me at this point that I didn’t have when I started or didn’t understand.

I think the first was my prayer life. I really leaned into my spirituality which kind of guides me and my decisions and the work that I do here. I don’t see influencer marketing or even the creators that we work with as just platforms. I see them as people who have a purpose, who have a message, who are inspiring others.

And so I really try to have a strong prayer life. I think the other thing would be my process, which is like me thinking about how things come to pass. I think we live in a digital age that moves so quickly. Everything feels so microwaved. Like it’s right now. Right now.

And what I’ve, realized is that good things are built slowly. Yeah. Slowly and intentionally. And I heard somebody use the analogy of ants and if an ant looks at a grain of sand and says, this is a mound, I’m not gonna lean into this. Instead of seeing it as what it could be, which is this large mound of sand, it wouldn’t try, it wouldn’t start, right?

And so for me, everything is about the compound efforts that we do over time and like those small wins every single day. And then I say the last thing is like my people.

And I’m really grateful to win this too, because Jessy yes, girl. Because I feel like I’ve met so many incredible people. Like I see one of my girls in the back, Molly of Ray, Hey Molly. that’s my girl. And, am just really thankful for the people that have been here to support and help me through this process. 

Jessy Grossman: Molly Hart too. And it sounds like it takes a village. They don’t even necessarily need to be like employees of your company, right? Like we had a whole slew of people who volunteered for this event tonight. This event would literally not be possible if not for the seven people who raised their hands and said,  I support you. I wanna be there for you. And you know what, I’ll be there for them. And you have a relationship with Molly and I know that you guys will be there for each other.

Like it takes a village to have that support system. And the more that we can be there for each other, the stronger we’ll all be. I just firmly so deeply believe that. 

Ayomi what are you looking to change or to solve in the creator economy with your business? 

Ayomi Samaraweera: For me it’s transparency, and again, I dunno how everyone feels here. And again, I have a lot of love for TikTok, but ultimately the platforms, the car for the platforms, the brands, the car for the brands, and then the creators just out here in the ether floating and trying to figure things out, trying to hustle, trying to make a living.

So for me, with Canopy, I’m trying to build this space where creators are helping creators, we’re helping each other by sharing information. Part, spill the tea and actually just share things that you don’t know, what you don’t know when you’re a creator. Doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out as a creator or you have a million followers, you are still learning.

There are platforms that are appearing, things are changing so quickly and some brands are great to work with. Some brands suck and you won’t be giving away your usage right. In perpetuity. 

And there’s a lot of like fine print in those contracts. And I think by creators helping creators, we can increase transparency and then I think there’s enough to go around for everyone to win. So for me, my biggest pain point right now is transparency and trying to increase transparency in the space. 

Jessy Grossman: And I think I love that you guys are also about education. ‘Cause what your company is doing is gonna make everybody in this room’s job easier. You are helping educate and like empower all of these creators so that once they are getting the opportunity to work with the people in this room, they’re that much more equipped to come to the table with even more. 

So there’s just so much more that we can all do together. Taylor, what’s been some of the best advice that you’ve been given that’s helped you grow?

Taylar Barrington-Booker: I feel oh my God. I guess I got a shout-out. I feel like I’m being so serious and I’m so goofy. So like just bear with me. But, my entrepreneurship journey actually kicked off with my dad, who’s an entrepreneur as well. And, that was my homeboy. He passed away in 2014. It’s okay.

Thank you. I told him, I actually got a chance to tell him that I was moving into entrepreneurship before he passed away. And his one note to me was like, give it everything you’ve got. And I was like when he said that to me, I was like, that is so superficial. What do you mean? That’s not real advice, but honestly at this point, like I feel like it’s so profound, which is, if you’re going to bet on yourself, go all in. 

And so… 

Jessy Grossman: Yeah, a hundred percent. Because you know what? If you aren’t willing to invest in yourself, who will? And once you do start to grow your business, you’re gonna get people who look to you to say, what percentage should I be putting into this?

What passion should I be putting into this? And it’s a lot of pressure as you start to grow and people start to look to you for inspiration. But that’s the way to build a stellar team. That’s a way to build a community, a tribe of people who believe in you is when you push and, push yourself and believe in yourself.

No, you can be as sentimental as you want. I’ll eat it up all day. I’m good with it. But Christie, when have you felt stuck in your business, and how did you overcome that? 

Christie Childers: Yeah, I would say, so I do. A lot of things. I’m like one of those crazy people. So I own a Pilates studio. So that’s one element of my life about building a brand using influencers to do that. 

And then I own an influencer consulting business. So specifically on the influencer consulting business side, I would say when you go into business for yourself, no one really tells you that no matter what industry you’re in, but specifically the creator industry, you’re gonna go through lulls during the year where it’s really busy, all of a sudden you’re making crazy money, you’re killing it.

Life is insane, and then you’re gonna go two, three months without a paycheck, so you’re gonna have zero money coming in. So I think like knowing how to get comfortable with allocating money. Spread over a period of 12 months, not letting the financial things trip you up, I would say is really hard. I definitely had trouble learning that in the beginning and would call my parents sobbing regularly, and they’d be like, you’re literally gonna be fine.

It’s just money. You’ll figure these things out. But yeah, you sometimes we’ll go months without a paycheck when you’re self-employed or when you’re building a brand when you’re putting all your money now, Pilates side into a brand as I have. No liquid at this point. All my liquid is tied up in a business definitely getting comfortable with money and getting comfortable asking people around you about money.

Stop gatekeeping money. It’s so lame like it is 2023. We are women. We need to be talking about how much money we make. We need to be talking about how much money we spend, and we need to be asking men how much money they’re making as well. Saying what are you making? What was your bonus? Tell me more about your bank account. You need to be asking these questions so that you can do the best for you as a woman. 

Jessy Grossman: So good. A hundred percent. And, share it with each other because the more we have that transparency, the more we’re gonna be able to arm ourselves to know what to ask for, what to expect. Shameless plug, we have a salary reveal every single Tuesday on our Instagram and on our social, where people have anonymously submitted their entire comp package to us and we share it on Instagram.

So every single Tuesday you can see not only what salary they’re making, but what percentage of their insurance is covered, do they get a mat leave, like really important stuff. So I appreciate that a lot. Taylor, what would you like to see change just broadly in our industry? 

Taylar Barrington-Booker: All right, so you guys think I’ve been on a soapbox before? No, seriously. So I didn’t get to tell you all, but Agency Clickish is an influencer management agency. We are exclusively dedicated to black talent. So we only represent black influencers, across about a dozen verticals. So we’ve got beauty, we’ve got food, home, lifestyle, fashion, all the things.

I started the company and it was born out of the Black Lives Matter movement. And when George Floyd was murdered a few years back and I was really excited to start the company because I was excited about the conversations that were happening and I’m like, I wanna be a part of that. What I will say is that since then not seeing those conversations stay as relevant as current as people following through and up on those things. 

And what I would like to see change is, I know it’s sometimes difficult to see change from the top down, but all of us are in the weeds every day making decisions every day. And I just wanna empower you all, at least the people that can hear what I’m saying right now.

And, that black creators are waiting to be seen and recognized, included. And as much as you can do that and prioritize them, they really appreciate it. But I would definitely like to see, more diversity in campaigns, more equity, in these opportunities, and more inclusion. If you don’t mind, so we went to Essence Festival.

Last month? No, it’s this month. Went to Essence Festival this month. It was really exciting. It was really exciting to see some of the mainstream brands there. L’Oreal was there. Revolve was there. We were there with Steve Madden. And it was really exciting activities that were happening as well.

But I think inclusion is about figuring out how maybe your mainstream brands who have like black markets or black, consumer bases can show up in our spaces instead of bringing us into spaces that don’t quite look like us, right? I think it really is a way for brands to start, being more inclusive. And Essence Festival was our Coachella, so let’s turn up. 

Jessy Grossman: Was it fun? Had you been years past? 

Taylar Barrington-Booker: I have actually, interned for Essence in college. And so I went then, and I was like, oh my God, look at all my aunties. Yeah. But this year it was like, oh my God, Hey girl.

Like it was a lot more peers there. And so what I will say is that the demographic of Essence Festival is getting younger. And it’s looking a little different, so if you haven’t looked into it or haven’t heard of it, I’d highly suggest looking into it and, if you’re interested in activating let me know 

Jessy Grossman: Socks and Sour. Awesome. Ayomi, I think this is a question that I’m very excited to ask you. So you’re killing it on TikTok and we talked recently about how you’re doing stuff on LinkedIn I love and respect and also think it’s imperative that if you’re building the creator economy, you need to really think about your own personal brand.

It goes hand in hand. So how has personal branding impacted your business? 

Ayomi Samaraweera: Honestly, at this point, when I am pre-product, pre-revenue, personal brand is my business. If you looked me up 12 months ago, if you Googled me, not that I Googled myself maybe I did. There would be nothing on me.

It would be a private Instagram profile with about 300 of my like family and friends with not really anything on there. And now, I feel like I’ve really lent to my personal brand ’cause I knew I wanted to build a startup. And a startup in this space means you have to be a creator in every sense of the word.

 And I have different personalities with different platforms. Like the Unhinged Me is on TikTok. My highs and lows of being a founder on TikTok, and the professional me on LinkedIn. Everything’s going great in life. Professional success after success. And then Instagram is part business, part fun, part closed Friends when I’m feeling a little unhinged as well. 

But I think you really need to be out there and connect with your customer, connect with your investors, connect with your stakeholders, your peer groups, and your friends and family. And I think this goes back to what Taylor was saying about your people. I have found my people in so many ways.

Jesse and I connected. I had been stalking Jesse on LinkedIn for such a long time, trying to find an intro that I happened to find through Kristen at Vidcon. And I’ve made friends from LinkedIn and I’ve made friends from internet friends who are real-life friends. Julian’s here, in fact, who we met through LinkedIn, I think.

And I think it’s so important and so much opportunity is out there for you, but you have to put yourself out there and you have to be shameless. I remember being really embarrassed this time last year being like, ’cause it’s so cringe, what are my friends at home gonna think about me? This is so embarrassing.

Like I’m trying to be an influence and I’m clearly not. And honestly be shameless. Be shameless. Be delusional. ‘Cause what’s the worst that could happen? It could actually just happen. And now I get to be up here on this panel, and I’ve been following Fe’s journey for such a long time, so it feels like a full-circle moment.

And it wouldn’t have come about without building a personal brand. 

Jessy Grossman: And I don’t know, I’ll say that I relate to that so hard ’cause when I first started putting myself out there, I was so uncomfortable. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still uncomfortable. But I see the value of it and I just do it. And it’s like a cheat to win is you find other people that are doing it too, and you just cheer each other on and you get outta your head and you’re like, whatever.

She’s just fucking awesome. So I’m just gonna cheer her on and yeah, I’ll make a video in response to what she did, like whatever you have to do to trick yourself to get there, to put yourself out there. I see some people in the audience now that I know inspired me. Look at you, Lauren back, who’ve inspired me and put yourself out there on social in really meaningful ways.

And there’s just a really interesting space of a B2B influencer that’s getting a little bit more traction these days and talking about we’re so used to this traditional influencer. I’ll speak for myself. I won’t speak for you. I’m not a fashionista, I’m not a beauty influencer like that is so far from what I naturally am.

But I’ll talk about business all day, every day and I love it. And you can tell when I am passionate about it ’cause it’s easy, it’s easier to talk about. But anyways, I appreciate hearing your perspective ’cause I really truly hope that inspires a lot of you guys to just make that first post.

It can be on threads and just be texts now, right? Like it doesn’t have to be on video, but work yourself up to that. Start a podcast, whatever it is, whatever medium you feel comfortable in, if you could just talk for hours. Get a microphone. I will teach you how to upload your podcast. Christie’s good at podcasts too.

Yeah, I’ll give her credit where credit is too. She’s good at that. I’ve taken calls with her to learn. Christie, I’m gonna direct my next question to you. 

What white space do you think is primed in the creator economy that’s basically primed for the taking? 

Christie Childers: So I would say expanding upon what’s already happening, but creators building their own brands. It’s the most fun ever to watch a creator take an idea of, let’s say I wanna make this skincare brand and then blow it up into something that’s huge, solely because they have an amazing following behind them and they have people who already love them so much and wanna support them. 

And I think that specifically, I think that venture capital should really be looking at influencers to help them build brands. They should be putting their venture dollars into creators building their own brands because, off the back half, they’re gonna get this amazing brand already built with media behind it. They won’t even have to worry that much about the media aspect.

And then creators know what’s in, they know what’s hot, they know what people want. They can pull their audience in real-time and get real-time data to create products that people will actually purchase versus things going through R&D for 30 months in a row with all these people in the room who have no clue what they’re talking about, truly.

They do not know what type of skincare should be created. They don’t know what most people are looking for. And then, yeah, it’s going through so much red tape that by the time it gets to the product floor, it sucks and all the good ingredients have been cut out and it’s nothing anybody wants.

So I think creator brands getting more money from VC to go behind those and moving quicker, building brands quicker. We gotta stop being so slow. 

Jessy Grossman: And I’m gonna give a shameless plug. He was here earlier and I think he left, but there is an incredible company he double-booked himself. It’s okay.

There is a company called Oversubscribe. I’ve talked about it before in our podcast and stuff, but that’s literally what they do. But instead of being reliant upon this VC like amorphous, who is your investor? Blah, blah, blah. It’s actually getting investment dollars from your audience.

 Like a glorified Kickstarter. So anyways, I just came up and I happen to really think they’re cool. I agree with you so wholeheartedly. Like the influencers just are so primed. A hundred percent for a million different things. If you have an audience, they’ll buy. Stuff from you, but you gotta make the things for them to buy.

 And that’s hard, I don’t wanna sugarcoat it that’s so easy to do. Yeah. Just, sell your own products. Like where do you start? What product do you sell? How do you make sure it’s like a quality product? There are so many questions, but aligning yourself with the right people will absolutely get you there.

Ayomi, I wanna ask you the same question. like what white space do you see in the creator economy that you think is primed for the taking? 

Ayomi Samaraweera: I think there’s so much opportunity right now. One thing that stands out to me, and this is more like a long tail would be around creating mental health and burnout.

I think that is a massive gap in the space right now, and it’s only going to get bigger and unfortunately probably only gonna get worse because no one’s figured this out. If someone can figure out how to support creators so that they can take a vacation and their engagement doesn’t drop and they can actually have benefits and healthcare and things like that, I think that would be a huge game changer.

And I don’t personally know anyone who’s building something substantial in this space, but there are 200 million content for years globally right now. And as a solopreneur, as a freelancer, as a creator, you don’t have the support that you naturally have as an employee of a corporate organization. So I think if someone can figure that out, I think that’s a billion-dollar idea.

Christie Childers: Should we hold a healthcare company? 

Ayomi Samaraweera: Maybe. I was just saying, 

Jessy Grossman: That’s why I wanted to throw this question out there. I’m like, have conversations built with each other. That’s literally what tonight is for. Start the conversation, man. Christie. I wanna ask a follow-up question to you.

’cause I feel this really hard. I feel like a lot of us will are very familiar with the big influencer campaigns that are for the Fortune 500 or Fortune 100 companies out there. And there are so many ways smaller brands that are like, I see the value of influencer marketing, but I don’t have a million-dollar budget.

I don’t have anything remotely close to that. So my question to you is, 

how can smaller brands have a place at the table with influencers? 

Christie Childers: For sure. I think honestly, any brand can have a place at the table with influencers. That’s definitely something that all brands should start to understand and accept that there’s room. Even if your budget is small, you can still do good things with small budgets. 

So for example, if someone’s never worked with influencers before for their brand, just start small. And if it works, scale, so maybe reach out to a couple of micro creators, nano creators, have them just make UGC content for you, ab test that ad, against each other with multiple different options.

And if that works for you, keep going with that. If you can show value to whoever’s giving you money for your brand, whether it’s investors, family, friends, yourself, or whatever that is, just keep reports, do your due diligence, and show that it actually has a return. But I think that it doesn’t need to be some huge activation to make it worth it to you.

It could be as small as content because a lot of founders don’t wanna get on their own brand pages and make content ’cause they’re scared or they have no clue what they’re doing. So even if it is nano influencers making you cool content that you can repost on your social with your SMM or yourself, whatever. I think that’s beneficial. That’s a great starting point. 

Jessy Grossman: Totally. So we’re actually gonna open it up to some Q&A and like I’m very cognizant that we’ve had a question, like all over the map, generally about building the creator economy, but like your questions can be related to any of the topics that we’ve spoken about.

Or anything else that you just wanna ask these really incredible, no-joke women on the stage right now? So I’m gonna grab one of these mics and I’m gonna hand this to you because I would love to hand this over to someone to ask a question. So does anyone have any questions? They say, oh, you make my life so easy, right in the front row. I knew. I’m like, you’re my favorite. What is your question? 

Audience member 1: My question is, 

how do you see the future of influencer marketing? How do you see it evolving over the next few years? 

Jessy Grossman: So yeah, the question is how do you see influencer marketing evolving, over the next few years?

Christie Childers: I think all of us will have a good answer for this, so I’ll pass it between. But like I said earlier, definitely influencers building their own brands and in my opinion, which I’m very excited to see, probably starting to kill out some of the bigger heritage brands with the brands that they create or potentially acquisitions to heritage brands, but hopefully like dogging heritage brands and saying ours are better than yours. No offense to anyone here who works at a heritage brand, ili a Millie. 

But yeah, I’m excited to see creators really take over away from bigger brands, that have owned and monopolized the space. I don’t believe in monopolies, so I think that we should really start to. Yeah, get rid of them.

Jessy Grossman: Anyone else wanna chime in? Taylor? 

Taylar Barrington-Booker: Yeah. I was thinking about this earlier, which is, all the strikes that are happening right now. Funny enough, when I was doing my forecast for the year, one of the things I thought about was, I think this is gonna be the year that influencers move into entertainment.

And I had no idea that the strike was coming, but I’ve just been seeing a lot of conversations about long-form content, brands working with, influencers to even do smaller, like shows and like hosting sequences like that. 

So I’m really excited to see how that comes about and what’s next as far as influencers moving more into the entertainment space.

But I agree with Christie. I’m excited to see how influencers continue to diversify, themselves. There’s a lot of conversations even happening across our roster about what can I do outside of the paid partnership. What are other things that can be done and other opportunities that are there for me? and so really excited to see what buckles up from there. 

Jessy Grossman: A hundred percent. Can I grab you too, okay? Who else has a question? all right. Actually, I’m gonna do this one first, then I’ll grab, I’ll hand you the mike after. What is your question?

Audience member 2: What advice would you have for somebody who has a business idea but doesn’t know where to start?

Ayomi Samaraweera: Honestly just get started. It’s the hardest thing. And I think I was working on what is now Canopy for eight months on the side of my corporate job when I was working at TikTok, and I always said to myself, oh, it’s not the right time. I don’t have funding, or I don’t have X or it’s, I’m just not ready.

And the reality is, you are never ready. Okay. It’s never gonna be the right time. There’s always been something going on. It took me getting laid off at the end of last year. Yeah. To go all in on that idea. And now the company who laid me off and now my investors. 

And it’s a real full circle. Yes. So I would just say simply just put pen to paper and start speaking to your customers. Start speaking to whoever, A, are your customers, or B people who are doing, or in the same space, like figuring out what their journeys are. 

I remember when I first started, I reached out to people who are building similar things, or at least in the space. Do you have a few minutes? I really appreciate your time. Yeah. People are really generous with their time, surprisingly which is just such an amazing thing. So I would say put yourself out there. Just start doing it, it’s the hardest thing to get started. Yep. 

Christie Childers: Agree. fully agree with that. And then I would also say, get comfortable with being really uncomfortable because you’re gonna have to ask a lot of people for help.

So if you have a lot of pride, just literally throw that into the trash because you cannot be a business owner and an entrepreneur with too much pride.

You need help from other people, whether that’s money, whether that’s advice, whether that’s their time, whether that’s helping, like them helping you get a loan.

Nothing is more embarrassing than going to the bank and having the banker look at you and say, yeah, no, absolutely not. And you need to find a co-signer for a loan, let me tell you. I would say, yeah, get comfortable being uncomfortable. And then of course, just keep going. One foot in front of the other.

Never backtrack. Just go, go, go. 

Taylar Barrington-Booker: Yeah, just to echo my dad, go all in. I really strongly believe bet on yourself. I think one of the biggest things that was helpful for me is that I just got curious and I started asking questions like I set up informationals with people who were already in the space.

Can I have 15 minutes of your time? Can, honestly, people are taking me to lunch right now, to pick my brain? I might need to make that a service. I can hear Jessy telling me like, you should charge people for this. But, people are really generous. You’d be surprised how many people don’t have the courage to reach out and ask, and so it’s not as saturated as you think, go for it.

Send that LinkedIn message, send the DM, and see what comes of it. 

Christie Childers: Yeah, slide through the DMS. 

Jessy Grossman: Always a hundred percent.

Christie Childers: Slide. 

Jessy Grossman: Any other questions? 

Audience member 3: Ayomi, is that your name? So I think this one’s for you just ’cause I know you’re working on something really cool with creators.

So I working for an agency. I work with a ton of brands, and right now the biggest topic and conversation I’m hearing from brands is Influencer as a performance channel.

My point of view is that I don’t know if the creator economy has matured enough to where they all fully understand the impact of driving ROI for brands, is that something that you’re working on with creators, 

is educating them on the importance of ROI and driving sales and do you think that the influencer space can get to a fully performance-driven channel?

Ayomi Samaraweera: Oof, that’s a great question. I hope not very much a hot topic and yes is the answer in terms of creator education. I think honestly, the industry is so nascent, and also creators are popping up everywhere, right? You can have one video on TikTok and suddenly you wake up and you still have, you have 50,000 followers.

And suddenly brands are reaching out to you and they’re offering you money and whatever else. And I think the creator mindset needs to shift. I think a lot of creators, especially up-and-coming creators, see it as quick money. Yeah. Oh, it’s on the side of my job. I can make a couple of grand a month.

That’s great, but they’re not thinking about it as a career, as a business, and they’re just doing this one-off partnership. And I’m like, guys, this is not the way to build a brand. You need to build a relationship with that brand and start small grow and show them the ROI and understand what it means to actually have performance and engagement and how you story tell that product for your audience versus saying yes or everything.

Actually, something I say to creators, sometimes you need to say no to brands. They do not align with your audience, also your values, but especially your audience. ‘Cause your audience is gonna call you out. Yeah, if it’s off-brand for you, it doesn’t feel authentic. Yeah. And it’s not gonna work.

It’s in the tank. The video will not perform and the brand will not work with you again. You don’t get a second chance with brands. So I guess my answer is I think the industry’s super nascent. I think up-and-coming creative, especially on the short form video side, on knowing it there acting. And I think it’s gonna take some time to get there through greater education

Jessy Grossman: I think the people in the back are getting a little rowdy. So we’re gonna have time for one last question, Lauren, in the back. 

Audience member 4: My question. So I’m an agency founder. I own a consultancy called Love Social, helping brands and agencies run their campaigns. The past two years have been incredible, but also a challenge with work-life balance. Like I think one of you said, I’m curious, what percentage of your day do you spend on business development versus execution? Like how do you structure your day?

How are you being fulfilled in a way that’s not just like a grind on your computer? 

Taylar Barrington-Booker: Oh my God, that’s so funny. Wow. ’cause I feel like sometimes I’m doing CEO stuff is what I call it, like like at 7:00 PM and here I am selling my team. Hey, Jay. Jay’s back there on the team. Telling my team to log off at six o’clock and have a weekend.

Meanwhile, that’s when I’m working on CEO stuff. One of the things that I implemented recently that I think is starting to work is that I’ve time blocked my calendar. Yes. So on, I’m getting really specific here, but on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12 until the end of the day, like they know I’m lights out. This is where I’m spending time. And so I have found that the only way I can control my time is if I put boundaries around it. And that’s what’s worked for me right now. But, it is a balance. We do the best we can. No day’s gonna be perfect. No week is gonna be perfect. But that’s what I do. 

Jessy Grossman: I love time matching so much. I have a digital calendar. A lot of people use Calendly. I use TidyCal ’cause it’s cheaper and does the same fucking thing. So I will be very specific about how many phone calls I take a week per day, and how many video calls I take per week, per day.

And that’s different. That drains me more. How many podcasts do I record a week? ’cause I do podcasts. Like how many in-person meetings. ‘Cause we’re all meeting people in person again. And be very like, be totally comfortable saying, let’s meet in three weeks from now. And three weeks from now is perfect because right now, I’m in this mode.

You don’t need to explain yourself, but in my mind, I justify it as no, like this week I need to be in moneymaking mode and I just need to work on my bottom line this week. And I am ADHD to Max, diagnosed at 35 years old. I’m older than that now. So this was a year ago. 

 I feel like a pinball half the time because if I said yes to what everybody came to me with, I wouldn’t be productive because I need to be in a mode or else it’s hard for me, so I would just say hello, hi. Be weird if I didn’t acknowledge him. 

So I just, I think that a be okay with saying no, he had used the bathroom. I don’t know. A be okay with saying no, B like be intentional about what this week is for you and be protective of that time and also real talk like, these things are gonna shift and evolve.

And if one week you’re like, this is my money-making week and some other incredible opportunity comes up, write it down so that it happens eventually. But you might need to shift this week ’cause something else just came up. So you gotta be flexible too, which is like a noncircular answer that I’m giving you.

But I hope that helps a little bit. And we can certainly talk about that later. And I know a lot of people in the audience will also probably be going through the same thing and have a lot to say about that. So I am going to first thank our panelists. Please give them a round of applause. 

I was very particular about having these three people here because I wanted you guys to hear from them. So please meet and mingle with me later tonight. What we are going to be doing for the next 15, 20 minutes or so, is enjoying dinner, enjoying drinks, getting your headshot done at the headshot booth, and then in about 20, 30 minutes we’re gonna be breaking off into small group sessions in the room next door that we’re gonna be making our way into next.

So I will be loud on the mic and get your attention when that happens. Thank you guys so much for being here tonight and have a really wonderful rest of your night.

Taylar Barrington-Booker

Head of Influencer Talent and Partnerships, AGENCY CLIQUISH

Taylar is the Founder and Head of Talent and Partnerships at Agency Cliquish, a talent development and management agency dedicated to world-class representation for Black digital talent founded in Chicago, IL.

Agency Cliquish’s roster of compelling personal brands boasts a daily reach of 7.5 million across digital platforms. Under Barrington-Booker’s leadership, the agency has penned contracts for influencer marketing partnerships with brands like LVMH, Givenchy, YSL, Amazon, ULTA, Lincoln, Nordstrom, Nike, L’Oreal, Fenty, Neutrogena, Netflix, and hundreds more.

The strategically curated talent being managed by Agency Cliquish’s team of diversely-skilled Black women can be found across global streaming platforms like Hulu, Netflix, and TEDx, and featured in national outlets including CNN, Buzzfeed, PopSugar, 21Nintey, ESSENCE, and more!

Taylar is also a fierce advocate of diversity and inclusion in influencer marketing, a co-author for the published diversity charge #CreatorsforEquality, and a member of the diversity committee for Women In Influencer Marketing.

Ayomi Samaraweera

Founder, CANOPY

After spending 3.5 years working in the Creator Economy, first at TikTok as the Global Head of Internal Communications and then at Jellysmack as Chief of Staff to the President, Ayomi is now a full-time startup founder building Canopy – an anonymous-but-verified platform for creators to crowdsource information and spill the tea in a safe space. As a TikTok Creator herself she has experienced the lack of transparency in the Creator Economy and is on a mission to democratize access to information and create a level playing field for Creators. She has been featured 5x in Business Insider as both a Founder and Creator.

Christie Childers

Influencer Marketing Consultant, BEST DAY EVER

Christie Childers is an Influencer Marketing and Brand Partnerships consultant based in New York City (and sometimes beyond) under her company entity, Best Day Ever. She plays all sides of the space managing a roster of 12 influencers, strategizing campaign activations for brands, as well as building her own fitness studio capitalizing on influencer marketing to drive foot traffic and new clientele.

As an early adopter of the creator-focused vertical, Christie’s expertise has evolved specifically to focus on creative directorial strategies, negotiating and upselling content usage packages and licensing deals, and using campaign performance data to draw conclusions about audience behaviors. This has extended her many opportunities to work with world-leading companies offering industry education, specifically rooted in trend-focused strategies where brands are often missing the mark in activating influencers and creators.

She is a global agencies alumni, an in-progress debut author, and overall a multi-hyphenate pursuant of creative endeavors that make people feel good. Her work ethic is honest, tenacious, and detail-oriented, and her goal is to make sure clients always have the best day ever!

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