brands, influencer marketing + representation

After enjoying a fairly social media free start to the year throughout most of January, I hopped on to Instagram stories on Monday to see concerns from a number of influencers who pointed out the lack of representation of minority women on the Instagram page of a certain brand, concerns which at the time, were going unheard.

Before I begin to dissect this, it’s important to note that I wont be naming any businesses in particular, as I believe this discussion is greater than any single brand.

A lack of representation of minorities is not new, nor is the fight to be represented. Minorities have been poorly represented in film, t.v. and across the board on all mainstream media, and today social media pages mirror this. This lack of representation in marketing often comes from the idea that minorities do not fit the wider narrative of brands. To put it simply, if we were to split people that engage with brands on Instagram into two groups, we would end up with the consumers and the creators (or influencers). Where most minorities are seen as consumers, many brands fail to recognise them as creators.

So, why do brands choose not to recognise a vast and growing population as creators?

As it stands, I believe many businesses think that they are doing enough by ticking off the small checklist of ‘inclusivity’ they have at hand and refuse to join in further discussions. And others? well, it seems they’ve dug out a comfortable loop hole; the loop hole being this sort of awkward in-between stage that we’ve reached where brands do partner with minority women and collaborate with them on their (the creators)  platforms, but fail to feature women that ‘deviate’ from the average white, slim and youthful woman.

Thus, it often becomes a matter of, – ‘we would love you to represent us to your followers, we would very much be open to accepting the financial gain that your following can provide us, HOWEVER we will not be representing you, or people who look like you on any of our major ‘front facing’ platforms in fear of ‘disrupting’ the consumers who are of a greater value to us because of their ‘whiteness’.

If you’ve reached this point of the article, you might have noticed the inverted commas placed around words like ‘deviate’ and ‘disrupt’, and ‘whiteness’. The reasoning behind this is, that essentially, the way I see it, a lack of representation boils down to a fear of three things; deviating from the old, disrupting the comfort levels of mainstream marketing, and being seen as too diverse to cater for white women.

I know that if you’re reading this as a white woman , the final point may be hard to believe. Because to you, there is enough space at the table for all of us, cis and transgendered, and whether the model/creator you see is a white black or brown woman does not matter to you, and it definitely does not offend you. However, supremacy is still very much alive, and social media is not immune to it, in fact, it thrives on pages where people have the freedom to express their views virtually without any ‘real’ consequences.

The retaliation in the comments section of this particular brand once they did feature a woman of another ethnicity, only proves my point further. I will not be focusing on the very obviously racist comments referring to the skin colour of the model as ‘ugly’, because the motives of such comments are, well… obvious. But the comments that really do bring my point home were the passive kind that I, as a young brown woman on the internet, come across on a regular basis.

These were the kind of comments that dismissed the real concerns presented by Instagram creators, and labelled them as aggressive, suggesting that ‘aggression’ would never bring social change. And that, well that in itself is far more dangerous than a slur/insult could ever be. Because, when the concerns of marginalised groups are labelled ‘aggressive’ and ‘forceful’ by a large number of white individuals, it does nothing but prompt businesses to view the voices of minorities as problematic.
It is this kind of passive retaliation that brandishes any positive change as a brand ‘giving in’ to the pressure of ‘angry’ minorities which pushes businesses to continue to under-represent minorities. Therefore resulting in a continued cycle of maladaptive traits, i.e. marketing that appeases to the ‘majority’.

This brings me to my final point, what about brands and business owners who DO want to be a part of greater discussions? Well my answer to that is, listen. There are many wonderful creatives who put their points across and continue the fight for more equal representation on channels such as Instagram, creatives like Rida (@beforeandagain_) who ask brands to reevaluate and question how inclusive they really are. Listen to the concerns of people who reach out to you.

Like many discussions of cultural diversity, race and gender today, it is usually a matter of unlearning the regressive habits, and dare I say it, ideologies that are continually manifesting themselves in increasingly culturally diverse spaces.

Today, where there is a lack of representation, their is also the voices of those who are asking you to represent them. When these concerns and questions are coming directly to you, there is little space for excuses.

If you read until the end, thank you!

Rimsha

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Papergang: Review

I received my second helping of the stationery subscription box (papergang), yesterday but I had to wait 24 hours until I could tear the box open. I’m sure most of you can understand the level of self-control I had to reach in order to wait.

Again, no – this blogpost is not sponsored by papergang, or anybody actually.

This is simply the Tuesday morning confessions of a stationery lover!

Papergang is (according to their Instagram page) a monthly subscription box by Ohh Deer, for paper lovers. I subscribed to their monthly box some time in August, before the August box was issued and what I will be reviewing today is the September box. Before even getting into the review, I must say what I love most about this subscription box is that it comes in a slim box that the post man can just slip through your post-box and the packaging is always extremely eye-catching, papergang post sure does brighten up my day.

The Contents:

wp-1474964387835.jpegscreenshot_2016-09-27-09-13-36-2.pngGiftwrap: animals in party hats. In other words, the coolest giftwrap you can find

screenshot_2016-09-27-09-13-36-5-1.pngPlanner: blue ombre weekly planner ‘my week’.

screenshot_2016-09-27-09-13-36-6.pngPrinted Calendar: for the month of October

screenshot_2016-09-27-09-13-36-4.pngGreeting Card: a card which reads ‘Its your birthday’ with cute birdies all over.

screenshot_2016-09-27-09-13-36-3.pngGreeting Card: which reads ‘Hedge Hugging’, I adore this as it gives you the option of giving this to a friend for any occasion.

screenshot_2016-09-27-09-13-36-1.pngSticky Notes Pad: it reads, ‘lets get this shit done’.

A little more about the hands behind the box. The accessories are designed and illustrated by independent UK artists with the funkiest designs I have seen on stationery, which I think gives the box a unique touch.

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‘artwork by Lizzy Doyle’

 

Despite claiming to love stationery, I have actually never bought a planner before because, well I guess I’d never found one which suited me. The planner in this month’s box is a whole other story.

Firstly the turquoise ombre cover is gorgeous but other than that, I was sold by the plastic cover around the planner – which has a zip at the back.

It is basically a planner with a built-in pencil case *inserts heart eyes emoji*. Of course I had to show you the stationery inception in action.

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The box also includes greeting cards that tie-in with the animal theme of the box.

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The review would be almost incomplete if I didn’t introduce you to Drew. When I received by first box last month – this was the first thing that popped out –

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Drew is an iron on patch, and leader of the papergang. If you’ve figured out anything about me by now, then you’ll know just how adorable I think this idea is. A cute iron-on patch to initiate membership for me, gives the entire connection a personal touch.

I thoroughly love all the items in this months box and I would definitely recommend you to subscribe to the box to. The contents card totals the contents of the box to just over £20, the box is sold for £9.95.

They do ship to most countries, if where you live is not on their list, you can also request for them to add it on.

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There you have it, my Tuesday blue’s.

See how I customised a plain old notebook using last months papergang packaging and washi tape here.

I hope you have a wonderful week ahead,

Rimsha

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To contact me regarding a collaboration or to simply get in touch, drop me an email at: rimsharasul8@gmail.com

The last 3 days of summer

Hey.

Hi. My intro’s are still as awkward as ever. Today’s post is just to update you on one minor (or major) change to my blog, that is; my site name. I have switched my blog to a self-hosted site which also means that you are now on ‘auburnrhyme.com’. Watching my blog grow the way that it has this summer has motivated me to decide to self-host a little earlier than I had anticipated.

A great big thank you to anyone out there who reads my posts and supports my writing. I appreciate your feedback.

Before you click exit, I have a question.

Since ‘school’ season is around the corner, I have a few post ideas in mind – such as,

  • what’s in my bag
  • my school/university study essentials
  • class routine

Let me know what you would like to see on my blog this September in the comments.

and I would love to hear any suggestions of your own. Though my blog is ran off of my random train of thoughts and what I feel I need to say, I would like to accommodate posts that my regular readers would like to read.

I don’t know about you, but my mind automatically categorises the end of August as the end of summer, even if the weather says otherwise. So I hope you enjoy your last three days of summer.

Rimsha

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To collaborate or inquire about my blog, drop me an email on: rimsharasul8@gmail.com

My Fray’d Notebook

Yesterday I received a notebook, which was sent to me by Fray Design Studios. Or should I say, I almost missed it! the rain was relentless as I tried to reach home in time for my sudden delivery which was due to arrive on the 23rd but made it here a day earlier. Oh heck, a prompt parcel delivery service…I’m not complaining.

Although this is the first time that I have reviewed a product on my blog, I would only ever review something sincerely. If it was any other way, I would just be wasting your time as well as mine.

Firstly, the customer service was perfect. I had a few queries about shipping etc., and lets just say – my questions can get a little bothersome. My inquiry was addressed in a polite and friendly manner which is always a plus.

The Notebook:

A5 ring binder – style.

There are two things I love most about the notebook

  • The sheets are lined in black and they do not have coloured margins – I personally do not like to write on a page that has pink or blue coloured lines. I prefer my pen ink to be the only colours on the page.
  • The cover art.

The cover is of a smooth PVC material and although it is flexible, it does not bend or crease. It is sturdy, which I can imagine would not get damaged at the bottom of your bag whilst travelling.

Oh, the cover art! The design/print of the notebook cover is inspired by Pakistani art, more specifically; truck art. The highlight of the cover is the word ‘desi’, which is printed in the centre in Urdu. The colours and art definitely do give off desi vibes. Overall, I am impressed by the quality of the product. It is a beautiful piece to keep around your desk and I would definitely recommend it (it would also prove to be a great gift idea).

The business and the products are based and made in Pakistan.



From a dream to a business

When customer-business interactions are solely based online, they are minimal and it can be hard to get a feel of the personality behind the products, which is why I had a few questions of my own to ask Faran; the founder of Fray Design Studio.

– Tell us about the inspiration behind your brand name.-

Faran: Fray is my nature

The ‘frayed’ edges of a fabric is relatable to textiles as well. That gave me my brand name.

– Where did your journey begin? –

Faran: I was fortunate enough to stand 4th in a competition held by Messe Frankfurt’s Karachi office. 

The guys that arrange Heimtextil, the largest textile expo in the world. I got a chance to visit the exhibition that year. That was a game changer.

We have been always prepared in uni to work for a company and rarely to work on our own, but after visiting the Fair…it was such an impactful journey that I started thinking about turning my studies into a business back when I was in my final year. After graduation I took a break, was jobless for a while and then started working for Alkaram textiles

It was quite a learning experience, but I wanted to do more.. and in the mean time, Crafter’s Expo started to show up in my fb feed.

I have been following a few brands namely Firefly and Ghazal Peerzada Creative Studio.. and I was sooo impressed and motivated by their work that I planned to quit my job and start to work on my brand to showcase at the Crafter’ expo. It boosted me and then I got an offer from a local Interior studio, Pith, to stock my products there.

– As a fairly recent start up, how do you stay motivated? –

Faran: I like to explore things, and I’m always curious to try something new.. sooo.. this is like my catharsis.

 

I love Pakistan.. I try to bring every element of pakistaniat I can into my designs.

It’s been 1.5 years and one hell of a ride, businesses is not easy and I’m very new to it, was a realization that hit me a few months into doing it. I have a full time job, I freelance and run my business alongside this. 

 

– What is Fray Designs moto? –


Faran: To spread happiness.

I love a few people’s vision: Elon Musk, Mir MAK and YouTubers such as Superwoman and Marie Forleo, and a photographer Brooke Shaden.. 

They sort of helped me by sharing their stories and struggles.. which made me believe more in myself. I might be quite an introvert, but their lectures and stories have helped me understand myself better, taking risk now seems fun.
I’m not afraid to fail.. I’m afraid not to try at all.

~

I would like to thank Faran for sharing his unique journey. I feel inspired by his efforts and the success he has achieved thus far, to check out his original range of products, you can shop at:

Fray Design – Facebook

Fray Design – Instagram
~

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To share your story/inquire about my blog, drop me an email on: rimsharasul8@gmail.com