The Instagram Effect & How It Brings Likeminded People Together
When I started posting pictures of my home on Instagram, I had no idea of where it would take me. I've always been home styling obsessed and am a massively transient decorator, always moving things around and revamping rooms. Initially, I was immediately flattered that people were liking my posts - after many years of raised eyebrows at my personal style, it was a revelation to get a truly positive reaction. What I didn't know was that eighteen months later, I would be writing a weekly interiors blog and running monthly workshops about the very subject that had been my passion for so many years.
Yesterday, Dee Campling and I ran our fourth Styling Your Home: Four Steps To No Rules Interior Cool workshop. Previously, we had hosted these in our own homes in York and Cheltenham, but this one was a little different. We found that we were constantly being asked when we were going to bring our workshop to the South, specifically London (random fact: 85 percent of my followers are London based) so we spent many hours trying to work out how we could do this. Then we realised that one of the reasons people came to our workshops was to see the homes that they saw on Instagram in the flesh. We needed the same concept to work in a different location.
So we hit on the idea of holding our workshops in other, what we would call, 'Insta Famous' homes. The fact that this idea even came to mind just shows how far the Instagram Interiors network has come in the last year and a half - it wouldn't even have been a concept before as the idea of an Insta Famous home (unless you are a celebrity obvs) wouldn't have existed. Normal homes lived in by normal people, loved by their owners and posted regularly, have become 'known'. These Insta Famous homes have thousands of followers, are regularly regrammed, liked, commented upon, featured in magazines. And for many of the owners of these homes, it's given them the confidence to start new careers that previously they had only imagined - going on to study courses in interior design, launching their own interior led businesses or starting blogs.
Both Dee and I had worked with the neon company, Bag & Bones, previously and we knew that Gigi, Irish born and London based, had a home that was styled to perfection. After a chat, Gigi agreed that we could host a workshop at her house and we quickly launched it on our websites. It filled up super quick - people 'knew' Gigi's home from Instagram, it was the perfect space. Super cool interior store Rockett St George immediately placed the event on their coveted April Hot List, offering two tickets to the event as a prize. Would we have got the same response if we had held this London workshop in a random Hotel? I can categorically say not. The Insta Famous home magic was working.
So on Thursday afternoon, Dee and I met at the salubrious Holiday Inn Express on Ealing Broadway and drove over to Gigi's to set up. After a quick glass of wine, we returned to our Hotel with a selection of Sainsbury's tapas and a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc to watch Love Island in our pj's. Don't ever let it be said that Dee and I don't know how to live (another random fact: Chris on Love Island is Dee's cousin). After a slightly traumatic nights sleep due to the Hotel fire alarm being set off at 1.00 am and everyone being evacuated, we set off to Bag & Bones HQ early doors to prepare for our guests arrival.
For me, presenting these workshops has been one of the BEST things that has come out of my Instagram addiction. From the moment that everyone arrived, they were chatting like old friends. It was if they had all known each other for years. There were 16 in the group, some of them had 'met' on Instagram previously, liked their posts, knew their Instagram names. But the thing that bound them together? Every single one of them loved interiors. Not just in a, yeah, I quite like styling my home, whatever, type of way. But in an, OMG, this is something that I get REALLY excited about and want to talk about for six hours, type of way.
I've said before that I can walk into Tesco and not see or meet a single person who would be interested in my choice of wallpaper. I could stand at the school gates and not find anyone who wanted to talk about a room revamp. I've spent much of my life obsessing about my home interiors by myself, rarely meeting anyone who understood the buzz that I get from hanging a gallery wall or moving furniture around. But Instagram people understand. They want to discuss, compare experiences and they are just as obsessed, sometimes even MORE obsessed than me (that's rare, tbh). Our room of 16 was filled with people who understood and who wanted to talk interiors, share ideas, share knowledge and build contacts with people who felt the same.
And at the end of the day (and after a couple of glasses of prosecco), these amazing, focused and creative women walked away with new, real friendships, plans to meet, maybe even plans for business. From a personal point of view, it's ridiculously satisfying to watch this occurring and to know that Dee and I have a played a small part in bringing these lovely people together.
Following on from the concept of #myhomevibe, the first UK interiors hashtag which I launched with Dee and Around The Houses blogger, Fiona Cameron, ten months ago, new interior hashtags are being launched every week. These hashtags pull similar styles and feeds together and create groups of people who are of a similar mindset. It's big business and it's only getting bigger.
Prior to Instagram, these opportunities never arose, there was no platform on which these type of networking opportunities could grow. I've been overwhelmed by the amount of people in different industries that I've met in the last year, industries that previously I wouldn't necessarily have had any connection to, no opportunity to even have knowledge of. My address book is choc a block full of likeminded, creative, inspiring new friends and it's been life changing. In a VERY good way.
So what did we get up to on Friday at Bag & Bones HQ? Here's some photographs that demonstrate how social media can bring people together and create something super special.
Only at a Styling Your Home workshop do you have a timed group Shelfie Challenge. We're hardcore. NB: In case you were ever considering hosting a workshop, be aware that that you are responsible for picking the winner. No pressure.
And how did we finish the day? With a few glasses of Prosecco in the garden, obvs. And the knowledge that we had made new, likeminded friends.
Want to join us next time? Click the Workshop link in my website and book on - we'd love to meet you and we promise that you will come away feeling inspired by the huge amount of positivity and enthusiasm created by bringing a group of likeminded interior obsessives together.
With lots of thanks to our sponsors, without whom our attendees would not be receiving a fabulous goodie bag to take away with them.
Rockett St George : King & McGaw : SooUK : We Are Amused : Henry Fred & Felicity : Nickie Kelly : Woodchip & Magnolia : Little Greene Paint Company : Frenchic Furniture Paint : Suburban Salon : Light Up North : Grey September Store : Annie Sloan : Love Frankie : New Icons Of Print : Aubeterre Blue : Violet & Thistle : Hilary & Flo : Violet & Percy : Festive Lights : Darbeida Moroccan Living : Pom Pom & Twiddle : Made.com : Farrow & Ball : More Than Words : Desenio : Curious Egg : Tipperley Hill : Bianca Hall : The Kitsch Hen