Featured Influencers

Why offline relationships matter for influencers, brands

Organic relationships are difficult to consolidate in the competitive world of influencer marketing. Pairing spokespeople with brands they actually care about is no mean feat, and neither is creating impactful content which connects with users. Both sides of the social media spectrum need to cultivate trust - and this is tough to establish over direct messages.

As the influencer space only grows, with market estimates reaching $15 billion by 2022, events which connect brands and influencers away from the keyboard are gaining importance. Why? Well, because real connections between brand and spokesperson always make for better content and higher engagement.

It is in this context our team put together the inaugural Souler Symposium: An event which took the social media relationship offline for five days this October against the unforgettable backdrop of The Ranch at Rock Creek, a five-star luxury Relais & Châteaux ranch in Montana’s Big Sky country. 

Over nightly cocktail hours, group dinners, live music and entertainment, attendees enjoyed the opportunity to meet some of the most influential people in the world and discuss issues pertinent to the influencer space.

This is something our industry just does not get the chance to do. Deals and discussion in the world of influencer media happen in private (message) - so to have the opportunity to speak in person with the industry’s movers and shakers was something which both sides of the influencer sphere relished.

Shannon Vaughn of Pursoma hosted a panel discussion on digital wellness and anxiety in the influencer space on night two, telling the story of how her personal story led to its founding. 

Vaughn said the event offered the unique opportunity to network directly with potential spokespeople.

“I’ve always had a hard time finding people who would authentically be involved in the process and who used the products as part of their lifestyle …  the opportunity to connect directly with influencers in a non-sales-y environment, that was appealing to me because then we could have face to face conversations, and for a company that promotes digital wellness, this was the perfect opportunity for us to connect in a non-technology environment,” she said.

“This week at the ranch gave the brands and tastemakers who attended the time to explore our interest together in a beautiful and natural setting.”

Noted digital entrepreneur and keynote speaker Jeff Bullas agreed, noting the importance of connecting makers, creators and influencers. “The online world is one thing but the offline world is where the real magic happens,” he said. “Many relationships and ideas were started and nourished in one of the most stunning places on the planet." 

The Souler Symposium foregrounded the need for an ecommerce community that encourages meaningful in-person connections between brands and influencers. Rest assured, it is something which Souler will continue to encourage in the years to come.

Three tips to stay mentally healthy on social media

Social media has changed the world. Friends are easier to communicate, communities are easier to connect and updates are easier to share. Behind this progress, however, is a less social side to platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Researchers have found that using social media obsessively causes anxiety, depression, ADHD, impulsive disorder, problems with mental functioning, paranoia, and even loneliness. 

This is concerning - especially when one considers that the average person spends nearly two hours a day using social media, which amounts to 5 years and 4 months in a lifetime. So, with this in mind, let’s explore three ways users can maintain their mental health while using the platforms which have become so intrinsic to modern life.

Tip 1: Assess what you actually need from these platforms.

Users need to understand what they are curating for, what the purpose for each platform is, and why they are choosing to engage. Perhaps it is for inspiration, brand building, or just for family and friends - whatever the case may be, it is integral for the user to understand what value they are drawing from the platform. Without this intention, time-wasting is almost certain to develop.

Discern what you are using each platform for - and use them accordingly

Tip 2: Set boundaries and take breaks.

Sure, this is perhaps easier said than done, but users must be careful not to fall into the trap of social media overuse. Set a daily target and stick to it. 

This could be 10 minutes or 2 hours. The number itself does not matter - what does matter is knowing your limit. This is important because social media algorithms are established to make it so you do not know your limits. The content is curated specially for you, making overuse more likely. Therefore, setting boundaries and taking breaks from social media help to give power back to you - the user.

Tip 3: Keep up with regular feed housekeeping.

Users should not be afraid to delete, block, mute and unfollow other users who negatively impact their social media experience. Social media feeds are curated especially for each and every one of us - so, do not be afraid to let the algorithm know what you do and do not want to see. 

There are tools in the social media toolbox for a reason. Social media should be a place where you feel comfortable and where you can be social. Consciously consuming and curating your feeds will go a long way to ensuring healthy interaction between user and platform.

Obi Nwankwo speaks on his humble beginnings in Boston, to now walking international runways ..

Obi Nwankwo speaks on his humble beginnings in Boston, to now walking international runways ..

A Boston native of Nigerian descent, Obina Nwankwo (“Obi”) reflects on being given a name that means “Daddy’s heart.” Born in Hyde Park, Boston, he specifically remembers moving to the suburbs of Canton where he was one of the few African American students in his school. In high school he excelled in academics and sports, but as competition grew around him, he recalls others trying to put him down for his success. When accepted to Boston College, classmates told him that the reason he got in was because of his race, and that the school needed to meet a “quota,” rather than attributing this opportunity to his athletic and academic excellence.

Attending BC on an academic scholarship, Obi studied Finance, Management, and Leadership while running track and managing his own business “Titanic Entertainment.” It wasn’t until after graduating college that Obi began growing his social media following, when he decided he wanted to pursue a career in acting and modeling. With no formal training, now 18 months post graduation, Obi is close to being signed on both coasts by acting and modeling agencies, while managing a business and growing an impressive social media following.

Obi has ambitions of going abroad one day, with South Africa in mind as one of his desired destinations. Obi believes in the power of manifestation and in the law of attraction and strives to form valuable connections with people everywhere that he goes. He aims to understand his greatness more and more each day and to live out his purpose. When asked how he approaches a new opportunity with such confidence despite not having years of formal training, Obi shared:

“The first thing with me was I’m going to make this person like me, and they might just ignore that I’m fairly new to the game. If they can see that I am a hard worker and will work ten times harder, then I believe I’m going to get signed and really have the thought of no ‘plan B.’ I don’t go into an audition thinking that I’m not going to get the role. I think that was one of the biggest humps for me—really believing in it and manifesting it.”

With a fierce, yet humble confidence in himself, he truly faces each new opportunity with no plan B, recalling advice given to him by an acting coach: Be yourself, and trust that that is enough. We are so excited to see what comes next for Obi.

To check out some of the items in Obi’s Souler store, click here!

From Grocery Store to Runway Show!

From Grocery Store to Runway Show!

While some aspiring models were actively training and meeting with agencies from their early teens, Charlie Matthews had other priorities. In high school, he played Halo 2 and Halo 3 professionally, while remaining determined to pursue sports. It was in a most unassuming place that his career took a remarkable and exciting turn.

Nearly six years ago, walking out of the grocery store where he worked on Thanksgiving Day, Charlie remembers a man approaching him and asking him if he had ever tried modeling. After this man connected Charlie to a photographer, the photos were put out on Facebook and soon after, Charlie was discovered by agent Ricardo Guerro. Guerro brought Charlie to meet with DT Model Management where he was signed on the spot. Charlie’s whirlwind career launched with a 6 month tour of Asia, where Charlie was sent to gain some exposure to the modeling world and build his portfolio. When returning from Asia, he signed with IMG in New York, and since then has remained consistently sought after as a professional model.

We love that Charlie gains inspiration from seeing others inspired by his hard work and dedication to modeling. Charlie actively engages with fans and followers on Instagram, maintains a Youtube vlog where he answers questions from subscribers and aspiring models, and keeps his followers updated on his travel and work experiences. Charlie especially enjoys seeing others motivated by his health and fitness journey, and actively shares his goals and progress on his social channels. Charlie brings soul, humor, and a down-to-earth personality to everything he does, and has some incredible experiences and stories to share with the world!

One of his most inspiring moments was when he received the call from Guess to do a campaign with them. He was at a family reunion when he received the news, and recalls family members bursting into tears and celebrating with him.

In the future he aspires to work with luxury brands such as Versace, Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, and Moschino. In the years to come, he would also like to pursue cinematography and graphic design. Amidst a busy schedule, Charlie stays in touch with his “nerd side” by playing video games and collecting Pokemon cards. We are truly inspired by Charlie’s hard work, dedication, and style, and celebrate him as a valuable member of the Souler family!

To check out the items in Charlie’s Souler store, click here!