There's no doubt that Instagram has solidified its position as everyone's favorite social media platform over the past year, and with good reason. The rate at which Instagram innovates and releases new interactive features for its users is unparalleled. The past two years alone we've been exposed to Instagram stories, Instagram Live, and just this summer, Instagram Shoppable media. All of this certainly benefits the everyday user, but if you're a business, adapting quickly and utilizing these features can help you build an incredible brand on the platform, and ultimately have a profound effect on the success and health of your business.
When it comes to Instagram, there's no “one size fits all" or “magic bullet" that results in success. Maintaining an authentic, interactive, and entertaining presence that showcases content that your target demographic will love, and be willing to share, is basically the path you want to take.
It sounds easy, but some brands do this better than others. So, below we've listed 5 female founded companies that have built an incredible brand on Instagram and outlined how they've done it.
1. The Sill
Founded in 2012 by Eliza Blank, The Sill is an online plant store that is a plant heaven for everyone that loves some greenery in their lives. The 6-year-old company has built one of the most authentic and engaged communities on Instagram over the past couple of years. The Sill now boasts more than 307,000 followers, gaining on average 770 followers per day according to Social Blade. You're probably wondering, how has an online plant store achieved such explosive growth? 3 words, “User-generated content".
The Sill has done what a lot of other great brands on Instagram have done, they've tapped into a fanatical community on the platform, and this community just happens to be a community of plant lovers. Eliza and the guys at the Sill have a slogan “Plants make people happy", and this is also their own branded hashtag. Thousands of people per week post pictures of their beloved plants under this hashtag. The Sill then picks the most beautiful images and reposts them on to their feed.
The takeaway? Consistently reposting your audiences content is one of the best ways to build an incredible brand and community on Instagram, and it's a win-win for everybody. The user gets their imagery exposed to a large audience, and the brand curates a beautiful feed. Even if you have a small audience on Instagram try building UGC into your strategy.
Founded by Jen Rubio and Steph Korey, Away make suitcases and a range of travel accessories for the everyday traveler. A huge element of Away's success is a result of how they've built an incredible brand on social the past couple of years, and in particular, on Instagram. So, how does one make suitcases sexy in a way that results in hundreds of thousands of followers online? Well, Jen, Steph, and the guys have done two things extremely well.
1. They've tapped into a category of content that we all know and love, travel. Away's content doesn't just consist of their physicals products, but instead, their imagery takes their community on a journey around the world, showcasing the most beautiful locations that their customers visit.
2. We spoke earlier about how successful brands on Instagram utilize every new feature that the platform affords them, and Away is certainly one of the best at adapting early to every little feature Instagram release. From stories to highlights to polls to shoppable media. Away's Instagram account is not only set up to generate sales, but it is also optimized to take its followers on an interactive journey every single day, which is incredible for engagement.
Our takeaway? When Instagram brings out a new feature, don't be afraid to try it out, it might just be the thing that sets you apart from your competitors.
Glossier is the beauty juggernaut founded by Emily Weiss back in 2010. Glossier came off the back of the success of Into the Gloss, a blog created by Weiss out of her New York City Apartment while interning at Vogue. Glossier has created one of the most successful brands on Instagram out of anyone in the beauty business. How have they done this? In a nutshell, their content is just oh so relatable. Below we've listed 3 things that make them a standout brand on Instagram
1. A relatable tone of voice. How does Glossier speak on Instagram? Quite simply, just like anyone who buys their products. Their casual, millennial oriented language speaks directly to their community. Whether it's a meme, a video, or the showcasing of a new product, you can be assured that the copy will be casual and authentic.
2. They showcase their community on their feed. When it comes to brands as big as Glossier, not many post their fans pics directly onto their main feed, but, glossier has garnered such a following, that their customers can't help but post before an after shots of their glistening, reinvigorated skin after they have used their products, and Glossier team is only happy to repost this on to their feed.
3. They have a very distinguishable aesthetic. When you're scrolling through your feed, you'll know a Glossier post when you see one. Their pastel palette is instantly recognizable and incredibly cohesive when looked at on their feed collectively. A pro tip for building a great brand on Instagram, create an aesthetic that is not only authentic but is cohesive, with so much content now vying for our attention on Instagram, having an instantly recognizable look will lend itself to people not “glossing" over your content in the main feed, but will have users subconsciously recognise your imagery, so they are much more likely to stop and engage.
Our takeaway? Take some time to establish an aesthetic that is unique to your brand. Whether it's a filter, a Lightroom preset, or a particular color scheme. Creating something that your audience can become more familiar with over time will pay dividends when it comes to increasing your engagement and growing your following.
Co-founded by Carly Strife, Barkbox is a monthly subscription box of toys, treats, and chews to thrill your dog. The guys at Barkbox have built one of the best brands over the years by primarily being a dominant force on Instagram. Now, you're probably thinking, well isn't it easier to be successful on Instagram when you've got a pool adorable dog content to play with? The answer is yes, but Barkbox has built a following of over 1.4 million by investing time in sourcing only the most comical canine content out there. From memes to viral videos, Barkbox differs greatly from the accounts that we mentioned above in that its primary purpose on Instagram is as a platform to entertain. Collectively, their feed isn't in the same league as Glossier or Away when it comes to being cohesively beautiful, but it's viral centric content will have you scrolling for hours, and will ensure that you come back for more.
Our biggest takeaway from this? If incorporating humor throughout your Instagram feed is viable, go for it, although it might not be directly tied to promoting your product or service. It will act as a brand building mechanism that will deepen your community on Instagram and enlarge your pool of potential customers.
5. Rent the Runway
Founded by Jennifer Hyman, Rent the Runway is also an online subscription-based service that allows women to rent clothing, instead of paying the hefty price that would be associated with purchasing the same item. Like a lot of fashion brands, Rent the Runway has turned to Instagram to foster their community of users online. To date, they have more than 236,000 followers on the platform and are picking up on average 330 more every day, according to Social Blade. So how have they managed to build such a rapid and interactive following? Well, similarly to The Sill, the guys at Rent the Runway have invested heavily in tapping into the lives of their customers on Instagram, and utilizing all the amazing user-generated content that their customers create for them.
Women travel all around the world in clothing that they have sourced from RTR, documenting their journeys along the way. From the streets of Soho to the rustic cobblestones of inner-city Paris, RTR clothing travels everywhere, and their Instagram is the location where they present all of it. In addition to beautiful clothing in breathtaking locations, Rent the Runway also taps into who their ideal customer is, and if you scroll through their feed, you will find images of Sarah Jessica Parker or Sofia Vergara, and in many ways, these women embody who the celebrity Rent the Runway customer is.
A takeaway from this? Find influential individuals who embody your philosophy, then showcase and champion them on Instagram. This will allow your customers to establish a much more tangible connection with your brand and what it represents.
Above are just a few female founded brands that are killing it on Instagram. If you know of more, head over to our Instagram and let us know there.
Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.
Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.
Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.
As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.
Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.
So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.
Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.
For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."