Welcome to my Interview Series! I will be featuring amazing female entrepreneurs & digital influencers that are breaking ground in their space. This week I am featuring Mattie James from The Mattie James!
Mattie James is an OG in the blogger world - and by that I mean - one of the originals. Mattie James has been blogging since 2009. It started as a hobby and then in 2010, she began to focus on turning her blog into online brand and business. She documents her personal experiences across her blog, podcast, influencer courses and, Youtube Channel. She is a fellow boss babe and an amazing mother and wife. She was previously Miss Liberia USA and is all about empowering women and helping you build your business. I love watching her Instagram Lives because she is always dropping great tips on building your brand.
In this interview, she is sharing on how she manages running a full-time business, motherhood, and marriage. She rejects the idea of striving for perfection and promotes "Betterment". We also talked about the challenges in the influencer space around diversity and representation. Mattie gets very honest about what it's like to be a woman of color and how that has changed in the 10-years she has been blogging and working with brands. She also gets real about the amount of time and consistent work ethic required to be an influencer. SPOILER ALERT: Its a lot more than people realize.
A Big Thank You to Mattie for taking the time to answer all my questions.
Tell me about how & when you started in the blogging/influencer world?
My first blog Mattieologie launched in 2009. After 6 years that chapter has closed. I launched my new blog, Mattie James in 2017. I felt like Mattie James is a representation of the many layers of me as a woman. Yes, I'm a mother, I am also an influencer, full-time entrepreneur and manage a team in addition to managing my own household. I really wanted to talk about all of all those things along with fashion and beauty content. It was still story-telling, similar to what I did on Mattieology but it was about highlighting all the sides of myself vs just only presenting the stylish side.
What Is The Driving Mission Behind Mattie James?
The point of Mattie James is about empowering women to be better. When I won Miss Libera 2009 that was my platform. The goal here is not to be perfect. We all have gotten sucked into the Instagram Vortex. We see people having a great time on their Instagram stories and everything looks picture-perfect on their Instagram feed, but that is not the majority of their day or their lives. if you are a woman in 2019 in America there is some type of real effort that goes into your day-to-day life. Now add the many titles you hold, whether you work 9-5, own your own business, whether your a mom, a wife, etc. It's about being better: Better Everday!
Whether it's about how you make your wardrobe better? How do you make your motherhood experience better? How do you make your blog better? That for me is the goal - working on continues improvement. How do I get better every single day? For me it's about betterment - betterment allows us to continually evolve. Betterment is so much better than perfection because betterment allows you to take it to that next level. If something is perfect it never changes. Perfection is such a limiting characteristic to put on a human being because we change. We become different each and every year of our lives. Betterment - no matter what you do, no matter what your niche, no matter what your industry, to continue to improve and be better is something we all can strive to do
What has been your evolution in the influencer space? How have you integrated your different life stages into your content/editorial calendar?
When I become a new mom I was so happy! But I also did not want to be classified as just a mommy blogger. It was important to me to have more dimensions than just that specific lens. I was so happy being a mom and I wanted to share my experience. I wanted to share all the things I didn't know: what I learned traveling with a baby, what to pack as a new mom etc. I found that as I shared my personal experience, I was organically getting a lot of questions from my followers, who were also new mothers. This organic side conversation with my followers ended up becoming a very valuable part of my blog and content creation. I started creating content around that organic conversation that blossomed. And that intuitively drove brand partnerships through my own personal experience.
How do you balance being a mother and a career entrepreneur?
Balance looks different every day. You're not going to be excellent at everything every single day. It's about being better every day and giving yourself space to be good at all these various things. It's just not all going to be at the same time. You can do anything, just not everything! Giving myself room to be human and allowing myself to navigate all the roles of my life accordingly. I never thought that I had to choose to be a wife, a mother, an entrepreneur - for me, it was always like I want to be ALL of those things. But I realize that everyday somethings are going to come up a little short, but it evens out in the long run. So accepting that and owning that allows you to be more forgiving of yourself.
What advice would you give to women who are looking to become influencers?
if you're going to launch, especially in 2019 in the blogosphere space, it's saturated but there is still has so many opportunities to be successful in this space. Its now a place where major corporations and brands have these large budgets for influencers. It's cheaper for them to work with influencers than it is to go get a TV commercial rent or even a magazine - so that is still huge opportunity to become an influencer in this day and age. But it is a lot of work, research, and preparation. The way we are navigating the blog/influencer businesses now in 2019 is not the way we did it in 2015. It's constant research and adapting to new platforms like Instagram Stories. You have to be able to mold, change and transform with all the trends, without losing your voice. And I think that finding your voice is already a challenge. There are already so many voices right in social media. You've got a to find your voice, define your niche and once you find your voice you have to be consistent. You have to have a strong work ethic and be consistent when building your brand online.
What is your advice on working with brands as an Influencer?
It's important not to push a product just for the sake of a check. As a mom, I am extra sensitive about this. I'm not interested in telling you to do anything or push any product that I don't truly really believe in myself. I have to deal with that recently, I'm working with brand and had to say to them "to be honest this product doesn't work for my baby it only makes her skin a little bit drier. I actually don't have a really good reaction with it. However - this other product in your line is amazing. I know that wasn't originally the campaign focus can we shift it so we can ensure that the story we are telling is authentic is true and honest and relatable." We were about to shift and find a happy middle ground for the campaign. I do feel like internal responsibility to maintain integrity with the content that I'm creating the stories that I'm telling and just because there's so many paid opportunities out there everything is like I'm willing to walk away if not in alignment with myself and my brand.
How have you seen Blogging Industry change around diversity and representation as a woman of color?
I was the token black girl for a lot of brand campaigns from 2011 through 2015. I had a lot of brands give me feedback around not being able to find women of color-bloggers. I realized the larger problem was that they do not have decision makers who are people of color to inform you of influencer. I will say, its gotten better and we have more representation within the space. But it is unfortunate to see brands like Revolve or LTK not celebrate diversity. These brands are not intentionally making sure that everybody is represented, so to me, that message I am getting from that is - I am not an important customer for that brand. That is fine - that is their choice, it may be unfortunate, but it's their brand. But there are so many brands celebrating diversity or trying to address their diversity issues. I choose to prioritize those types of brands for partnerships and collaborations.
I recently had a Brand X come to me and say they dropping the ball on representation and they want to change that! I commend them for trying to address that issue and making a collaborative conversation. Diverse representation is not just a trend for people who are not trying to check the diversity box. As a woman of color who's been in this space for almost a decade, it's important to me to be a champion for diversity and hold brands accountable about working with people of color. Representing and working with everybody should always be the default.
How can white creators or content creators like myself be better allies to women of color?
A lot of people are overlooking the representation issue because they are already seen. You are seen all the time. You are represented in the media. If you are seeing people noticeably absent or overlooked. If someone's experience is not being seen or heard - step up and highlight that. I want you to care and ask about how you can help promote and be an ally to women of color. This is a conversation that needs to be happening more consistently in the influencer space. There are a lot of brands who do want to work with diverse influencers and bloggers, but have no idea where it starts because nobody on their decision-making team is diverse. We need to be having this conversation in the Influencer space to help open doors for brands to start working with people who look like me.
What is next for Mattie James in 2019??
My ultimate goal is to have a TV Show. But that space has shifted. I think the next big Oprah Winfrey / TV show is going to be online because of how much video content we're digesting. This year video content is extremely important to me. I am sharing more youtube content and that is a priority. The other thing for 2019 that is really important to me is helping 1,000 influencers become their own bosses. I'm giving myself to the end of 2020 to help a thousand influencers become their own bosses and create their own influencer business. Those are the two main things that I'm focused on while maintaining my own blog and influencer business.
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