In honor of Black History Month we’ve teamed up with some of our amazing talent to talk about all things content creation, inspiration, career advice, favorite Black-owned businesses, and what being an influencer means to them.
We got to ask the amazing Alesia Carter about what she does to stay creative, where she looks for inspiration, and how being a Black-Latina creator has inspired her creative process. Let’s get into it!
Q: What is something you do before a creative brainstorm?
A: This will vary in different ways since I’m not just an influencer, I’m a small business owner. Before any creative brainstorm I first figure out my objective for the project as well as my goals and start to envision the result. That part typically comes to me easily. Regardless of what I’m working on, it’s important to stay organized! I can be very meticulous and love details so I’m always writing down tasks, ideas, important deadlines and I may use vision boards that help inspire me. I also believe writing things down helps to manifest what it is I want.
If it’s a product for my AUGUST & LEO SKIN brand, that involves many layers of different processes because it also means interacting with the lab I work with and so many other things! If it’s an influencer project, I take what the brand’s objectives are and work with that while incorporating the essence of who I am and my own unique style. Again, laying out goals and staying organized (I can’t stress that enough!). I’m fortunate to work with brands that align with me and things I love or believe in, so those partnerships are usually a seamless process.
Q: Where do you look for inspiration for your work?
A: I don’t like to follow the crowd so I look to myself. And I don’t have to look very far because my personal experiences are my inspiration for my business or writing projects (especially my poetry). I tend to have a dreamy mentality in that I’m always dreaming up something new to create so when it comes to actually creating, it’s not very difficult because I already had the idea in mind. As far as finding inspiration when it comes to taking photos and creating content – my inspiration is typically my everyday surroundings, what I’m doing in my personal life at the moment, what I’m enjoying, things I’m passionate about and of course, fashion that I’m loving.
Q: Do you have a creative ritual?
A: I don’t necessarily have a creative ritual (except when it comes to writing poetry, listening to classical music is a must for my creative process!). Generally, I think it’s important to remain open and flexible with what I’m creating to prevent creative blocks. I make it a point to not force myself to “think of” something creative because I feel it defeats the purpose of what creative work essentially is. I work best with creative energy that just flows. Sometimes my ideas come to me at the most unexpected times. I do what feels good, sit on it and if it still feels good after X amount of time, then I go with it.
Q: How do you separate the stress from everyday life and your creative process?
A: I’m still trying to find this balance actually. There are some things I can separate and some things I can’t. As a Black and Latina woman, it’s next to impossible to separate my identity in everyday life from my creative process. There is no escaping who I am. If anything, my everyday life inspires my creative process and motivates me to do what I love. If I’m ever feeling really stressed and overwhelmed, I allow myself to have a break or even do a digital detox because it helps me stay grounded. I’m hard on myself and start to feel guilty if I’m not feeling productive all the time, but I’m learning it’s okay to take a step back when needed. At the end of the day, I definitely don’t allow background noise to determine or affect my creative output. I do what I do for me and if other people can relate to it or learn something from it, then even better.
What is one way that you use your platform for good?
One way I use my platform for good is simply not being afraid to use my voice to speak up on social justice issues. We’re all connected and we’re all affected.
Are there any causes or movements that you are a part of?
Being Black and Latina, naturally I’m supportive of any movement that supports and uplifts BIPOC. Awareness surrounding mental health disabilities is also important to me. I haven’t been as vocal about that particular subject because it’s deeply personal and my advocacy has been in private. When the time is right for me, I do want to be more of a public advocate for mental health because I think more voices are needed now more than ever.
What is your stance on face filters and do you think they cause more harm than good?
I’m honestly not against face filters, they’re supposed to be an added fun feature and it’s not something I personally take too seriously. I think people are going to do what makes them feel good and helps them feel confident in their own skin.
What lasting “message” do you want your followers and people who come to your channels to be left with?
I value a private life so I’m not always connected to Instagram and don’t share my entire day on a daily basis, but I hope that what I do share is a teachable moment and that my content inspires others to simply stay true to themselves and know that it’s okay to not do what everyone else is doing!
What does being an influencer mean to you?
To me, being an influencer means making a difference and being real about what’s happening in life. I think the majority of our followers want to see us address issues in the world rather than only post another selfie or show off what PR gifts we received. It’s really easy to get caught up in the “lifestyle of an influencer”, but if the pandemic has shown us anything it’s that there are more important things in life. With the platforms and reach we have, I truly believe it’s vital to speak up because it can make a difference or even save a life. We can’t address everything but we can at least start with what’s most important to us.
How would you challenge other influencers to use their platforms for good?
I would tell other influencers to educate themselves on topics that are important to them, to learn from others, and to not be afraid to use their voice. I understand that’s easier said than done for most. And I know that what affects an influencer’s decision to address social issues is the fear of backlash and the fear that brands or agencies won’t want to work with them. If we have to change who we are or adjust our core moral values for others, that doesn’t seem fair. So I think that just requires some soul searching and asking oneself, “What do I stand for?”.
What is the biggest lesson you learned within your first year as an influencer?
The biggest lesson I learned was what does and doesn’t work for me as far as creating content. When I first started in 2014, everyone was obsessed with minimalism. At the time, I felt like I should be doing what everyone else was doing because visually it looked amazing but it wasn’t necessarily something I could sustain. I had become so picky and rigid with my content creation (for example, I would only ever take a photo against a white background) that it ended up limiting and restricting me. Once I started to be flexible and just create what I genuinely loved, then it became easier to be myself and naturally find the content I enjoyed creating.
What’s one thing you wish you could tell your past self?
Your time, energy and creative ideas are valuable. Also, don’t work for free.
How has the last year and current racial justice movement impacted your role as an influencer and what advice would you give a creator who is looking to start their career now?
This last year has been a whirlwind. There is definitely a responsibility that I feel I have to be vocal about tough subjects. I’ve always used my platform to speak on racial and social justice issues but I wasn’t as bold about it and only mildly touched on it here and there. Prior to the George Floyd protests, no one was really listening or as receptive to hearing about the experiences of BIPOC. It’s sad to say this but unfortunately the value placed on Black voices in the Fashion Influencer world was non-existent. Now that so much has been exposed with brands (and influencers), it’s great to see the shift towards change and genuine transparency. I now stand even more firmly in what I believe is the right thing to do and I do so unapologetically. The truth is simply what it is and I don’t feel that we should hide from that because ignoring the truth doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
My advice to upcoming creators is to simply stay true to yourself. You’ll hear people say find a niche or stick to one thing but I’m not sure if I really believe in that because I love to do so many different things! Just do what you love, why restrict yourself? You can literally be whatever you want and create the life you desire as long as you put in the work. There will be challenges but success doesn’t happen overnight so stick to what you believe is right for you. Also, be super resourceful!
Want more from Alesia Carter? Follow her on Instagram @alesiacarterxo