When you’re going through a crisis, it’s very easy to feel like you’re completely alone. But BUPA Blogger of the Year and Lifestyle Blogger of the Year 2016, Jenni Eyles, quickly found that this was not at all the case when she was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, aged 41. After being “carved up”, undergoing unpleasant treatment and believing she was going to die, Jenni stopped sweating the “small stuff” and 3 years ago created Styling Curvy to share her new-found respect and love for her body. Having worked in fashion retail for 25 years, Styling Curvy is as much about fashion as it is about body confidence and cancer, encouraging women of all ages, shapes and sizes to love themselves in the skin they’re in and be more adventurous with fashion.
I was super excited to have Jenni as a guest on Be The Drop, which was recorded live at Adelaide Podcast Festival at The Elephant British Pub. With 14,000+ Facebook fans, nearly 17,000 Insta followers and a profitable business to boot, Styling Curvy is the perfect example of a waterfall that grew from a single drop, Jenni definitely embodies #BeTheDrop.
In today’s episode of Be The Drop, Jenni talks about being stylish, sassy and a little bit badassy, about building trust with your community, and reveals the best way to deal with online abuse…
When Jenni first started the blog, she didn’t want to talk about cancer. But she quickly realised she had to, because that’s what had made her who she is. Her cancer journey was right at the centre of what she wanted to talk about with fashion and confidence and loving the skin you’re in. So, after about a week, she started talking about the cancer – about everything in fact – and women loved it. They could relate to Jenni, as a mum, as a curvy woman in her mid 40s, as someone who’s faced a major life challenge. Everyone has experienced something stressful or traumatic in their lives, whether they’re 18 or 80, fat or thin, rich or poor. The Styling Curvy community is built on relatability and trust.
Jenni’s blog writing voice is the same as her offline voice (she says, “I write as I speak”), and it’s her confidence that inspires other women to ditch their own body shame. Her hashtag #YourBodyConfidence is a mechanism by which women can share pictures of themselves on their personal journey; individual drops that, together, form a waterfall.
Listen to Jenni’s Be The Drop podcast episode, recorded LIVE at Adelaide’s inaugural Podcast Festival, here:
Give your community something they need.
Jenni writes about cancer a lot because she’s able to share the open and honest account of what it’s really like for the sufferer, the family and friends, that she never got to read when she got sick. She’s giving her community useful information that they’re not able to read on a pamphlet in their medical centre. For example, she wrote about sex after breast cancer, a perspective on a very relevant topic for a lot of women.
Jenni gives her community her honesty and, in return, they give her their trust. This honesty permeates every aspect of her business and community. For instance, she won’t work with every brand that comes her way. In order to maintain the integrity of Styling Curvy and that close relationship with her community, she spends a long time working out if each brand or product is the right fit. She does this to ensure that, if she is working with a brand or a product, her community knows it’s one they can trust.
Be persistent, be consistent, and be resilient… Love your community and love them hard.
Be open to change.
The digital world moves so fast and there’s so much to learn. In fact, Jenni jokes that she didn’t even know what a blog was when she first started Styling Curvy on Facebook and Instagram. But it soon became clear that she needed the blog aswell, so she embraced the change and incorporated that into the community too.
She’s never pitched to a brand, never advertised and never boosted a post; it’s all been organic growth. Jenni said that she received her first brand interest after Styling Curvy had been going for just 2 weeks. She’s now worked with a handful of swimwear and lingerie brands, doing professional model shoots and offering consultancy. Her advice is to stay open to whatever opportunities may come your way and be flexible and able to change your course if need be.
Love and protect your community.
Jenni is very closely connected to her community and “loves them hard”, but from time to time she has to deal with haters. How does she deal with cyber bullies and trolls? Jenni takes a no nonsense approach to hateful messages, comments and interaction of any kind in the interests of protecting her community. After deleting any offensive material and blocking the perpetrator, she does a live video to remind people of the rules of engagement. She explains that if you allow hateful comments to fester on the page publicly, the rest of the community won’t feel safe and and comfortable to share. Her number 1 rule? Don’t be a mole!
Thank you again for tuning in and listening to the Be The Drop podcast. I can’t wait for the next installment, to bring you more inspiring people talking about their strategies for storytelling in the digital world and building a positive community.
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