The Covid-19 lockdown has caused an increase in people thinking of new ways to get creative and not only entertain themselves, but also generate a little extra cash on the side. The possibilities are endless with all the options available to us on social media, especially with the rise of TikTok , which has seen people creating new dances with isolation buddies, comical sketches as well as some great advertising campaigns, with many aiming to obtain a large group of followers and become an Influencer.
The term ‘influencer’ is described as a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by promoting or recommending the items on social media. Increasingly, many who make it big can rely on this as a livelihood, doing what they love best.
I had a chat with some of Gibraltar’s most popular influencers to find out just how they do it.
Hayley Xerri – CEO of Miss Muck @miss.muck on IG
Hayley’s main presence is on Instagram, which was the tool that first helped promote her swimwear business which she set up back in 2017. Over the last three years she has focused on getting her line off the ground, by using social media to get her brand out there. Naturally entrepreneurial, Hayley already had a keen interest in fashion, and set about researching how she could turn her hobby into an income generator. She sought a supplier from which she could obtain her swimwear, and after much research finally came across a reputable source in China, with a great sense of style and exactly what she was looking for. Now all that was left to decide upon was her brand name, which she admits took a while to come to her.
She wanted something catchy, and upon tidying up one day, she was reminded of her mum’s pet name for her as a child ‘Lady Muck’. Playing around with this, she came up with the distinctive ‘Miss Muck’, a great use of alliteration and unique on search engines, making it very easy for customers to find when looking online to place an order. Once she had set up her own website and decided upon her business model of drop shipping (where the supplier ships the product directly to the customer) she focused on getting her brand out there, the most time-consuming part, which she feels can make or break a business.
At the start, Hayley took it all on, not only limiting herself to bikinis, but all things holiday related, such as sunglasses, bags, towels, putting herself in touch with different suppliers. Over time, she came to see that it was the swimwear that caught people’s attention the most, so focused her attention here. Each year brings about a different line to add, to ensure that what she is selling is what is in fashion to keep herself current. This year she has incorporated the one-piece to her collection.
Hayley set about following women on social media who she believed would like her brand, reaching out to celebrities including Katie Price, who followed her back in just the first year. This was a very time-consuming exercise with little rewards initially, with few people following back. She stayed determined, however, sending her swimwear to several big lifestyle influencers, who modelled her swimwear for a fee. All this contributed, and over time she saw her brand grow to where it is now at almost 5,000 followers. According to Hayley, followers go up and down depending on the time of the year, noticing that interest peaks in the summer months.
Going forward she hopes to design her very own bikini but admits its all a learning curve. After her second year she had raised enough profit from sales to make her own bag and began liaising with her suppliers on the final design. She was disappointed with the end result, which was not the quality she had hoped for and decided to abandon the project. Although there are ups and down for everyone looking to start their own business, she has some very inspiring advice for entrepreneurs; ‘Failure isn’t something to be afraid of, as it is how you become better in the long run’. Well the risk has paid off for Hayley, who is now the proud owner of a growing business thanks to Instagram and her sheer determination. The best thing for Hayley? Knowing that the majority of her followers are genuinely in love with her brand, who come back summer after summer looking for their favourite swimwear.
Visit Miss Muck at www.missmuck.com
Dheeraj Punjabi – Sales Director of La Parilla On The Go and Marketing Director of Nom Noms Gibraltar @i_am_dhee_ on IG
Shortly celebrating the 10 year anniversary of La Parilla on the Go, Dheeraj has mastered the art of Indofusion, a mix between Indian and Chinese wholesome, fresh food for his clients that keep them coming back for more, not just because of the tasty culinary experience that is guaranteed each time, but also the 10/10 customer service that accompanies it. Dheeraj prides himself in his face to face interaction with the client. This, along with word of mouth are some of the most crucial ingredients to running a business, especially in such a close-knit community. Having a great team is another necessity. His chefs were originally working with the Taj Group of hotels in India, bringing with them a wealth of Indofusion knowledge and experience, making everything from scratch using natural ingredients, creating their own coconut thickening paste to create amazing flavour.
Over the last year Dheeraj has been focusing on his new business venture, a delivery service in Gibraltar, creating some healthy competition for Hungry Monkey and Rock Hero. He offers free adverts for all restaurants that use his service, which he reckons sets his business apart from his rivals.
Having always been into sports, Dheeraj has turned fitness into another one of his passions. Focusing on bodybuilding over the last few years, he has found that this has seen his own personal Instagram account gain interest, currently being followed by 15,000 people. According to Dheeraj, it’s all about getting out there and making connections to get yourself recognised. Prior to Covid he was training regularly in Spain, where he met champion Spanish bodybuilder and mentor Victor Crespo, who is now a good friend and regular training buddy. Working with like-minded individuals led to him being approached and sponsored by several brands, including Dynamix Nutrucion, a Spanish nutrition brand, that produces protein powders for those focused on improving their physique, especially bodybuilders. A recent trip to Boston also resulted in him being scouted by Hammermade, a limited-edition mens’ shirts brand.
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Developing a strong self-confidence requires a person to do the things they fear, and… build a record of successful experiences . Don’t be average! Make goals and dreams. Push through the darkness and take the action required to reveal the light inside of you! #letsgo . . . . . . . .
In terms of getting himself noticed on Instagram and being one of Gibraltar’s Influencers elite, he emphasises the importance of using hashtags to be recognised by like-minded individuals. His favourite tagline is ‘letsgo’, which is popular with Instagram’s go-getters, and one that those looking for brand ambassadors would be scouring through on a daily basis. To promote his business, he uses hashtags such as ‘good food’, ‘fooddelivery’ and ‘wholesome’, making it easy for those hungry Gibraltarians looking for a tasty dinner who fancy having a relaxed evening at home.
Just when you start to wonder how the man finds time to sleep, he shares what he has in the pipeline; to set up his very own burger bar and to continue providing delicious grub to Gibraltar. Sleep is overrated anyway…
Check out daily deals @la_parilla_onthego on IG or download the NomNoms app on the App Store.
Kevin Gonzalez – Entertainer @Rollex225 on IG
Being a highly creative creature, Kevin has a knack for entertaining people. Known to his fan base as Rollex, he puts his increasing fanbase down to comical videos that are targeting the younger generation, with his young daughter working alongside him in many of his clips. He is modest about how far his videos are travelling, but it’s a pretty big deal when friends of friends from Brazil are raving about Rollex from Gibraltar. It’s no surprise therefore that he has been approached by several companies to collaborate and create videos for, who are looking to increase their presence on TikTok. The biggest perks that come with the territory are receiving new samples of new products, not knowing whether it could be the next best thing, and the opportunity of being the face behind it.
Having grown his followers to up almost 100k in only a matter of months, Rollex explained that it’s all down the algorithms on the app, so the more your video is watched, the bigger your audience, as your video will be recognised as popular and will feature more heavily. He also advised that some musicians work behind the scenes with apps to help give their songs a little push, and sometimes these can turn viral as we have seen on TikTok. The song Savage by Megan Thee Stallion was released at the beginning of March and is now one of the most popular songs on TikTok as a result of people performing the Savage Dance Challenge, and climbed all the way up to number 2 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It became popular when choreographer influencer Keara Wilson, determined to produce a dance that would go viral, created a clip on her TikTok that made her dreams come true. Shortly after, Megan, the singer of Savage, followed suit with her very own video using Wilson’s very own choreography, showing it really doesn’t take long for things to go viral.
It was his daughter who realised just how big her Dad had become on TikTok. It was just any other day and she was watching one of her favourite influencers on YouTube describing their favourite videos of the moment, when one of Rollex’s videos was mentioned. She was both in shock and awe to see that he had gone viral with his ‘fish video’. Rollex confirmed its ironic that the one video he spent the least time on had gone viral, but that’s how TikTok and obtaining followers work, so be sure to go with the flow and not to put too much pressure on your creativity, as it will come naturally. It certainly does to Rollex.
Going forward, Rollex is focusing on building up his followers, reaching the big milestone of 100k followers which is within arms-reach and working on campaigns with like-minded brands.
Follow Rollex on TikTok @Rollex225
Team VISU.AL are busy connecting brands locally and internationally with influencers for campaigns. If you’re one of Gibraltar’s influencers or brands , send us an email from the link on our landing page, introducing yourself and if you’re a good fit we’ll be in touch
Words by Allegra Cross