Whatever your passion, be it cooking or cocker spaniels, you can find your tribe on Instagram. On those little squares, you can connect with thousands of equally committed people, ready and willing to share pictures of what they love. And there seem to be few more active and enthusiastic Instagram gangs than the one devoted to interiors. Home stylist Lisa Dawson is one of the Queen Bees of this tribe. Lisa is a former PA who in just two years has taken her love of home decor and turned it into a business based on an Instagram following of more than 100 thousand people.
She describes her look as “vintage boho eclectic”, and her followers can’t get enough of it. Her Yorkshire home shows a passion for velvet sofas, gallery walls, fairy lights and vintage furniture finds. I’m fascinated by her journey and just delighted that she was willing to chat with me about it.
Lisa where does your love of interiors come from?
I’ve always loved revamping and restyling my home and am an obsessive furniture mover, a trait I get from my mum who was always rearranging rooms. We lived in Hong Kong when I was a child and I have always been inspired by Chinese colours and culture. When we moved to a period home in Caversham in Berkshire 2008, it was the perfect opportunity to redecorate and work out in which direction my style was heading. Although I had a pretty non-creative career, I always had something going on on the side, whether it be an eBay or Etsy store, or a shop on Not On The High Street. This mainly fed my love of vintage which is always a key part of my home styling.
Tell us about your Instagram story, did you set out to create a large following?
No, I just set out to post pictures of my home and to gain inspiration from others. We had moved from Berkshire to our dream house in York, a Georgian manor house, and I was decorating the rooms one by one. I’d always used Instagram for photos of my kids and food, but then I discovered a hashtag called #mystylephotochallenge (it’s still going) which gives you a daily prompt to create a photo. It could be based on a colour or activity, anything really. I found that whatever the challenge was, I was posting interiors shots. My account just took off and by June of 2016, I was receiving so many questions about how I was styling my home that I decided to start writing a weekly blog and launched a website.
And then your following grew incredibly quickly…
Yes, I met Dee Campling (who is now my business partner) on Instagram, and we hit it off immediately. We realised that there were no UK based hashtags around interiors. The USA had been doing it successfully for years. So we launched #myhomevibe in October 2016. It caught on and now has nearly a quarter of a million posts. By Christmas 2016 I had 20,000 followers. Dee and I decided to see if we could create a business and capitalise on the astronomically quick growth of Instagram as a platform. We decided to start running styling workshops in our homes. These were so popular that we expanded to run them across the country in ‘Insta Famous’ houses.
It sounds like a whirlwind!
By Christmas last Christmas I had 80,000 followers on Instagram and was working regularly with brands on sponsored posts. This year, Dee and I have expanded to work directly with brands to create workshops with them. We are also now running Instagram courses to pass on our knowledge of how to build your account and brand.
The strength of the interiors community on Instagram blows me away, why do you think it has become so huge on the platform?
Before I started using Instagram for inspiration, I rarely met anyone who liked the same style as myself or who was really even that interested in interiors. The only inspiration was to be taken from magazines or Pinterest (where you can’t chat with anyone). It works because we all like the same thing. There’s nothing more exciting than being in a room full of interior obsessives and that’s why our workshops have been so successful. The community is just growing and growing.
You’re a great user of the Instagram Stories feature, famous some might say! You appear on there every day chatting away. Do you enjoy making your little videos?
Yes! I love Stories. To grow your account on Instagram, it’s important to stick to a niche. But it does become a little boring constantly posting interior shots, to be honest. So Stories for me is an outlet for non-interiors stuff. I can talk about whatever I like which is such good fun. Stories have had astronomical growth. My impressions (the total number of times a post has been seen) have doubled in the last six months to 1.5m a week. This is almost entirely due to Stories, on which I can get up to 12 thousand hits a day.
How do you describe your job nowadays?
It’s hard to describe my role and I know that most people don’t understand it! Particularly if they are not social media users. I describe myself as an interiors blogger, writer, workshop presenter and influencer. What a mouthful. I contribute and write regularly for magazines and blogs and create written and photographic content for brands.
What are the best opportunities to come out of being Big On Instagram?
Meeting so many interior obsessed people through our workshops has been absolutely amazing. Getting to work with the brands I’ve always loved, such as Rockett St George, has also been fabulous. And having a job which means I’m constantly redecorating is a dream come true! I count myself lucky every single day.
What do your family and friends make of it all?
Lots of them don’t really understand it, I don’t think. My family are quite proud. The kids have stopped laughing at my hashtag choices and now laugh at the fact that their friends all follow me and watch my Stories. My daughter’s best ever moment was when we visited H&M and TopShop one afternoon and both the shop assistants recognised me. That’s total 16-year-old goals. Ha!
Social media is so time-consuming. Do you ever manage to take a day off?
It is 24/7 and I literally never stop. I took two days off at Christmas and my engagement plummeted which isn’t good when my workload is based on brands perception of my statistics. It’s been really hard work getting to where I am now. I’m often working on the weekend doing workshops and blog posts. I count myself really lucky though as I work primarily from home, so I’m there to take my children to school, pick them up and make them dinner. Or take them to McDonald’s which is often the case! I can’t complain.
Do you think about how you would like to see your career develop over the next few years?
Influencing is such a new role and there are no boundaries so who knows? Two years ago the job I have now didn’t really exist. If I had one wish, I’d love to write an interiors book but that’s some way away I think.
Do you have any words of advice for someone for growing an Instagram account, interiors or otherwise?
Keep consistent. Don’t post irregularly. It doesn’t matter whether it’s once a day, twice a day or once a week, as long as you are consistent your account will grow. Make sure your content is shit hot. Take the best photograph you can, in daylight if possible. Try and work on your compositions. Try and engage people with what you write in your caption. And make sure you respond to any comments super quickly to give your post the best possible chance of flying. Stick to a niche. Whether that be interiors, food, dogs or hairgrips, if you have a niche, you will find your Instagram tribe.
Some quick fire questions to end on Lisa…
What is your favourite room in your home and why?
My kitchen because that’s where my family always gather.
What interiors trends should we be watching out for in 2018?
Natural textures, brass, velvet and lots of 70’s inspiration.
And can you recommend some of your favourite interiors Instagram accounts for us to follow…
*oh my goodness this one is amazing!
And of course, find Lisa on Instagram @_lisa_dawson_