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Influencers and the Next Generation of Shoppable Content

Culture

We are living at a time when our voices are more critical than ever. You hear that everywhere, from everyone, and all the time. And you know what? It’s absolutely true.


Global warming has gone from a scary scenario in the far future to real, imminent reality. Religious persecution in the U.S. has gone from a 16th century injustice that's been conquered to a terrifying possibility 250 years later. Slavery has moved from a shameful part of American history to modern day law and order. Did you know that sex trade is rampant on the web? Double click on that term and you will find the dark web filled with underground child sex rings and human trafficking exploits. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally, with 68% of them trapped in forced labor; 26% of them are children, and 55% of them are women and girls. It also estimates that forced labor and human trafficking is a $150 billion industry worldwide. That’s close to the GDP of Portugal. Does this make you sick? Good, it should.

This is compounded by the fact that we are a consumer generation. As these scary stories unfold, we gobble them up. We have content coming out of our pores; we are inundated by every feed out there, news outlet, social platform, blogs, hell, this very article is an instance of it. We are a straight-up "gimme gimme" generation, and with new apps rolling out every day, we can have anything sliced up and served to us in any fashion we like the moment we see it. Groceries, designer labels, mindfulness, and mediation. Virtually everything is for sale, including things that should never be commoditized, such as human rights.

There is enough drama out there in the world today to make anyone want to crawl into a hole and hide. So what’s a generation to do? The answer: #Resist. There are future generations to protect and vulnerable people to defend. As Nelson Mandela said, “Our human compassion binds us the one to the other - not in pity or patronizingly, but as human beings who have learned how to turn our common suffering into hope for the future.”

Hope, fueled by action. That’s why we built Bridge2Act. The goal is to bridge the gap between sobering realities and small actions that people can take to make the world a better place. We hoped that the aggregate of these small deeds would build on each other to create something beautiful, inspiring, and impactful.

Through this process, we have been blown away by the impact of the individual contributor. With social invigoration enabling a generation of influencers to use their social star power to galvanize followers into action, we have witnessed the power these perfectly-curated personalities yield in providing a voice for the world’s most exposed.

We flipped the script, and focused on a generation of shoppable content that fights back. What if others used their channels as well to create content that promotes awareness and activism, simply and securely? It would be a masterpiece. Let’s point all our gimme-gimme tendencies to apps focused on furthering social good, progress, and equality. And yes, I am biased, since I co-founded a company that does just that, but there are others out there doing the same.

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn partnered with Show of Force and PBS to create A Path Appears, which is a favorite of mine. They “provide a unique and essential narrative about making a difference in the world — and a roadmap to becoming a conscientious global citizen… [it] examines the struggles women face in the United States and abroad, and the inspiring individuals working with them to create effective solutions.”

The influence of celebrities has always been known, through things like ad campaigns and spokesmodels. However, lesser-known is when celebrities use their app-based notoriety to create awareness and solicit activism. We witnessed that firsthand last year on Giving Tuesday when we launched #IDreamOfChallenge at Bridge2Act. Through millions of social impressions and numerous donations, this group of amazing humans cultivated tremendous impact for over 40 nonprofits in 24 hours. Take HBO’s Ballers and Marvel’s Inhumans beauty Serinda Swan. Serinda has hundreds of thousands of followers and fans across her various social channels and her activism has always been a hallmark of her Hollywood brand.

While some celebs leverage philanthropy to promote their personal brands, others are aligned to causes fundamentally at their core. Serinda is one of the latter and she is not alone. Ashley Judd, Blake Lively, Regina Hall, Eva Longoria and so many others have made activism part of their brand and it’s creating a significant opportunity for them to pay it forward in a way that strengthens their star appeal.

We are a generation that can move mountains. We start revolutions, topple governments (think: the Arab Spring), make and break stars, and promote equality from our phones. Why can’t we help the unfortunate while we are at it?

The essential questions become: will you be part of enacting and furthering the solutions when they present themselves? Will you take action when promoted and donate to incredible organizations doing work to create a better world for us all?

What will you do about it? This is your chance.

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Business

How I Turned my Fine Art Drawings into a Temporary Tattoo Empire

I have always been in love with all things art- I was obsessed with drawing and painting before I was even walking. In high school, I started a career selling art through various gallery art shows and on Etsy. I then went on to study fine arts at the University of Southern California, with an emphasis in painting, but took classes in ceramics, printmaking, cinema and architecture to get a really well-rounded education on all sorts of art.

During my senior year of college, my career path went through a huge transition; I started my own temporary tattoo brand, INKED by Dani, which is a brand of temporary tattoos based on my hand-drawn fine art designs.


The idea for the brand came one night after a themed party at college. My friends, knowing how much I loved drawing, asked me to cover them in hand-drawn doodles using eyeliner. The feedback from that night was overwhelming, everyone my friends saw that night was obsessed with the designs. In that moment, a lightbulb went off in my head... I could do some completely unique here and create chic temporary tattoos with an art-driven aesthetic, unlike anything else on the market. Other temporary tattoo brands were targeted to kids or lacked a sleek and millennial-driven look. It was a perfect pivot; I could utilize my fine arts training and tattoos as a new art medium to create a completely innovative brand.

Using the money I made from selling my artwork throughout high school and college, I funded the launch of INKED by Dani. I had always loved the look of dainty tattoos, but knew I could never commit to the real thing, and I knew my parents would kill me if I got a tattoo (I also knew that so many girls must have that same conflict). Starting INKED by Dani was a no-brainer.

I started off with a collection of about only 10 designs and sold them at sorority houses around USC. Our unique concept for on-trend and fashion-forward tattoos was spreading through word of mouth, and we quickly started growing an Instagram following. I was hustling all day from my room, cold calling retailers, sending blind samples and tons of emails, and trying to open up as many opportunities as I could.

Now, we're sold at over 10,000 retail locations (retailers include Target, Walmart, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and Hot Topic), and we've transformed temporary tattoos into a whole new form of wearable art.

My 4 best tips for starting your own business are:

  1. Just go with your gut! You'll never know what works until you try it. Go day by day and do everything in your power to work toward your goals. Be bold, but be sure to be thoughtful in your actions.
  2. Research your competitors and other successful brands in your category to determine how you can make your product stand out. Figure out where there is a need or hole in the market that your new offering or approach can fill.
  3. Don't spread yourself too thin. Delegate where possible, and stay focused each day on doing the best and most you can. Don't get too caught up in your end goal or the big picture to a point where it overwhelms or freezes you. You're already making a bold move to start something new, so try to prioritize what's important! I started off in the beginning hand packing every single tattoo pack that we sold and shipped. If I wanted to scale to align with the level of demand we were receiving, I needed to make the pivot to mass produce and relinquish the control of doing every step myself. I am a total perfectionist, so that was definitely hard! From that point on, overseeing production has been a huge part of my daily schedule, but by doing so I've been able to free up more time to focus on design, merchandising, and sales, allowing me to really focus on growing the business.
  4. Prioritize great product packaging and branding. It's so important to invest time in customer experience- how customers view and interact with your product. The packaging is just as important as the actual product inside! When we were starting off, we had high demand, and I definitely jumped the gun a bit on packaging so we could deliver product to the retailers when they wanted it. Since then, we've completely revamped the packaging into something upscale and unique that reflects what the brand is all about. Our product packaging is always called out as being one of our retailers' and customers' favorite part of our product!