Social Media Stars Making a Social Impact: Why & How Shafonne Myers of Aisle Society Is Helping To Change Our World
On the other side of fear is everything you ever wanted — this one is so pivotal to me, it has been scary to move to the next level of business and make a social impact because I’m sharing something that not everyone agrees with. Saying that everyBODY deserves to be beautiful on their wedding day is a huge statement that most people agree with. However, I do realize that society as a whole might not agree with this. And that can be hard and stirs up a lot of fear for me. However, taking the chance and sharing what I believe in has truly transformed so many people and allowed me to see that I need to keep an open dialogue about size inclusivity. Everything I ever wanted to do is on the other side of fear.
As a part of our series about leaders who are using their social media platform to make a significant social impact, we had the pleasure of interviewing Shafonne Myers.
Shafonne Myers is the founder of Pretty Pear Bride, CEO of Aisle Society and size inclusivity influencer. A highly-rated motivational speaker and sought after confidence coach, Shafonne works with individuals, groups, and organizations to amplify their brand’s visibility, increase their impact and influence, and empower them to become a better version of themselves.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I really fell into the role of being a social media influencer. When I got married there was no outlet for plus size brides. And no publication was even thinking about putting a plus size bride on their blog. But I wanted inspiration that looked like me. So, when I couldn’t find it, I created it! I started out creating the content myself. I designed styled shoots featuring me to conceptualize the inspiration. Then I started enlisting the help of friends. From there we created content that looked like us which so many plus size brides longed to see. It’s so crazy to think about it but I was literally an influencer before there ever was really influencers. I was creating content I wanted to see and others were being inspired by. This eventually turned into a wedding blog for plus size brides, which is now the only one in the world. It started as I needed inspiration that looked like me and then realized the same inspiration I was sharing needed to be infused with me as the influencer to show others what is possible.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began this career?
I once went to an event where people were talking about my blog and were actually raving about it but they didn’t realize that I was the owner. They truly had no idea who ran it or created it. At that moment I realized that I had to step forward as the owner and stop hiding behind the computer. To be the personal brand that others wanted to see. This is a huge realization for many social media influencers, when they realize that they need to step forward, not just for themselves but for others that are looking for people who look like them, people who are them!
It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Oh, wow there are so many! One of the most notable ones is when I first started out, I would create all of these different email addresses for people to reach out to or respond to so that they thought I had a huge staff. But I soon realized that that was what turned people off. They wanted to see authenticity and genuineness and me pretending to have a huge staff was actually hurting the company because brands wanted to work with genuine and authentic people. I “thought” I had to have a huge company and all these people who work with me to be taken seriously when in actuality the fact that I was small and that the CEO was accessible to chat and interact with people was what people wanted to see. Man, that took me so long to realize and cost me so much in the long run!
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
I cannot say it enough or say it loud enough, BE YOU! Like in everything you do. Be your true and authentic self and that will magnetize people to you. Often people are scared to be authentic because they are afraid of judgment. What will people say if they see your true self. The wild, crazy, nerdy, quirky side of you. But what they don’t understand is, the true authentic side is what allows you to stand out from the crowd. That’s how people relate to you when they know your true authentic self. I have learned all the things that made me different, all the things that people used to tell me that I was “too much” of, are all the things that draw people to me.
Ok super. Let’s now jump to the core focus of our interview. Can you describe to our readers how you are using your platform to make a significant social impact?
It started with my first blog and social channels — Pretty Pear Bride, the world’s only site for plus size brides, where I help them feel confident, beautiful and “Slay the Aisle’’ on their big day and beyond.
I always knew I was going to have a huge impact, a bigger purpose, but just never knew what it was. I always showed up and was the inspiration many others longed to see. I knew when I got married and didn’t see anyone who looked like me, I had to change that. I knew so many brides-to-be couldn’t even imagine how they would look as a plus size bride. It was up to me to create and share that inspiration. I started with one wedding blog and realized that to truly make the impact I wanted to make I had to go bigger. I had to have a bigger platform. And that’s when I knew that becoming the CEO of Aisle Society would be the way to share my message in a larger way.
Now not only do I help couples of all shapes, sizes, nationalities and sexual orientation find wedding content that represents them but also help the wedding industry recognize it isn’t one size fits all when it comes to weddings. This realization will allow vendors to stand out to more clients and get more leads and sales. This mission has led me to become the CEO of Aisle Society, which is an inspired new way for couples to plan their special day and is truly changing the face of the wedding industry.
My ultimate mission is to redefine the way the wedding industry sees beauty, by helping wedding and event professionals understand that it’s not just a one size fits all industry anymore.
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted by this cause?
Oh yes, I’m always getting emails and messages from plus size women that have longed for bridal inspiration which represents them because they were finally able to imagine what it would be like for them to get married and find true love.
This is important for both brides-to-be as well as those who have not yet found their life partner. For someone who hasn’t yet connected with their beloved, it’s hard to envision it’s possible if you never see anyone like you actually getting married. And if you have found true love and are getting married, it’s hard to think you will actually look beautiful on your special day if there aren’t people who look like you represented in the media and look amazing.
I also get messages from plus size brides who followed us while they were planning their wedding and now want to be featured so they can serve as inspiration for the next generation of plus size brides.
I can distinctly remember speaking at a luxury wedding conference on a panel with a room full of luxury wedding professionals and someone stood up and said thank you for allowing me to be seen and allowing me to show my gorgeous brides regardless of what they look like. And she went on to share that by me being on a stage as a representative for wedding publications allowed her to be seen as a plus size vendor, and it allowed her the permission to show couples of all sizes in her marketing collateral. Just the presence of me being there talking about the importance of size inclusivity in marketing was all she needed to feel validated.
Was there a tipping point that made you decide to focus on this particular area? Can you share a story about that?
I think for me the tipping point was creating my first brand, Pretty Pear Bride, and realizing size inclusivity was so much bigger than just one outlet. To make a bigger impact I needed to have a bigger piece of the pie in the wedding industry. So, to own a media company, with over 25 wedding publications I’m able to inspire brides to show up as their true selves regardless of what others think. It can be extremely difficult to feel like you are worthy of something when you never identify anyone who looks like you. For me the tipping point was seeing how much of an impact my first brand had on size inclusivity and knowing that there was still more work to be done in the industry.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
- Realize there is an issue, there is a huge issue of only showing one type of beauty in the wedding industry. It has historically been white, size 2, heterosexual. We have been making strides to add diversity in ethnicities as well as sexual orientation however, there is still the image of beauty in the wedding industry being one size. Even though that one size isn’t even a true representation of society anymore with more than 65% of brides being over a size 14, there should be 100% more larger bodies shown in the industry.
- Realize everyone has money to spend. Oftentimes I get complaints from vendors that they don’t show other types of people in their marketing because their demographic is “xyz” (typically not a larger bodied person). I have to remind vendors that everyone gets married and that means there is money for everyone to spend. And when consumers don’t see anyone who looks like them in marketing collateral, they are less likely to spend with that person. So, it’s not about people not having money to spend, it’s about vendors leaving money on the table when they only market to who they “think” is their demographic. Because their true demographic are people willing to spend money and that isn’t dependent on size.
- Representation Matters. If people don’t feel represented by a brand, they will not spend their money there. I urge brands to think about this because consumers are smart and realize they don’t have to spend money where they don’t feel cared about or represented. And consumers are now very vocal and talk about their experiences, so as brands we need to take that into consideration and realize that oftentimes you might not even realize someone has felt a certain way about how you portrayed representation. Rather, a whole “underground” revolt of your brand is going on and you don’t even know. Keeping representation in the forefront of your marketing efforts is imperative.
Why do you think social media in particular has the power to create social change and create a positive impact on humanity?
If you would have asked me 10 years ago, I would have had a very different perspective but now social media is literally the one that can make or break anyone or anything. That’s the power of social media. It’s the one thing that pretty much everyone has access to, so that alone gives social media the power to create social change. Social media especially with the emergence of TikTok has allowed everyone to play a part in social change. Everyone now has the opportunity to give their view, to share their opinion and find their tribe and that is what social change is. The ability to give everyone a voice and use their voice to find others like them and form communities. That’s the positive impact social media has on humanity. It’s given everyone the ability to have a voice and find their people.
What specific strategies have you been using to promote and advance this cause? Can you recommend any good tips for people who want to follow your lead and use their social platform for a social good?
Remaining very intentional about showcasing diversity and inclusivity. All sizes, nationalities and sexual orientation should be represented in media which includes social media. Right now, our social platforms are the most effective and quickest way to achieve instant visibility. I have been very intentional to curate all of my brands with inclusivity at the forefront because I know this is my passion and I’m aware that seeing this as my passion makes it a passion for others. That’s my main strategy, I share what I’m passionate about. What my convictions are and that seems to inspire others to be ok to share their passions. That’s the virality of social media and why it’s so important to utilize it to influence and have a greater impact. It’s definitely the way of the world now!
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- On the other side of fear is everything you ever wanted — this one is so pivotal to me, it has been scary to move to the next level of business and make a social impact because I’m sharing something that not everyone agrees with. Saying that everyBODY deserves to be beautiful on their wedding day is a huge statement that most people agree with. However, I do realize that society as a whole might not agree with this. And that can be hard and stirs up a lot of fear for me. However, taking the chance and sharing what I believe in has truly transformed so many people and allowed me to see that I need to keep an open dialogue about size inclusivity. Everything I ever wanted to do is on the other side of fear.
- Action Creates Clarity — I say this all the time to coaching clients and even people in my audiences. You will stay confused and stuck unless you move. Yes, you might not know which direction to take and which one is going to work out but you will for sure know more information once you do move and get into action. I’ve seen this in so many aspects of my businesses. The minute I did something, I saw the path in front of me. I didn’t see it before but when I stepped out and started in one direction things happened that lead me to my next move. It’s a powerful realization to know that clarity will come once you take action.
- You are your worst enemy — wow this one hits home! I can remember when I was contemplating starting Pretty Pear Bride. I knew in my heart that I wanted to do it but I started thinking about everyone else and what they would say and if they would like it. The more I thought about things the more I moved away from doing it. I was truly the only one standing in my way. Everyone else was cheering me on and saying yes but I was the one stuck in my head, which didn’t allow me to move forward. Oftentimes we are the bottleneck in our companies and in our lives. If we just move out of the way and stop thinking and start feeling, it would change so many things.
- You can’t do it all on your own — I really started to feel this one when I became CEO of Aisle Society and needed to scale the company. I realized that to make the biggest impact I could in the wedding and event industry, I couldn’t do it on my own. I NEEDED help. It was hard to understand and hiring out isn’t always a fun thing to do when you still think that you can do everything. But it has been the most rewarding part of it all because me realizing I couldn’t do it all, allowed me to help someone else shine in their zone of genius. When I was trying to do it all I was denying someone from doing what set their soul on fire. And empowering and inspiring is my whole thing. It’s my passion. So, this was just a powerful lesson for me and has allowed me to really step into the next level of my business.
- Just Be You — this statement is so powerful for me because when I realized this, I knew this was a huge part of my passion and what I was meant to do. For so long I always felt like I was too much. Too happy, too nice, too caring, too talkative, too big, too everything. But when I stepped into being a CEO, I realized that I was making a difference in the world just being me. All the too muches that I thought I had were actually the things that people loved about me, the things that made me stand out. I wish that someone would have told me in the beginning of my journey that those things would be the things people gravitate to me for, that people pay me for, because I could have stopped hiding a long time ago and been creating the impact and influence I really wanted so much earlier than I am right now.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My ultimate mission is to redefine the way the wedding industry sees beauty, by helping wedding and event professionals understand that it’s not just a one size fits all industry anymore, everyBODY deserves to feel beautiful on their wedding day. Educating, empowering and inspiring brides all over the world of the importance of confidence and personal power so they can step into their true selves on their wedding day and beyond.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
What got you here won’t get you there — this is literally what I live by. It’s really a demonstration of the reality to get to our next level in life, business, relationships, anything. We have to embrace the realization that the thoughts we think, the actions we took that got us to where we are can’t be the same that will get us to where we are going. You have to have an upleveling of everything — your thoughts, your actions, your friend groups (professional and non-professional) to allow yourself to move forward to that next level.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a power lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Two people come to mind immediately, Jaime Kern Lima and Oprah. Both of these ladies have had a profound impact on how I really want to shape the world to be a more inclusive place.
I have just recently finished Jamie’s book “Believe it.” I didn’t really know her back story or how she got started but after reading her book I know that the fear I’ve dealt with, going against what society has made us believe isn’t unique to just me. Jaime experienced this as well. And in a very similar industry. Reading her story has allowed me to recognize exactly what I need to do and also how to get it done. When you know that you are embarking on something epic, it’s so much easier to do it when you can see how someone else made it through.
Oprah has always been someone I wanted to meet and in Jaime’s book she spoke about Oprah as well, which definitely solidified she would be amazing to be around at a power lunch because I would want to chat with her about how she was able to deal with so much judgment and fear and still have the tenacity to keep pushing through because she knew it was what she was meant for.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much!
Thank you very much, it was meaningful for me as well.
Social media isn’t going anywhere and regardless if you know it or even if you want to be, we are all social media influencers. We all have views and opinions we believe in and we can either leverage our platforms to share those beliefs and give people a community where they feel included or we let someone else leverage our platforms. For me I choose to make a social impact and empower a community of people that feel seen, heard and understood. It’s up to you what you decide to do!
Here’s to infinite impact!
Social Media Stars Making a Social Impact: Why & How Shafonne Myers of Aisle Society Is Helping To… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.