Surround Yourself With Winners

Caitlyn Kumi is an Associate Product Marketing Manager at Google and the Founder of Miss EmpowHer, a women empowerment brand. During her junior year at UNC-Chapel Hill, Caitlyn founded Miss EmpowHer to help women of all shades and shapes feel confident and empowered. With Miss EmpowHer, Caitlyn hopes to inspire women to become the best versions of themselves and encourage women to support other women. Caitlyn is a lifestyle and education content creator who shares advice and tips for Gen Z women on TikTok and LinkedIn. Caitlyn received features in Forbes, Business Insider, and Good Morning America. Rates for brand deals, Diversity in influencer marketing.



Jessy: So how do you balance a nine to five plus content creation, plus all the other millions of things that you’re up to?

Caitlyn: I think as I get older, I don’t really believe in work-life balance. I believe more in work-life harmony. So having like relationships, a work environment that really helps you like maintain it all.

But I think also the quote-unquote balance comes from setting up systems. So I think really being intentional about outsourcing. And the last one that I think is often overlooked is being really intentional about the partners you keep, whether it’s in a dating relationship or if you’re married. Having a romantic dating partner that’s on the same page.

One of the craziest things I did when dating, but it was actually quite helpful, is like I had a shared Google Calendar with my partner at the time. So it made it really easy to know when like I was going to be busy when he was going to be busy. I knew like times not to like to worry about disturbing him at work.

Like he knew when I was going to be busy. So there wasn’t that feeling of we weren’t a priority to each other and it just made things like a lot easier. 

Jessy: Hey guys, welcome back to the Wiim pod I’m very excited to be here with you. My windows are open here to my left. You can’t see it even if you’re watching on YouTube, but I bring that up because I was like, should I close my window? I don’t know if there’s going to be car sounds outside. I live in New York City. Oh, I hear a siren in the distance. Anyway, I decided against it because it’s like actually beautiful weather right now.

And I’m like, you know what, if you guys hear a siren, or if you guys more likely hear like birds chirping in the background, there are way worse things in this world that I could be concerned about. So open up your windows, you guys. I hope the weather’s better. beautiful by you too. And if it is, and like the sun is shining, whatever, I’m in a good mood y’all.

So I encourage you guys to just, sit at our desks all day every day. And if there’s a little bit of a nice moment that you can have by opening a window or whatever it is. Take it, put on some music. I have a TV right here. Sometimes I just sit and have some TV on in the background.

Most often, I’m just listening to podcasts. What do you guys listen to? What do you have on in the background of anything? Can you focus that way? Does it help you? Does it bother you? Is it a distraction? I’m super curious. 

This week, we have a guest, you guys, on the show. Caitlyn Kumi is here with us. She is a Gem She and I connected a few months ago and like in our first conversation, I was like I want to get to know her much better, and I would love to have her on the podcast.

So she took me up on it. I’m so excited for you guys to hear from her. And Caitlyn is an associate product marketing manager at Google. Hello, she works at Google. So cool and The founder of a company called Miss EmpowerHer which is a women empowerment brand. She went to UNC Chapel Hill. That’s where she founded her company, by the way. And basically, it’s to empower women of all shades to feel confident and empowered. We talk a little bit more about the origin story of that on the show.

And she is really big on TikTok. So we talk a little bit about personal branding. We also talk about how to balance having a nine-to-five and being a content creator. So that’s a really interesting conversation as well. She has such good energy and I’m really excited for you guys to listen to her.

And before we jump into this week’s episode guys, we just came off of the Chicago meetup. We had such a good turnout. It was such an interesting conversation. We had a panel discussion, dinner and drinks a photo booth, and all sorts of stuff. It was just such a good time. So I am proud of that Chicago event. They’re all an undertaking. I can’t even just say like this one in particular.

Live events are a beast. If you’re interested in learning more about my learnings from live events, we recently did an episode all about it. So scroll back a few episodes and I give you my learnings, but I do also think that live events are really going to make even more of a statement in 2024. I feel really strongly about that in all spaces.

It doesn’t necessarily even need to be in the creator space or whatever, but I do think that more creators, we’ll be inviting their followers to meet in person and have whether it’s like a meet and greet or a live podcast recording. I want to go to a live podcast recording of some people who I love to listen to. What a fun night out. 

I think that people are just looking for all of those, fun experiences, and ways to connect with new people. Like it is all about community, you guys. All right. So I’m so excited for you to hear my convo with Caitlyn. So let’s get into it.

Jessy: First and foremost, I just really appreciate you coming on. I know we connected a few months ago originally, and I transparently just really enjoyed our conversation back then. And I was like, I would love to get you on the show at some point. So thank you for being here today. I appreciate it.

Caitlyn: Thank you for having me. 

Jessy: Totally. So we did a little intro, we are pressing the record right now about you on paper, but I always think it’s really better to just hear it in your own words. I’d love for you to just share a little bit about like how you went from UNC-Chapel Hill to founding Miss EmpowHer to Google and everything in between.

I would tell you that, like from my perspective, I’m like so impressed by everything you’ve built. So tell us a little bit about your journey, how you ended up here, and also what motivated you throughout the way. 

Caityln: No, I love the piece on what motivated me. As you can tell from my background, I would definitely describe myself as multifaceted. I’m not like a one-size-fits-all solution. I think when I was in college, I really struggled with insecurity. I was someone who suffered from body insecurity. I struggled with self-doubt a lot. And I think a lot of creators probably have their passion that drives them beyond the brand deals and beyond the exciting opportunities is having like a why and an audience that they’re serving.

And for me, I’m really speaking to those young women who might be feeling insecure about their body, might be feeling lost, might be feeling like they don’t have anyone to support them as they’re transitioning to adulthood. So that was really my why behind because I was that girl at UNC-Chapel Hill really struggling to figure out, how do I navigate these corporate settings. How do I build my network? How do I feel beautiful in my own skin? When I was first born, I didn’t have an older sister to talk to. So that was really the why behind my content. 

And then as I graduated from UNC Chapel Hill and entered the workforce, I became a consultant and I was doing really well there. I started to think that, I really could own my career. I don’t have to do it the same way everyone else has. So when I started growing as a content creator, I started getting more media opportunities and growing my woman empowerment brand, Miss EmpowHer. 

I realized that I wanted a company that would provide me with a little bit more balance. I would find more comfort in people like me who work in corporate, but also are doing their own side hustles or have their own businesses, whether that be owning a business or being a content creator. I really wanted to be in that space. 

So I decided to pivot into marketing. Google has this really great program called the Associate Product Marketing Manager Program, which really praises entrepreneurial spirits and innovators. I just thought it would be a really good fit for me, and fortunately, I got in. 

And when I got to Google, I was really big on the community you keep. I’m fortunate enough to work with some of the most talented people in the world, people who are also creators, and a lot of them started encouraging me to create content.

They were like, you have these amazing ideas. You have these amazing thoughts. You need to just sit down. You need to stop being scared and create content. And being the type A person I am, I gave myself one year to create content consistently. And I said, if I grow an audience, I grow a following, I’ll continue doing that.

And that’s what I did. I wish I had a cooler story, but it’s just the people you meet along the way. That I think really shaped who you are, and the things that you do, and that’s definitely the case for me. 

Jessy: I think it’s an interesting story. I’ve said before on this podcast, I don’t think I’ve said, mentioned this to you, but I love, love, love working for myself and I don’t know that I would ever want to work for somebody else again, except for Google.

I’ve said that before, I don’t know, because even what you’re describing now. I’m like, they have a program like that, and like you’re saying like, Oh my God, the people that I’m surrounding myself with they’re so interesting and I’ve heard really cool things. I’m like super intrigued and I think that it’s freaking awesome that you get that one of the biggest companies in the world who also innovates though, but simultaneously you’re also making space to build your own things outside of that. Like you are honestly living the dream. I’m not even exaggerating. You’re living my dream, honestly. Everyone’s got a different dream, different things that sort of light them up.

I think it’s the coolest stuff that you are doing. I hope you’re like, taking that in. I hope you’re like, embracing it. Because sounds freaking awesome to me. And so like the company that you keep, it’s interesting.

I dunno, I’m a big believer in energy and so I think that like I can definitely see what you’re saying and tie that into my own life and just think yeah, if I’m surrounded by good energy, like it’s going to feel good.

It’s going to inspire me and make me more creative and all of the things. So if someone listening to the show. They are really just struggling to find their people and surround themselves with the people who really do lift them up or inspire them. Is there any advice that you would give those people in terms of how to find them?

Caitlyn: Yeah, there was actually this podcast by Jay Shetty I was listening to the other day, and I actually talked about it on my TikTok. It’s called The Four Cs of Relationships, and I think sometimes we put pressure on ourselves for people to have, every single aspect. The four Cs are character, competence, consistency, and caring. Did I say, did I mess up the order again? 

Jessy: Care, competency, character, and consistency. 

Caitlyn: That’s the one. We’re good with that. But yeah, that’s like the framework that I really think about with my relationships, like especially after listening to that podcast. So I think caring friends are like people like your mom, they’re checking on you, your well-being, like, how’s your mental health doing?

I think the character friends really inspire you to be a better person, so those are like maybe the people posting those inspirational posts, inspiring you to improve your relationship with God, and treat people the way you want to be treated, those are like my character friends. And then you have your consistent friends, so no matter what they’re gonna pick up the phone.

If you need them to go to, your influencer events with you, they’re going to be the ones that you go with. And then the competency, those who are very knowledgeable, like your thought leaders. So think people who are like in you’re like business meetings, people who you’re doing like your career coaching with, like those types of friends.

Sometimes you get two to three qualities, or maybe you’re really lucky and you have someone who has all four, but I always try to have a friend, not an acquaintance, a friend who has at least one of these qualities.

And that really helps me as I’m like selecting the company I keep, I think you can have a wide community, but I think you really are like the four or five people you surround yourself with the most so like when we talked about energy who are, like your friends you’re spending the most time with?

Are they really negative? When you talk about your ideas and things you want to do, do they put you down? Do they tell you oh I don’t think that’s possible? Or don’t you think you’re a little full of yourself for wanting to do that? Maybe those aren’t the friends you want to keep too close.

Like obviously feedback is good, but if you want to be a content creator, if you want to work in the influencer marketing industry, if you just want to build something for yourself, you need to have the ability to dream big. You don’t want to spend much time and energy with people who encourage you to think small because one, it just takes so much courage to dream big, and you really need all the support, energy, and resources, and having people in your corner that might sow seeds of doubt or negative self-talk, aren’t really the best for like long-term productivity.

So I think just practicing that spirit of discernment. I’m a really analytical person, so I use frameworks, but again, friendship and community are about people who make you feel good. You don’t have to necessarily use my framework. You can just think like, how does this person make me feel? Do they inspire me to be better? Do I leave feeling full or do I leave feeling drained? 

Jessy: I think it could be very helpful to think in the way that you do, especially. In the world that we’re in, but certainly in the industry that we’re in, because we’re so oversaturated with people, whether it’s like in a social media setting or an in-person setting like we’re inundated.

And I think that, look, there’s only so many hours in a day, and I love that you distinguish like an acquaintance from a friend, because, you can have all those people on social media and whatever, like big acquaintances, and go get your acquaintances. 

There are only so many hours in a day, so much like energy that we can extend and even take in. So I think that being mindful about who those people are and making sure that you’re served just as much as they are in that relationship, I think is really smart. So I love that. I also just want to acknowledge that It could be really difficult to make and maintain, but certainly to create relationships and friendships as an adult.

That is a real challenge. And sure, we talk about a lot in Wiim about like networking. And so can be somewhat of a transactional business, relationship, but I’m talking about like those people that really fill you up, that you open up to and open up more to you and like really are there for you and have your back and check a lot of those boxes that you mentioned.

And I don’t know, what’s your experience? Do most of those people who are meaningful in your life have they been in your life for a while, or are some of them like adult friends? 

Caitlyn: Yeah, I’ve had friends I’ve been friends with since like elementary school, high school, college, and then friends that I’ve just met recently. But when I approach friendship, or even when it’s more in a networking professional setting, I just generally ask myself do I like this person? In consulting, we used to have this thing called the airport test. If I was stuck at an airport for four or five hours, would I want to be with this person?

That’s really, like, how I think about things and friendship, and I think rather than like thinking, oh, like this person does X, Y, and Z, like, how do you feel like when you’re around that person? I think that’s really how I approach friendships. And as an adult, it is really challenging.

There are all these memes online. You have to schedule out three months in advance, and two months in advance. And especially as people have partners or they get married or they have businesses, there are always competing priorities. But I think I’ve learned the balance of not taking things personally and practicing grace and understanding when people are going through things, but then also recognizing when a relationship is one-sided that it’s okay to step back.

So I think just knowing yourself, knowing where you feel comfortable, I think, helps with the maintenance of relationships. But I think the biggest thing we can do to really ensure that we have good relationships is having good follow-ups with friends. And giving people grace because you never know what someone’s going through behind the scenes.

And I think being someone who exercises grace and follows up with people when it comes time to set up branches or set up calls. I think that really helps a lot, and I know we’ve moved towards the day and age of texting, but I do think it’s good like when you’re, doing your dishes or running errands, sometimes just to pick up the phone or like FaceTime someone, that’s an easy way to nurture relationships, because I think so much of the time we think, oh we have to go out, it has to be an event, but those little moments during the day or during the week are also a good way to catch up with people.

And then I think also recognizing that you don’t have to keep up with a hundred people. You don’t have to talk to someone once a day. It can sometimes be meaningful to have a two-hour call with someone like once a year or just to be a supporter of their thing. 

So if they’ve started a business, reshare their thing on Instagram Stories or LinkedIn, if they have an event and you don’t have time to have a full call, just send them a message saying I’m so proud of you. I hope your event went well. Those things mean a lot to people. And I feel like we live in a day and age where everyone sometimes gets consumed with what they’re doing, but forgets to support their friends and like their community. And I think so much of relationships and supporting and being there for people to the best of your ability, even if it’s just like a quick text or a quick repost. I think that often goes overlooked these days. 

Jessy: A hundred thousand percent is such good advice. And I also feel like a lot of what you said avoids the traps of having relationships be, I don’t know, I refer to it as transactional or superficial. And it’s just like those relationships don’t provide you with a good feel. I don’t know how better to describe it, but the things that you recommended, I feel like those are really good guesses like tests of the relationship to see what you get back.

But I also ways to not fall into the traps of those sorts of transactional relationships. I also want to dig into the fact that you are a content creator and I think a lot of, I don’t know, part of what I take from what we’ve been chatting about is like energy and mindfulness and, relationships.

And I am just very cognizant that having a full-time job at Google and being a content creator could take a toll on some things like mental health or the ability to have all these wonderful thriving relationships because you’re just frickin busy. There’s only so much space in your life that you can devote your mind to.

So I’m curious. Let’s talk about balance. People have very polarizing opinions about balance, and it’s interesting to hear. So how do you balance a 9 to 5 plus content creation, plus all the other millions of things that you’re up to? 

Caitlyn: I think as I get older, I don’t really believe in work-life balance. I believe more in work-life harmony. So having relationships, and a work environment really helps you maintain it all. That’s how I approach it because I feel like there are some weeks where work is getting 100 percent and then there are some weeks where it’s getting 80%. I just don’t think you can give 100% to work at all times. 

That is the path to burnout. You need to know when to accelerate your career and when to slow things down. So when it comes to projects, like the big wins, like I’m really intentional about doubling down during those times. 

Same with content. There are times when I’m just nurturing my community. There are times when I’m really pumping out content for growth, so I think really just being intentional, but I think the quote-unquote balance comes from setting up systems. 

So one of the things that I started doing as I got more brand deals is, I bring in my favorite lady, Ms. Sonia. She’s my house cleaner. She has a lovely company called Sonia’s Made to Clean. Shout out to her if you’re in New York. So she’ll come every two weeks or every month, depending on how many brand deals I have, just to help me maintain my home in order. I do try my best to cook, but when things get really busy with brand deals, I will bring in a caterer or hire someone to cook meals for me just because I need to eat, I need to be well.

I now have a personal assistant to help me handle some of my emails and things like that. With my woman empowerment brand, I have a whole intern team that manages my website, and my social media. So really big on outsourcing. I think sometimes as women, we want to be superwomen. I tell my mom all the time, that she’s the last superwoman, she’s the last one I’m not going to be it. So I think really being intentional about outsourcing.

I think with friendships, communicating. I’m not okay this week, but things will be really busy, letting people know that you still care about being there, but know that, maybe when I was in college, I could have four hour face times like every single day, but now it might be like once a week, we might have an hour chat or 30-minute chat and setting realistic expectations, not promising things when you know you won’t be able to deliver. I think over-communicating is a big one as well.

And then I’m a big fan of using my Google Calendar to like time block and organize my schedule. So before work, I wake up to set up a time for content, management, and things like that. And then in the evening have like my unwind time. Therapy is also a big one, life coaching, just to make sure my mental health is well.

The last one that I think is often overlooked, and I think you do a really good job of being transparent about this and sharing on your LinkedIn, is being really intentional about the partners you keep, whether it’s in a dating relationship or if you’re married. I think this is something that’s so important.

I think whoever you select to be in close romantic partnership with, Is going to really shape the trajectory of your career. It’s very different if you’re in a casual thing, I just don’t think you have the same standards of someone that you plan to have a long-term committed relationship with. But I think if you’re someone like myself who wants to pursue content creation, you want to have a 9 to 5, I think having a partner, having a romantic dating partner that’s on the same page. And it’s very understanding where they know that, okay, like we want to plan like date nights and different things like that.

This is going to be like your busy time. I think one of the craziest things I did when dating, but it was actually quite helpful, is I had a shared Google calendar with my partner at the time, so it made it really easy to know when I was going to be busy when he was going to be busy, I knew times not to worry about disturbing him at work. He knew when I was going to be busy, so there wasn’t that feeling that we weren’t a priority to each other, and it just made things a lot easier.

I think that’s just the type A in me. Some people will say that’s insane. But it definitely made things a lot easier and a lot less stress-free for myself and allowed me to feel like I could put in energy into that relationship and not feel like, wow, I’m not being a good partner. I’m not present, so those were my habits.

Jessy: I love that. I’m sitting here taking notes. So those are really good. And to your last point, yeah, like I don’t think enough women in particular talk about that, like what it is to, we talk a lot about like alignment with our businesses, alignment with our colleagues and stuff.

But I don’t know, maybe to some people just feels too personal to talk about what their home life is like. And those are your two biggest chunks of time, which are your work and, your home life and how much better your business life and just like personal life would be if you had someone who not just supports you, I feel like that’s like the, lowest barrier to entry.

But to have someone who likes understands and respects and it’s all mutual, in all directions. We’re talking about friendships before unless you’re in a polyamorous relationship, which like, cool, good for you if you are. But I would say at this point, like most people that I know are in monogamous relationships, you’ve got one partner, they take up the majority of your time, and like just how much better everything is when you’re in alignment with them.

I love that. I think it’s a really interesting thing to think about. And I also appreciate you saying, it’s not necessarily about balance when it comes to all the things. And I think that’s just like a very grounded way and like a realistic way to think about it all. 

And so speaking of content creation, I really admire what you’ve built, because your personal brand is a little personal. I was watching your tic talks the other day about getting your braids done. And I don’t know, I just love hair content. So that’s part of what I was like, Oh, this is great. This looks so cool. And just like seeing you go around New York and your experience with that.

And, of course, it’s like working at a big tech company and what it is to also do all these things that you’re doing, but it’s a personal brand, and you have like lots of things to talk about and to promote, but it seems like it’s pretty balanced or harmonious between a little bit of personal, a little bit of business.

Do you have a particular approach that you take to your own social media? Do you just talk about things as they come up and as you feel them or, like, how do you approach it all? 

Caitlyn: Yeah, everyone has different pillars. I have experts who have told me that I do need to narrow down a bit. So I do have main pillars that I focus on. So money, career, and then lifestyle. I do really take liberty with that lifestyle pillar. That’s why you see a lot of different categories, but my real approach is really having a persona that I’m speaking to. So I’m speaking to that woman who’s in college or a recent grad trying to figure out, how do I grow my career, but how do I still have a life?

I was a part of that girl boss era where I was seeing, women grind till 12 AM at night and then having to wake up early and go to the gym and drink their green juice. And then, oh, so go to all these business events. But I wasn’t seeing women, go to parties sometimes and still be building their businesses and brands or, trying their best to go to the gym or talking about the realities of dating while being like an ambitious woman, I just wasn’t seeing that blend.

And I knew there were women out there who were like really multifaceted. Like I’m someone who really enjoys trap music, but I work at a big tech company and I love reading about personal finance news. So I just wanted to show women that it’s okay to be multifaceted. You don’t have to fit in one type of category.

And just really redefining what womanhood looks like reclaiming the word ambitious. And showing that like you can be ambitious but you can still have a life. And that was really important for me that young women growing up saw that. And didn’t feel like they had to show up one way. Also, from a professional standpoint, I wanted to show that you can build your personal brand, you can be professional, and still be vulnerable vulnerability is no weakness.

Granted, I do think you should set up some boundaries. I don’t think the internet should be like your therapist. I think it’s really important to set those boundaries, but I do think having the courage to be vulnerable, especially with my community of young women, and showing them there are some weeks where you’ll have it all together, and there are some weeks where you won’t, but it’s how you bounce back every week and build resilience. For me, it’s really about speaking to that persona and like that young woman who’s in college or a recent grad. Who’s just trying to figure it out, who might not have a support system? 

Jessy: That’s great that’s your approach, simply because I feel like it takes the pressure off a little bit, maybe? Or if your focus is on who are you talking to? Who are you trying to reach? And what are you trying to have them feel from your content?

It sounds like a good idea for that to be your North Star. It’ll help guide you in what you talk about, what you share, how you share it, and all the things. I just feel like a lot of people are, like, very much in their head. You even said, you’re like, I’ve spoken to some experts who would advise me to do it differently.

And I’m like, man what makes them experts? Real talk everybody’s audience is different. And what might work for that person and, yeah, they’re an expert for that type of audience, perhaps, but like everyone’s audience is just so different. We talk about this all the time, like our social account, like our Instagram in particular, like everyone, this is like a technical thing, but like everybody is always oh my gosh, you got to post more Reels.

Like it’s all about Reels. We post Reels, but they never perform. But if we post carousels, they outperform reels every single time. I don’t know. Okay. So like, why am I going to go against that? It’s like embracing what your audience likes. Learn more about them. Also, I think it’s interesting to like, so if you’re a demo or women just graduating college and stuff like that, I wonder in five years, like hopefully it’ll be the same audience, but then they’re in a different season of their life. Have you thought about that in the future? Will your content change and evolve for them or would it change and evolve just because you are human and your life is going to change?

Caitlyn: Yeah, I think that’s where like your overarching pillars are. So like with me, my audience actually, especially on TikTok, has gotten even a little older, especially as I talk around personal finance, so I’m not having more millennial women come in. I feel like I have topics like personal finance and career that are universal, where women, whether their early career, whether they’re later in their career that the content really translates, but then there’s that lifestyle pillar where it might maybe cater more towards a younger audience for certain topics and that might not resonate with an older audience.

So I think when you approach your content, you have what we call marketing, like your cash cows, like things that will always get you like virality, but then you have certain pieces of content that are speaking to certain audiences and nurturing them. And that’s like the beauty of building like a platform, you can have strategies where you’re like, okay, the things that 70 percent 60 percent of my audience comes to me for, I always need to make sure that I post videos at least once a week, once a month, whatever your cadence is, but then there’s a really niche audience that might be looking to you for particular videos.

So one thing that I talked about that my mom really didn’t want me to talk about my page was, what it’s like dating as an ambitious woman or just some of like my experiences or thoughts. I have very few videos on that because I just didn’t want that to be my main pillar, but it is a very important component of young adult life.

There are some people who would probably say, oh don’t do that stop that pillar. But there’s a very small niche audience that really enjoys that I talk about everything else and add that component, and those are my superfans, and those superfans are the people that are gonna convert. They’re commenting on everything like that. 

And if I only focused on my big, viral topics, career, and money, I would be missing out on those opportunities to connect with those super fans and also personalize myself because I’m also aware that as a creator, people have created this persona of me, of perfection, but when I talk about something like dating or friendship challenges, it humanizes me.

That’s where you also have to practice the spirit of discernment. Yes, there are industry best practices, but again, there are also people who are behind your following and you have to understand people and what they want, because without them, you wouldn’t have your point. 

Jessy: And I’m curious, we talked a little bit about motivation at the beginning of this conversation. What’s the why behind your content, like even creating content in general, like what are you hoping to do with the audience that you’re working so hard to cultivate? 

Caityln: I just want women to feel more confident navigating their lives and feel like they have more control over the direction of their lives through the resources and tools that I provide. So when I was an undergrad, I felt really lost about navigating my early career, how I was going to, whether it be set myself up for promotions, transfer companies, transfer internally, how to really create visibility around the work I’m doing, but by me sharing my story, women are able to like readily access that information through my LinkedIn posts, my TikTok posts, and I’m essentially able to be their digital mentor.

With personal finance, so much of your success, unless you come from a family with money, starts from being able to access personal finance knowledge at an early age so you can set yourself up for success. So I really just want to be that person who makes life a little bit easier for people who don’t have support, resources, or community sharing these gatekept secrets.

Jessy: Yeah, no, absolutely. It’s really admirable to do that. I’m curious do you also want your audience to, are there business motivations as well for your audience? We’ve talked about brand partnerships. You have, EmpowHer and maybe in the unknown in the future or maybe what you could build next or what you can do with your audience.

I look at having an audience as literally, the sky is the limit in terms of what you can do with them and what you envision, like why you’re even putting them together, keeping them engaged. I also am the first person to say like that takes so much work as someone who managed talent for years.

Like I first hand saw that and now like I’m trying to cultivate, community as well. It’s even harder than I even imagined and admired when I witnessed it, secondhand. Are there like, what business motivations, if any do you have also with your audience? 

Caityln: Yes. I think having like content is like great. Being a creator is great. Being an influencer is great, but you don’t own your audience. So with Miss EmpowHer, like it gives me the opportunity to own my audience once they convert to our email list. And they really join our community and then also one of the things that I’ve noticed through content is you essentially get feedback from your audience.

If it’s the same in my case, it’s the same target demographic. So I’m able to learn that my audience is really looking for me to start doing more in-person events and speaking engagements. So when I go to brands, I can literally take screen grabs of my comments section and say hey, we’re getting ready to do in-person events for Miss EmpowHer.

I would love to partner with you. I have an audience that’s readily available. And that’s actually one of the things that I’m planning as we close out the year 2023 and early 2024, looking for more brand partners to be able to partner with on events. And I think it’s great too, because if I’m able to work with brands and really establish long-term partnerships, my audience knows that I genuinely do love those brands. I’ve worked with those brands. I endorse their products.

So it’s really a mutually beneficial relationship with brands. So that’s like my long term approach with content, not only just doing one off brand deals, but really bringing them into an ecosystem, especially with brands that I know I love.

My audience has seen me talk about time and time again. And I think it’s really important for creators as they build an audience to really start thinking about it as a long-term business. And that’s definitely my approach. The long-term partnerships and events. 

Jessy: I think like the most ideal situation is especially when you bring like brand partnerships into the mix especially if you’ve created a community or like an audience where it’s education-based or it’s really like value-driven content where the brand partnership is really girl, I got to tell you about how amazing this product or service is. It’s truly going to help you in a similar or hopefully even the same way as my other content yesterday did like it feels the same.

It just feels more seamless that way versus I don’t know, I never talk about sunglasses, and all of a sudden I’m promoting sunglasses. And it’s but the stuff that you talk about on a regular basis is a little deeper, a little bit more meaningful, like a little bit more like punchy. So I think that’s definitely the ideal situation.

And so I also want to dig a little bit more maybe into the influencer campaign component. You’ve also seen it from multiple sides. And so like you are the ideal person to, in my opinion, answer questions and talk about influencer marketing just because you have more perspective than the average person.

So I’m curious. I know that one thing that’s really important to you is incorporating diversity into campaigns, which I’d love to hear more about. But I also want to be like, as specific as possible, which is who is doing a great job at that? So being inclusive, and incorporating diversity. Who are you looking at and being like, they are nailing it. They’re doing such a good job. Who are you impressed with?

Caityln: I should probably do a top three, but it’s got to be a top four. I’ve got to say SoFi, which is a brand I’ve worked with a lot. Rare Beauty, Fenti Beauty. I think I’m going to five now. Savage X Venti. And then I’m going to say Dove, I think those five brands are really killing it when it comes to diversity and inclusion in their influencer marketing campaigns.

I would really give it to Dove on diversifying their platforms as well. Dove is one of the first brands that I really see pump out really good content on LinkedIn. They just did a hair campaign around hair discrimination, and they worked with a lot of Black women in corporate, and I thought that was a beautiful campaign online.

I saw it on Instagram and TikTok as well, and women were so vulnerable about their journeys and their stories, and I think for a lot of women coming up, being able to see those stories as they’re interviewing for their first internships and their first jobs, it’s really comforting. And then for those who don’t identify as Black, It allows them to understand the experiences challenges, and stressors that some of their black employees might have as they prepare for interviews or big events.

I know I’ve definitely had to take off work or stress before internships and jobs because I was worried about what my hair would look like. And if someone doesn’t understand your unique experience, it can be hard for them to give you race in certain scenarios. So thought that campaign was really beautiful.

I think Selena Gomez does a great job with Rare Beauty talking about mental health, and working with diverse influencers of all ages, genders, and races, and I love that as a founder, she approaches it with personalization. She did a campaign on TikTok where her favorite influencers were like meeting them in person.

You always see rare beauty in the comments, replying to people who do videos, and talking about their products. Fenty Beauty did a campaign where they encouraged people who wanted to be a part of their ambassador program or be a part of their PR list and work on campaigns with them to share their Fenty story.

And I think that was a great way of authentic storytelling. I wish more brands would do campaigns like that. Savage X Fenty has literally paved the way when it comes to women feeling confident in lingerie. I know so many women, especially those of curvier body types, which is actually the majority of people in the United States, who are able to find a bra that allows them to feel more confident and really feel comfortable.

And I think that’s just such a unique personal experience. But yeah, I think those are a couple of brands that come to mind that really do a good job of diversity and inclusion. And a lot of it, I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily the brand’s fault. It’s more so the systems in place. So when you look at your influencer marketing team is the influencer marketing team diverse?

I’ve literally had some campaigns that have come to me just because the influencer marketing manager saw me on their for you page, but it might just be because I might be diversified in certain content pillars, algorithms are often biased. So like, how can you work with more diverse agencies to select the talent?

How can you source and learn specific hashtags and certain niches that will allow you to identify top talent? I think there are different ways we can combat the problems in the industry, but I think there needs to first be that awareness. Also, internally, I know people have worked at other companies where you might percent talent, diverse talent, and leadership might say that they might not be a fit.

There was a study that came out saying that Black creators actually perform really well in the gaming industry, but there might be a lot of bias saying that black creators might not perform well there or in the lifestyle category or luxury, but then we know that there are higher rates of black consumer spending in the luxury category or in Asian markets and different things like that.

So I think a lot of education and awareness needs to be there because consumers do want to buy, but consumers do want to buy from people who look like them and understand their experiences. And that only happens when we have diversity in our influencer marketing campaigns.

Jessy: A hundred percent. And so similarly, what are some other missed opportunities, perhaps, in influencer marketing where it’s primed for the taking and people just aren’t necessarily recognizing them?

Caitlyn: Yeah, I think I’ll actually spin this and talk a little bit more about B2B marketing. I love that Wiim actually did a post on this. I forget what day it was, but if you follow him on Instagram, definitely check out this post, LinkedIn just announced that they’re going to be doing paid partnerships.

They’re actually going to have a label. I think as someone who creates career content I have reached out to brands. This is a real opportunity for LinkedIn to really get more money in the influencer marketing industry as a whole. It’s a billion-dollar industry, so I really do hope they get it together in the next couple of years because I think it would be great for you as an early career person or someone who’s trying to pivot into a different industry to learn about career opportunities and openings from established thought leaders like in the industry.

I think there’s a huge opportunity for that. Why is it that, sometimes you work with career creators on Instagram and TikTok when the higher quality audience of young professionals or professionals in general is on Linkedin?

This works for different campaigns and categories. I just use career as an example, just because that’s what LinkedIn is known for. So I’m really hoping that their product teams and their marketing teams really work on improving this in the future because B2B marketing campaigns can really thrive on LinkedIn if the infrastructure is in place. So that’s something that I think is a real missed opportunity. 

And B2B marketing in general, I think could really benefit from influencer marketing on podcasts, on YouTube shows where audiences subscribe to longer-form content. I would love to see more brands doing that.

Jessy: Definitely. Definitely. And I’m so impassioned about that specific topic, but I’ve also heard other people speak about it. I heard a really interesting panel at VidCon of people that I could consider my friends. And I like, was that nerd who came up and I was like, hi, I have a question. And it was just a whole conversation about B2B creators and namely also about how LinkedIn is like a really powerful place.

I feel yeah, absolutely. From a brand’s perspective, also, these are people generally, who have money to spend, they’re looking to spend. And then just from a personal perspective, if you’re just looking for good content, there is good content on LinkedIn, like people just don’t necessarily think to look there and certainly don’t really think to post there.

 Take what Caitlyn is saying and like definitely check it out because I can vouch. I love it. And yes, they just recently like last week added a paid partnership, like a little button. And it’s very conspicuous where it’s like when it’s displayed, which is an interesting choice. Nevertheless, they added that which I think also just fundamentally indicates where LinkedIn is thinking that they’re going and where their platform is, what they’re seeing from their people on their platform.

They launched a podcast network for creators about a year and a half ago, probably a couple of years ago, maybe at this point, they have a whole creator program. Yeah, it’s a whole thing. And the thing is that so many different types of brands could activate on that. It doesn’t need to be always so like on the nose. I don’t know, like Google, Workspace, Slack, or something like it doesn’t always have to be work-related services.

Those people also need to buy a dove-like product, what an interesting spot it is and it’s exciting because it’s thinking outside the box. It would certainly be thinking outside the box if a dove were to utilize LinkedIn influencers, and I would be super intrigued to see what that could look like personally.

We talked a little bit about the brands that you’re impressed with. Are there any women that you follow, whether it’s on LinkedIn or TikTok or, you’re in all the places? What do you think our audience should be following and why?

Caitlyn: Yeah, one of my favorite creators honestly, since I was like 15 has been Jackie Aina. I think she does a phenomenal job transitioning the platforms. She was one of those people who wasn’t like, I felt, a million followers on Instagram. I’m staying here. She quickly moved to TikTok and built a following there. She started out establishing herself as a beauty creator, and she was known for, encouraging diversity in the industry, but then she recently transitioned into the lifestyle pillar. Definitely Jackie Aina.

But I would say the comparison, not that there is one, would be like, she’s now the black Martha Stewart for millennials and Gen Z. And I think that’s so beautiful to be able to do that, to introduce like a new audience. And then not only that, she’s able to work with a wide array of brand partners because before she was just beauty, but now expanding to lifestyle. She can work with fragrance brands. She can work with home decor brands.

She can work with luxury car brands. And I think that is something that’s really inspiring to see that you can do something for 10 years and you can position yourself and put yourself in a new industry and you can attract a new audience or attain your old audience. Additionally, from a creator standpoint, and even if you were a talent manager, I think she’s another great example to show how you can leverage your influence.

So she has her own candle brand called Forever Mood and she really does promote that. She integrates that into her content. And she’s now built that on her own, and I think that’s really beautiful that, she has this influencer platform, but even if for some reason all that were to go away, she has her candle brand and because she’s been doing content for so long, she’s worked with brands like Sephora.

I’m sure that definitely played a part in making it a little easier to integrate into Sephora. So I would say whether you’re a talent manager and you’re thinking, how do I, create more opportunity for my talent? Like, how are you going to get them doing speaking opportunities? Maybe a podcast contract, maybe a book deal.

I always have the same thing bigger and I think Jackie Aina is just a great blueprint of how to do that and position yourself. I believe right now she’s signed to DBA and I think they’re a great talent agency that does a really great job of making and shaping their influencers to more than just traditional brand deals and really thinking outside of the box.

I also like Coco Mocoe. She’s on TikTok, and she does a bunch of different takes on trends that are going on in the influencer marketing industry, things she thinks that YouTube, Spotify, and like other platforms should be adopting to retain Gen Z audiences. A big one too as well is GirlBoss Town, I think she was recognized as a Forbes 30 Under 30 Scholar.

And then to Kyra J. They both do something similar to Kyra J. is more so focused on women of color who are in the influencer marketing industry. And I love the brand activations ideas that they do and PR moves that they do. And I think if you’re an influencer or you’re a talent manager working at an agency.

It’s really important to follow people like that. So as you’re pitching your talent, you have fresh new ideas to bring to the table. And I feel like it just keeps you on top of your toes. So those are definitely some of my favorites. 

Jessy: It’s all about new ideas, keeping up with it keeping it fresh thinking expansively. That’s everything. That is everything. I’m curious, and I’m so sad that we’re running out of time, I feel like I could ask you a million questions and be sitting here I want to hear what you have to say about it. But if you were to give your younger self some career advice, knowing what you know now, what would you tell younger Caitlyn?

Caityln: I would tell myself, your network is your net worth, and I know it’s probably like the most basic saying, but I think it’s true. I think we can do amazing work, but if we don’t have champions, we don’t have advocates, or what we call sponsors, it’s really hard to push through. If you’re an influencer, you can have the most amazing talent.

And you can be putting out amazing content, but if you don’t have people in your network that are going to put you on to campaigns, introduce you to people, put you in spaces that you’ve never imagined, it’s going to really be hard to really unlock your full potential, whether it’s a career, the same thing applies.

There are so many people who do amazing work, but they don’t have managers that are supporting them or advocating them. They’re not being put on high-priority projects, so it’s making it harder for them to advance. And that’s making it challenging for them to continue to get the promotions or to get the opportunities that are going to be able to expand their network.

Obviously, the baseline is always doing good work, but I would say really make sure that you’re nurturing a community that’s going to make sure that your name is mentioned in rooms that you’re not a part of because that’s, I think, how people unlock the opportunities. There always has to be someone to say yes to you, to believe in you, and if you don’t have enough people in your community that are doing that for you, no matter how much work you’re doing, how amazing you are, it’s going to be really hard to break through.

Jessy: I think, that is such sound advice. And real talk, some people feel weird about that, like some people feel uncomfortable with having other people promote them or promoting themselves and things like that. But what is the point of that? Doing all of this great work, if it’s going to exist in a vacuum, like if you’re doing something that you’re proud of, other people need to know about it, and to have a group of supportive, like men, women, just your people who you each pump each other up and promote each other and stuff like that.

It’s just imagine how much better it all can be if you set yourself up like that. So fricking awesome advice. I have a feeling that people are like, wait, she’s all over TikTok, she’s all over all these platforms. I want to see Caitlyn’s content. So we’re going to link below, of course, all of your platforms. So where are the best places for our audience to get in touch and find you? 

Caityln: Yeah, the best place to find me is definitely TikTok, or LinkedIn. I’m definitely trying to be better on Instagram and YouTube, so definitely follow me there. But I probably post the most on TikTok and LinkedIn. If you’re more career oriented, you’ll probably want to see me on LinkedIn.

If you want both the lifestyle and education, TikTok. But definitely, in the next coming months and years, you’re going to definitely see more of me on Instagram and YouTube. So yes, you want all of Caitlyn. It’s just my first and last name on all platforms, Caitlyn Kumi. 

Jessy: Okay, and we’re going to link all of that below in the show notes. Thank you so much for coming on today. I feel like you like are leaving our audience with all of these things to ruminate on. So thank you so much for tuning in and we’ll see you guys next week.

Caitlyn Kumi


Caitlyn Kumi is an Associate Product Marketing Manager at Google and the Founder of Miss EmpowHer, a women empowerment brand. During her junior year at UNC-Chapel Hill, Caitlyn founded Miss EmpowHer to help women of all shades and shapes feel confident and empowered. With Miss EmpowHer, Caitlyn hopes to inspire women to become the best versions of themselves and encourage women to support other women. Caitlyn is a lifestyle and education content creator who shares advice and tips for Gen Z women on TikTok and LinkedIn. Caitlyn received features in Forbes, Business Insider, and Good Morning America. Rates for brand deals, Diversity in influencer marketing.

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