I spent a day following an Instagram influencer around New York City - here's what it was like
- Influencers have turned into household names in recent years, and the industry is now worth up to an estimated $8 billion.
- However, people still struggle to understand what the non-traditional career consists of, so I followed an influencer around New York City for a day to offer people a better idea.
- In a day with style influencer Courtney Seamon - one of the two women behind Mimosas & Manhattan - I attended events for bedding and shoes, gained insight into how she makes a living, and learned what she does in her day-to-day life as a full-time influencer.
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When your entire career is based off of content on Instagram and social media, it's difficult for others to realize the full story that goes behind that one picture.
The wild world of influencers is still a relatively new industry that people struggle to understand, but that hasn't stopped it from growing into something worth an estimated $8 billion this year. While it's not a typical 9-to-5 job, being an influencer is more than just posting a photo and watching the money roll in, says Courtney Seamon, a full-time influencer who runs the blog Mimosas & Manhattan and its associated Instagram account alongside her cousin.
It's why I decided to shadow Seamon for a day in her life. Like many entrepreneurs, Seamon is in charge of communicating with brands, organizing event appearances, and managing her own expense reports. We attended brand events and networked with public relations representatives, and recorded Instagram Stories and walked around New York City.
Here's what it was like.
This is Courtney Seamon, a 26-year-old who runs the Instagram account CourtandKelly alongside her cousin. Although their following of 62,000 puts them solidly in the category of "microinfluencers," Seamon runs the account and their blog, called Mimosas & Manhattan, as a full-time job.
First up in Seamon's day is a breakfast at La Mercerie, a trendy restaurant in the just-as-trendy New York neighborhood of SoHo. The restaurant was flooded with light and is completely photo-ready, just like the influencers and magazine editors seated around us. In my normal work outfit of jeans and a t-shirt, I felt completely out of place.
We were seated at a long table filled with pastries, jams, and fruit, and were immediately offered a selection of espresso-based drinks and fresh juices. The breakfast selection was nothing short of a multi-course meal — something way different than the oatmeal Seamon said she usually eats for breakfast.
Bed Bath & Beyond was hosting the breakfast to show off its sleep products, and had brought in its chief brand officer for a nearly half-hour presentation. Each attendee was given a trendy sleep mask reading "Wake up happy," and given a form to fill out to get a full set of sheets and blankets to be sent to them in the mail.
When we got the main dish of our breakfast, it was, as expected, picture-perfect.
The rest of the event was spent mingling with other attendees, and guests were given the opportunity to ask questions about Bed Bath & Beyond's products. Seamon actually went around to each set-up to read up on the products, more than many of the other attendees.
After leaving the Bed Bath & Beyond event, we headed over to a nearby pop-up store for shoe designer Sarah Flint. Expectedly, the store was adorned in stylish patterns and flowers, an aesthetic meant to draw in passersby.
At the store, Seamon met up for a one-on-one consultation to try on some of the shoes, with the prior understanding she was getting a free pair of shoes out of the event.
Seamon snapped photos of her shoes and other activities throughout the day, which she usually saves to post to her Instagram Stories later in the day after having a chance to edit them.
We then took an Uber — free, thanks to a comped code from one of the morning events — over to Madison Square Park to meet up with her boyfriend, who she was having take pictures of her outfit during his lunch break. She had him meet us in front of a massive tree she had had her eye on for a while because its leaves are already changing colors for fall.
Like any good Instagram boyfriend, Kyle knew the angles at which to capture the pictures that Seamon likes to post. The two spent around 20 minutes discussing placement, snapping photos, and checking that they got a shot good enough for Seamon's Instagram.
We next headed over to Seamon's midtown Manhattan apartment, where she said she spends the majority of her time. Like anyone who runs their own business — Mimosas & Manhattan has been turned into a registered LLC — Seamon has to take care of her own email, expense reports, invoices, and business deals for sponsorships and partnerships.
Fashion makes up the majority of what Mimosas & Manhattan posts on their blog and Instagram, and that's evident by Seamon's apartment. Her bedroom has two closets filled with her clothing, while her boyfriend's items are banished to the hallway closet.
One of Seamon's biggest pet peeves is the mistaken assumption the breadwinner is her boyfriend, and that he's the reason they can afford her lifestyle and their nice apartment. Looking around her apartment, nearly half of the furniture was "gifted" thanks to Seamon's work: Allswell gave her the mattress and bedding; the couch was a result of a partnership; the rug and artwork were in exchange for blog and Instagram posts.
Before we left her apartment, Seamon laid out outfits for a video she was filming the next day for a blog post. Despite being so fashion-oriented, Seamon rarely buys clothes, and usually buys vintage and secondhand clothing when she does. She said she knows that her followers aren't spending thousands on clothes, and she wants her looks to resonate with them.
After Seamon changed into outfit No. 2, we then headed over to a trendy nail salon called Paintbox where Seamon was meeting two PR representatives who she had previously worked with on brand campaigns. We were immediately offered champagne flutes and lookbooks of intricate nail design options, with names like Post Malone and Tonya Harding.
Talking over manicures was not a traditional meeting setup for me, and Seamon said it's not normal for her either — she'll usually meet over drinks or lunch with brand representatives. Over the course of the nail appointment, Seamon and the PR reps chatted mostly about their personal lives, as well as upcoming ad campaigns Seamon would fit well into.
Seamon and the two PR reps each got gel manicures, which go for $60 to $75 at Paintbox. Fittingly, the manicurist asked to take a picture of Seamon's nails for the Painbox Instagram.
We then headed over to the nearby Crosby Hotel, where beauty and fashion brand Jill Stuart was holding an event for influencers. The event space was, as expected, beautiful and colorful, with a stocked open bar, hors d'oeuvre brought around on silver platters, and stylists offering free makeovers (Seamon declined and said it would be wasted on her because she was just heading home).
We stuck around the event long enough to grab a drink and few bites to eat, as well as some videos and pictures of the makeup that Seamon planned to post later on her Instagram Story. Seamon said that this is the type of event she would usually skip, since there was no event with company reps or little benefit to her brand.
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