Instagram: Why I Gave Up Being a Brand Rep

by - January 30, 2018



I have always loved photography. When I was 14 I asked my Mum for a bright pink digital camera that I carried with me everywhere I went, from School to the Toilet I had that trusty camera with me thinking I was going to be a photography big shot. Convincing my friends of my Artistic flare I would position them in front of a puddle trying to get a revolutionary photo of their reflections or would snap our shadows as we walked home from school. Just call me Ansel Adams. 

When Instagram came around I think my friends and family were thankful that I was no longer uploading album after album on Facebook detailing every single day of my life (Yes, I was one of those) and When I fell pregnant and discovered an entire community of likeminded Mums that dressed their babies Traditionally just like I wanted to well that was it, I was hooked!

These bad influences did nothing but fuel my unhealthy shopping addiction, introducing me to shopping small and beautiful handmade clothing. A whole new way for me to waste money! They were drug pushers and my drug was super adorable Pom Pom Socks and Peter Rabbit Rompers.


BUT I was now funding hard working Mummies instead of major corporations and brands,  Hoorah! How Hipster is that!

When Bowie was a few months old (and had an outfit for every hour of every day) I stumbled across 'Brand Repping' which all the Hip and Cool mums were doing. Brand Repping is advertised as this amazing deal, getting huge discounts and freebies in return for taking pics of your babies in their clothing. Who could say no to that?

What it can be sometimes though is something very different. 



I guess you could say I got well and truly sucked into this not so glamorous world of repping. At first I was applying to one or two and getting rejected, the shops repeatedly asked for 'Clean' 'Clear' 'Uncluttered' (whatever that means?). They swore it wasn't about Cameras and Editing, they swore it wasn't about Followers, they swore it wasn't about how influential you were. Bitch...they lied. 

Despite being loyal to these shops though, buying again and again from them, sharing multiple photos, Bowie wasn't picked. Then I got a Canon camera, I had wanted one for ages and longed to take photos of Bowie that didn't look like they were taken in the 1960's by someone on a trampoline.

I began uploading photos of Bowie with my new camera, my photos were now amazing quality and my followers quickly rose from 800 to over 1k, shock horror Bowie was then getting elected as Brand Rep left right and centre, suddenly my new Canon photos and 1k followers had landed us brand rep roles for 10 different shops at once. We had officially made it in the Instagram hall of fame, what convenient timing. 



But it wasn't that simple. For some shops we were merely enthusiasts, not snazzy or influential enough to be full reps. We didn't get any freebies and our discount was pretty much 10% for every shop, 15% if we were lucky and most of the time all that covered was the £3.95 postage fee. But small business need to make a profit, handouts and discounts were just a bonus, no matter how small we were grateful, it was the pure lack of support and recognition that got me thinking o h  h e l l  n o h u n.

When I was brand repping for these shops I felt obliged to ONLY shop at these places, they had seen something in my Son, my photography, my editing. They had believed in my Instagram and my skill to represent them. They were Dr Dre and I was Eminem. 


I could see the most perfect outfit that I loved and not buy it because I wouldn't feel loyal, I'd feel like a cheating girlfriend sniffing around another man. I turned my backs on shops I had once shopped in all the time because I wasn't their rep, they were my ex boyfriend, I was their ex girlfriend, I had a new man now (or 10). So instead I would spend my money solely on the shops I represented. 

As well as that I would share their every move, I would get messages from them day in, day out, 'Can you share this' 'Can you post this on your page'. I heard from them more than I heard from my own family. I posted everything they wanted me to, shared everything they asked. I was completely free advertising for them, encouraging my followers and friends to follow them and buy their products. 

But that was my role, I was supporting them, but as time went on it was obvious how one sided it was. One shop in particular I spent hundreds with, would buy three, four, five, maybe even more outfits every time they opened their shop. But they didn't repost one photo that I took, not even one. One measly photo they could have just reposted to their Instagram, but no yet wasn't that the deal? wasn't the entire point that I would provide fab photos for advertisment, which I did? So why weren't they being used (too cluttered obvs)

My own Instagram was full of their logo, you couldn't go three photos without seeing their bloody great big logo, I shared everything they posted and they didn't share one photo of mine. 




I wonder if they think taking these photos is an easy job? I wonder if they think Bowie gets up in the morning and says 'Morning Mother, fancy a quick photo shoot before Breakfast aye?'. 

I wonder if they think I whip up a couple of great photos of Bowie in their outfits in 5 minutes and get on with my day.

For a start, one does not simply dress a baby or a toddler. Dressing a baby involves six different vests because every time you've done the final, fiddly ass button and have taken your first breath for ten minutes they poo through. Hot, steaming, yellow poo all down the vest. 

Tears follow, screaming, rolling over, trying to climb off the nappy changing unit, kicking off the trousers 500 times, taking their leg or arm straight out of whatever item of clothing you're trying desperately to put on them. Throwing the pile of folded clothes off the table, taking off the shoe for the 6oth time.

You're working up a sweat, its dripping from your head and you're holding back the tears. You stand them up after 1 hour and 15 minutes of battling to dress them, and then, they vomit, all down themselves, chunky, cottage cheese type vomit, soaking through every layer of the outfit. 

And it doesn't end there. 


I took my photos of Bowie outside, I captured REAL moments, REAL views, REAL landscapes and sunsets and beautiful scenes. But they were ignored, never reposted, never commented on and hardly ever even liked or acknowledged. Not so much as a thank you. 

It wasn't just dressing Bowie, it was picking a day when Aidan was at home, it was giving up our precious time as a family to take photos for these shops that couldn't care less. It was walking Bowie to a location, camera in hand, ending up in a running induced asthma attack after following him at his lightning speed trying to get a shot. It was putting up with crying and tantrums because he didn't want to pose, bribing him with snacks, getting frustrated looking at the thousands of photos I had taken thinking they weren't good enough, thinking that I owed these people something because they chose me to be a brand rep. It would have literally been easier to take out my own kidney and walk 5000 miles to deliver it personally than to take a photo that they approved of and would share. 

Rain, Sun, Snow we were out there at the Beach, Park, Farm, you name it, we were there taking photos. I would research good locations, even travel to several in one day with one outfit. 


When we finally got home, exhausted from trying relentlessly to get that picture perfect moment that best displayed and advertised a poxy baby romper our journey to that Instagram post was far from over. 

I would load 500+ photos from my camera to my phone, go through every single one, eliminating them one by one before promoting my favorites to the editing suite. I would sit and edit, play with contrasts and brightness, colors and crops. This process could literally take over an hour even after hours of being out shooting the photos in the first place. 

600-800 photos whittled down to 1-5, edited to perfection. I would upload them, tag the shop, write about how amazing and talented they were and how perfect their clothes were. Bum lick Bum lick, my head was so far up their backsides I was completely ignoring the fact that sometimes the outfits themselves were nowhere near the quality they should have been for the price paid. 

I literally had a £30 romper rip in half (not even at the seams) after five minutes of wear, a pair of shorts had the wonkiest sewing I had ever seen and were small enough for a newborn (we nicknamed them the willy wonka shorts). But I was suffering from major Stockholm syndrome, they had chosen ME to be a brand rep after all, I was the chosen one. 



After uploading the photos I was so proud of and longed for them to love I would wait, like a lost puppy waiting for their master. But no likes, no comments, no re posts (not even on their story). I would then write a blog post, upload even more photos of their outfits, write amazing things about them and attach links to their websites and Instagram pages. I would DM them to let them know I'd raved about them on my blog, I'd add it to my story, post it on my Instagram. I wouldn't even get as much as a reply.

Tumbleweed. 

Was I invisible? was I in the matrix? did I even exist? was I a ghost? was Bowie even real? was he a doll? had I fabricated my whole life in my imagination? did Instagram even exist? what was the meaning of life? 

The sad truth is though I would feel genuinely hurt and upset that my, to me. beautiful photos of my beautiful son was being completely overlooked and ignored. I felt bad that I had got frustrated with him for not brining his inner Kendall Jenner to our 'photoshoot', why did he not pose like Brooklyn Beckham for Burberry? (errr maybe because he's 10 months old, duh) I felt bad that I had shouted at my fiancé over his big clown foot ruining a shot (he can't help that his feet are size 11 and besides, he was only stepping in to stop Bowie falling off the bridge into the picturesque lake) I felt bad that I had wasted his only day off that week taking brand rep photos for my Instagram page instead of doing something worthwhile.

Then my mind would start getting silly, I would start thinking irrationally. Why didn't they like my photos? why didn't they repost my photos but they reposted hers? do they hate me? oh my god they hate me. why do they hate me? does everyone hate me? I bet everyone on Instagram hates me. I bet the entirety of Instagram has a group chat called WE HATE MARISA AND HER PHOTOS. Do my friends hate me too? does my family? is that why my Mum didn't text me back yesterday? 

Sometimes I would even delete the photos of my precious baby and memories, convinced everyone thought they were awful and were laughing at them behind my back. 'ah well, she tried' 


 I must have deleted my entire Instagram 3 or 4 times, desperate to 'rebrand' and have 'clean' 'clear' 'uncluttered' (WHAT DOES THAT MEAN) profiles like the brand reps that are constantly re posted. Try to fit in and be like them and have the perfect profile like a teenager at school. 

But I look back at my photos now and think, they are perfect, theres nothing wrong with them, in fact they're far better than boring photos of picture perfect flat lays or a child standing in front of a white wall. I look at certain Instagram shop accounts and think, how many white walls and white backgrounds can I physically look at before my eyes turn to mush and fall straight out of my sockets and I forever am blinded by white light for the rest of eternity. 

I regret archiving all my photos of our adventures and being sucked into the white wall club. I regret wasting hours and hours of my Son's first year trying to get the approval of Instagram shops that never reposted my photos. I regret taking it all to heart and feeling down about the photos I worked so hard to achieve. 


And so it is with a heavy heart (not every shop we represented treated us like this) that we hang up our utterly exhausted and falling apart (like half of the outfits I received) brand repping boots and continue to support only the shops that support us back, Maybe we will rep in the future, if the shop is right, but the first glimpse of a white wall, a DIY bed sheet backdrop or a basic bitch flay lay and I'M OUT. 










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1 comments

  1. Really enjoyed this, a very honest review of life as a brand rep and everything that comes with it . Thank you for sharing xxx

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