March 9, 2023

Going Viral with OldLoserInBrooklyn Part I (Episode 5)

Mandy: Had a face-to-face reality check with going viral and putting your ideas out there. And even though they weren't out there for me, it was very new for a lot of people.

Nicole: Hi, everyone. Welcome back to Multitudes. I'm Nicole, and today we have a really interesting conversation with Mandy Lee, a TikTok influencer, full-time freelancer and content creator. Mandy is also known as Old Loser in Brooklyn, and I really enjoyed hearing about Mandy's story. In this episode, we get into how Mandy started out in the corporate world and then moved to full-time freelancing. We also talk about Mandy's experiences with going viral, plagiarism and creating a niche. I loved speaking with Mandy. She speaks with such candidness and sincerity about who she is and her ideas. Mandy is a content creator, writer, and trend analyst in the world of fashion. And whether or not you're interested in fashion, this episode is really about her story and her first year of being a full-time creator. As with all of my episodes, take what resonates with you and leave the rest. I hope you enjoy it.

And as you can see in this title, this is part one of my conversation with Mandy as we had a lot to talk about. Part two will come next week where we get more into critical perspectives on the fashion industry and content creation as well. As this is part one of the conversation, be sure to follow this podcast, Multitudes, so you can see when part two comes out. And also, be sure to follow Mandy at OldLoserInBrooklyn on Instagram and TikTok, and you can follow me on Multitudes.podcast on Instagram and TikTok as well.

Mandy: Hi, Nicole. So nice to be here.

Nicole: I'm so excited to talk with you today. Mandy is a Brooklyn based freelance fashion writer, trend researcher, and TikToker known for her analytical takes on fashion discourse, which centers around finding meaning behind trends. Her work has been featured in Vogue, Dazed, Nylon, W Magazine and more. Mandy, I love that you create fashion stories through the lens of cultural commentary, and you also weave in a historical element with your trend forecasting. So I love that you're simultaneously looking forward and looking to the past as well. We'll get into your content creation and what you do, but I'd love to hear a little bit about how you describe yourself as a slow fashion creator and trend analyst. What do you do?

Mandy: Wow! What an amazing, ego-inflating introduction? Thank you! I mean, that pretty much summed it up really. I would describe myself in the fashion niche. I mostly focus on analytical fashion content with trends, with runway, just really with anything. And then I also, just as a passion, it's not necessarily my knowledge base or experience, but I also love just digging into cultural trends online, because I think all millennials, we had a little computer room way back in the day. I was on Myspace, I was on Zengo. So I've been through all the app phases and just watching social media really change and shape the world and how fashion changes with it, I find that really, really fascinating. And then just behavior online, and what it means and asking questions. 

I am an expert in certain areas, but I'm always learning, so a lot of my content is conversational and hopefully opens up discourse and isn't just like, “This is my take, and I'm right.” That's really not how I like to approach making content. It's not how I feel. But yeah, that's kind of just a little bit about what I do. And then I went into freelance in March of this year, so we're coming up on a year of being out on my own, which has been really cool just to have that experience. That's a little bad about me.

Nicole: I also very fondly remember the computer room and just getting online and just seeing what's out there. I love that you've spent almost a year now out on your own, and you also, before March of 2022, you were working in various roles and corporate settings and you had a life before becoming a full-time creator. I'm curious about how you became interested in fashion and freelancing, and if that was always something that you wanted to do.

Mandy: Oh, man! Yeah, absolutely! I never thought that I would be able to. I know a lot of creators say that, and I really resonate with that statement because a lot of it is just accidental. It just sort of happens. And not everyone with a following can necessarily go freelance, I think it takes a lot of privilege and financial stability to be able to make that leap. So I'm definitely not unaware that I benefit from these privileges. I went to freelance when I was 30. I had full decade long career before then, but the stars just sort of lined up. I saw this video or heard this quote. And it's kind of corny, but it kind of explains how this happened, but you don't want to niche yourself down where it's like, “I only talk about this, and I won't branch out and do this and that.” I do stay within my niche in fashion, but I have helped create a niche. So I feel like my content grows and changes and so does the niche. And it's been really interesting to see that grow as I grow too. 

I was one of the first fashion creators on TikTok to open up this sort of more analytical deep dive into fashion, and just watching it explode over the last almost two years has been just insane to feel like a pioneer in the space. And that's a huge reason why I was able to go freelancing. Honestly, a lot of it was just timing. And before then, when my TikTok was really starting to grow, I actually got a different job. I had been looking for other jobs because I was working basically a COVID job while I found something more suited for me because I had gotten laid off during COVID when everyone was getting laid off, companies were downsizing and freaking out. That was my dream job, so I was very disheartened and thought that was it for me. And then I got another job, basically the same thing that I was doing before I got laid off, planning and product marketing, which is all very wrapped up in data and forecasting and looking at trends to be able to actually create new products and make those products a reality. 

And very early on, I think, I was working there for two weeks and I was like, this is not going to work. I did not get along with my boss, I did not like the blind obedience that this company expected. I'm an Aries, and that really explains a lot about my personality, I think. Even in the work setting, I do not like getting talked down to. I don't care if you're my manager, you need to treat me with respect or I'm not going to do as good as I should be doing. And that's kind of what happened. And being in this really toxic work environment really motivated me to like, I need to get out of here. 

And then in February, right before I made the decision to quit, I did my first full on fashion week where I was getting invited to all these things, I was making money, I was getting asked to write pieces for different magazines. And I remember it was the day before I was supposed to go back to my full-time job, and I just had a complete breakdown and was in tears, writhing on the floor. And I remember my partner was like, “Mandy, you need to quit. You need to quit and take the chance on yourself.” So he really pushed me to take that chance because I grew up with not a lot of money, no resources, and really no support from my family. So I've always had this fear of financial insecurity, and it really hindered my growth for many, many years. I still think it's really weird and scary to be out on my own, but it's been really life-changing to be able to have that freedom and be able to just work for myself and work on projects that I care about. But that's kind of the long-winded answer. 

But to answer your question, I absolutely never thought that this was a possibility for me. So it is crazy that it's happening, and it's almost been a year. I still can't believe it. I wake up every day and I do not take a single day for granted. I really don't.

Nicole: I'm curious about that transition, in terms of you had found yourself in a toxic environment. How did you kind of reconcile like, oh, maybe I should go freelance fully or try to find something else within that realm of planning and product marketing?

Mandy: So I went to school in Boston, and I just never left. I had always seen myself living in Boston forever. I loved the city, and I had always wanted to work in fashion. But again, growing up with no money, no resources, no connections, and this really intense fear of financial insecurity, I never thought that I'd be able to work in fashion. And I reconnected with my now fiancé. We had met in 2014, the month before we were going to graduate and go our separate ways. He moved to New York, I stayed in Boston, and dating long distance was just not something either of us wanted to do. And then, I guess three or four years later, we reconnected, we dated long distance for a year, and then he made me feel brave enough to make the decision to move to New York. And it was, “Yes, we're going to close the distance on this relationship that we feel like is forever, and also it's going to give me an opportunity to kind of go after what I want.” 

There's so much more opportunity for fashion in New York than Boston. There really wasn't anything of substance. So I really kind of thought that working in beauty would be a good transition because I had no fashion experience. I'm not blind to the fact that fashion is ruled by nepotism and connections and privilege. And it still is, but there are ways around it, and I thought that building my skillset in beauty would be a good transition for fashion because people flip flop from those industries all the time. So I took a job in forecasting for beauty. I absolutely loved that job! I loved the company. I got promoted to work on product full-time. So again, I was taking basically what I was doing in planning and forecasting, but actually creating products using those forecasts. 

So it felt like really, even though it was shampoo, it's not life-changing or anything, but it felt like this is so cool, I'm creating things from my data and my findings. It was just so cool to see those things come to life. Even the packaging, we're finding this is popular with consumers, consumers like these colors, let's make it into the packaging. And just those little decisions just really fired me up. And again, that was the job I got let go from at the beginning of COVID, and I had never not had a job since I was 14 or 15. So I was really lost without direction.

The day I got let go, I downloaded TikTok. I didn't know what else to do, everyone was talking about, it was the new thing because people were bored as hell. We couldn't do anything, and it was sort of my escape. And I didn't start making content for months after, but that was my introduction. And then my content really started to take off about a year later in the spring of 2021, summer 2021. I had been working a placeholder job, and then I got another job in beauty because again, I just wasn't confident that I could land a job in fashion, to be honest. And at that point, I had been working in the industry for long enough that I was making a decent salary, and I just did not want to take a pay cut. COVID was still pretty intense and I was scared. I was really scared. So I just took a senior manager role in beauty doing planning.

And all my interviews were remote, I didn't get really a glimpse of the company. And literally as soon as I stepped into the office, I was like, “This is so not going to work.” And then, I just could never commit fully to that job. It was a lot of – how do I say this civilly? It was a lot of hypocritical behavior from the directors. I remember I had been working there for two months and my manager and I were having our one-on-one, and she had always been very cold and snappy towards me. And mind you, this is a senior position rooted in analysis. Like I was essentially a senior analyst in this vertical, and she straight up told me that I was too analytical and it was slowing me down. And I remember sitting there being like, “That's crazy that this is negative feedback because this is what's actually getting me so much attention and recognition on TikTok.” It was the same feedback, negative, but that was actually what was propelling me forward in this other area. 

So I remember after that meeting, I was like, “I am done.” I am quiet quitting or whatever people are calling it. I honestly think I have some amnesia about this time because I had my first full blown writhing on the bathroom floor for three hours sobbing hysterical for the first time in five years because of that job. It was really not good for my mental health, and I felt like I was working two full-time jobs because I was trying to make this happen on TikTok. I was trying to do interviews, and you're not getting paid for interviews or podcasts or anything. So I was giving my time and investing my time into these things, and then having to also do at least my bare minimum work, and it was not a good time. But then Fashion Week and the encouragement of my partner really helped me feel confident that I'm ready for the next steps. And I don't think I was ready. I still have no idea what I'm doing. I really struggle with scheduling in the admin portion of freelance. I'm very bad at getting my invoices out and scheduling things, but I'm learning. That part of the job does not come easy to me, so it's been really challenging in those areas. But again, it's a very privileged position to be in that I can work with these companies. 

I also do consulting and writing on top of content, so that's been the most satisfying part. I basically do content so I can do the other things that I really want to do because writing, you don't get paid, consulting, those projects time out pretty quickly, so I kind of supplement with content, but yeah, it's been really interesting.

Nicole: It almost sounds like through that experience, you were told by your manager the skills that you have that are essentially making you successful now are not being valued here. And you essentially went where you were being valued and where you could see that direct impact to the skills that you had to your followings and your content that was being positively received. I'm also curious, you talked about how the day you started posting on TikTok, and I love that. It's almost like the space was created for you to jump into something new that would eventually become your main platform. You were posting for about a year before you get your new job and before you start becoming viral, and I'm curious what was going through your mind when you were posting. And you originally started with going through contents of your bag, right? I'm curious like, what were you thinking about and what was going through your mind?

Mandy: Well, I love that the first video I ever posted was What's in My Stash Bag. That was purely shit posting. I didn't know how to use the app. It took me an hour to figure out how to put text in my video. And again, every couple of months, the app really changes, the attitude on the app really changes. So I guess in May of 2020 through February, 2021, I was just shit posting. I didn't have an audience. I don't even think I was talking about fashion, I was just posting my little DIYs, just random things, doing audios, very typical, I guess, fashion or typical TikTok content. 

And then something interesting happened at the beginning of 2021 where I kept getting these videos about trends I hate, and just talking about things in fashion that they hate, and they were all really popular things at the time. And I was like, this is really in interesting because I am very put off by videos like this. And it's kind of a rule I have on my pages, I don't just on things because I don't personally them, or I try not to, and it's just not really the kind of content I like to make. And I noticed that there was a huge lack of critical thinking when it comes to fashion. And then the first video I ever made that, this is what I consider to be when I started TikTok, I made it in April, 2021, and I was talking about the current state of the trend cycle and how it's sort of destined to implode in on itself because there are so many trends happening at once, so many micro trends specifically at the time, and how personal style will reign supreme. I think those are the words I used. 

And that video, it exploded in a way that I can't even describe because it wasn't just the views that made it viral, it was the discourse and language that also went viral. I got hundreds and hundreds of stitches. I started hearing the vocabulary and the phrasing that I use that I consider original to me being used by tons and tons of people. And it's just like, “Holy shit.” To me, that's much more impactful than getting 3 million views on a lip-syncing video, like people have listened to what I have to say, they're thinking about it, they're critically engaging with it, they're talking about it, they're adding to the conversation. That was amazing. Still, that's one of the top moments I've ever had on the app, and that was the first video, I feel like, that really propelled me forward, and that's still one of the best moments I've ever had. That video changed my life, and I think it really changed the overall attitude, and it just opened up this dialogue and conversation on the app that it hadn't seen before. And I'm really proud of being able to contribute that to the app and just the conversation.

Nicole: Yeah, I love that! I mean, you're really adding your unique perspective and then getting recognition for that. It sounds like you have a really good viral moment. Is that how you would describe it? Like that video changed your life and you're very aware and grateful and proud of that? I'm curious how going viral changed your thoughts about being a content creator? How did it change your path or your identity even?

Mandy: It changed everything. It gave me sort of a building block to jump off of, really. It was the conduit between ship posting really, just doing whatever and then taking it seriously because at the time, it felt really important, because again, people were not having these conversations on TikTok at the time. Nobody was doing it. And then I started to just build off of that. I really started out talking a lot about personal style and the trend cycle as a whole, and then analyzing different aesthetics and different trends more critically. And then I felt comfortable enough to do what I do at work, which was sharing my trend forecasts. I had a decent amounts of videos go viral, and I had always had a pretty positive experience, there were a couple snarky comments here and there, but again, when I first started out, the dialogue and feedback was alarmingly positive, alarmingly! And I felt like I had this armor almost, and then that summer, so we're at summer 2021 now, I posted one of my first fully researched and very personal trend forecast video that I had been working on for three months at the time. 

This was when I predicted ballet flats and ballet platforms, bloomers, and I think the oversized blazer and suit jacket. And then I also talked about the WGSN color predictions at the end of it because they had just featured me in their newsletter and that was huge, huge, huge for me. And I feel like listing these trends now is like, well, yeah, obviously those are trends now. But a year and a half ago, that was absurdity to most people. And that video, I think, got 4 million views. So I was in tears for like a week because I did not get alarmingly positive feedback on that video. A lot of people thought I was insane, that I was punking them, that I'm not of this earth or whatever, because these ideas and these forecasts are so wildly out there to the average person. 

I don't really do forecasting anymore because the space has really changed and I don't like the direction it's gone in, but at the time, this was a real forecast because you didn't see the evidence. So it's like, how can people believe this without solid evidence of seeing it in their daily life and seeing it online and stuff? And then sure enough, a year later, all these trends are happening and it's kind of like, “Well, yeah, no kidding, I am good at my job. I do know what I'm talking about. Of course, they are.” But at the time, when you're actually making a real forecast and not just talking about what's actually trending with solid evidence, it does sound crazy to a lot of people. And that video changed my life also in the way that I share things and the way I kind of brace myself for virality, because I think if you ask any creator, when their videos go viral beyond their niche and beyond their audience, it is bad. It's a bad time. It's a bad time!

Nicole: Why? Why would you say it's a bad time? Have you felt that bad time?

Mandy: Oh my god, yes! Yes! I remember posting that video in the late afternoon, and then the next day, my fiancé, and I were at the farmer's market, and I had to sit down on a bench and I was hyperventilating. I was so freaked out because people were stitching it, being like, “What the is this girl talking about? She's fucking crazy!” And then there were a lot of parodies of people making videos, I'm a professional trend forecaster and here's what's going to be trending, and it's a joke video, and I just wasn't prepared for that. Because before then, every video I had go viral was very positive and the feedback was really good and positive, but this, it scared the shit out of me, and then it also made me realize I had a face-to-face reality check with the realities of going viral and putting your ideas out there. And even though they weren't out there for me, because that's my bread and butter, that's what I've been doing for seven years, is forecasting and planning and looking beyond what's happening currently, it was very new for a lot of people. 

And also, nobody was doing trend forecasting at the time on TikTok either. So it was a new niche for people, it was also a new concept, and then it's introducing them to things that did sound crazy at the time. But now, it's like everyone from Kendall Jenner to Barbie Ferrera has worn bloomers. Companies are making them, and at the time, I couldn't even find a good image of them. I had to go on Etsy to put my video. And then ballet flats are arguably the most popular item of the season. They're the most blown-up trend right now, the Mimi Ballet Flats was the number one consumer searched for and purchased product of Q3. And again, this was a year and a half ago. 

So as much as I would love to be happy because it's like, I told you so, it doesn't feel like that at all. I know a handful of people remember, and I've gotten messages on Instagram. One of my favorite messages I've ever received has been from somebody who left a hate comment. I don't know what it was, because they didn't include it, but they were like, “Hey, I left a really nasty comment on that video from last summer, and I just want to say I'm really sorry.” And again, I don't know what this person said, they didn't screenshot their comment, but I don't even care what they said because that was very kind and really nice to hear. Because it's like, “Hello? Mandy was right all along.” And then couple months later, I predicted Indie Sleaze, and that video has gotten ripped off, it's gotten written about by every digital publication. It's become a monster, way beyond me. You know what I mean? I introduced the internet to Indie Sleaze as a trend, and it's taken off beyond my wildest, wildest expectations, and that was crazy. 

And then the attitude and trajectory of fashion, it's so obvious clearly now that it's become more darker, more moodier, even having Wednesday Adams come into the picture, just really helped solidify the new Celine show was straight out of 2012. It is crazy because sometimes I'm like, can't predict the future. I have this data and experience behind me to back it up, but you never really know how it's going to happen. So it is crazy to see the accuracy, but again, it's hard to be like, “told you so”, when the response has sometimes been really frightening and scary. 

I think the biggest thing I've learned is once you put something out there and it goes viral, it's not yours anymore. And it's also not yours to change, because you can say whatever you want and then it goes viral, but people can spin it a different way and make it something it's not. I don't know. It's crazy. You don't own it. It might have been your idea, but you don't own it. It does not belong to you. And that's been I think the most important thing that I've learned too, is none of this belongs to me, it's way beyond my scope, and the second I put it out there, it's out of my hands.

Nicole: Yeah. And it's like it takes on a life of its own.

Mandy: Absolutely! It does.

Nicole: And does that make you feel less attached to what you put out there? And knowing somebody may take it and spin it totally differently entirely, or as you were saying, magazines take it and rip off of it, how do you then relate to your work and navigate that sense of ownership? 

Mandy: It's a good question, and I actually don't think I have the answer for that, because I've gone back and forth where I've said things and then I don't want to be part of them anymore. It's just simply like sharing an idea and then it's out there, I'm done. But I really have an issue with plagiarism. I'm not sure I even know how to define plagiarism online. I honestly don't think it exists, and it's just a personal pet peeve of mine. You can lead with having good ethics and wanting to give people credit, but it's not a requirement. And people have ripped off my videos and gotten millions of more views. 

There's this professional trend forecasting company that has literally taken my videos, added a couple more words and used different pictures, but the copy is the exact same, and they're supposed to be a professional service. That's been crazy to see. And I feel like it's more like, I don't like the plagiarism, because what really drew me to TikTok and the community is these conversations and helping facilitate conversations and discourse and ideas and sharing them and having people expand on them and things like that, that's what I love. I don't like getting plagiarized. It's my least favorite thing as a writer, as a creator. Have more respect for people than that. But it's not a requirement of the internet. Nobody is held to these expectations that you're not supposed to copy other people and come up with your own shit. But I think what helps me is remembering I am original, and my originality is what got me here, my ideas. I can stand behind them, and I know they're mine. They're of course, inspired by many things, but I feel like I operate with integrity. 

I've made many mistakes on TikTok, I've done things that I wouldn't do again, but I feel like I always lead with integrity, and that helps me take next steps and feel good about the content that I'm making. And at the end of the day, it's not life or death, it's literally making silly little videos on an app about fashion, like I'm a speck in the universe. And I'm making a living, so I'm happy with that, and just getting the opportunity to work with brands that would never know I exist without this app. The good outweighs the bad for sure, for sure! Some days are frustrating, but the good always outweighs the bad. 

And again, I've said this before, but I really do not take a second for granted because I remember how miserable I was a year ago, and it's just like, this is entirely, entirely better than working for somebody I don't respect or working for a company that doesn't give a shit about my insights. I can't even pay my assistant overtime; this is way beyond better. So the good really does outweigh the bad.

Nicole: And I also love that you feel so grounded in yourself. And it sounds like if you're relying on your integrity and your unique perspective that you can add, then you always have that to fall back on, even if someone takes your work. I am curious about these experiences of being plagiarized. Is that why you are moving away from trend forecasting?

Mandy: Yeah, definitely. That's definitely a huge, huge reason. It's almost not worth it because that's the thing that I know triggers me the most, and it's my responsibility to deal with that. Again, this is the internet that nobody is held to any particular rules, that's a me problem. It's hard to even blame people who do steal my work, because if you've been paying attention, the reason why I got verified is because of how much press I got from digital publications who do recognize my work. I just feel like the space has changed so much in the last year. Indie Sleaze happened in October, 2021, so it's been over a year, and I've made a couple more trend forecasting videos since then. But I feel like ever since Indie Sleaze happened, it's created this desire from other creators to do trend forecasting because again, I think it's important for creators to pay attention to what's working for other creators if you're taking it seriously. And I'm sure others have noticed the success it's brought me. 

And I hate to use the word amateur hour, but it is how I feel because I approach this from seven years of professional experience, so I take it more seriously than somebody who's doing it for shits and gigs to go viral. And again, I think the integrity I have for my career, it's just prevented me from wanting to continue. And what was happening earlier this year and throughout the spring is I was getting lumped in with this very amateur surface level version of forecasting that's become popular on TikTok, and I do not fit in with that niche. What I'm doing is not the same thing as that, but I don't blame other people for not recognizing that if you're not approaching it as a professional. So things have just changed, and I don't want to be lumped in with amateur hour. I really don't. And that's up to me to deal with, not up to the internet to go to bat for me, even though people have, which I really appreciate, and I think it's amazing that my community is so strong that people are willing to do that. 

But the thing is, and I think anyone who started TikTok coming from a professional lens and just random people who want to make fun videos, it feels weird to be lumped in with that. And it's no fault of other users to want that, it's just, I don't like it, and it's my problem to deal with. It's not the internet or other creator's job to stop doing it or stop consuming it, it's just, I'd rather not do anything than be looked at as an amateur. I hate that idea for me. And maybe it's a little ego too because I helped start the niche and the niche has become something I don't like. It's definitely a little bit of that too!

Nicole: And when do you realize that you're being lumped into amateur hour or any category that you don't want to be associated with, or you would like to distance yourself from? And then what's your decision process for trying to move away from that? And also talking about your fans going to bat for you, what does that look like for you?

Mandy: Let's see! That's a really good question! I guess I recognized it when I was getting served a lot of trend prediction videos from other people and it was things that either I've talked about over a year ago, because now most people can sort of see them happening. So it's sort of safe and palatable to talk about them, and you're not going to get nearly as much hate and backlash like I did. Because again, you're talking about something that people can actually see, but that's not a prediction. It's not the same thing, it's not a forecast, it's just, you're observing the world around you and regurgitating that into something that's an entertaining video. It's not the same thing, and that sort of bothered me. 

And then, I do have a pinpoint moment. There's this podcast called Articles of Interest, and the host is incredible. She's an amazing, amazing podcaster. She's been in business for a long time and her videos are very well-researched and thought out. I just respect her a lot, a lot, a lot! She has this new show called Articles of Interest talking about the origins of Ivy League style. And in the intro, she was talking about trends basically, and she took a bunch of audios from TikTok and my words from, I think it was the Indie Sleaze video, was getting lumped into all these other bullshit amateur hour videos. I don't know who they were from, because again, it's an audio medium, it's hard to tell, but just feeling like I was literally lumped in into this little compilation. That was very painful for some reason. I think it was just because like, “Oh, fuck, now this person that I really respect is using my voice as an example of the oversaturation of how trends are being talked about.” 

And also, that's another thing, is I don't want to contribute to this oversaturation where it becomes meaningless, and that's what was happening. It was very hard to come to terms with, because again, this is a niche I helped create, it's an industry I've worked in for a long time, and it's something I'm passionate about. But I think it's important to know when you got to stop or you got to change it up, or you got to pivot because it's no longer serving you. And that's sort of just how I felt. And then I guess I have a lot of mutuals and I have a lot of followers that are familiar with my work, I don't need to prove myself. I've done that more times over than anyone really needs to believe my research is valid and accurate. And people will tag me in videos that are clearly copying my past forecasts. And people can never slip through the cracks because my followers will find a way to send it to me. It's happened more times than I can count. I'm appreciative, but at this point, I don't care. You know what I mean? I'm over it. 

And I think one day I will go back to making that content again, but it just right now does not feel like it's serving anybody really. I don't know. I'm just not inspired to make it. That's also a huge part of it, is, the inspiration is zapped right now.

Nicole: Yeah, absolutely! And I'm curious about how you talked about their, perhaps mistakes that you feel that you've made or content that you don't want to create again, whether that be forecasting or other types of content. And you also post about the fact that you have made mistakes and you are showing a different side of your content creation process. Can you talk a little bit about that, and how you connect with your audience in terms of content that you're moving away from or mistakes that you feel that you've made?

Mandy: Oh, man. Yeah! One really sticks out to me, and I still feel very shameful about this even though I know this person probably not thought about me since this happened. But there is a creator who also was very early with fashion history. I really respect his knowledge and I really looked up to him, and this was the summer of 2021. So again, the space was extremely small and the creators who were making this content, it was a really small circle, so we all kind of knew each other, whether we were mutuals or not. I felt like I was familiar with everybody in this space. And then he made the series of videos where he was giving really quick identifiers on how to identify a brand. 

And then I remember seeing it, and then it was a couple months later, I kind of ripped off his idea. I made it a little different, but when I was making it, I wasn't like, “I'm going to copy this guy.” It was just like, I was a little drunk to be honest, and I was like, this will be so funny. And he commented because somebody tagged him and was like, “Oh, this is really disappointing to see. This is my series.” And my heart sank, because I was like, “Oh my god, I remember that so clearly, yes.” I made a whole video apologizing for it and being like, this was the person who created this series, they should get credit for it. Because my video blew up, and I've been in the position where somebody's stolen my content and it's blown up and they don't credit me or give shit a really, and it's very disheartening. And I tried to make that situation right and publicly apologize, but I will never forget it. That was one of probably the lowest moments I've ever had on the app. I just felt so wrong for doing that, for not crediting someone. Because I believe in credit so much, it's not hard to do. 

And also, if you are making video inspired by somebody, stand by your originality. You might have gotten the idea from somebody else, but it's okay to riff off of other creators, that's what the app is for. But give credit where credit is due. I do it all the time now, all the time! And it feels good to help, especially small creators too, like a tag go so far for smaller creators to get noticed. I have never made that mistake again and I never will, and it's why I feel so passionate, I guess, about credit and originality and things like that. I will just never forget that feeling of I did something wrong. Again, like I said, there are no hard and fast rules on the internet. You can do whatever you want, but that did not sit right with me. It didn't sit right with me, and I regret it to this day. I've never talked to this person. I reached out to them, they never got back to me. And I don't blame them honestly, because that was and I learned my lesson. 

I'm glad it happened pretty early on, because this is something the app deals with every day where people blatantly steal other people's ideas, they don't credit them, it becomes a whole thing, a whole scandal where everyone's talking about it. I don't do it to avoid that backlash, I do it because karma has gotten me from that experience where it's happened to me more times than I can count, and it is a terrible feeling being on both sides, honestly, knowing you did something wrong. But yeah, I really believe in credit. 

And I think it's really fun to bounce things off of other creators, and it's like, I heard this person talk about this, here's what I have to say. Or like, this really fun format, I'm going to do it too because it's just kind of fun. But I hate thinking about that because it was a very low moment, but that's something I will never do again. It was definitely a mistake. I'm not going to make that mistake again. It felt really shitty, and it just wasn't worth it. It didn't gain me anything really. 

It's weird how certain things like hate comments about how people think my hair is raggedy or I have no top lip or whatever, I closed the app, and I don't think about them again. But certain things, it's like, oh, fuck, this got me and I'm thinking about it in real life and stuff like that. It's really like my integrity and my ethics, because a lot of it is new, you know what I mean? Nobody tells you how to feel or how to navigate stuff like this. It's almost like you're learning for the first time on how to navigate these situations and these spaces. I don’t know what to say, I don't know if I should address this, like what do I do, blah, blah, blah. It takes a lot of learning, it really does. And that's the other thing, is I'm sure a lot of the times it is, no bad intentions. I didn't have any bad intentions. I felt kind of stupid because I maybe should have known better, and maybe it was my responsibility to do my due diligence, but now it's kind of down to a science almost.

Nicole: Thank you so much for listening to my conversation with Mandy. You can find her on TikTok and Instagram at @OldLoserinBrooklyn. And also, be on the lookout for her newsletter cyclical. Be sure to check out this second part of this conversation next week, which explores more about Mandy's perspectives on the fashion industry, and really is just an interesting conversation about the industry and thoughts about working in fashion or content and lifestyle creation. If you like this episode, I would love to know. Send me a message or comment on my Instagram at @multitudes.podcast. Thanks so much for tuning in, and I'll talk to you soon.