Photos by Kelly Raye
Our generation is often referred to as the multi tab, multihyphenate and slashie generation; we all do a million things at once. Careers used to be singletrack, single focus. Lawyer, doctor, musician. But you no longer have to be ONE thing, and more women are showcasing their blend of talents, dedication to causes, and ability to pivot like never before. They are the modern millennials. The new renaissance women.
1. The role of women has been evolving over time and even more rapidly as of late can you describe what being a modern millennial woman means to you, or has meant over time?
Being a modern millennial woman to me means being in control of your own destiny and being your own gatekeeper.
When I started in the music industry (before social media) I was signed to two major record labels and I had absolutely no control over my sound, my direction or my career. It didn’t matter how hard I worked, there was always someone else in control that could either give me success or not.
Now with the power of social media, we are our own keepers, we can create our own careers and success by sharing it directly to our audiences. It’s all in your control.
I’m so inspired by the women in this business who have achieved success on their own, who have built something out of nothing. They’ve built huge audiences and businesses all while balancing their personal lives. That is what I strive for every day and that to me is the modern millennial woman.
2. I want to talk a little bit about growth, both personally and professionally, what were some key milestones, moments and lessons that shaped who you are as business women?
The moment that changed my life and career most was when I decided to negotiate out of my recording contract with Warner Bros. Records. Growing up, all I wanted was to be signed and made a career of my music and passion for performing. Unfortunately, my time while signed to WBR wasn’t the greatest. The music industry is dominated by males who often act as gate keepers between the artist and success. I used to have to deal with really tough stuff at a very young age (14-22) being propositioned by producers, label executives, dj’s, you name it. I was brought into board meetings and told that I had no style and that I should dress more like Lady Gaga or Nicki Minaj, that I was too fat, that my hairstyle needed to change, etc.
It was those experiences that made me want to take matters into my own hands. I started a production company with my best friend and also started recording and releasing music independently. It was during this time that I also started blogging.
This was the most rewarding yet daunting time of my life…It was the first time I had been completely on my own and in control. While that was very exciting, it was also the scary because I had no one else to blame but myself for my success or failures. Taking accountability for what I did empowered me, helped me grow into who I am today, and prepared for the industry we’re in now.
3. You started working at a young age and have navigated the entertainment world as a teen. What are some industry lessons you learned early on? And have you pivoted or iterated on your career as you have gotten older?
2 things I definitely built into my bones during my early years in the entertainment industry are a strong work ethic and self discipline. Life on the road on tour was brutal. You have to wake up at 4 in the morning, head to 5 different radio stations to do interviews and drops, head to the next venue for sound check and rehearsal, rehearse more off stage to fix whatever glitches there were on stage during tech, then do your hair and makeup on a bench in the tour bus crowded with 4 other girls, some of their parents, a stylist, a bodyguard, and manager. Then you hit the stage. Those 45mins of on stage bliss is what you live for. Post show, we used to head out front for what would sometimes be a 4 hour meet and greet where we would stand there and sign autographs and graciously chat with thousands of little girls that had come to our show. After that, around midnight, we would all pile back in the bus, no shower (disgusting because we were touring in the dead of summer, where it was very humid, and we would leave the stage dripping because we danced the whole time) and drive all night long to the next city. Somewhere along the way around 2 in the morning, we’d stop at a truck stop and pick up a hot plate for dinner…We all gained a lot of weight on tour from those truck stops. Then we’d check into a hotel for an hour of sleep in a bed (but mostly slept on the bunks in the bus), and then would do it all over again. Brutal to do this day after day, month after month, but the best preparation for any job that requires your full dedication and commitment.
Something else I learned early on was to take a step outside of myself, and look at myself as a brand and business. This helped me to not take critiques personally, something vital in the industry we are working in now and in dealing with social media.
4. Despite early successes and touring the world you still decided to attend UCLA. What tempered that decision?
After spending my entire life focused on one vision, one goal, and spending all of my time singing and dancing, I realized I was actually not a well-rounded person. I wanted to discover what was out there, to expand my interests and knowledge of other things outside of the entertainment industry. UCLA allowed me to do that. I started taking classes on everything from psychology, to sociology, to statistics and marketing, all of which played huge parts in the way I now formulate content, how I address my audience, and even to what kind of colors I use on my IG feed! Mind trip.. lol
5. Let’s talk about monetizing digital influence. What are your deal breakers? What is your biggest revenue stream currently and what are new avenues you are looking toward?
Currently, my greatest revenue stream is brand collaborations. I’m very grateful to now have the opportunity to to work with so many brands I grew up loving and admiring (I’ll talk a little bit about how to start scoring brand deals in my next episode of The Happiest Hour). New avenues I’m looking to are creative direction work (designing and executing influencer and official campaigns for major brands), designing my own product lines (thinking of starting with a white tee), and becoming a resource for aspiring influencers and small business owners through by building out The Happiest Hour.
6. Let’s talk content. Shooting, editing, and putting up video all in one day. For someone who is just launching a YouTube channel what is your advice? Quantity over quality?
Until maybe about 6months ago, I would’ve told you quality over quantity, hands down. While I still think it’s absolutely imperative to master a certain level of quality and consistency for your content, I think frequency and timing has actually surpassed its importance. Because of the way people are used to digesting new content (thanks a lot Snapchat) they like to see raw, unedited, up to the second content from their favorite influencers.
7. Let’s chat content hacks, there are obviously a ton of affiliate networks, like Amazon Fashion and rewardstyle, and tons of apps, like Planoly and Statogram, etc. What tools are you using to help make your content great and make your lives easier?
RewardStyle! Love Rewardstyle because I think it’s an amazing concept to be able to curate and sell product, without having to actually carry any product. For IG edits on the go, I always use Facetune, Snapseed, and VSCO (in that order). New post on that process, coming soon!
8. You all deliver content for your hundreds of thousands of millions of fans every day, it’s obviously impossible to respond to every comment or critique what are your tips to community management?
I really try as much as I can to reply to every single comment (as you babes know). I was so happy to hear from so many of you girls at the conference that you appreciated my replies!
9. You are a singer & content creator. How does one inform the other and vice versa?
For me, it’s all one. When I’m making a music video I design costumes and collaborate on the glam, etc. And when I’m creating content I constantly incorporate my music. My love for fashion and knowledge of glam all stemmed from my music and performing career, and now I’m working on bringing more brand collaborations into my music projects and videos.
10. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Women are competitive both friendly and competitive and cutthroat and competitive, how do you deal with competition and comparing yourselves to others?
At the end of the day, I have to remind myself- we’re just posting photos here guys. Yes it’s serious. But it’s not that serious. It doesn’t matter if someone else got a job and you didn’t. If you’re confident in what you’re creating, there’s room for everyone. You shouldn’t be threatened. At the end of the day, we’re all here to inspire each other.
Two things that are important:
1)Staying grounded with your family and friends outside of the industry to remind you of what’s relevant or irrelevant.
2) finding a core group of friends within the business
11. Let’s talk 5 year plans, what is the works? How do you envision your career in 5 years?
I love what I’m doing and I want to continue building and growing in the next 5 years. I want to reach new audiences. I want to do more creative direction work for brands. I want to build out my show The Happiest Hour to become a main resource for women entering this industry, much like Create + Cultivate. I want to continue bringing my two works of music and fashion even closer together and start bringing more brand collabs into my music videos. And most importantly, my real goal in life…… is to become a mommy blogger! Having kids and starting a family.