For the mama who can't pass a wall without thinking "is this a good Instagram background?"
For the mama editing photos during nap time or late at night.
For the mama entering brand rep search after brand rep search and being denied.
For the mama with the list of collaborations (and message box full of unanswered DM's) waiting to be completed.
For the mama who has put in countless hours, posted about sales and shop updates, sending who know how many photo filled emails to brands.
For the mama with a closet full of headbands, leggings, and moccasins....
this post is for you.
Dear Mamas of Instagram,
I have been holding this post in my heart for a while. Trying to find the right words to reach you, to let you know I see you, I am one of you. On that same note I also want to add this is just my experience so please don't take it as anything more than a letter from a friend who cares and is coming from a place of love. I want you to know right away that you are loved and you are enough, your children are enough.. your life is beautiful and no shop, no product, or feature is going to change the reality that already you have value and are beautiful...
For us brand representation started almost by accident. I got into Instagram one lonely day while Jessamyn was taking a nap and as I made friends and connected I started to notice this trend of representing brands. A shop I was friends with ran a search and I figured "what the heck" might as well enter. I took Jessamyn out to the most beautiful scenery I could find and snapped a few quick shots with my phone... looking back I am so judgmental towards myself and can't believe from that photo we were picked to represent a brand we still work with to this day.
From there everything just grew quickly, we entered a couple other searches... got a few collaboration emails and the culture and job of being a brand representative grew out of that. Over the past year we have worked with 100's of brands in so many different ways and through it I have begun to see a disturbing pattern that leads me to this letter today.
Mamas please... remember that under all the dresses and headbands, leggings, and moccasins there is a tiny child trusting you to look out for their best interest but also yours as well. I've noticed a trend lately with a lot of brands where there is a "search" for a brand representative... but if you win you do not get a free product in exchange for your posts and photos. You get a percentage off and a contracted obligation to order at regular intervals. Further you get the privilege of emailing in your photos... photos of your child to this brand for their unlimited use ( which if that doesn't scare you, it should). Mama's I am here to tell you, you are worth more than that! ( This is not to say brand representative searches or purchasing products as part of a collaboration is wrong more please just be aware of your worth and time in making these agreements.)
For one moment think about the time you are putting into your photos, getting a toddler ready, finding an appropriate "wall" or other background, editing photos... it is work. You are doing an amazing job and I am not here to criticize the work you are putting in, I am here to tell you that you are worth more! At the very least you should be getting products for free if you are sending in photos and posting about brands regularly (this is not to say you should demand free products... more find an agreement that meets the amount effort you are putting into the collaboration as well). I am not saying if you entered an enthusiast search and won that is the case (enthusiasts generally only do get a percentage off) but I am saying if you are going to do a collaboration or be called a brand representative you should be getting compensated fairly for the work you are putting in.
Oh and here is the reality... these brands are making money off of the pictures you take (which is the whole point... they are a shop and in order to remain a shop need to make money and advertise) and posts you create so next time you approach a collaboration keep that in mind and know that as much as you feel like they are doing you a favor by sending you "30% off" or a "free headband" with your order... the reality is when you don't ask for your worth you are the one doing them the favor... not the other way around. (I should include though that if you do agree to a collaboration with a brand please make sure you are fulfilling your end of the agreement as well because the brand has a right to walk away having gained value just as much as you do. Further the purpose of a collaboration is to promote the brand so in valuing your time please value the brands time and don't agree to something you can't provide)
It hurts my heart to see so many Mama's being taken advantage of by brands and selling themselves short. I know that this is a heated topic and I am not going to give you a step by step guide onto what a fair deal looks like. I am going to encourage you to know your value, ask for your worth, and don't just bend over backwards for a discount (though depending on what the agreement is a discount may in fact be the worth of what you have to offer). Your photos are valuable... it is advertising. Think about how expensive super bowl commercials are or really any sort of advertising for a major event. You are doing the same thing with your photos and Instagram posts.
Ps. if you want an eye opener go here to check the value of just one Instagram post on your feed.
All of this though is not to say working with brands can't be beautiful. I love collaborations, I love the brands I represent. I couldn't imagine not working with some of these sweet small shops and I have built real friendships with many of them. It brings me joy to be able to share brands with my followers and to support small shops. I do not though sell my self short, and I know my value. Every brand that chooses to work with me respects that and we come to a beautiful place of collaboration. My promise to you Instagram Mamas is that I will know my value, I will hold my worth and provide this level of beauty and accountability with all the brands I work with. On that note know that any brand you see tagged in my feed is a brand that saw value in me and we came to a collaborative agreement that was beneficial for everyone involved.. which I should add includes my daughter who is 18 months old and cannot say much at this point but I hope will look back at these photos and collaborations and see something beautiful and to be proud of.
I hope that you have many beautiful connections and collaboration through Instagram. There are a lot of amazing shops to work with! Know that you have worth and the service you are providing these shops is priceless. The time, authenticity, and creativity you bring to your photos and when you represent a brand is something of value and I so appreciate seeing it in my feed.
I hope you take this letter as just a reminder that you have so much worth and something to bring to these shops, you aren't just another "Instagram Mama." You are unique and you power and strength lies in holding onto that and not letting anyone take advantage of you or your child's worth.
As always feel free to leave any comments, questions, or in this case your own experiences with brand representation and collaboration. Most importantly though know you are loved and you have value, because more than anything this letter is about knowing your worth and holding space for that.
Ps. Please check back soon for a follow up post from a few brands who also would like to write a letter to all the Instagram mamas out there!