If you’ve been on my page around the time of this writing, you’ve probably seen #ad pop up a couple of times. There’s been some reaction to this. Not a lot, but some. And for those of you that have been with me on my IG journey for a while, I imagine there’s some amount of apprehension. That’s fair. Before recently, when you saw a post from me, you knew it was my opinion. My unvarnished, unfiltered, occasionally unsavoury opinion about something I tried and either liked or did not.
But when #ad shows up, it’s a whole other thing, isn’t it?
You read something and you’re not sure if it’s actually me saying it or if it’s a company somewhere spoonfeeding me words and using my page and my mouth and my reputation as a vehicle for their own success. And again, that’s fair. I don’t entirely trust ads either. It’s a fairly common practice to endorse something that pays as opposed to something that you actually believe in and a lot of people set aside their beliefs at the altar of profit – not out of maliciousness or ill intent, but simply because they need to keep the lights on.
So, to help you understand where I’m coming from, and why you’re seeing #ad now, let me tell you what I’ve been up to over the last year or so.
First things first – I never expected to be a success. I’m a private, introverted sort of person. My favourite kind of time is curled up in a corner with a book or something thoroughly murderous on Netflix, so if you had told me a couple of years ago that I’d be broadcasting my life on social media, I would have asked you what drugs you were on and if you wanted to share. I started the Honest Liz page with the intention of sharing things that I was learning on my curly hair journey. There were resources out there – there still are, there always have been – but I was looking for something more … experimental. Someone a little loony, who was willing to subject their hair to constant trial and error with new products, new routines, and what have you. I spent a while looking for that person and, somewhere along the way, realised that I could be that loony person for myself.
The posts that you see now, the style and format of experimentation, with me trying new things all the time and – sometimes overwhelmingly so – switching up routines and whatnot, is mainly so no one else has to. I make the mistakes so you can see what works and you don’t run the risk of ruining your hair by repeating my mistakes. That’s the idea.
At the time I started my IG page when the idea really started to take shape, I also wasn’t working. I had quit my job to look after my children, but that had the disadvantage of putting all of my family’s financial pressure on my husband. I always planned to return to work. The idea was to stick around until I didn’t have to keep an eye on the kids 24/7 and then slowly, gracefully, get back to my old routine.
What changed this plan was my IG page.
It took off. I mean, it really took off. For some weird reason, people actively gave a crap about what I had to say. I’m still surprised by it. Like, I’m a quiet girl from Kerala who grew up liking books and suddenly, impossibly, people were asking me questions about hair care like I’m some sort of authority on the subject. I don’t think that sense of wonder will ever really go away and, personally, I hope it doesn’t. It’s humbling to know that, in some small way, I matter.
But with the success of my IG page came the realisation that I didn’t want to return to a regular 9-to-5. I felt like I was doing something valuable. Even if a lot of people outside the curly community look at the page and think, ‘huh, all she talks about is hair?!?’ those of us that have lived with the struggles of curly hair know that it is, in fact, a struggle. It’s something you really have to go through to relate to. And I wanted to continue to be useful to people, in a way that I never thought I could be.
At the same time, though, I wasn’t comfortable putting all of the financial pressure on my husband. Those of you that know about my store, should also know that the store is as much a labour of love as my page is. I don’t profit. Whatever money I make from my store goes into getting new products, restocking, and generally doing whatever I need to do just to make sure that if a curly girl in India wants something that she can’t get in India, she can get it from me.
But I need to keep the lights on in the house. I need to help keep the family fed and watered and cared for and looked after. And the way I do that is with #ad.
The reason it’s taken you so long to see #ad on my page is that I’ve actively turned down promotion offers in the past. I try something first, and if I don’t like it, I don’t promote it. And it’s taken me so long to find brands to work with because I keep refusing to promote products until I try them. My process is usually to ask for a sample, get the sample, try the sample for a couple of weeks, and then offer to promote a brand if I like the sample. The brands that you see me promoting now are ones that I’ve been working on for a little while, testing stuff for, and they’ve given me results that I’m happy with.
And sponsored posts let me keep doing IG. They let me stay home with my family, be there for the people I love most, do the thing I love most, and make an honest living out of it. Should you trust a post from me when you see #ad on it? That depends entirely on how much you trust me. If you’re not sure, I’m just going to tell you to do what I’ve always told you to do: try it for yourself. My results will not be your results. My successes will not always be yours. My routine may not match yours perfectly. But I’m just here to give you a place to start. Something to think about. And to make mistakes first, so you don’t have to.
That was my goal when I started the page and sponsored posts or no sponsored posts, it’s my goal now too. The only difference between then and now is, in addition to trying new products so I can look out for you, I’m trying to look out for myself and my family too.
This is it. This is why I do what I do, and why you’re seeing changes on my page.
It’s okay to be sceptical. I am. But over the last year or so, I think I’ve earned your trust. And, if you’re feeling a little hesitant now, I’m willing to earn your trust all over again. All of you on the page, the ones who read or don’t, who comment or don’t, who DM or don’t – you are the reason I get to do what I love. I never forget that. So I’m sure as hell not going to give up on you, or throw away the faith you’ve put in me just to make a quick buck. Give it time. You’ll see.
Thanks for reading. <3