Proving That Authenticity Sells

Kiera Please started posting about hair and fashion on Instagram in 2012, with the goal of simply expressing herself online. But as she noticed an uptick in followers, the 24-year-old soon realized her self-expression was a tangible business asset.

Having majored in advertising at Virginia Commonwealth University, Please was savvy enough to know that her social media following had value, so she reached out to a few small brands to see if they’d be willing to pay for online exposure. “I thought, ‘Maybe I can use the skills that I’ve learned to work with brands on my own personal platforms,’” she says.

By the time she had 50,000 followers, small clothing brands and other retailers were hiring her to create sponsored posts. “We would come up with a photo or a video so people would be more aware of the brand,” she says. Today, Please has 634,000 followers on Instagram who check in to see what she’s up to each day. While there is no set rule for how much Instagram influencers can make, some reportedly earn as much as $1,000 per 100,000 followers for an Instagram post.

Please, who lives in Burbank, California, has also launched a YouTube channel and tried her hand at e-commerce, selling products such as hats and hoodies from her website, In 2018, she released her first music single, “Bloom,” and she continues to push the envelope when deciding which ventures to try next. “You try a whole bunch of different avenues until you find something that really sticks,” she says.

Please plans to continue to monetize her unique skills and interests. For example, she intends to transform her love of cartoons and animation into a web comic. She also wants to open a beauty supply store to satisfy her love of style. Through all of her ventures, her goal is to embody the bankability of authenticity. She says, “In five years, I hope to have built an empire.

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