Updated: Dec 21, 2022
The influencer space has taken the world by storm in the past years. We are now consuming content at levels previously unimaginable, and we're seeing essentially no end to this momentum soon. But what does it mean to become an influencer? And how do you even become one?
In this episode of The Pollen Podcast, Diana talks to Melanie Phillips, founder of Headstands and Heels. She talks about her journey from being a corporate career woman to becoming a full-time blogger and influencer. She also shares her multi-ethnic background that has shaped her personal and entrepreneurial outlook. Your passion project will remain one unless you make the big leap — this is what Melanie learned from her journey.
Listen to this episode to discover what it means to be a full-time influencer!
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Learn about Melanie’s multi-ethnic background and how it contributed to her unique outlook on life.
What the transition from a corporate career to an Influencer looks and feels like.
What it actually means to be an Influencer and how to do it full-time.
Get a SPECIAL DISCOUNT for Melanie’s Mindful Morning Planner!
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[05:33] Getting to Know Melanie
Melanie created her health and lifestyle blog, Headstands and Heels, in 2015 while she was working as a PR firm digital strategist.
The blog has evolved from showcasing the duality of her life as a corporate career woman with a passion for yoga to becoming an overarching healthy lifestyle brand.
She got her yoga teacher certification in 2017 and took blogging full-time in 2018.
She’s also been able to branch out to product development with her Mindful Morning Planner.
[06:43] Melanie: “I guess that's the beauty of being an entrepreneur, you wear a lot of different hats.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[08:00] Melanie’s Childhood and Multi-Ethnic Background
Melanie was born in Utah. With her dad being in the Air Force, she grew up all over from South Korea to Germany to Oklahoma until settling down in Florida.
Her mother is Korean while her dad is part Swedish and part Ecuadorian. They met in South Korea and eventually moved back together to the US.
In childhood, she shied away from her multi-ethnic background. But as an adult, she has come to embrace it as a beautiful aspect of her life.
Having to move often as a child forced her to learn valuable life skills, such as becoming a chameleon in whatever culture she was in.
She has always been creative and artistic, which has translated well into the work she does now.
[10:52] Melanie: “I feel so fulfilled in a creative atmosphere and working for myself because I'm able to constantly innovate and change and be inspired and then re-inspired to try new things every day.” - Click Here To Tweet This
[12:16] Embracing Different Cultural Backgrounds
More than showing outwardly, embracing her different cultural backgrounds has been more of an internal shift.
Melanie has been able to embrace exactly who she is in her heritage and wants to pass that mentality down.
She tries to share more brands owned by women of color in her blog.
Unlike before, she doesn’t shy away anymore when people ask about her ethnicity.
[14:22] The Bullet Points of Melanie’s Life
Melanie went to college originally to be a veterinarian. After two years of doing science-based prerequisites, she realized that veterinary school wasn't for her.
She was working retail jobs at the time when her manager said something about marketing. She dug into it and eventually graduated with a degree in marketing.
At 24, she had her whole life planned out. But another major life change hit her when she had to break off her engagement after finding out her fiance cheated on her.
She went to New York City the weekend she was supposed to get married, where she met her now husband of over a decade.
After a year, she moved up to New York City, where she started her corporate career and blog.
[16:48] Starting Headstands and Heels
Six months before moving to NYC, she created an Instagram for her yoga journey.
She knew little about bloggers and the influencer world at that point.
One of her colleagues in the PR firm who was a blogger found out about her Instagram account. She gave her the idea to turn it into an actual blog.
She thought it was a great way to connect with the community and document the duality of her life.
Her husband was the one who came up with the blog’s name. She started it in 2016 and hasn’t looked back since.
[19:50] Deciding to Blog Full-Time
At first, the only idea she had about monetization was through putting advertisements on the website.
The turning point where she realized blogging could be lucrative was her first paid opportunity with Athleta. It was followed by a big paid partnership with Propel Water.
Initially, she only thought of it as a great side hustle. But after weighing the potential of dedicating all her time and energy to it, she decided to make the big leap.
[22:59] Melanie: “You never want to look back on life and wonder, ‘What if?’ and I kept thinking that. I was like, I don't want to be in my 30s and look back and be like, ‘What would have happened if I had just taken this opportunity?’.” - Click Here To Tweet This
Three things aligned for her in deciding to blog full time: influencer marketing taking off, having a good nest egg saved up, being at a crossroads with her career.
One of the biggest hurdles she had to get over was what her family and friends would think. Thankfully, her parents were very supportive of her decision.
[28:39] The Misunderstood World of Influencer Marketing
Influencer marketing is one of the most misunderstood fields, especially in the creative field.
It is a predominantly female-run industry. If it was a male-dominated industry, people would be taking it a lot more seriously.
At the core, an influencer is someone who inspires and influences you to do something. Being an influencer comes down to your brand message.
Some people have shied away from the term because of the negative connotation that came from people taking advantage of it.
We have always been influenced by someone. Before, it was celebrities, but now, the everyday human being can have influence.
[33:14] Moving from the Big City to Denver
The fitness and wellness influencer marketing scene was thriving from 2017 to 2019.
It was a scary experience for Melanie to leave that scene in New York City to move to Denver. But it was a personal decision for both her and her husband.
Upon moving, she started a women’s fitness meetup group called Denver Fit Friends. It was her way of connecting with people in her community.
Earlier this year, her and her husband bought a house. It’s her first time owning a house after living in apartments her whole life.
[39:06] What’s Next for Headstands and Heels
Her next goal is to build out the Mindful Morning segment of her business. She already released the planner, but she wants to take it even further and explore different things.
With the help of her management, Melanie has partnered with nearly 40 well-known wellness and fitness brand leaders this year.
It’s the first year she has made multiple six figures. She never dreamed it would be possible in her career, especially as a micro-influencer.
She wouldn't change anything in her journey if she could. But she would tell her younger self that it’s okay to feel unsure and to lean on people for help and support.
Hear more about what to expect from the upgraded Mindful Morning Planner in the full episode!
[46:36] ⚡️ Rapid-Fire Questions with Melanie
Melanie’s sun sign is Cancer, while her moon sign is Gemini.
For Melanie, creativity is the power of expression — the ability to think outside the box and uniquely tell a story.
Her entrepreneur crush is Taylor Swift for many reasons. She finds her ability to constantly innovate and stay relevant for over a decade empowering.
Rolanda’s current read is Verity and Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover. Colleen Hoover’s rise in popularity is thanks to influencers.
If Melanie didn’t have to think about money, time, and resources, she would create her own yoga studio or wellness facility for women in need as one of her passion projects.
Melanie Phillips is a certified yoga instructor and the founder of the healthy lifestyle blog, Headstands and Heels. She is also the creator of the Denver-based women's meetup group, Denver Fit Friends. Melanie shares a joyful approach to wellness and encourages women to put priority on their health. She is an advocate of cultivating attainable habits, a mindful morning routine, and practicing a balanced approach to diet and exercise.
Enjoyed this Podcast on Becoming a Full-Time Influencer?
Do you have a passion project that you’ve been keeping on the side? Imagine how life would be if you started to dedicate your time and energy to only your passions. Sometimes, you have to make the big leap and start choosing what you want.
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Melanie Torres: Am I going to go all in with this corporate job like I planned? Or am I going to take this leap? I know that Headstands and Heels is making me money. No, it's not making as much money. But I was like, what would happen if I dedicated all of my time and energy into this?
Diana Davis: Welcome to Pollen, the podcast for creative entrepreneurs. I'm your host, Diana Davis, multi-passionate creative, business coach, Gemini, manifesting generator, macho drinker and travel junkie. I'm also the founder of Diana Davis Creative, where I went from a six figure photography business to coaching creative entrepreneurs like you. If you want to have a career and a life you love, you're in the right place.
On this show, I'll be coaching on all things creative entrepreneurship, and you'll hear stories from fellow creative entrepreneurs that will show you it is possible to do life the way you want to. They'll share the nitty gritty of their journeys, like the real shit, and how they are doing it differently. I'm stoked to have you along on this journey. Let's go. Hi, Pollen. It's so amazing to be back with a guest episode for you.
This has been one we've tried to get on the books for literally months probably since the podcast has started. My good friend, Mel, of Headstands and Heels, her story is incredible how she built her blog and her influencer platform from ground zero and just has been such a powerhouse and really flexible with the things that life has thrown her way and making kind of lemons into lemonade. I know you're going to be super inspired by this episode, give it a listen, give her a shout out.
If you've listened, tag both of us please. We love, we love seeing you share these episodes where you're listening, what your thoughts are. It means the world to know you're listening. So please take two seconds and just like share it on your Instagram stories and tag me DianaDavisCreative and MelHeadstandsandHeels. Everything will be in the show notes as well. I can't wait for you to tune into this episode and see what you think.
Announcements for Diana Davis Creative, we are launching ASCEND, the elevated entrepreneur mastermind at the moment. It starts the second week of January. We are over halfway full. This is for the entrepreneur who is already getting clients, already getting cash flow, but you're ready to expand. My analogy I always use, I love analogies, if you haven't gathered that yet is all of us are going on this venture together.
So picture like eight women who are just experts in their field, one is good at ice climbing. One is good at building bridges. One is good at building fires. One is good at cooking over the fire. One is good at you know reading the stars, I don't know, and we are all on this crazy adventure together. We can get so much further and have so much more fun and so many more resources, because we have all of these different minds in the room, right, or on the trail.
So ascend is just that, but in a virtual Zoom room. It is many minds and many experts in the room helping each other go to the top of the peak, the top of the mountain and expand your business. Maybe it's hiring a team. Maybe it's finally starting that podcast. Maybe it's working through some blocks, all of the above. This is time for expansion and ascension. So if you are interested in the ASCEND mastermind, please apply below or reach out to me in the DMS.
Without further ado, enjoy this episode with my friend Mel. Hello, Pollen. It has been a hot minute since we've had an amazing guest on here. I've been rocking the solo episodes basically through a lot of my my travels, especially Paris and Australia. Time zone is a whole thing. So we are coming at you with my good friend Mel. Melanie is her full name. I call her Mel. I hope that's cool. We’ll let the people call you with what you want to be called. But she is in Denver.
We actually met in New York City, through the wellness community, through some photography connections. We have a lot of mutual people. We're recording this on December 1 in Australia at 9:44am, and in Denver, it is November still, which is so crazy. So, Mel, it's so good to have you finally. I'm so excited to have you on. How's it going?
Melanie: Thank you so much for having me, Diana. It's so nice to see you and chat with you. Things are great, really excited, like kinda said before, just in the midst of Q4 action, so excited to end the year strong and so happy to be here with your community and chat with you.
Diana: Oh, such a good community too and you know so many of them. So let's just get down to brass tacks. We're gonna get into your story, but what do you do?
Melanie: Okay, so I feel like you already introed me. My name is Melanie, but some of you may know me as Headstands and Heels on Instagram. I created this health and lifestyle blog back in 2015 while I was working in a New York City PR firm, as a digital strategist for brands like Pantene and Olay, a lot of Procter and Gamble. In the beginning, it really showcased the duality of my life as this busy corporate career woman and someone who's passionate about yoga and beginning my own fitness and wellness journey.
Since then, Headstands and Heels has really evolved. It's become an overarching healthy lifestyle brand. I was able to get my yoga teacher certification in 2017, so I can teach yoga now. I took my blog full time in 2018, so now, I am a full time influencer, content creator, blogger. It's really just grown from there. By 2020, I was able to hire my marketing assistant, Kellyanne, and now, I'm represented by an influencer management company called Iconic Fox.
I've been able to branch out to product development with the creation of mindful morning planners. So basically, so many things, but I guess that's the beauty of being an entrepreneur. You wear a lot of different hats, and that is basically in a nutshell. Sorry, it was kind of lengthy, but that is what I do.
Diana: Yeah, I love the multiple hats and just the permission to be able to do that, because there's so much talk. You know I'm running camp clarity right now. There's so much talk on the internet of niching down. Like you have to have this one specific thing you talked about, and I just disagree. I think it's such an opportunity loss to just put yourself in a box and only allow yourself to do that one thing.
So I love that you've branched out in so many ways, but the umbrella is still your brand, and it's all very on brand and make sense. So stoked to dig more into that, stoked to dig into the transition of hiring team and agency work and what that looks like for you, and even moving cities and kind of rebuilding community there. But I want to ask, what was your childhood like? As far as, who was Melanie when she was a little girl?
What has transferred kind of that you can see reflected into your career now and give us just a little backstory of you and your family?
Melanie: Yeah, absolutely. Actually, I'm just so glad that you asked that, because sometimes I do feel like the story always starts in adulthood, and you miss this huge chunk of your life. I think hopefully being able to share this with you kind of gives you a better idea of who I am and why I am the way I am today. So kind of bringing it back, I was born in Utah actually. I tell people I'm from Florida, but that's only because I spent about 12 years in Florida from Middle School on.
But before that, my dad was in the military in the Air Force. I'm an Air Force brat, so I grew up all over. I lived in South Korea. I lived in Germany. I lived in Oklahoma, in Florida, Utah, like I said. When my dad retired, he was able to do that in Florida. He met my mother in Korea, so she was able to move over here. That's why it's really kind of this beautiful aspect of my life that I think in childhood, I shied away from, and as an adult, I've truly embraced being this multi-ethnic woman who has a background, half Korean, and also my dad is part Swedish and part Ecuadorian.
So I've really been able to embrace a lot of that, and it was a part of my childhood. My mom cooked a lot of Korean food. Unfortunately, I don't speak Korean, but I've heard her speak it. There's a lot of aspects of that culture that has kind of translated into my life, especially more as I've kind of embraced that as an adult. So who I was as a child, I've always been pretty extroverted.
I think having to move so often as a young person really forces you to learn valuable life skills that can be transferred later on. So for example, the ability to kind of start over and make new friends at the drop of a hat and having to kind of almost become a chameleon and learn a little bit more about the culture that you're in and the people who are around you and learn different perspectives and be open to that.
So I'm really thankful that I had that opportunity growing up, something that has made moving as an adult a lot easier for me as well. I've always been creative and artistic. I loved painting, coloring, drawing, all that kind of stuff, dabbled in playing the piano. I have always been the type of person that, I'll see something that I think is super cool either online or in a movie or and I'm like, wow, that just looks awesome.
I want to do that. So that doesn't mean I'm good at a lot of things. It mostly just means that I'm open to trying.
Diana: Yeah, beautiful.
Melanie: So yeah, that was who I was as a kid, and I think that it's so cool to see how the creativity elements, especially, have translated so well into what I do now and probably why I feel so fulfilled in a creative atmosphere and working for myself, because I'm able to constantly innovate and change and be inspired, and then re-inspired to try new things every day.
Diana: Yeah, so beautiful. I think as kids, we do have such a hard time embracing these things about us, whether it's literally me having freckles, to you being half Korean, and we have had a lot of guests on here from immigrant parents and things like that. It's so interesting how we come into adulthood. I think your 30s is really where it hits, and you're like, wow, how cool that I have these three huge, amazing different cultural backgrounds, and I want to embrace that. Obviously, I think a lot of the resistance to it as a kid is like other kids and bullying and society and all of this stuff.
Melanie: We just want to be like everyone else.
Diana: Yeah, sure. We just want to fit in. It's such that caveman mentality of you can't be left out of the pack. Your heartbreaks for your younger self, who wanted to be someone different. I'm curious how you're embracing those cultures. Are you embracing those cultures in your business now? How does that show up?
Melanie: Yeah, I don't think it probably shows as outwardly as I think it could. I think I've had moments where it does. Honestly, I think it's been more of an internal shift of kind of two point just being able to embrace exactly who I am in my heritage and just different elements of my childhood that I think I shied away from and now just like really feeling so good about it and feeling so happy that I have that and wanting to be able to pass that more on to my kids eventually, whenever that does happen.
I don't have kids now. I have dogs. But I think it's something that I think of, of being able to pass that mentality down. Also, I think when it does come to my blog, I've definitely shown up more trying to share brands that are owned by Asian women, or not necessarily just Asian women, people of color, and really making sure that that kind of is more of a priority, and not shying away when people do ask about my ethnicity.
I think that was something that I really didn't want to talk too much about before I just felt like oh, why even call it out. Now, I just feel a lot more comfortable about it. So like I said, it's probably not super outward, but I think it's more of just who I am at this point in my life.
Diana: Oh, that's such a beautiful reflection. I think in general entrepreneurship, I always say it's the most spiritual journey we can go on, in my opinion. Self trust is such a big piece of that and self acceptance, because the way you show up within yourself, I really think, is externally shown in your business. If you are not doing well as a person and you have a lot of stuff to work on, there's going to be resistance in your business as well, especially as a personal brand.
So let's dig into this. So give us the bullet points. You grew up everywhere. You're an Air Force brat. You ended up landing in Florida. You went to New York. Give us the little bullet points,
Melanie: The bullet points, okay, so ended up in Florida, went to college originally to be a veterinarian, because I love animals, went through two years of pre reqs all science based for veterinary school and then made the big life decision that veterinary school wasn't for me. I had to pivot. That was probably my first big moment where I was like, “What in the world am I going to do?”
I still remember this because I was working retail jobs at that time in college just to help pay the bills and put me through college and all of that. My manager said something about marketing, and I had never really considered it before, but I dug into it, decided to go to college for marketing, graduated with my degree. Then, I had a major other life change where basically when I was 24 years old, I had this whole idea of my life planned out at that point.
I was engaged to my college sweetheart. We were ready to get married. Then that summer, I found out that he had cheated on me, so I broke things off. I was left once again in a very similar situation of where is my life headed and what am I doing. The month that I was going to get married, it was actually the weekend that I was going to get married, I decided I couldn't be in Florida for that.
So I went up to New York City with one of my girlfriends, and that is where I met my now husband, who I've been with for over a decade.
Diana: I have chills. Literally, I have chills.
Melanie: Do you think about fate, serendipity, all of those things, and it was absolutely meant to be. So we dated long distance for a year, and then afterwards, I did move up to New York City. So I was there for a little over six years, and that's when I started at that PR firm that I kind of mentioned earlier doing digital strategy for a lot of those beauty brands.
That's when I also started headstands in heels, but just as a side hustle as many New Yorkers and many women can relate to. You have like the passion project on the side, and I never ever thought that it would go full time. I actually was pretty resistant to being a full time job.
Diana: Can I pause you there?
Diana: Where did you get this idea? Were you looking at other blogs? Were you on Instagram going like, this is what I want to do? Where were you just like, I'm going to start a blog?
Melanie: Yeah, it seems random, right, and I actually was kind of random. So a year before, well, I guess, six months before moving to New York City, I started an Instagram called Mel Yoga One. It was not a blog. It was definitely just one of those side Instagram accounts, because you wanted to post a certain thing that you didn't want all of your friends and family to see because you're a little embarrassed.
So that was like my yoga journey, and I literally just used it to follow Yogis. I actually knew nothing about bloggers, knew really very little about the influencer world. When I thought of like a blogger or an influencer, I would think of a celebrity at that point, not what you see today. But after I moved up to New York, I still had that account, and one of my colleagues, who was a blogger, found it.
I remember her coming in to a conference room where I had just finished a meeting and it was with the entire team. She was like, Mel, I had no idea you have this Instagram account, and it has asked quite a few followers. You should totally turn it into something. That's when I sat down with her, and I was like, well, what do you mean, I should turn it into something. She gave me the idea of turning it into an actual blog, and so I thought, well, I like writing.
I like being creative, and it could be a really cool way to connect with the community because I was new in New York City, and I didn't know people. I was like, this is a great way to kind of document this duality of my life. My husband, Bay, ended up coming up with the name Headstands and Heels. I started it in 2015. So, I guess a few months after that and really haven't looked back.
Diana: Yeah. So you started this blog. That's why I'm so obsessed with telling people stories, because so many people think we just have this idea one day, and it just happens. Then, it's successful, and like she has so many followers, and how am I ever gonna get there. It's like we want to know the real story, which is so intriguing of how all of this happens. It's just incredible, so thank you for sharing that so vulnerably, your whole story and how that got you.
It's about the bread crumbs, right? It's not about knowing the whole picture. It's about getting curious and going, okay, wow, my partner cheated on me. I'm going to process this and then, move forward instead of just sitting in it and being the victim of it. Look what those forward motion steps where it got you and saying with the blog, like I'm going to try this and I'm going to take this little breadcrumb that's being presented to me and just see how it goes.
Now, you literally built a full time thriving empire out of Headstands and Heels, which is incredible. So props to that and thank you for just sharing those steps. So you're starting your blog. Did you have any intention of monetizing it? When did that start becoming a thing? When was like the “quit your full time job”?
Melanie: Yes. So I had one very little clue of what monetization could look like for a blog. I thought it would be limited to at that point in time. Also, I totally got the year wrong. It's 2016, not 2015, when I started this, not 2015. Anyway, I really thought that maybe the only way I could monetize was by putting advertisements on my actual website. You've seen that on plenty of other blog sites.
I was very hesitant to do that, but I do remember there was kind of a turning point of when I realized that this could actually be lucrative. That was only a few months in when Athleta sent me a pair of leggings, and I will remember this to this day, because they were the first big brand, especially a big kind of leader in the wellness and fitness industry that noticed me and sent me this pair of leggings.
It was just gifted, and it was not paid. But I was like, wow, this is so cool. I went above and beyond taking photos with it, and I was just so excited and thrilled to have this opportunity to even be known by them. This eventually led to my first paid opportunity with Athleta, and that was when I was like, oh wait, you can actually make money from this. Fast forward just a few months after that, I landed my very first big paid partnership with Propel Water, and it was a three month long partnership where they sent me to LA for a big fitness conference.
I felt so, I guess, a lot of impostor syndrome with that, because I was so new. Yet I realized, once again, just being around all of these people who had been doing it and who are monetizing and talking about that, that this really is, to me, I was like, oh, this is a great side hustle. This is going to bring in extra income. It's going to be fantastic. Then in 2018, so flash forward two years later, I had at that point already been working very closely with a lot of different brands, taking on a lot of partnerships that were bringing in very considerable income.
I knew that I was at a crossroads with my career. At the PR firm, I was already kind of up for promotion. I knew that if I was to take that path, I would not have enough time in my life to spend on Headstands and Heels. So I really had to make that decision of am I going to go all in with this corporate job like I planned? Or am I going to take this leap? I know that Headstands and Heels is making me money.
No, it's not making as much money as my full time career was at the time. But I was like, what would happen if I dedicated all of my time and energy into this? It's not making that money right now, because I'm divided. It's a side project, and it's only going to remain a side project unless I make this big leap. That's not saying that everyone needs to take their blog full time in order for it to be successful. But I knew for me at that point, I needed to.
Melanie: I also just didn't want to cut, and I'm sure you can relate to this, too. You never want to look back on life and wonder what if, and I kept thinking that. I was like, I don't want to be in my 30s and look back and be like what would have happened if I had just taken this opportunity. At this point too, 2018, influencer marketing was really ramping up, and I was seeing that in the day to day of my corporate job because I was in charge of influencer strategy for Pantene.
So I was like, look at the money that these brands are now shifting like big PR budgets. I just remember the first one being like L'Oreal. It made the news, was shifting 90% of their PR budget to influencer marketing, and that was unheard of and basically like everyone else followed suit. So I think I just really hit that crossroads and the perfect time where I was like influencer marketing for micro influencers was taking off.
I was already making enough money on the side to know that it could at least get me by, and I had a good nest egg saved up. Then I was at that crossroads with my career. So three things that aligned in order for me to really make that decision, but it was not something that I took lightly. It was not something that came easy. It was a big, big struggle, and I was very worried about what my family would think about, what they would think about, what my friends would think. I think that was probably one of the biggest hurdles to get over.
Diana: Yeah, I was gonna ask as far as, because that's been a conversation with, like I said a few people, Winnie being one of them, who is a very mutual connection of ours. Being from immigrant families and her not even telling her parents she quit her job for like a long time, because they would just kind of freak out because all they want is that safety and success for their child and it to be different.
We didn't come over to America to make things fluffy and free flowing. You're supposed to be doing the educational thing and the smart thing and the money thing, right? I'm curious, your mom being from Korea and your dad being an Air Force military man like that's also not exactly free flowing. It's like the opposite reflowing. What did they say with what did you tell them? What was that ike?
Melanie: Yeah. So I will say I'm very blessed and fortunate to have very supportive parents, and so I never feared really telling them, and I told them pretty much right away. One as kind of a joke, my mom had always wished that I was going to be a doctor or lawyer. Since I didn't do either of those things, I figured this wouldn't disappoint her anymore. So at the end of the day, I think when I told my parents, there were some concerns that they talked through with me mostly just about stability, and like what am I going to do for health insurance?
What am I going to do for either do I have enough saved up for rent? Am I going to lean on at that time, my boyfriend too much of what's happening there? I think once I kind of addressed those concerns, they realized, like you're an adult. You have to make these decisions, and we support you.
Melanie: We know that at the end of the day too, the beauty of it is that I was already in marketing, right? By starting this blog and making it go full time, that's still in the marketing field, and so I always kind of leaned on that, too, whenever I had doubts of, well, you can always go back to a corporate job. You can always go back. If anything, this is another thing I could put on my resume of building my own company and trying out marketing in a different capacity. So they were thankfully very supportive. I guess that's the answer.
Diana: Yeah, I love that. I just think there is always an option to just go get a job. We don't have to be doing this. Do you know Marina Middleton? She just was on Camp Clarity as a guest coach just a minute ago. She was just at the end, like at the end of the day, we're choosing to do this. No one's making us be an entrepreneur. So let's at least have a little fun and not take it so damn seriously.
I think at the end of the day, you can go get another job. It's not for everyone, and that's okay, but you don't know, if you don't try. I don't think I've had so many chills on a podcast episode yet. I'm like, ooh, there's something here. But when you saying that, what would I think if I looked back and I didn't do the thing? That makes me just, especially on this nomadic journey is so hard some days and so lonely, but I'm just like, I know I will look back and be like, you did it.
You did it no matter what comes of it, so, uh, just so many good things. The other thing I want to ask is kind of the elephant in the room, maybe, is like the definition of an influencer and what do you think about that and how can you, maybe, sort of shine light on that term, and that career where some people are just like, oh, my God, we have influencers in the wild, the account, like making fun of influencers.
A lot of people don't think influencing is a real job along with a lot of other creative jobs that I coach on. So you kind of have a schpeel around that.
Melanie: I wish I had a prepared schpeel for it, but I can make one up on the spot. No, I think influencer marketing is one of the most misunderstood fields out there, especially in the creative field. I do want not to bring up feminism or anything like that, but I am going to bring that up. It is a predominantly female run industry. The majority of influencers that you see are women.
Therefore, I do feel like if it was a male dominated industry, people would be taking it a lot more seriously than what they do. All of that aside, I think the definition of an influencer at the very, very core is somebody who influences you to do something, to share something, to inspire you in some sort of way. So if you take it from that broad definition, you can be an influencer of many terrible things. So you could be an influencer of very fluffy things, things that don't matter.
But I think that's where it comes down to what are you actually influencing at your core. What is your brand message? What is your brand about? What do you hope that people feel when they come and look at your content? So I think some people have shied away from the term influencer, just because it has this kind of weird negative connotation to it because you see some people taking advantage of it in bad ways or just creating content that isn't great as far as ethically or morally, so it can be hard to be muddled and mixed in with that.
So some people have adopted the term content creator. People have mixed feelings about that as well. But at the end of the day, my job is to produce content on various platforms, whether it's my mindful morning newsletter that I send out on Sundays, whether it's TikTok, Instagram, Pinterest, my blog. My entire thing has been about making your well being a priority and something that hopefully sparks a little joy in your life.
So my entire brand has been around a positive approach to health and wellness. There's no restrictions. I don't ever go into hardcore dieting. One because I don't do that, and also, two, I'm not a nutritionist or a dietitian, so I don't ever want to speak on that. But also, I want to influence people to find little ways to practice self care, to prioritize their mental, physical and emotional health, and to also show that it can be attainable.
It can be done with little tiny habits that you create every day, versus, something that looks really daunting or some very big list of goals that you can't. So I think I'm a little bit going off tangent with that, at least of what my brand is about. But influencers in general, I think you have to think of it this way, we've always been influenced by someone, and before, it was really celebrities that had that platform, because things like Instagram didn't exist.
Now, the everyday human being can be influencing. I think if you're going on Instagram and you're seeing something cool, something that inspires you to maybe do a DIY project, or make a fun recipe or go to a workout, whatever it is, this is entertainment for you. It is also something that could be educational for you, and I think it's kind of beautiful that we have this inner look now at people's lives and can connect with people who are more grounded in reality than celebrities ever were.
Diana: Totally, and they're just getting truly paid to be on a billboard. They don't care.
Melanie: Yes, exactly. Versus now, it's like influencers, yes, get paid to work with brands. The good ones are very picky about who they work with, because they want to endorse the brands they're actually using, or they think their community will love. So really, it's about community building at the end of the day.
Melanie: Yeah, I think that's kind of my term of influencer.
Diana: I love it. Thank you for sharing that. I think it's really important. So you went full time. We're in New York. We're doing the wellness thing. It's obviously successful, because you are continuing Headstands and Heels. You're doing photo shoots. You're doing wellness events. You're really mapping out the wellness community in New York. Anything you want to say about that and also the move to Denver and getting married, and then developing this new community in Denver and what that was like.
Melanie: Yeah, I mean, the influencer marketing scene, especially in fitness, and wellness, especially I was just talking with a friend of mine about this actually, from 2017 to 2019, was absolutely incredible, and there were so many events. I remember at a time where I was going to seven to eight events a week, and these were hosted by big brands to show you new products, to show you new workouts, all the things.
I feel like I'm just so, so grateful that I was kind of at the epicenter of what the health and wellness industry is, and I had all these super cool opportunities to just meet a lot of thought leaders, a lot of really, really inspiring women who are also entrepreneurs in the fitness world, and really grow my brand and my community there. It was so scary to leave that because unlike a lot of people who I’ve talked to who have left a big city to come to Denver or somewhere else, most of the people I talked to had a bad experience.
So they're like, I didn't like it. It wasn't for me, and that's why I move. But I kind of had the opposite of thought, I love New York City, and those years there were the best years of my life. So when I decided to leave, that was more of a personal decision for both my husband and I, and also because I knew like the landscape in influencer marketing was changing anyway. Also I'm in my 30s now.
Things are different, so we wanted to embrace the new adventure. Similar to what I said before of I moved around so much already, and I really embrace that ability to kind of just start somewhere new with the idea of, hey, if we hate it, we can always go back, right? New York City's not going anywhere. So I moved to Denver last May, and since then, I started this women's fitness meetup group called Denver Fit Friends, because I wanted to really kind of bring a lot of those similar events that I experienced in New York City to Denver, but for everyday women.
I didn't want it to just be for influencers. I wanted to connect with people in my community and start to expand that as well and get to know people here in Denver and what they were interested in. So that has been so cool. I posted, I think, seven events since then, all at different fitness studios, and the connections that I've been able to make from that have just been truly inspiring and incredible.
I'm very, very thankful for that. Earlier this year, my husband and I bought a house, so this is my first house I have owned. I'm a homeowner now, which has been such a wild journey on its own, and we're coming up to about six months of being in here. That also has kind of been a transition as well from somebody who's always lived in apartments, and now having a yard and all the things that come with having a house but also being a little bit more removed from city life and adjusting.
So it's been, I guess, a couple of years of constant adjustments, but I really like that, and I think it's something that has also translated well with my business of just being able to speak to a whole new community and have a lot of new things to talk about.
Diana: Yeah, you are such a person who thrives, and I feel like you're not easily overwhelmed, and that might just be a reflection. That's not actually true. But even the way you move into your house and decorate and set up your gym right away and post about it and you're creating content, and maybe even the content is kind of driving that to where it's like a little bit. You're more apt to actually do the thing because like this could be good content, and it's a little motivational.
But I really love that about you, how you just like dig in, tackle it. I just picture the conversation with your parents when you told them you're quitting, like Mels got it. If anybody's got it, Mel has got it. You've got your shit together. You know what you're doing. You always have a plan, but you're also flexible. So I don't know if that's actually true internally or feels true, but that's how it looks from the outside.
Melanie: Well, thank you. I will say, I'll interject that. I definitely do get overwhelmed quite often. I am the type because I think I get so excited about multiple projects or things that are happening. I have notebooks full of ideas, and I just want to execute that sometimes I bite off more than I can chew. Then I end up at a point where I'm little burned out, or I'm just a little overwhelmed.
I'm a very emotional person at my core. So there's definitely a lot of things that you probably wouldn't see on my Instagram, but a lot of moments of just I wear my emotions on my sleeve. So if I'm feeling really frustrated, that comes out. So really, I think the person who sees the most of that is my husband and my dogs. They get to deal with a lot of the behind the scenes, but I'm glad to know that it comes off that I at least have my shit together, because I try. I try really hard but I am human.
Diana: Yeah, yes, and that's a little hint towards the astrology stuff for the listeners. So what is happening now in Headstands and Heels? We've evolved from this little tiny blog side hustle, Melyoga1 account to this empire. 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, how long have you been in business technically? Seven years? Six years?
Melanie: Six years.
Diana: Yeah. That's incredible. Cheers to that.
Melanie: Thank you.
Diana; What's on the horizon? What's going on?
Melanie: Yeah, I mean, it's one of those things with this industry. It's like I don't really know exactly what's on the horizon, but I'm formulating some plans. One is definitely that I really want to look towards my next goal of building out this mindful morning segment of my business. So I have this planner that I created with my assistant, and I'm actually sending out the first batch of orders next week, so it's really exciting.
But I want to take that a step further. So not going to make any promises on here, anything, but in my mind, I can see this turning into potentially an app, potentially retreats, just different aspects of taking things offline and bring in real life experiences. I've always enjoyed that, hence why I started Denver Fit Friends, but I feel like this is a place that I want to lean heavily into.
Melanie: So that's kind of my personal goal within the business as far as the money making aspect of it because the planner isn't going to be making that kind of money. I'm just very, very thankful that with this agency, I do feel like I've found the right fit with a manager and a management team who has really helped me to just know my worth and to really advocate for me with a lot of brands.
So this year, I've partnered with nearly 40 well-known brand leaders in the wellness and fitness industry, and it's definitely quality over quantity. So we have brands, like Dick's Sporting Goods and Free People Movement, Airy, Target, etc. It's really the first year where I've made multiple six figures, and that's something I never dreamed would be possible in this career, especially as a micro influencer.
So I do hope if you are out there listening and you are a micro influencer, or you're just starting out, it isn't always about how many followers you have. It isn't always about following the trends and doing whatever is super cool to be able to grow really fast. It's about nurturing your community. So I think I've just been able to see the benefits of that and of this slow growth over the past six years. So I'm excited to see what comes next year. I think it's going to be good things.
Diana: Yeah, so you heard it here first multiple six figures. Amazing. Incredible. So my last question, and then we'll do lightning round is knowing what you know,now, like typical CEO question, knowing what you know now, what would you tell your first few months or first year full time influencer, content creator, blogger self? Or what would you change if you would change anything?
Melanie: Hmm. Well, I don't think I would have changed anything necessarily, because I'm happy with the way things worked out, and I do think that working in any field is a string of constant failures, little failures, that are learning opportunities. So I don't necessarily want to go back and erase any of that, because they were valuable. But I think what I can tell myself, especially in those first few months, is that it's okay to feel unsure of where the direction is going.
You might never actually figure that out, so stop trying so hard right then. You need to lean heavily on friends, on finding your own sort of colleagues, because I was very, very lonely in those first few months, especially as an extroverted person who was thriving in an office environment to go into working by myself and for myself and having no one. I think that is something that I wish that I could go back and just be like, it's okay to feel these feelings, and also know that there are people out there to support you, and that you can ask them for that help.
Diana: Yeah, yeah, asking for help and just enjoying the journey. I've been on that wavelength like crazy. Can you stop focusing on the end outcome all the time, because we will never get there? The end outcome is like a moving target. We lose so much by being in the present, or being in the future, I mean, and not being in the present. It really is like this life, our career, our relationships, all of it is like it's about the journey, like that's what it's about.
I love that advice, so good. Your story is incredible. Please, please, please go follow her. She's got incredible content. It was such a blessing when you came to Denver, and I was living there because I was like, oh my gosh, she's gonna find all the cool spots. Now, I feel like I have my own back pocket influencer for Denver. So if you're in Denver especially, please meet up with Mel, have a matcha with Mel, go to her Denver Fit Friends events, but yeah, so many incredible things buy her planner.