Content Creator Shaunda Necole Is Showing Us How To Be Bold And Live In Color
"What Kind Of Ancestor Will I Be?"
To continue shining the light on our talented Black content creators, we sat to have an amazing talk with superstar creator Shaunda Necole.
An entrepreneur. A collector. A mother and wife. An activist. Shaunda Necole sees no reason to stop at one title or purpose. Her influence started on Instagram and now is felt by so many and in so many different ways. Here's her story.
What inspired you to become a content creator?
Gosh, for me, it happened by accident. So it was completely organic, I guess I shouldn't say accidental, but it was like, I just fell into it. I've been an entrepreneur for probably about 16 years now. I owned a cheerleading store that was in a brick and mortar store in the mall. And then we transitioned to online where we sold our products directly to Amazon, and then they distributed them from there.
I started collecting the MacKenzie Childs home decor [for fun]. And when I do something I'm like all in on it. So, as I started to collect, I found out that they have an annual sale each year, it's called the Barn Sale, because their warehouse is on a farm in upstate New York.
So, I decided I was going to go to it because I'm now this avid collector. So I drag my mom, my aunt, my son and daughter with me. Then the entrepreneur in me said, well, if I want to go, I'm sure there's other women who want to go, that can't go up to the sale for four days and shop, so I could shop for them .
So I put an ad on eBay and I had women customers, they signed up. And one of my customers said to me that the brand was having a contest on Instagram. If you won the contest, you were able to skip the line and get in first.
I had to get in first to get stuff from my customers that I had now, and also for myself.
My daughter created my very first personal Instagram. I entered the contest after she created my account and my daughter's an artist, so she created these shirts and she made them the exact match to the Barn Sale logo they were using that year. And with those shirts and Instagram, we won the contest— and so I was able to skip the line!
I got to the barn sale and I knew people, because of social media. I met the CEO of the company, the creative director— I like keeping in touch with,to this day—and so it was just a really fun event! After I left, I decided that this is fun and I'm going to keep this account. I continued to support the brand with my Instagram account. Eventually I changed my handle to my name because other brands started to reach out to me and then organically my Instagram account and my social media influencer account began.
Your content is so bright and fun! How would you describe your personal style?
I always start with color as my favorite. I think my manager asked me once when we first met each other—she was like, "Asking for a friend, but do you ever wear black or solid colors?" You don't always take inventory of yourself. So, I chuckled and then I thought about it like I do, but I guess I really don't much. It's not like I’m opposed to it, I just love patterns and color. So, my style is very bright, obviously colorful, whimsical and very Bohemian. I'm just a free spirit. I truly express that in the content that I create. And this is funny because I found it recently, one of my best awards that I’ve ever gotten, was getting best dressed in the sixth grade!
Your page is full of content supporting Kamala Harris! How does it feel to be able to see and be a part of Black History in this way?
We are. You know, every moment is an opportunity and I wouldn't want to look back on this moment and not have participated in all of the accomplishments that are taking place right now. In everything that everyone does, you know, whether I post something or I write a blog post or if someone is out marching, we're all contributing and everybody's contribution is such a big deal. So that's really important to me.
One of the things that I hold myself accountable to is the question: "What kind of ancestor will you be?" So, I ask myself that often because, you know, I have children that look to me, I had a store of a hundred employees who were all cheerleaders, meaning they were young. You know, I still keep in touch with many of those girls as they've grown up to be women and have families and are wives and things now. I just feel that there's a responsibility to those that are looking at you, even as an influencer, there's a responsibility, we have a platform and there's a responsibility with that platform. So, again, "it's what kind of ancestor will I be?"
Last year, I was tapped to work with the Biden Harris campaign as a social media ambassador. Following that I was invited to work on the inauguration digital partnerships team– that was a really big deal for me. And it's something that I always preach because I have courses that I've created and I teach other influencers and site owners that Instagram really can be powerful. Love it or hate it...It's really a place where I definitely have a platform. For me, I've made so many meaningful connections and partnerships and reached people just by simply posting organically because I love Kamala Harris and I voted for Joe Biden.
Sometimes it's unreal, even when I'm listening to the news in the morning and you hear like vice-president Harris and kind of like stop in your tracks. It's like you want to pinch yourself, like after these last four years... am I really hearing this? Or even just President Biden is like not Vice President Biden, not Vice, not President Elect Biden, but you know, to hear these things, it's huge! Again, When my grandkids or the next generations come to me and ask, what did you do? I want to be able to have stories to tell them of what I did and how I participated.
If you could go back in history and sit down with any black leader, who would it be and why?
Yeah, that's a really good question. Let's see. Well there are so many, but I'm choosing someone that I just listened to recently– Stokely Carmichael. My husband and I were listening to him, actually not even listening, we're watching him. He was just talking about, you know, being present. And again, the same thing that I just mentioned about every person's contribution makes a difference.
So, you know, if you're in South Africa and you're doing something towards the movement there that makes a difference. It all circles back around to what you're doing in South Africa, what you're doing in Egypt, what you're doing in India, what you're doing in the U.S.— we're all contributing to the same thing and that's always moving us forward. When I marched with Black Lives Matter with my family, one of the things that I remember that meant so much was there were people on the sidelines, like as you march, that were volunteers with wagons of water or snacks. I was like that meant so much and no contribution is ever too small, because we needed it. So everyone plays a part and that's just one of the messages that he was saying is that every contribution is needed.
He told the story about the message of Black Power. It came and it was carefully created and orchestrated how he put that together and how he knew it had to be the right moment and they came up with this message where they couldn't just start saying it without being careful. It's like marketing without carefully orchestrating the time and the movement. Even amongst the black leaders who were going to buy into and who weren't. It was just so eloquent and I just get so prideful of how smart and well-crafted we are and how all those stories are not often told.
It’s been said that “Joy is an act of resistance”. What advice would you give fellow black content creators on keeping a balance of fun content, while still shining light on the injustices Black people are facing everyday?
Finding a balance is very difficult and I don't want to say anything is impossible, but I want to be honest that it's difficult. SEO has been my main focus. Search engine optimization and how to get your message, onto the eyes and ears of other people that need to hear from you. That could be for anything, from a recipe to my black lives matter posts.
None of us are one dimensional. So there's always going to be other dimensions to it. So there's black lives matter content. There's the recipes that I cook for my family. There's the stories about my cat or my dog. One of the big things on my site is my hysterectomy story. I never knew it would be a great story, but that was a big story for me. I didn't know people would come to my blog, because they wanted to find out how to navigate through this journey. So some of it is just the people telling you and you can use those tools specifically, like Google to tell you, okay, this is why people are coming. Then you just create more content around that to keep getting your message out there. You build an email list so that you can email people the same content.
My McKinsey Child's audience is mostly middle-aged white women. There's been a history of five years of us doing this together, showing up at barn sales together, and following eachother on Instagram so now there's trust. So, when I send them something about Black Lives Matter, it's easier for them to receive it, because I've built that trust being my authentic self. I had many of those women, reach back out to me and say, "I didn't know" or "thank you for sharing" or even "I just donated to the NAACP". I remember a follower that was a middle-aged white woman and she told me she wasn't voting when I posted something about Biden and Harris. My response was that I don't have that privilege. I don't have that luxury. My ancestors fought for me to be able to do this. I can't explain that to future generations if I choose not to vote.
When it's time for you to relax and focus on you, what are your go-to beauty products?
I love nail polish. I actually was a nail tech! So, I would probably use an OPI or Essie polish. I was happy to be able to partner with you guys and work with the Exuviance Peel and I love the way they make my skin feel, so that would be next. I've started to like Olay, I worked with them this year and I really enjoy their moisturizing products. Lastly I’d choose pomegranate juice. I drink pomegranate juice when I'm watching my Housewives, that's my thing.
What home gadgets or just things around the house have you been using more now that you're actually like home all the time?
It's definitely my Instant Pot. Last year I asked my husband to get me one because that's what I wanted for my birthday. And then like a month later I got a partnership with them. So then I had two instant pots. I loved it so much that when Pioneer Woman came out with one with the red top and red flowers, I bought a third. I just had to have it. You can do things like oxtail, where it would take you like eight hours, you know, to cook them on a stove. You can do that in half the time and four hours in the Instant Pot.
Want to connect with Shaunda? Check her out here for social media marketing strategies and blogger best-kept secrets.