Amazingly, many of our daily choices are influenced by the many persons we follow. They are everyday persons that have gained the trust of their followers. They welcome us into their homes, share their family life journeys, and engage with us daily.
Did you know that we have an international influencer amongst us? Raynecia Simmons is most likely the top Influencer in the territory. Boasting a YouTube following of over 136 thousand, an Instagram following of over 86 thousand, 440 plus videos, and millions of views, it is safe to say that Raynecia’s reach is far and wide. Over the years, she has built her name and brand “RazorEmpress” into a household name in the natural hair care industry. BeYond BeauTi was excited to chat it up with this melanin beauty to learn more about the magic behind her success. The beauty of loving what she does and doing what she loves!
BB: How did it all start for you?
RE: It all started at a very young age when I was curious about how to grow long hair. At the time, I think we all weren’t too knowledgeable about black hair care. Some believed that black women couldn’t grow long hair unless they were mixed with a different race or that it was impossible. I’m usually not the person to believe what I’m told. I’ll believe what I research, especially if it’s a topic of interest. In my quest for knowledge, I was bombarded with images of people who did’t look like me, but that didn’t mean that the information wasn’t of some value. I then discovered the video tab on my web browser. The internet was still new at the time, and I was learning how to maneuver around that. Nevertheless, I stumbled across black women on YouTube sharing their natural hair journeys, how they took care of their hair, and what products worked best. This wasn’t a coincidence; I was missing two words in my search. I typed in my search bar, “How to grow long hair black women”.
BB: Was your entry into being an influencer planned, or did it just happened?
RE: I’ve been in the game for over a decade, and it sort of just happened. It all started off as a hobby, something I couldn’t wait to do in my downtime. It definitely was’t planned because, at the time, the career path did not even exist. It all became interesting when brands started reaching out for promotions for their products, and later on, compensation came into the picture.
BB: Why haircare?
RE: Haircare chose me, I would say. Even after my extensive daily research, visiting online forums, and watching countless YouTube videos, I didn’t start documenting my hair journey until years after. I soaked up all the information and applied it to my personal journey, and my hair was flourishing. People around me at the time were now asking me questions such as, “How did you grow your hair?”, “Are you mixed?” and “What do you use on your hair?”. I posted my first hair journey video on Facebook, and I received great feedback. I then went ahead and posted the video on YouTube, and here we are, 400 plus videos later with diverse content.
BB: Do you feel a sense of responsibility to your followers to be authentic and honest about the products you represent/recommend?
RE: Of course I do, but it isn’t only a feeling; it’s who I am in real life. I believe in being honest and being myself in every situation. It’s not more so a sense of responsibility for my audience but myself. Since that’s the case, portraying those characteristics towards my audience comes a bit easier for me.
BB: Share with our readers one experience that changed your life along this journey.
RE: This is tough to bring it down to just one experience because I’ve had many on this ever learning and ever-evolving journey. However, an experience that really changed my life and opened my eyes to the countless opportunities out there was when a brand contacted me to be one of their guest influencers for the World Natural Hair Show, which was a huge deal at the time. I was so nervous, and the imposter syndrome almost kicked in. I just couldn’t believe that little ole me from the Virgin Islands with such humble beginnings was invited to represent the brand and myself at such a huge event where thousands attended. It all hit me; my hard work over the years was paying off, and I was doing this for real.
BB: Share some products/partnerships
RE: So far, I’ve worked with Mielle Organics, Olaplex, Alikay Naturals, Africa’s Best, Eden Body Works, Carol’s Daughter, Blue Magic, and many more. I’ve been invited to be a guest influencer at The World Natural Hair Show, Curl Fest, and CKC Fest, just to name a few. I’ve also been featured in online articles by Essence, Cosmopolitan, and a few others. Hopefully, I get to tap into the Virgin Islands market soon to work with local brands.
BB: What regions are your followers supporting from?
RE: I have followers from all over the world. It’s so mind-blowing to me. The majority of my followers are from the United States and the United Kingdom. I also have followers from Brazil, France, Africa, and my Caribbean audience supports me as well. I’m surprised to see followers from Suriname, Switzerland, Italy, Netherlands, Saudi Arabia, Germany, and even Australia. The reach is mind-blowing, and the viewership is worldwide.
BB: With the popularity of social media influencers, what sets you apart from the other hair care influencers?
RE: Well, my audience usually reminds me of how much they like my personality and how genuine I come across. I would say my honesty and my relatability set me apart. Basically, I keep it real and share the good, bad, and the ups and downs while maintaining positive energy and progressing through life.
BB: What keeps you being the ‘it person’ for potential partners?
RE: My influence and the connection that I have with my audience is definitely a major factor. It took me years to build a community of supporters who trust me and the advice that I give. They are willing to try anything that I mention, especially if I rave about it. Another factor is the quality of work that I produce. I taught myself how to edit videos/pictures, and I’m constantly improving. Also, my personality and energy usually reel potential partners in, so I’ve been told.
BB: Top three advice for up-and-coming Virgin Islanders who aspire to become influencers.
RE: Be your true self; you have the potential to influence the world, not just people from the Virgin Islands. There is only one you, focus on that and try not to compare yourself to anyone else. BE YOU ALWAYS!
You have to be and remain consistent. Consistency is very important for growth and maintaining an audience who looks forward to seeing and hearing from you, both new and returning. KEEP IT UP!
Produce quality content, be valuable, never stop learning, and continue investing in what you do. QUALITY OVER QUANTITY!
BB: With the ubiquitous nature of social media, where do you see the influencer market in the coming years?
RE: The influencer market has been growing expeditiously, and I feel it will continue to do so in the coming years. A lot of new careers are being created, and some brands now have influencer budgets. Influencers are being compensated to promote hotels, restaurants, clothing, household products, hair products, and anything you can imagine. In some cases, influencers can be seen as the new ‘celebrities’ but more relatable. Once social media continues to exist and we remain in this digital world, influencers will be here to stay. It’s a good thing that we get to choose who and what we’re influenced by.
BB: What’s next for you?
RE: Let’s just say that there are a lot of things that I am planning to dabble in and I’m working on right now. Time will definitely tell, and I’m excited about the future. For now, I’m continuing to gain knowledge and working on being the best me in every aspect of my life. I hope my content continues to reflect that and inspire others to do the same.
Recently, the term “influencer” has been associated with Social Media marketing; however, there was the Oprah effect before social media. Products endorsed by Oprah become an overnight success. People worldwide trust her, and that trust has built a billion-dollar company.
Influencer Marketing Hub says, “Businesses are making $5.20 for every $1 spend on influencer marketing, and the increase in influencer marketing 2014-2019 mirrors the decrease in print advertising.” Working with an influencer is a great way to generate brand excitement and awareness, increase sales, engage new clients and expand client relationships. Connect with Raynecia Simmons to take your brand global. Email Razemgmt@gmail.com or email@example.com. Follow her journey on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Tik Tok @Razorempress.
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