Have you ever wondered how you can build a community and connect on social media? In this episode, Camille welcomes Windsor Western, the co-founder of Her Campus Media, the leading media platform dedicated to empowering college women around the globe.
Windsor shares how Her Campus Media was founded by her, Stephanie Kaplan Lewis, and Annie Wang while they were undergraduates at Harvard University and how they were able to grow it into the number one media and marketing ecosystem for college women that it is today. She shares her advice on how to market and work with brands and how to deal with the different facets of social media.
If you’re interested in working with marketing and social media, tune into this episode to hear Windsor’s tips on how you too can build a successful community that can help other people.
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Windsor’s Three Book Recommendations:
Traffic by Ben Smith:
Extremely Online by Taylor Lorenz:
No Filter by Sarah Frier:
Connect with Windsor Western and Her Campus Media:
Follow Windsor on Instagram: www.instagram.com/windsorwestern
Follow Her Campus Media on Instagram: www.instagram.com/hercampusmedia
Follow Her Campus Media on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/her-campus
Visit Her Campus Media’s website: www.hercampusmedia.com
WINDSOR WESTERN [00:00]
So, we've built all of these different communities and digital platforms where young women can get involved, can learn, can meet other women that are like them, and then can get opportunities to work with brands that help them establish a portfolio of work that can launch them into their careers.
So, you want to make an impact. You're thinking about starting a business sharing your voice. How do women do it that handle motherhood, family, and still chase after those dreams? We'll listen each week as we dive into the stories of women who know. This is Call Me CEO.
Hey, everyone. Thank you for tuning into the episode today. We are talking to Windsor Western who is the co-owner and co-founder of Her Campus, which is a media agency for all young women entrepreneurs who are looking to share their influence working with big brands. It's a media company that was started by Harvard students as a college project with an online magazine. And it grew into this massive business that is now 15 years running and year-over-year doing incredible, amazing things.
So, Winsor is a mother to three. And she's sharing with us the secrets that she learned along the way in social media, building community, and also how to really connect in a way that makes a difference online.
Welcome back everyone to Call Me CEO. This is your host, Camille Walker. And I am so excited about 2024. I have amazing guests lined up for you. And it is no exception for today. We have Windsor Western, who is the co-owner and founder of Her Campus Media, which is all about bringing brands and young female entrepreneurs the lives of their dreams.
But what's really cool about Windsor and her media program is that she is really good at building community both in inline and online. I don't even know if that's a word. But she's a Harvard honors graduate, which I was like, "Go, girl," and then you've also been named Top Entrepreneur 25 under 25, 30 under 30, every single accolade. You're so young, so beautiful and talented. And I was actually able to meet Windsor at the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, where she was the recipient of an award there, too.
So, it's such an honor to meet you. I'm so excited to have you on the show with us today and to share your story. Thank you so much for being here.
Thank you so much for having me, Camille. I'm really delighted to be here.
Oh my gosh, they show little bits. When you're at the Ernst & Young Awards show, which it was my first time, I don't know if you've been there before.
We've been there before. I've been there one time before. Yeah.
Okay. So, for the recipients, or I should say even for the nominees, they will show little clips of the business, what they've done, a little bit of your story, what it's about. And I was so inspired by yours specifically being so female-focused and also so young-focused where it's actually these kids in college that have big ambitions, want to do marketing, media, online, influencing.
And that is a place where when I was in college that didn't exist. And that was the path that I took. I went into influencing and content creation. And oh my gosh, I would have loved to have something like that. But it wasn't a thing yet. And so, I love that you took that and saw that vision at such a young age to create this environment and community for women to thrive and to grow and to share so many incredible things online.
So, I'm so excited to hear your story. Tell us a little bit about you. Where do you live, your family, how it got started. Let's get into the weeds of it.
Yeah. Awesome. Let's do it. So, I live in Atlanta, Georgia now with my husband, Alex, and my two little girls. They're six and eight years old. I'm from Western North Carolina. So, from Asheville, it's in the mountains in the western part of the state. And grew up, my dad's a minister, my mom's a nurse. I'm the oldest of four girls. So, I've always had a lot of girls around me, a lot of female energy. And I went to Harvard for college. I got in, which was amazing. No one in my family had ever gone to an Ivy League school.
I actually wanted to ask you that because I grew up in a small town in Utah. I never heard of people going to Ivy League. So, I had one high school colleague who went to Yale and that was like, that exists? So, where did that ambition come from? Were you like Harvard Legally Blonde? Where did it come from?
Yeah. Honestly, I hate admitting how much Legally Blonde had an impact on me, but it really did.
Girl, I think it's amazing. Yes.
I saw Reese Witherspoon, she is just incredible, and Legally Blonde is one of my favorite movies. And just the way that she was so feminine and fun and so powerful and so smart and was like, what? It's hard? I can get into Harvard, I can do this. And I was like, I want to go to Harvard. And I'm going to work really hard. I was the valedictorian of my high school class, and president of every club I could get my hands on, and I studied very, very hard for the SAT and everything.
So, it wasn't an easy get, obviously, but it was something that I was like, you know what? Why not? Why couldn't I go there? Why couldn't that not be my story? And so, my dad took me up, and I toured the campus. And I was like, I'm going to go here one day. And then, I got in, which was amazing.
And so, my husband, I met him at Harvard, and I also met my business partners at Harvard. So, getting into the school and getting in this environment was something that I've never known anyone that went to Harvard, and it just opened up this whole new world for me.
And my husband's from Atlanta, no one in his family. His dad went to community college in Florida, his mom did not go to college, and they're just the biggest supporters. And so, it's been a really amazing thing for both of us. We met there. We're the same age, same year, and we just clicked.
And at the same time, I met these two other women, Stephanie Kaplan and Annie Wang. And the three of us were just running Harvard's women's publication. It was fun. I was pre-med. Stephanie was going to go to law school. Annie was an art and animation major. And this was just a fun extracurricular, let's take over Harvard's women's magazine.
What we realized is that most colleges and universities had a school newspaper. Very few had a women's magazine on campus. And this was the early days. This was 2008. And so, we moved the magazine online, which online magazines looked so different then than they do now. An online magazine, the way people thought about it was like a magazine format, it looked like a flip book, and you would turn the pages on the website. You would click and the page would go, and it would open up. It was the funniest thing.
We didn't build it that way. We built it in a more standard format that you see today. But we put this online magazine for college women by college women online. And we're sharing it on Facebook, which is only college students at the time. Very different from today. And our friends at other schools were like, "This is amazing. Can you help us build a website? Can you help us put a magazine together?"
And the idea for www.hercampus.com was born. So, we entered Harvard colleges business plan competition with the idea of an online magazine platform by college women for college women, where any woman could start her own magazine on campus, could build her own team, could get incredible experience that would then launch her into a lot of different career paths. We won the business plan competition and launched the website in the fall of our senior year. Stephanie and I were in senior, Annie was a junior.
What year are we now, 2010?
So, by the time we graduated, there were 25 campus chapters around the country. And our thinking was, what if we just don't get real jobs for a year? Wouldn't that be fun? Why don't we just do this for a year? Not get real jobs, and then we'll figure out what we're going to do.
This is 2009 and 2010. I graduated in 2010. And so, we built it, finished our classes. And we're like, "This is really fun. This is working really well." We let any woman start her own chapter. So, it's almost like a professional journalism sorority, if you will, groups of women on college campuses coming together around the theme. All these women are really interested in journalism and communications and wanted to work for Vogue one day. So, how do you get that experience on campus?
Joke's on us, because that was 15 years ago. So, the three of us are 35 years old now. We're all equal owners in the business. We have revenue funded the business, meaning we never raised outside money. We don't have any debt. I like saying is we ran our business the old-fashioned way where you spend the money that you've made, and you make more money than you spend. And you really keep things in check.
And so, we've run a profitable revenue, self-funded business for almost 15 years now. We now have about 85 employees. We have five brands under the Her Campus Media umbrella, and we last year activated 14,000 content creators and 1,000 student organizations on behalf of brands. We distributed 550,000 samples, and we generated 530 million content impressions across our platform.
So, it's just been this really cool journey where we still have www.hercampus.com That's our flagship, so that's why we're called Her Campus Media. But we've expanded really with that core of how do we provide opportunities for young women? Women in general, I'm so passionate about women, women are incredible. Women are ambitious. Women are organized. And women are absolutely going to take over the world. And we still have a long way to go towards parity, but we're obviously going to take over the world, and you give a college woman an opportunity, you give her a platform, and she's just going to run with it.
So, we've built all of these different communities and digital platforms where young women can get involved, can learn, can meet other women that are like them, and then can get opportunities to work with brands that help them establish a portfolio of work that can launch them into their careers.
Wow, yay! That is so cool.
I love hearing these origin stories of where it came from a need, but also a passion of, wouldn't this be fun if? Let's just try this, and then it's legit. And you're like, wait, this is really cool. It's, yes, filling a need.
It's working, wow.
I'm curious to hear as far as revenue when you were first starting out, is there a membership fee? Or how are you monetizing? And then how did that evolve as your business grew?
It's a great question. So, we have maintained that all of our services and offerings should be free for the young women who are participating. We don't ever want a fee or any sort of membership to prevent them from getting involved. So, it's always been free for the college students.
I look back and I say, if I could have picked any group, any demographic that is going to be incredibly attractive for advertisers and brand marketers, it would have been women 18 to 24. It just so happened that that was the group that I was in, that was who I wanted to create content for.
So, the overlap between this is the group that we're focusing on, and then realizing, oh, my gosh, women 18 to 24, are one of the most important customer segments for brand marketers, and they're one of the most difficult to access, because young people are always on the cutting edge of technology. Young people are the first to adopt new apps, they're the first to figure out new ways of talking to each other, they're going to be the smartest about, "That doesn't pass the sniff test. I don't believe you, I don't trust that," very skeptical, really challenging norms.
And so, it's very hard to get in front of them. It's very hard to get in front of them in the right way. It's hard to get them to pay attention. And it's hard to influence them and to change their minds or to get them to think about you as a brand.
At the same time, women drive 85% of all consumer spending. I recently read this that for products marketed towards men, half of all products marketed towards men are purchased by women in the United States, which makes sense. And women are driving and influencing 85% of all consumer spending in the household.
So, for brand marketers, getting to women is important. Getting to women when they're young, when they're brand-new adults, they're establishing a lot of their own brand preferences is absolutely vital. And so, we found and created this group based on a passion for that audience, based on a passion for young women, and providing opportunities for young women. It just so happened to be an exact overlap with one of the most attractive and difficult to access groups.
So, going back to your question of how do you make money? What's the revenue model? So, the revenue model is marketing and advertising services that help brands stay relevant with the next generation of female consumers. So, that has evolved over time. And we do a lot of different clients or a lot of different client campaigns.
I can tell you my very first marketing campaign that I ever did, and this is sometimes we're like, "How did you get started? And how do you get brands to pay attention to you?" I love this story. So, this was 2009 when we launched the website. It was summer 2008, going into 2009, and I had this idea that I really wanted to get a big brand name client. Sorry, summer 2009.
A big brand name client who would really give all the other brands that FOMO, that, oh my gosh, that brand is participating? If that brand trusts them, I better get involved, too. It's like that fake it till you make it. If you can get somebody in, no one else is going to know how much they paid you, no one else is going to know what the contract looks like. They're going to know that brand trust them. So, that means I can trust them, too.
That credibility. So, 2009, the number one fashion brand I could think of was Juicy Couture.
Yeah. The sweatpants and the perfume. Yes.
The velour tracksuit and the perfume and everything. So, it's like this peak Paris Hilton, Juicy Couture era. So, I had a mentor who ran a sales team, and she had this software that had contact info for anybody who could possibly want, very, very expensive software. And as a parting gift from a little internship I did, she said, "I'll give you one person's contact info. Who do you want?"
I said, "I want the head of marketing for Juicy Couture. That's what I want." And she gave me her email address and her phone number. When I tell you I probably emailed her 15 times with thoughtful, long, very well-crafted, kind emails, called her every week, left voicemails, talked to her assistant. I think I just wore her down where she was like, "This woman is not going to go away until I take a call from her. "
So, I'll never forget. My mom has a small farm in Western North Carolina. And I was home, and I get a phone call. And it's the head of marketing for Juicy Couture. And she's British. She's has this British accent, so I run up to my bedroom. I'm talking to her. I'm pretending. I'm like, "I'm in an office in New York City. I'm in a skyscraper. I have a big business," In my head, that's my mindset. My mom's rooster climbs up on the roof and starts crowing.
To this day, I don't know if she heard it. I just pretended like it wasn't happening. Roosters don't crow in the middle of the day. I was like what is happening? But, yeah, I convinced her to sign on, to give me $1,500 for a six-month program, which I was thrilled at the time. I was like I made it.
But we just started doing brand marketing programs. So, before I graduated, we got in with New Balance and The Body Shop as well. And really, we just were very, very lean with all of our expenses. It was like eat what you kill. We paid ourselves when we could. We all came up with really creative ways to get by, that ramen entrepreneur's lifestyle, we got free office space.
The first year, we were college students, we were doing this while we were studying, which really helped us get our start. But it really was just listening to brands. Getting in the room with the right person is the hardest part. Once you're there hearing, why do you want to get in front of young women? What are your goals? What products are you trying to market? What do young women think about your brands right now? How would you like to change that perception? And then, creating these custom marketing programs for them that help them fit those needs.
Wow. Okay. So, I am thinking about anyone who's listening to this right now and has ever tried to appeal to a brand they want to work with or a company, and I love that you were just eye on the prize, that you were emailing and calling and just being persistent and on top of that. That was your very first big launch into this space. Did you have to keep being as persistent, or how did that change as more people signed on? How did you continue to rise?
So, part of entrepreneurship is rejection, part of sales is rejection. If you are going to go into entrepreneurship, you're going to have to figure out sales in one way or another. And that's pitching and that's getting people on board and getting them aligned with what you want and what you need.
And so, you really have to have thick skin and like water off a duck's back, things just have to roll off of you. And so, I think the biggest thing to remember is that none of it is personal. This person is not reading this email and saying, "I don't like Windsor. And that's why I'm not going to reply to her email." They are busy, their plates are full, their agendas are stacked, and you are something new coming in. It is so easy to just say no to all the new stuff, because they're busy and they have so many things going on.
We have a great sales team now at Her Campus Media, great partnerships team. Anytime someone is ignoring you, it's not personal. Don't let it hurt your feelings, and do not get catty or mean as you're responding to that, "I guess you just decided to ignore," no, they didn't decide anything. They're busy. And you're coming in, and they don't have enough context to understand who you are. So, the first thing is it's not personal.
The second thing is rejection is just part of the game. And even you may think I have the best solution, and there are so many reasons why it might not be the right time. Maybe it is the perfect solution. Maybe it would be the best decision ever for them to do that. But there are some big other initiatives that their bosses said, "This is number one priority. You can't do anything new. You can't focus on anything else." There's so many things happening behind the scenes, but I do think persistence pays off.
You cannot let rejection hurt your feelings, you cannot let rejection get you down. And being very focused on knowing what you want is going to be key to being successful. You have to be very clear on what you want and clear on your plan of attack to get there.
There are so many tools that we have available to us now. The internet has been the most amazing equalizer of opportunity because people are more accessible than ever before. You can find them on LinkedIn. You can find people sometimes on Instagram. You can find people on TikTok, maybe you find them on Twitter/X. You can find them on all these different social platforms. People have personal websites, maybe they have a blog, maybe they're involved in different groups or nonprofits.
If you're really focused on getting a brand on board, it's finding who the right people are, who the decision makers are, a warm referral goes such a long way. So, second degree connection, mapping those out, but it's really about being clear about who you want to get in front of, knowing what you're offering.
When trying to bring partnerships together, I had a sales coach that this was something that has really stuck with me, it was equal Vs. She said that sometimes when you go into sales, you think the money is the value, the big V is in terms of value. Think of the size of the V is how much value someone's bringing to the equation. So, the money. I just need to get the money to power my business. So, they have more value. "I'm trying to sell, I'm just this little person, I have a little bit of value here. Please, can you give me your money because I have a little bit of value, I'm a little V and you're a big V?"
She's like, in sales, it's equal Vs, the value that you're providing is a service that they need. If they don't need it, they won't buy it. But if they need it, it's worth the money that they give you for that. So, it's not a, "Please help me please do this. Do me a favor." No, it's, "Hey, I have something really amazing. I want to tell you about it. And I want to tell you why it'll benefit you, why it's worth this investment from your side."
And just that mindset of I'm worthy of what I'm asking for the people that I'm asking, it's an equal value exchange that's going on here. Otherwise, they won't participate, shifts the mindset. And I'm going on a tangent now, sales gets a bad rep. People think sales is slimy and gross. And sales is powerful.
All of the top CEOs of the biggest companies in one way or another are salespeople. They're either selling to investors, or they're selling to the press, or they're actually selling to different partners. But it's all about communication and charisma and convincing people that your vision is something worth getting on board with and listening to. So, that was a really long answer. I'm sorry.
Oh my gosh, I love it. Already, I'm like, okay, take a note for that. Take a note for that. Because I love that you talked about the Vs, I think that is so helpful. Because I think a lot of times, especially when we're new to a situation or a position, we think that we are lesser than. And I love that you talk about the value of the exchange and what it is that you're bringing to the table. So, whether it's a service, a product, any kind of value, it is on an equal playing field, but you have to be willing to open your mouth and say what it is and why.
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Right. And also be respectful, I think that the other thing and I don't want it to get misinterpreted because there's a difference between providing equal value and an equal value exchange and then being entitled above where you should be. And that's where nothing will turn someone off more than you assume, and this is where it comes and fails and you're trying to get a partnership, you're trying to get a new sponsor, a new partner, something that you're like, I just want to do this thing with this person and that would really take my business to the next level.
And again, they ignore you or they say not the right time. If that becomes in your mind, "This is negative, they're being mean. I'm going to come back and get them. I'm going to show them," there's no quicker way to ruin a potential partnership. And again, I may have ignored your email five or six times. It's not a reflection on who you are. You may be the best thing ever for me, but where my time is going, where my priorities are right now, I'm not open to new things right now, for whatever reason.
If one of those emails start to turn and start to get nasty or start to get catty, "You're missing out on huge opportunities." And I'm like, "I'm crossing that person off." I'm like, "I don't know what's going on here. But this seems dramatic and messy, and I'm not going to engage at all."
So, the other thing with those 15 emails that I sent to the head of marketing of Juicy Couture, each one provided value, each one was something interesting in the news. I was doing research on Juicy Couture, research on what college students were wearing. "Hey, I was looking at this. And I saw that this other brand is doing this really cool thing. It may be something Juicy wants to think about."
It was each email was valuable as a standalone, and each email was thoughtful, and each email was kind and patient and clear on what my specific ask was. So, if she opened any one of those, they could stand on their own. And then, each one had an opportunity for us to connect without any baggage, even though it took me 15 emails to get there.
Oh my gosh, I love that. And was that something you came up with on your own, or did you have a professor saying, "Make sure it has value. Make sure that you have a clear ask"? Did you know that formula?
Yeah. My mentors had been in sales and publishing. And that was something that they had taught me is that again, there's so much noise. Everyone is so busy. And the thing with business, business is competition. There's originality, yes. But there's also competition. There are probably a lot of other people doing something very much like what you're doing out there.
So, it's how can you be better at it? How can you be more persistent? How can you be clearer? And so, really that clarity of communication, that persistence, that just, yeah, providing that value really sets people apart. And it's not hard to do. It just takes a little bit of time and brain space and focus.
Yeah, so clever. Obviously, one of your biggest assets you had going was building this incredible community. And I think more than anything, people now are trying to figure out how to get attention, how to build a community when there's so much online noise and competition. What would you say to that for building community in 2024 where the landscape is different than it was back in 2009? And in some ways, a lot harder and some ways easier, there's more access. So, what would you suggest to someone who's starting out fresh and wanting to build that community?
Yep. So, I think it's being very clear about who your customer is and who your customer is not and who you are trying to talk to. Who your customer is and who your audience is in terms of social media should overlap, if you want to use social media for business purposes.
And I bring up social media because social media is one of the easiest ways to build a community around you and around your brand. So, you mentioned that this podcast is for moms, who either have started a business or want to start a business, that's clarity. You know this is who my community is, you know who I'm talking to. You use that audience as your lens of I want to create content for them.
When we were thinking about our different brands, about College Fashionista and Her Campus and Spoon University, the InfluenceHer Collective, Campus Trendsetters, we have all these different communities, we had to be very clear about what do we care about with each one? What's the personality type for the brand? And then, who is the specific audience?
If you're trying to be everything for everyone, you're not going to be anything for anyone because no one will care. If you're too broad, if you're too generic, if you're too vanilla, too middle of the road, it's not going to be meaningful, it's not going to be impactful. People are not going to say, "Yes, yes, that's for me. This is for me."
So, it's really about clarity of, again, who's your customer? Who's your audience? Who are you creating this business for? And then, being very centered on that because it's easy to get distracted. It's easy to go in a bunch of different ways.
Then there are ways to bring that to life in person. There are ways to bring that to life online and in closed forums. There's an app called Geneva that took the best parts of Facebook groups and just put them together, but they're closed. If you go on Geneva as an app and you don't have a group to join, there's not much to see. There's nothing there. But if you Who are invited in a group where you have something that you're going for, it's only those people and there's no noise and there's nothing else. So, it's a great closed, social media.
And there are a lot of different options. That's just one that we use. But the power has really for us and the way that we've grown the business and really being clear about who our audience is, who our community is, it's young women, college women. And then, within that, we've now grown where we have all of these different groups, but, yeah, being clear, being centered, being focused on them, not getting distracted, until you really feel like, yep, I've maximized this group. Because there's so many people in the world, and there's so much opportunity, and I really think you'll get a lot further if you're super specific and laser focused on this is who I'm going after.
And it doesn't have to be all people that are the same. This is a very random example. I don't know why this came to mind, who really love organic cashews. Again, maybe you're an organic cashew chef person and you make cashew-based products, you just want anybody and everybody, but all your content is going to be about cashews, and people who love cashews will find you. And they'll be super focused there.
So, really community is about being focused and then being a leader and a voice that matters within that group, within that audience space. It's another way to think about customers, but I think it's a deeper level. And it's about connection versus transaction because transaction is you're going to buy something from me, and then you're going to use that product, and that's it. That's more of a traditional customer and a transaction-based relationship.
If you have a true relationship with someone, maybe they're buying things from you, but the packaging is thoughtful, the follow-ups are thoughtful, the way they engage with you on social is really thoughtful. They're staying engaged, and then they're going to be more loyal customers. And then, it becomes part of their identity, they're part of this group, and it makes their life better. So, I think there's a big opportunity with business owners to lean into community as a lens for customer growth and development.
I like that. One of the questions I get often, in fact, I just got this question this week was from a young mother, who she is an esthetician trying to build up her clientele. And she said, "I hate my own voice on my videos," or, "I hate using my likeness," just that insecurity which all of us can relate to that at one point or another, having lack of confidence, whether it's in our voice or not knowing the videos to make or the things to say, and having a voice and coming forward with confidence is a big part of having influence and making a change and building these communities. So, when you're counseling your young entrepreneurs, how do you help instill that confidence for them to use their voice and to create community that way?
Yeah. There are so many different ways. So, I really hate when I hear that. And I think it's been hard. So, the dark side of social media is it puts this lens up where people are always comparing themselves to each other. Comparison is the thief of joy. And a comparison mindset is a very unhealthy mindset. It can make people horribly insecure.
And I think that social media really exacerbates that. I think it's really hard because there are so many filters and ways for things to look, filters and editing and ways for things to look so perfect. And they're really not that perfect. So, I think it's good to just remind ourselves that there's a very specific lens that people are using. You have teenage girls, and that's a whole other conversation using apps to morph the shape of their bodies before they're posting pictures. Evideos online, you can change the shape of your body in a bikini and a video before you post it online and make yourself taller and whatever you want to do to enhance the shape or change the shape. And it's not real.
So, I think that's that's one thing. It's not real. So, that's part of it. The other part is there's so many pockets. I like to think about social media as it is a really wonderful and powerful tool, but it can be dangerous, and you have to know how to use it correctly. So, it's almost like a car in that way. You don't let a child drive a car. Even a teen, you have to teach them how to do it. An adult has to be in the car teaching them before they can go out and do it on their own.
And I think even as adults, we're entering the internet and social media with different levels of experience and different lenses, and the amount of content you can get funneled into these places, that can be very, very negative. So, the first thing I would say is, from a personality perspective, it can be hard to say, why would I be the one that is worthy of listening to? And would I ask her to ask her customers, she has customers, she wants to grow it, her customers that enjoy her services and going to her, "Why do you come to me? Tell me. What is it about me that you really like? What is it about me?"
And that might be a weird conversation, but just say, "I'll give you a free service if I can ask a lot of questions about it." Again, the value exchange, they don't feel like they're doing you a favor or whatever. And then, really listen to those customers, really listen to those people. And she may be surprised, they may say like, "When you talk to me during my services, it's so relaxing. And I just feel like we have the best connection." And then, she should go on and talk and be your friends. And that can be her thing.
Or maybe it's, "You're so knowledgeable. And you know about all the ingredients. And I really feel like you're an expert, and you know so many things, and I learning from you." Great. It's about that. Whatever it is that's already working with your business, lean into that.
And the social media should be an extension of who you actually are and the way that you show up in person. It shouldn't be this fake other reality and other self, sure, you're going to come in, and it's going to be somewhat edited because you're choosing what to put up there, but the best way to do it is just to make it an extension of who you are.
And in terms of content formats, if you don't want to do videos where you're talking like this into your camera, don't do that. If your customers will let you film them, great. If it's about the products that you're using, do that. You don't even have to talk if you don't want to. You can type your things, and it'll go over music. And you can have the text. There are lots of different content formats.
So, I also don't think you'd be like, "I don't want to get on camera with my phone like this and talk. That's awkward for me." There are other ways to create content and build your business online and other ways and just look and honestly different content formats might get a little bit more attention and might be more successful.
That's really good advice. I like that. It's really about leaning into your strengths and also being adaptive to so many different formats. I think it's interesting having built and done content creation for over 10 years, people that are listening now to the podcast are not necessarily the same people who are on Pinterest pinning the recipes that have been there for over 10 years or those people aren't the same ones who are on TikTok watching short video.
I think that each of us has ways of consuming content. And there are people who are going to want to consume the way that you feel best creating and really leaning into that. And I think that there's strength in that, in knowing that you have something. And I love that you said ask your current clients what they love and lean into that, make more of that.
What do you think is the best way for people to show up authentically? I could ask you personally or for people that you've talked to within your community, but if you get into that funk, a creative slump, let's say, of not knowing what to do next or maybe feeling overwhelmed, that's a question that comes up a lot in the community, too, is how do I get out of that slump of feeling uncreative or not knowing how to get back into the groove?
Yeah. Something that many people ignore, don't think about, it's okay to repost old videos and we post old content. If it was something you did a year ago or two years ago that you loved it, and you watch it again, and you're like, I'm still really proud of that, or something you did a few years ago, and you're like, I can't believe I did this. You can talk about you've grown. I have grown like, "Hey, guys. I'm posting this old video. And I just wanted to share this because I watched this, and I can't believe how much I've grown since then. And I'm so proud of myself because I've grown in all these ways." Or it's, "This was awesome. It was awesome then. It's still awesome now."
You can recycle your own content. And that's okay. I think people think sometimes people are going to their profiles and watching all their content, watching all their, videos and reading everything out there. Absolutely not. No one is doing that. No one is going to your feed and reading and watching all of your stuff.
In fact, it's a strategy to look into what's working and do eight different versions of that. So, if you have a piece of content, a story that pops, that works really, really well, and you're really trying to use social media for business, for influencing, for content creation, make five versions of that same.
Is it a story? Did it really inspire people? Is it a funny thing that you're doing? Is it a day in the life, whatever it is? Is it a recipe? People really love this chocolate chip recipe. Great, do it with Christmas music in the background, do it with Eastern music in the background, do it where it's got funny little bouncy things, put different filters on it. Do this because people are looking at their feed, if they really care about you a lot, your closest friends are going to go to your profile and click on your profile, or someone's looking you up, but they're just going to see, "This is a theme, this is something that they really care about."
So, it's okay to recycle your best work, and be inspired by yourself, I always say, or just scrolling endlessly is not going to get you anywhere. Endless scrolling without a purpose is not going to inspire you, it's not going to make you feel better. You're not even going to remember what you watched or what you looked at.
So, also, if you have a group of people that do really inspire you, go spend time. Do the thing I just said no one will do to you, look at all their videos, look at all their content, look at what they're doing, and see if any of that gives you an idea.
And then, the other thing is don't worry about being perfect with everything. If you do something and then the next day, you're like, I don't like that. You can just take it down, or you can just archive it. And it's fine. It's no big deal. No one is thinking about you. No one's thinking about you at all. You want them to think about you. That's the thing.
If you're a business owner and entrepreneur, you want people to be thinking about you. But if you're not putting yourself out there, no one's like, "Man, I haven't seen a video from Camille today. Or did she post two chocolate chip recipes last week?" No one is thinking that. So, just you can remove that pressure off of yourself and just play and have a little bit of fun with it.
I love it. One question I want to ask as we're finishing up here is looking back at this amazing business that you've built and how many lives you've been able to impact, what is the lesson that you've learned that looking back, whether it was something that went really well or something that didn't go well, what is a piece of that that you could share with us moving forward?
Oh my gosh, so many good lessons. So, in terms of things that I think have gone well, this is both, answer to both. So, COVID was a really interesting time for the world. Everyone has COVID stories, everyone has, oh my gosh, this is where I was. This is what I remember the most about COVID.
From a business perspective, we were really big in-person events and experiences for brands. And that was a big chunk of our business. And we had built this mobile beauty salon that would park and then open up, and it was amazing for Too Faced Cosmetics, which is owned by Estee Lauder. And it was built. We'd spent so much money building it, and it was ready to go, and we were going to be at the University of Southern California and UCLA in March of 2020.
It was ready to go. And at first, when this all started happening, we started looking for hand sanitizer. We thought we're just going to put some hand sanitizer. We should just get some hand sanitizer in the salon, and it'll be fine. And then, we couldn't find the hand sanitizer. And we're like, that's weird. Why can't we find hand sanitizer on the internet?
So, we lost a lot of business that year. And the business shrank. It was our only year we've ever gone down in revenue year-over-year. Everyone went on a raise freeze and hiring freeze. And we had to let some people go because we couldn't keep the lights on otherwise. And it was a really, really scary, painful time for the business. And I felt so much guilt. I should be able to keep everyone's jobs, and I should be able to do all these things. But there were just things outside of everyone's control and outside of my control. And it was really, really hard.
I was talking to mentors and trying to figure out what I should do. And one of my mentors said, "It sounds terrible to say right now, but never waste a crisis." Wise people have said, I don't remember who originally said it, "Never waste a crisis." And I was like, "How are you saying this right now to me? I just laid people up, and my business is struggling, and I've worked so hard for so long to build this." I'm like, "I'm scared." And they were like, "Never waste a crisis. Just think, what could we do?"
And we just started looking and thinking and talking, and one of our interns was crying on a call and everything was on video, of course, and we're like, "What's going on?" And she said, "I just learned college graduation got canceled. I'm going to graduate, but I don't get a graduation, and there's no cap and gown. And I'm really upset. It's a big deal for me. And I was really looking forward to this."
And we were like, "Wait, we should do something. We should do something in this space." And we came up with the idea for a virtual graduation ceremony for the class of 2020. We didn't even know what that meant. We were like, "We're going to do it." And we started emailing anybody and everybody we knew. And we wound up getting connected with celebrities' PR firms and inviting them to do commencement speeches for the class of 2020.
And we wound up with six hours of celebrity commencement speeches like Eva Longoria and the Jonas Brothers and Brooke Baldwin, who's one of the hosts on CNN. And then, students did speeches and they performed and they sang and they danced. And everyone just submitted all these videos. We wound up with six hours of content that we streamed, and we had 1 million people tune in. And we've got sponsorships that saved the company.
And the lesson there is that in your darkest moments, where you're like the business is falling apart. I don't know what I'm going to do. If you can, yes, take the time to grieve. This is horrible. I'm so upset I had to let those people go. I'm so upset that we lost all that business. I'm so upset. I'm so scared. Process that. And then, open your eyes and look around. There are always opportunities and always new ways to go. And then, it might become a new big thing and new expansion for you.
And since then, since COVID, the business was plodding along like this. And we had this dip and reconfiguration, and then it's just taken off since then. So, again, never waste a crisis. Sounds horrible to say. But I think that some really bright spots can come out of the darkest moment.
Wow, that is so cool. That is so innovative that you thought of that idea, especially that was such a hard time for so many missing out on high school and college graduations, and to reverse that and say let's celebrate this in our own way. I love that story so much.
Thank you so much.
Okay. One last question I asked you everyone is what are you reading or listening or watching that you love, a top three? Because we have obviously people that love listening to podcasts here. So, what are some of the things that you're loving? And it doesn't have to be currently, maybe it's a favorite from your life.
Yeah. So, being a social media and digital media junkie and someone who's been in this world, I think the history of the last 15 years of the internet, we've all been living it. So, there are now these new books that have just come out. And it's so interesting to think about.
So one, there's a book called Traffic that is very specific to the digital media industry. It's by Ben Smith. And it is really about the rise and fall of BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed was the biggest thing ever for a while. And now, BuzzFeed has just completely fallen apart. So, Traffic by Ben Smith.
There's a book called Extremely Online by Taylor Lorenz. And it's about the history of social media. Just hearing about when each one launched and why it launched and then how it was used by content creators in particular and influencers and the rise and the boom of the influencer industry is really, really interesting.
And then, the third one that I'm listening to right now, let me pull it up, the name, and those two I'm listening to, they're audiobooks. I'm listening on Audible. And then, this one I'm listening to on Spotify. There's now audiobooks on Spotify and podcasts on Spotify, which is great.
It's called No Filter, and it's the inside story of Instagram by Sarah Frier. And it's the whole history of Instagram. So, again, they might sound dry like old business history books, but because we've all lived in it for the last 10 years, it's so interesting, the stories behind how this all happened. So, that's what I'm listening to right now.
Yeah. I want to check those out for sure.
They're really good.
Good. I love that. What do you think's up and coming for social media?
See, with AI converging with misinformation and the TikTok justification of propaganda, I think that it's going to be really interesting to watch what controls the social media companies put on content ahead of the election this year. I just saw a thing where Facebook now, the same way that after I think it was in 2020, in order to buy ads for anything political, you had to be a US-based company, and you had to register your company, and then the name of the company buying the ads shows up on the ads, and people can click on it. And that was a protection that they did.
Now, if anything has been edited, digitally edited, AI-edited videos, or if it's written by AI, or the photos have been edited and changed, that has to be disclosed somehow. And I don't know how they're checking for that. But I think it's going to be a lot of controls, because the deep fakes, it's really wild and scary. You won't know what's real and what's not and who is actually saying what, if you're just looking at it online.
So, I think it's going to be really interesting to see how, and that's an existential threat for the social media platforms themselves. Because if people stop trusting them, people are smart fundamentally, consumers are smart. People are smart, the users on all these platforms, we're all smart. Not all of us, most of them are smart. And people are going to be very thoughtful about what they are consuming. And if they think this is bogus, this is not good. I cannot trust this, they're going to go somewhere else where there is content that they can trust. So, I'm really paying attention to that. It's going to be really interesting to watch.
I know. I just watched the videos they make with Travis Kelce and Taylor Swift, and it looks like them, and they're singing, and it sounds like them. And I'm like this is so weird. And it's got to be weird for them. They're used to seeing their likeness. But it's just like you said, what can you really trust? What's real? Because they're just making everything look so real. Obviously, with that, we know that's not real.
But I really hope for my kids' sake that they are smart and they can decipher and there is a way to know, because that is a threat to our intelligence, what we're dealing with. Yeah. Oh my gosh, this has been absolutely amazing. Thank you so much for taking the time and sharing your insights.
Of course. Thank you for having me.
You are so smart. I'm so glad Reese inspired you with your journey all the way back then. So, you must have loved having her at Ernst & Young.
It was amazing.
Did you get to meet her?
No, I didn't get to meet her. She's amazing. She's incredible. She's done Hello Sunshine, and just her focus on changing the narrative for women, and just getting more female directors telling women's stories has just been incredible. I look up to her, admire her as an actor, as a mother, as an entrepreneur. She's just amazing. So smart.
I know. It's cool seeing that actor portrayal that she had, and then having it in real life, that it is for real that she really is passionate and fun and bubbly and female and brilliant, that those can coincide. And just like you, you portray that in real life, too. And so, I think that that's really powerful. And I'm grateful for your example and for coming on the show. So, thank you again so much.
Thank you for having me. I really cannot wait to watch and listen and broadcast your show and help other people find it, too.
Yeah. Please tell our audience where they can find you, young female entrepreneurs who are interested how they can find you as well.
Yeah, so you can follow me personally on Instagram, I'm @windsorwestern, or you can follow Her Campus Media or www.hercampusmedia.com, or Her Campus on all social platforms.
Perfect. And we'll make sure to link those below and the books that we referenced as well.
All right. Sounds good.
Thank you so much. Thank you.
Thank you so much for tuning in to this week's episode. Every single week, we are sharing new inspiring stories. Any subscribe, like, or rating on this podcast really helps. So, if you could do that, please do so. Share with some ambitious women that you think could benefit from these stories.
And if you would like to be on this show, you can apply at www.camillewalker.co where we can talk about what you could share and your story and your journey and what you're hoping to achieve. Thank you so much for tuning into this week's episode. And I will see you next time.
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