In a socioeconomic world where humans thrive on chaos and autonomy, it seems that we are living by the mantra of “every man is for himself.” However, as of late, there have been many revolutionary movements in which people are showing desire to help beyond just themselves. Cue Indigo & Iris – a brand with a business model that has been giving back since its creation.

Bonnie and Hannah of Indigo & Iris

Back in October when the first Femmepire summit was held, I was very lucky to have bonded with Hannah Duder, CEO of Indigo & Iris. Following her Bachelor in Law, Hannah joined forces with co-founder Bonnie, to boost the business’ potential and find a way to help people along the way. Half of Indigo & Iris’ profits are donated to curing treatable blindness in the Pacific Islands.

As with most beauty brands, Indigo & Iris uses social media platforms to market their product – an environment in which we are constantly exposed to an ever-lasting scroll of fleeting trend-based products and brands. However, they pierce through the over-saturation of consumer marketing with a philanthropic aspect that tugs on the heartstrings of many. It’s incredibly refreshing to come across businesses like Indigo & Iris that have a clear purpose to instigate a positive change and spark hope in humanity.

Hannah and I got talking about social media and its effects. The good, the bad, the current issues it raises for our younger generations, and we ended up diving into the darker side of it all. I found her thoughts and experiences from a brand’s perspective very enlightening and for any budding entrepreneurs who are reading this, I think you may find her honest insight and advice incredibly beneficial.

Chatty Chung: The social media space has developed exponentially over the past few years since its birth. It’s incredibly accessible and embedded in our daily lives. However, with the tendency to highlight one’s life at its peak which makes for a smidge of these people’s lives, social media is proving to affect the self-esteem of viewers. When it comes to creating content with integrity, that are viewed by a lot of young Gen Ys and Gen Zs, how do you ensure that your content is authentic with a positive, constructive message?

Hannah Duder: We are always authentic with our posting, it either comes directly from Bonnie and I, and is our voice. We avoid any negativity and try to only focus on positive things. We have a real emphasis on choice – choosing that you are beautiful, choosing what you want to do, how you want to look etc. We mix up our models and the style of makeup we portray. We try to be as inclusive as possible. We also throw in a positive quote every 3-4 photos.

We also ensure our Instagram feed isn’t perfectly curated weeks in advance, I think it is so obvious when a person or business has done this and it seems really fake.

CC: Personally, I’m very grateful to have experienced a pure childhood without the habit of continuously comparing my life with others who ‘appear’ to be in ‘better’ situations than myself… I can’t even imagine growing up with this much existential dread! What are your thoughts on the responsibility that we hold as people who influence communities? 

HD: I think anyone out there with a large following has a responsibility to make it clear to their followers what their purpose of putting this content out there is. Are they trying to sell you something, or are they putting on a show and see their content as entertainment or are they being real and authentic by letting people into their lives?

There is also some responsibility on the audience to realise that Instagram is basically reality TV and they only show the good parts. It isn’t hard to click unfollow and more information and education needs to go out to the younger generations about this.

CC: As people who market and monetize their social accounts, how do you balance the aspects of aesthetics and meaning? What has worked and what hasn’t? And in this current oversaturated market, how do you get ahead in this rat race while retaining your moral compass and not selling out?

CC: I guess this comes to the discussion of ‘meaningless pretty picture vs. authentic, real, raw content,’ – I’m an advocate of the latter – I think combining meaning into a picture, albeit difficult, can be done. At the moment in New Zealand, I’m noticing that large global brands are still aligning with Instagrammers who have large numbers and create the ‘pretty pictures’ rather than those who are showing reality and its lowlights. The world is definitely changing towards promoting authenticity. However, it seems to be a slow burn due to our human nature of being drawn to beautiful people and objects – since the dawn of time, humans have been adorning themselves to be beautiful. What are your thoughts on this?

HD: I think at the moment, being raw and authentic in the beauty industry does make us stand out. We are just being ourselves and not trying to be like anyone else. We want quality, not quantity, when it comes to followers on social media. This does mean a slower organic growth but we are okay with that. We have found that giveaways get us more followers for the duration of the giveaway but we then lose most of them after it ends. We have found that having an influencer with 100k followers posting about levitate, does not lead to actual sales, especially if they are just another “unboxing” influencer who is constantly sent stuff by companies. However, smaller micro-influencers with 1-10k followers work better. We have found mainstream media, television and interviews with online newsagents and magazines lead to actual sales and authentic following.

CC: What grinds your gears in social media? And how do you think it should change?

HD: UNBOXING is the worst trend, I am sick of it. Also, influencers who have no talent or individual values – they will promote anything if the pay is right and have not got an actual talent themselves, (i.e they aren’t an artist, business owner, sports person etc). I have personally unfollowed anyone that falls into that category. I don’t think they will change but as consumers and followers, we can change by not falling for their bullshit and unfollowing. 

CC: Online negativity – have you experienced it and how do you deal with it?

HD: Haven’t actually experienced any negativity. We have only had one slightly “negative” engagement when we posted a picture that one of our great friend produced herself. She is in a bathing suit and holding levitate, by a pool (pictured above). You can only see her torso and thigh. One woman commented saying that she thought we were an inclusive brand and that this image didn’t represent a “normal” woman. We, and of course our friend, was very offended by this comment stating that her body wasn’t normal. We replied to the woman personally but not publicly. However, a lot of our followers replied to her and pointed out how terrible backwards her comment was. 

CC: Tall Poppy Syndrome is a real thing. Have you experienced it, and how do you deal with it?

HD: I am lucky enough to have not experienced this yet, my friends and family I surround myself with are only positive and encouraging. Anyone that enters my life who shows the potential to be negative, I do not let the friendship begin. It is so important to surround yourself with positivity, the odd critical friend is important to keep you grounded but they do not need to be a dick about it, and they should only have your best interests at heart.

CC: What are your mantras and how do you maintain level-headed during stressful times?

HD: My main two things are: removing the fear of failure and this comes hand in hand with not caring what people think. I believe that the fear of failure holds a lot of people back and that the only reason a lot of people have this fear is that they care way too much about what people think.

I also find that the people who really care about you, your actual friends and family, will not judge you as harshly as you think. And if you really think about failure and what that would look like – it doesn’t seem that bad.

I think I am really privileged because of my upbringing in NZ, I wasn’t handed anything on a silver platter, and still had to work hard for everything. However, if moving back home with my parents and getting my old job back at a supermarket is “failure” then I am okay with that, at least I tried!

CC: Are there any big challenges that you’ve encountered along the way? What have you learnt from them? Do you have any key pieces of advice that have worked for you and would like to share with us?

HD: It’s all about your attitude. I find that when I have a negative attitude about something or someone all I have to do is switch my mindset and find the positive in the situation and my entire mood and feelings towards that task or person can change. Our minds are a very powerful thing and your attitude is something you can control. I struggle to be around pessimists and negative people, so my challenges so far have arisen when I am in their presence! Usually, I will leave, move on and end that relationship. 

CC: Considering how well you’re doing, you’re very humble, down-to-earth and fucking awesome in general. A lot of people in this industry have inflated egos and it’s really entertaining to see how their attitude and behaviour changes as the fame progressively get to their heads. How do you remain grounded? And why do you think it’s important to stay chill about your status?

HD: You think Auckland is bad, try New York Fashion Week, it’s a fucken shit show and those people have the biggest egos.

I think it is because I genuinely care about other people and the state of our world. I know I am a small tiny speck on this planet and I don’t really matter. That sounds a bit sad, but it makes me put a lot of importance on today and living in the now. My Instagram followers, how much free shit I get given and society status points mean nothing in the long run. But when I am 80 years old, having a loving family and heaps of friends to play lawn bowls with – that’s what matters.

For me, it is about my values and priorities. Very low on my priority list is having the most expensive car, a massive house, a designer wardrobe or having the latest trendy viral material good. I know that the happiness that stuff brings lasts about 5 minutes. I was lucky to learn pretty early on in life due to some life-changing traumas, what actually makes me happy.

The joy from getting one more follower on Instagram is nothing compared to the laughs I have with my sister when we are playing monopoly deal. Having a bunch of close, real friends I can have Wednesday Wines with is so much more rewarding, than getting invited to the next socialite evening.

CC: Any last tips and secrets behind getting to where you’ve got to? What are the biggest risks you’ve taken? Is there anything you wish you would’ve done differently?

Tips: Be yourself, be honest and actually work out what is going to make you happy. Stop caring about other people and focus on your own happiness. Big Risk: Quitting my graduate position in one of the big four accounting firms to try and start a social enterprise was a big risk but I am so glad I did it. Anything I would have done differently: Not yet. No regrets!

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