Welcome back to Creator Heroes, a series that shines a spotlight on creators doing inspiring, purpose-driven work. From artists to activists, educators to entrepreneurs, you can expect a wide range of creators from different backgrounds. The one thing they all share in common? Adding value to the world.
Here, we sat down with @kristalheredia, a creator who now runs her own agency, @mujeressocial. Kristal has built up a community of 383,000 Instagram followers by sharing her real, authentic self, and creating the representation she wanted to see for plus-sized and Latina women.
In this raw, honest conversation, Kristal talks about the hardest part of being an established creator, why she’s expanded her focus to helping others, and how she’ll never get used to empowering women.
On her mission
“Essentially, my mission is to promote self-love and body positivity. I really wanted to hone in on that and to cultivate a community through that, and I think I've done a good job.
Ultimately, it’s just about feeling good in your skin, feeling confident, and wearing things that maybe a couple years ago, you wouldn't have. Today, it's more — I wouldn't say acceptable, but now I feel like a lot more women are confident in what they're wearing.
And so, my mission has always been to show up as authentically as I can, to help empower other women.”
On finding her voice - and community
“I started in 2017 sharing home decor, just for fun. Soon after, at the end of 2018, my page started to grow organically. I noticed that a lot of women were gravitating toward my platform, and would tell me that I inspired them.
I would always be super real — I never came on social media with a filter. I feel like that's what helped me create such a space with no boundaries, in terms of just being who you are, and not showing up as anyone other than yourself.
Once I started to share who I was, behind the home decor, I think people were even more interested in my personality and my lifestyle. That's what triggered me to start off this whole community and to hone into the fashion and body positive, self-love niche.”
Recognizing the representation gap on social media
“Between 2018 and 2019, when I was going on fashion pages, I didn't see many plus size women. Maybe Fashion Nova was a little bit ahead of the game, because they did the whole Fashion Nova Curve page, as well as Boohoo and Forever 21. But it wasn't enough, because there was still so much separation. Why does Curve need its own separate page?
This was before the Black Lives Matter movement. And actually, I feel like that movement in general, pushed brands to check themselves, to look at their feed and realize, oh my god — my feed doesn't even show diversity. There weren't many Asian women, Black women, Hispanic women, curvy women, plus sized women being represented.
Now there's straight size, there's mid-size and plus size. There's so many different communities now. I feel like the internet is so, so diverse now, more so than ever before.”
The challenges of the content creator life
“The toughest part of this career is remaining relevant. I mean, the internet is ever changing. Every single day, there's something new. There's so many people, right? It’s up to the creator to stay ahead of the curve, educate themselves daily, keep track of all the different things that are trending, and know what aligns with your message.
Something that I've prided myself on is staying true. With all of the changes, I have always stayed true to my message.
I’ve made sure that my audience knows that even with all these changes, and even with me implementing new content styles, I'm always going to be me, and I'm always going to prioritize what they want to see.”
Authentic brand partnerships
“The first brand that ever reached out to me was Charlotte Russe. I had posted one of my very first outfit photos, and the pants were from Charlotte Russe, so I just tagged them. From there, they found me on the hashtag for Charlotte Russe, and they reached out to me.
That was the first brand that sent me a huge PR box, and it opened me up to the world of influencing and what I can get out of it. In that moment, I realized this was something that could be really beneficial and lucrative, and the rest was history.”
Tips for working with brands
“My biggest tip and takeaway would be that if you're a creator and you're wanting to work with brands, the first step is to be a consumer of that brand already. In my opinion, there has to be some sort of organic love already solidified prior to working with a brand, for it to be successful.
But at the same time, if you’re posting organically about a brand, you should ping them in their DMs and let them know. You’ve got to bang on the doors that you want to open.
So if you want to work with a brand, pitch yourself to them. I don't ever think that any creator should sit back and wait for a brand to notice them.”
On starting her agency, @mujeressocial
“With Mujeres Social, I've always wanted it to keep it more tightly knit, a transparent space where the women that we manage feel heard and represented.
The agency was actually a community before it was a management agency, and it started off as a passion project for me. I wanted to call out to women who felt like maybe their voices weren't heard, or they wanted to take back their power in their life and learn how to monetize themselves on social media.
I really made it my mission to offer a lot of free advice, because I felt at that point, the industry was not transparent at all. I was already coaching, had Instagram courses, and was mentoring a lot of women, one on one. And I realized that I was making such a huge impact in creator's lives and I wanted to take the community a step further.
These women are major assets, and they're putting their business in my hands. I don't ever take that lightly. It’s a huge task, but one that I wouldn't ever trade.”
"I really made it my mission to offer a lot of free advice, because I felt at that point, the industry was not transparent at all."
Business sense for creators
“When I was coaching, the financial side was often the first thing that we spoke about.
I feel like a lot of influencers aren't educated in making the right choices, per se. Often, they'll do things because everything is great in the moment, but forget to ask — hey, a couple years down the line, where is this going to be?
That's definitely something that I feel was a huge learning curve for me, that I'm really grateful that I put that at the forefront. I made sure that I had the right advisors, and that I'm working with people who understand the industry and understand how to invest and make my money last.”
"Often, [influencers] do things because everything is great in the moment, but forget to ask — hey, a couple years down the line, where is this going to be?"
Why she shows up on IG every day
“The most rewarding moments are when women message me and tell me how I've helped them in any way. I don't think that will ever change. I don't ever get used to it, because it's just such a crazy feeling.
It just makes everything that I do worth doing — to see how much of an impact that I've had. I'm so, so grateful, and deeply honored that I'm able to touch someone in that way, and to empower a woman.”