A Conversation with Elyse Fox, Founder of Sad Girls Club – Ep. 18

James Nord
May 25, 2022
Updated Feb 09, 2024

Today’s episode features the incredible Elyse Fox, founder of Sad Girls Club. James and Elyse discuss:

  • Setting boundaries with social media & changing routines
  • How to ask for help & support from your community
  • Dealing with backlash & handling audience expectation 
  • Managing the ups & downs of success
  • Elyse’s journey as a Black creator & finding shared experience

You can submit your questions for future episodes here.

Welcome to Elyse Fox, Founder of Sad Girls Club

James: Welcome Negronis with Nord, episode number 18, we just wrapped up an amazing conversation with Elyse Fox, the founder of Sad Girls Club. It is an amazing community and product that helps specifically women of color share their mental health journey, get tips and support. And we have an amazing conversation about the impacts on your mental health, of being online, what we can do to create boundaries and mitigate some of that impact. What are the specific challenges that women of color online face and what are some of the tactics and advice that they can use to overcome some of that? Um, so this is a great conversation. Thank you again to Elyse for joining in and we'll cut to it.

Welcome Elyse. Thank you for being here. This is kicking off a bunch of content that we're creating this month for mental health awareness. And something I think I was talking with the team about three or four months ago. I just had seen more and more influencers who were starting to talk about leaving Instagram mm-hmm  or quitting this, or, you know, just the, the kind of toll that this takes. And I was like, you know, this just isn't doesn't feel like this is being talked about a lot. Yeah. And so I appreciate you coming here. This is obviously what you've committed your life to, to working on mental health, especially as it's connected to social. Um, so thank you so much for being here and maybe we'll just start and, and, and tell the people as they were, uh, what is the Sad Girls Club? How did you start it? And, and like, what's it exist for?

Elyse Fox: Thank you for having me today. Um, it is a very important month for me. It's mental health awareness month. I'm like, this is like my Super Bowl. I feel busy. I feel it I'm busy, but in a good way and like the best way possible. So like a little bit about the backstory with Sad Girls Club.

The founding of Sad Girls Club

Elyse: It started after I released a film in 2016, about my worst year of my depression. I had just gotten out of a long relationship. I was living in Los Angeles for five years and then had to immediately move back to New York after I had a suicide attempt. And I was just like one, my, my neighborhood changed. Everything was super gentrified. My friendships changed. Everything was a little bit different and I just felt so off. So I would just like wanna be a part of parties and events still, but I didn't want people to ask me, why are you back in New York Like, what are you doing? Why, who, where is so and so, so I would film everything because nobody talks to like the camera person, no one talks to the person behind the camera, but they still get to experience the event. And at the end of the year, I was like, I'm gonna put out this like show-off documentary that I did all this cool shit, despite my ex and all these things I went through. And then I was like, that's not real. Like, that's so whack. If I were to do something like that, or just use my brand to do something like that. So I put out a real film that had the same content of me going out to festivals and traveling and doing like living my best life, essentially. But narrating over those moments, like I was depressed during this point, I was having an anxiety attack in the bathroom at this party and really showing that there is no face of depression.

Elyse: You don't know what it looks like for anybody. Um, and upon the release of that film, there were so many young women who just like saw themselves in my story and were like, can we talk about this? Can I pull you aside? Can I email you? And I just created an Instagram page. I was like, I'm millennial, let me create an Instagram page. Everybody will flock to it. Um, and people just shared their stories and they felt like this was the first space for them to be able to do that. So with SGC, I just wanted to continue creating spaces online. And then also offline to show people like we are like, all the same are just our skin. Color's different, you know, we all feel the same things, but we need to normalize the conversation first and then take action directly after.

James: And I feel like, 2017, that was like kind of early in, like right now, obviously mental health is just something that feels like pretty ubiquitously talked about. [Mm-hmm] Probably less. So when you started this in 2017, right?

Elyse: Listen, when I was going through it, I was looking online like, alright, let me find a page for Caribbean women who are going through X, Y, Z, or even just Southern what? Like, I couldn't find any kind of like community online that was for me and everything I found was so like general, like one in four, except for depression. And this is what you should do, go for a walk. And it was just really like, it was BS. I was living at Brooklyn, it was winter. And I'm like, I don't wanna go for a walk and that's probably not gonna make me feel better. Right. So, um, I essentially, like, I remember just not having a space to feel like I seen and heard and like understood. So I felt like I had to create it. Cause I couldn't just complain about it, not existing, but also having the, the power to bring people together in such a special way. So I was like, you know, I could just try this out. The worst thing that will happen is it fails, but I kind of hoped it'd fail. I kind of hope people weren't feeling as bad as they actually are. [Mm-hmm] But it's a blessing to be able to help people in such an organic way.

James: Yeah. And it started, you know, in this really organic way, as you said, like you shared something, there was like a reaction to it and you felt like, okay, I can kind of create this space for more people to share these stories and to help people out, how is what you're doing changed? How is it the same? What does it look like now? Um, kind of what's the scope of what you're doing with Sad Girls Club.

The effect of the pandemic, introducing Chat Rooms

Elyse: We were like lit for a consistent amount of time, like throwing events, at least one every single month. And then we began traveling and going on the road and then we held a couple events in London and then Spain. And it was, no, it was a really good time for us to like see and feel people in different cities and states. But after the pandemic had to like really sit back and like listen to our community. There were a lot of, there was a lot of misinformation and just information in general, I feel like too much. And it was a lot of like toxic positivity going out. And I just, I was like, let's just chill. Let's not post anything for a while because we're feeling it too. Like no one, everyone wants to seem like they have the answers, but we all like really just figuring it out.

So with that time period, we just surveyed our community, asked them, what do you want to, what do you need? Like, what do you looking for right now? What's the one thing that'll help you. And they said, we want people to talk to, like, I wanna be able to talk to someone like I live alone or I can't speak to my family and friends about this. But I love coming to the events and like watching them on live.

So I created this program called Chatroom and it's essentially our version of group therapy. 10 or less members of the community are, are paired up with the therapist or mental health coach of color. And they get to sit in the room or a digital room for an hour and just talk about something under a specific umbrella theme. And it's like, nothing is off limits. The therapist is there to kind of gradually like cater, not cater the conversation, but kind of move the conversation along . But they always say like, I didn't have to say anything. Like everyone started helping out each other. And the point of it is to show you that you don't need to, you, some people do need to go to therapy. I understand, but to start your own healing, you don't need to actually like pay for it. You can just talk to a friend and have these open and honest conversations, cause the same way you were in a digital room with nine other people from sometimes different countries and you relate it to them. Imagine how helpful your best friend would be or some, even your neighbor next door, just, you know, being a little bit vulnerable and showing that side of yourself. Yeah. So people who have like become friends, started bands go, they they're going out on vacations together because they met through chat room.

James: That's incredible. That's great. And it's free? Free to use?

Elyse: 100% free. We have sessions every six months.

James: Okay. That's incredible.

Our addiction to social media & setting boundaries

James: I think there's kind of two things we want to dig into here. Obviously, you know, there's a larger conversation about mental health and I think that's, you know, that's something that specifically for, we want to think like more specifically to our audience, we wanna have one talk about social, right. And how is that impacting our mental health and how can we deal with being online? You know, also obviously you're catering to, I think it's specifically women of color, is it?

Elyse: It's like Gen Z, millennial, black women, womxn of color. BIPOC community.

James: How much do you think being online, having your life be online, especially when it starts to become your job; how much is that impacting people's mental health? How often is that conversation coming up in your community?

Elyse: So to begin, I feel like social media is like the newest drug that we don't know how to diagnose anyone with, like an addiction to yet. I strongly feel that way because there's no reason why we [should] feel empty without like our phone in our hand. So I do think with any type of medicine or drug or whatever you're using, there has to be some kind of moderation if you're trying to get yourself off of it. Um, but we don't have that kind of boundary. No one sets that boundary for us. We have to do it ourselves. And a lot of the times there's so many mental health issues that thrive because of social media and because of the comparison, because of the lack of boundary and use of it. So I always like to like, people blame the apps, like Instagram should be shut down and Meta should be shut down.

I feel like social media is like the newest drug that we don't know how to diagnose anyone with an addiction to yet. - Elyse Fox.

Elyse: But I'm like, y'all know we use it. Right? Like, we're creating the algorithm. If we just pull back and like, honestly I take a hiatus every single Sunday or even mental health awareness month. I'm like, whatever, it's gonna be late Sundays. I'm offline because, and I like, it feels weird being in the world without thinking about Instagram or Twitter or like does somebody retweet my photo? I know I was cute.

I really wanna like go back to like, when we were like the MySpace stage, you'll take your photo on your digital camera. It'll upload it and then you'll go outside and have fun. We don't do that anymore. So I think that there needs to be more moderation to the social media addiction that is undiagnosed. I don't know. It's a long way of saying that.

I was at a panel last weekend and there was a 17 year old girl who was like talking about her life problems and she articulated it so well that when she's online, she's basically saying like she basically compared to adults who have to put on a suit and tie to go to work and that's like her character, like we all have our work demeanors and we all have our weekend demeanors, even if we don't wanna admit it.

But when she's on social media, she's like, this is my suit and tie. This is my work demeanor. I have to put on a suit to earn money for myself and my family. And I have to know when to take it off. And I feel like that was the best way I've heard it because when you are yourself and you are a social media brand, people aren't meant to be brands. Like brands are meant to be brands. There's supposed to be a slight disconnect between the two. And I love that people are becoming their own brand, but it's hard to turn it off and we have to understand and create our own way and routine and boundary around, turning it off because it will literally become an obsession and addiction. And even people who are addicted to work, it's not the best thing. Like there needs to be balance and moderation in every aspect of your life. Cuz if you're working twice, the amount you're supposed to, that means you're not resting enough. Something else is lacking.

When she's on social media, she's like, this is my suit and tie. This is my work demeanor. I have to put on a suit to earn money for myself and my family. And I have to know when to take it off. - Elyse Fox.

James: Do you have any, or have you seen any kind of specific, cause I think in theory, a lot of creators would agree with that. Yes. I need to create boundaries. Right. But I think the practice of doing it is probably harder. Right. Because they're always, always that DM, and the platforms they reward your continued engagement. Right. And so like literally the system is set up to encourage you to not take that break. Are there any more tactical tips? Like how do you do this? I love just even your taking Sundays off, you know, and that being like a line in the sand, you know, cause like, that's not crazy that you would take one day off of online. Right. And, and work. But is there anything else that's like for people out there who have heard before that, like, yes, I need to set boundaries, but who haven't done it. Yeah. Of like how to get to that place or how to start to do that.

Elyse: I would say create like, integrate it into your routine, whatever you do Monday through Sunday and start off small, like it's gonna be hard to just go cold Turkey. I'm off of social media. Like that's very difficult if you wake up and you open your phone, you wake up at 9:00 AM. And the first thing you do is go on Instagram, set about, I'm not gonna go on Instagram till 10:30 this morning. Find time to do something else that you wouldn't have done or would've done later on in the day and do it then. So I would say take it in small increments and also do it with someone else that might make it easier. Like I have this thing now where I really don't. I rarely text my friends. I send them like voice notes. Cause I feel like it's a different kind of connection.

And through those voice notes, like we checking on each other, like, did you go to the gym today? Or I would read them if they aren't doing, you know, what they said they wanted to do. So I think just having somebody who's helping to hold you accountable will be really helpful because after a certain amount of time, like new things become a part of our routine and become a part of our reflex soon after. So if we integrated, I believe it's like 21 days of doing something consistently it'll become a part of your routine. And I believe like 60 days after it becomes a part of like your reflex. So start off small, add on a little bit at a time. If there's a day that social, social media is slow, at least for one day out of week for some people, unless you're like, right. I don't know Drake or something, but it's like, you have to like take a break. That stuff will be there. You have to understand those messages will be there. People aren't really emailing you anyway on the weekend. So that's the perfect opportunity or the perfect day for me to take off it's it's Sunday. Right?

Setting boundaries with your audience

James: How about like how you set boundaries with your audience? Right? Because I do think that something I've heard from the influencers as well is that the audiences start to become a little, they can be entitled. Right. They feel like, look, you are supposed to answer my DMS. You know, you're supposed to do this. What? Like even just posting, right. I've seen like certain influencers who like, when they take a day off, like they'll come on and be like, Hey, I'm sorry, I wasn't here. I know guys. I have this content coming for you, you know? And it's not something I have experienced where like I have a community that was like, where is your photo? Uh, I need, I must, you know, I must like this photo. Yeah. But I think that's a very real thing for people like that, that happens, you know? That like, someone will send you a question and they expect to answer it or that you leave them on read, you know? And then they feel like slighted or like, you know, like that you, if you didn't answer them, is this something you encourage people to have this conversation with their community. Do you think that you can kind of get your community on board with helping you, you talked about having like a partner in that, right? Yeah. That like, is it trying to get that community to be a partner with you to say, Hey, this is something I need so I can keep serving you in this way.

Elyse: So I, I don't think I have that issue too badly. The times where I feel like people are kind of crossing a boundary is it's it's in the DMS. And they're like, why didn't you answer me? You're you're fake da, da, da, da, da. And I'm like, I literally, I'm just seeing this and I don't even know you. Yeah. And then the second is I used to help out people a lot. Like I would do like little cash app things and like send stuff to people who are like in need. And then there were people who were like constantly coming back with like different things. And I was like, okay. I had to understand for myself, I don't announce when I'm like offline. Mm-hmm  maybe it's something I should start. That's actually a really good idea. I don't announce when I'm offline, but I do set the boundary of just not responding to nonsense because I'll get in my head so much and people thrive off of nonsense and I just have no time for it. So for me, if I'm feeling like someone's crossing a boundary and it's like a very obvious way, like you're like you're expecting something from me that I didn't never said I was gonna give you mm-hmm  then I just don't respond. I think it will be beneficial for me to like, announce that I'm off this line on Sundays. So that's actually a really great Idea.

James: Yeah we're workshopping right now.

Elyse: Yeah, you know, I love it.

James: I'm interested to dive in more like people reaching out to you who are in pain, who are suffering, who like, you know, need help and you must feel a lot of like, I, yeah, I want to help this person I need to, but there is a limit to what you can do. And is that something that you struggle with of like, where do you draw that line? And have you said like, Hey, like, I feel like you should be going and seeing somewhere to make sure you go to these, these chats we have, because like I'm, I'm kind of tapped out in what I can do for you.

Elyse: Absolutely. That was the hardest part of this because I went to school for film and production. I didn't go to school for it to learn nonprofits or accounting, all these things that came with, um, Sad Girls club. So when I was, when I launched SGC and it blew up so quickly, I was like, literally an introvert. Like I didn't speak about anything, which is why my story was so surprising. So being the face of like depression or like, you know,  so, or mental illnesses or whatever, it, it was really hard for me to accept, but also hard for me to accept that I'm the go-to for certain people. And then that responsibility came with a lot of what ifs, you know, just through like advice I'm giving or what if I could have said something differently, you know, the whole thing with sending a voice note versus a text.

What if my tone is, is misread, right? So I learned that pretty early. Like I can't help everyone and I, but I wanna help everyone. And the best way for me to do that is to migrate all, all of those, like personal questions to Sad Girls Club, because we do have answers and like canned replies, and we also have a full team that's working to help people. I need a team for myself.  and I'm struggling still. So it's like, it'll do someone else a disservice for me to just constantly give, give, give, give, give mm-hmm . And it's really hard to like accept, but sometimes I do like tap in and like, I will answer DMS here and there, but I mainly just have people migrate to the SGC page because that's what it's there for.

James: I think it's just something that's difficult for influencers is that like you have figured out a way to scale yourself, kind of right. You took this idea that worked and then you figured out a way to build something around it that you didn't have to do all of it. But I think that is a central issue for influencers. Yeah. Is that like, it is harder to, you know, they can't maybe scale right. That they can't productize, you know, their advice or whatever. Right. And I think for people that are making money off of it, like that is your customer, right? Like you are making money, selling access to this community. And so you feel like you really have to be in service of them, but then there is also like a limit to that idea.

Elyse: Yeah. cause you, you're gonna just, you're kind of feeding the beast, you know, and people will think and assume that you'll come back to them. You never, you don't know other people's perception of you. Yeah. Like you never do. And that's something I have to understand too. Cause I'm always inside. So when I go out and people ask me things or like they know my son's name. I'm like, oh yeah. Like, forget that  we're online. cause I live a very boring life, but it's so real. And you have to like, you just have to set the boundary for yourself. Yeah. Like no one else is gonna do it. Yeah. People are gonna try to step over it too. Yeah.

James: You talked about perception. I think we surveyed influencers and I was, you know, pretty shocked to see the, you know, the responses that came back, unsurprisingly, everyone, you know, social is causing everyone anxiety. A bunch of people talked about, I think it was maybe the second kind of biggest factor was the negative comments, you know, and the, the hate and all of that. Right. And I think it's, it is easy to hear someone say, look, you shouldn't like, you shouldn't give it. Right. Like you shouldn't give it any mind. You shouldn't pay attention to it. These are trolls. This doesn't matter. You don't know this person, their opinion doesn't matter. Right. But you know, how do we deal with that? You know, if you were living this public life, you were going to get negative feedback, have you all kind of yeah. Built any responses or kind of guidance on like what we should do to deal with that.

Elyse: Yeah. I wish I was more like Lil Nas X cause he's like clap back king  but I'm not. So we basically on the SGC page, um, we reply with empathy because I, I had to learn myself. Like people say nasty things because they're in a nasty place in their life. I've never been in the best time of my life or even happy in like thought to say some negative or leave a negative comment for someone else. Mm-hmm  so when we get negative comments, we respond so nicely. My mom used to always say kill them with kindness, girl, kill them with kindness. So that's what we do. So if people are someone, for example, someone's like, I wanna work with you guys. I wanna volunteer for you all. And I will like give you a couple hours of my week, but I hate the name. Like, can you change the name?

Sad Girls Club is like such a negative connotation for the name. So I broke it down and I was like, well, we created the name because of X, Y, Z, like young children don't know the word depression, but they know the word sad. So this is a way to tell people how to, you know, distinct their emotions. And you know, it's just a way for us, it's like a catchall. We're not gonna call it the depression girls club it's too long, you know, it's too wordy. So I explained it to her and I was like, if you wanna start your own nonprofit, like, please let us know how it goes and send us the link when it's done. I would love to shout it out. So like, we'll respond. And then I'm like, I wanna uplift you if this isn't for you, like go do what's for you. You know?

Then if we get a comment of someone who's just like in a negative place and they're just venting about themselves, like, are they saying it's like self hate. Um, it's really beautiful. the Sad Girls Club club community will catch it before we do it. And they'll like, be showering people with comments and like, no, no, you're amazing. Like I felt the same way. Like this pandemic has been hard and then we'll come in and chime in and like just kind of echo what everyone else is saying. But we have a really positive community. I haven't had anything that's like, you know, had me up at night, hugging my pillow crying um, but for the, the negative comments in the beginning, it was hard to navigate and to just like, ignore it and let it go and let it roll off your back. But in due time, you'll find your way to reply or just not reply.

How to navigate the burnout spiral

James: You started this five years ago. Mm-hmm  and it's working and it's blowing up and you're getting all these new followers right. In that beginning, it's like, it's so much fun. Um, and like anything else, you know, your motivations, your life changes everything. Uh, your relationship with, you know, your work with these platforms can change. And I think a lot of, you know, when I see people who are like, I wanna leave Instagram, it feels like people who have been doing it for 10 or 15 years. Right. Who are just like out, can't do it anymore. Mm-hmm . Yeah. But it's their, it's their career. Yeah. You know? And, and so they feel trapped, which I think creates this spiral of like, I'm doing this, but I don't enjoy it. And I feel trapped and I wish I could leave, but I can't leave because I'm making good money, but I hate this and it's destroying my mental health. It's hard to like, maybe have advice for that because that's a pretty complex problem. But, you know, are you seeing this? Like how, again, how do you tell people to like, to try and confront these issues with, with, I think something so central of like, I think my job is destroying my, my entire being basically my mental health, but, um, it's the only thing I've ever done maybe. And I, this is what I do to feed my family or whatever it might be.

Elyse: First create the boundary with social media. So you're at least doing things you love, enjoy are thrilled to do. And between the post and, and responding to comments and all of those things, like find those little pockets throughout the day. If your wrist starts hurting, you've been on social media for too long, like take a break and do something. Anything else? Like anything else? Cause we need to like detach as much as we are attached to it. Mm-hmm  um, and then second ask for help. Like I had to really tap in and I was like, I wasn't making a ton of money at the time, but I was like, I need an assistant. I was like, I need an assistant. I have a blue check. I'm gonna get an assistant. And it's helped so much because I have one less thing that I have to worry about.

And that's like building requests and the requests can be from brands or it can just be from someone trolling or whatever. I, I, I eliminate that and I have a filter of what I'm actually seeing. So if you need help, even like, if it's your good friend, like, Hey, can you just help me, my social media for one hour out of the day and, or break it down 20, 30 minutes out of the day, like just go in and check my DMS. Don't tell me any of the, any of the negative ones. Right. You know, just delete them for me. And I used to do that too in the beginning. Cause I got a lot of trolls. So just ask for help. If this is like something that is bringing you income. And it's like, I wouldn't say it's like an easy job, but it's something you never thought you would be able to do.

And this is like a once in a lifetime experience. Like don't let the actual job break you down from what can be happiness. Or like, I always, I have the saying and it's, don't build a life that you need a vacation from. So if you're doing social media, just to be able to go on vacation, then you need to find another job. You need to do something that makes you happy all the time in a vacation is just something cool to do. Like, I, I, I think that we have to find the moderation, but we also need to worry about ourselves first. Like the comments will be there. The messages will be there. Mm-hmm  ask for help, ask for support. And then you can also be vulnerable with your followers too. And like, say, Hey, I'm gonna take a hiatus. Maybe we'll do no social media Sundays.

Who's joining me? Like first 10 likes or I don't know, you can do something. You can do something cool with a brand even. But I think that we have to create ways for us to make it fun. So it's not like work like to name drop. I love DonYe's page because she looks like she's having a damn good time at work. And I'm like, damn, I should work for Fohr. Like I should, I should do. I should be doing other things, but she makes her job fun. Like she takes little moments and finds pockets throughout the day, whether it's getting ready for work or whatever. And she finds enjoyment throughout the, her entire experience. And I think that's what we should all be doing if we're not having fun with it. Like, why are we using it?

The ups and downs of attention

James: I think that's something we talk about a lot here that, you know, and something that we think makes the company special. Is that like, yeah. If, if you're not having fun, I think especially with content, like your followers know it when your heart's like, when your heart's not in it. One last question on social, you know, I've been thinking a lot about just what, you know, what a modicum of like fame does to your brain. I think it generally like rots it a little bit. Um, but I think something that's so hard is, is one, you know, the public nature of what success is, right? That like, if you have 50,000 followers this year and in a year you have 200,000 followers, your friends are gonna look at you and be like, wow, you're crushing it. Right. You have 50,000 this year and 55,000 next year, they're gonna be like, oh, you, you notice it, right?

Like it's like having your bank account public to the world. Right. You know, and that creates a lot of stress for people. And then, you know, having adoration from strangers is exciting. Losing that is like, I think existentially like very difficult for people. DonYe and I were talking a bit about this, about the idea of going viral and why you shouldn't chase that. But I think that like as more and more people, especially with TikTok, get a taste of like that, that, um, positive feedback and that attention, that wave. Right. And then you feel really special cuz you got a video with 3 million views. Right. And that that's cool. Like that makes you feel special. And then the next one gets 5,000 and now your whole view of it is skewed. Right. And now you're now you're chasing that. And now like the thing that used to bring you joy isn't because it's not like working, like having attention and then losing it, I think is really hard. Right. This is like why celebrities struggle later in life as well. Right? It's that like, you used to walk down the street and everyone would be like, oh my gosh. Right? Right. And then like 10 years later, you're walking down the street and people are like, get out of the way. You know? It's like, wow. Like my life has changed so much. I used to have this thing that I don't have anymore and I can't really get it back.

Elyse: I don't know. I just feel like I look at social media, like an 80 year old woman where I'm just like, we shouldn't care so much. Like it's these, these platforms were built for us to have fun on them. And with the whole going viral thing, like I've had a, a couple photos go viral and I have to think of it of like, as like you just got a job promotion, like you got a promotion at your job that happens probably once every couple of years. That's what going viral is that might happen a little, you know, a little bit maybe once every five years. Yeah. But you don't get promoted at your job every other day because you're doing what you usually would do. Right. So if we look at going viral or having a really popular vet or just having consistently popular content, then you have to just see, like I just got this really great video.

I've had a couple photos go viral and I have to think of it like you just got a job promotion. You got a promotion at your job that happens probably once every couple of years. That's what going viral is. You don't get promoted at your job every other day because you're doing what you usually would do. - Elyse Fox.

Elyse: I had 3 million views. Shout out to me, the content resonated. That's all you really want. I'm just gonna continue being me. Maybe in two years, I'll go viral again. I'll get a promotion. Mm-hmm  and we have to like, not beat ourselves up because of someone else's algorithm. Like we can affect who sees us in real life, what conversations we have in real life and what connections we have in real life. That should be the algorithm that you're working with. Not leaving it up to chance to other people in technology. And it's easier said than done. I know, but like, I don't know how to like combat not or losing attention or any of those things. That's just something that I think is a personal experience and you have to figure out what works for you to get through that. But also it's just the internet. Yo like if, if we lost electricity, it's just

James: Put that on my gravestone. It's just the internet.

Elyse: It's just the internet. Uh, but I wish, I wish we didn't take it. So, or as seriously, and especially at a young age where it's just embedded into like our DNA now that we have to be this type of person and we have to look like these types of people.

James: Yeah. I've always like connected with that. It was helpful for me as a, as ambitious and spiteful person.  um, you know, that, that quote that like other people's success is not your failure. Right. That like, I think for ambitious people, when you see other people who, you know, get what you want, it can piss you off because you feel like that's like, that's a spot that could have been my spot mm-hmm  and I don't, you know, that video and viral and that could have been my video. It's not right. Right. And I think if you can change that perception that like, just because other people are experiencing success doesn't mean you're not going to, at some point it doesn't mean that that's a failure on your absolutely. You know, uh, on your point. And I think that the promotion frame, I've never heard that framework before, but I think that's a really healthy way to think about it that like, you know, there are going to be times when things are going well.

And I think again, with content, it is tied into like, what's going on in your life, right? Like DonYe looks like she's having fun because I think DonYe's generally in a point in her life where she's having a lot of fun things are going really well for you. Things are happening. That's exciting. Um, you know, and, and that might not, you know, to think that, that that's the feeling you're gonna have for the next 15 years nonstop is, is probably unrealistic. Right? Exactly. Be times when there's not as much going on maybe, or you're not as happy and your content doesn't feel like that. Mm-hmm  um, think maybe being kind to yourself and, and, and giving yourself that permission, um, to not always be absolutely crushing. It is probably healthy.

Elyse: Absolutely. Like we, in any aspect of our life, there are highs and lows, your grades in school, like every other aspect. But in, so at social media we feel like we should be perfect consistently. Mm-hmm  and that is just so unrealistic. No one is perfect consistently. Even if they edit every little part of their photos, like this, there's no way for us to achieve that. So there's no reason why we should, we, we should be striving or thriving to attain that. Yeah.

Being online as a woman of color

James: Let's talk about being online, online on wine. Um, being online as, as a woman of color, what is the, you know, what are the added difficulties there? What, what does that like next layer look like? Um, and you know, what are the conversations like in sad girls's club, specifically around that?

Elyse: So around black women, in mental health, the conversations are really, I don't wanna say niche, but I feel like we, with Sad Girls's Club, I really try to pay attention to what's going on in the culture of black people and really use those, those moments to amplify what our mission is. So if there's something like, like when, when Ye was breaking down and having his moments, we were like, so let's talk about this. You know what I mean? We really try to just make sure that people feel seen and also call out things while everyone else is bashing him and calling him crazy and like saying all these things. It's like, no, wait, what if he's actually having a mental breakdown? Like, how could you, like, have you seen this before? What does this look like for you? Which helps like kind of like give reason to the nonsense out there.

We can kind of combat negative stories or stories that aren't being told when chest Lee, um, passed away. We were like, let's talk about this. Like, let's have a conversation about how real this is that she lived in Manhattan. And this happened, I wanna say it's a really niche group because we are really, we pay attention when these, when the news comes out and it hits. I'm like, why isn't this everywhere. I'll go on like the explore page. And I won't see anything about it, but I'm like, I have to create that now. Like I have to create our own like explore page for black wellness and mental health. And the conversations are really, like I said, we have a really good group. Um, people are generally like very open and vulnerable and, and are down to share their experiences because I feel like a lot of times people are like, I'm holding this in, I'm holding this in, oh shit.

They're just, you know, just open up the cap. And they just like unload. And sometimes it's a paragraph. Sometimes people run outta space and they have to do like three comments, but I'm like, no, like, bring it on. Like, this is why we are here. So I would say the like being black online is, is interesting. Cause you just see everything you do be stolen and  replicated and, and just like, I don't know. It's, it's weird. It's actually very odd. But the good part, the brighter side of social media is that I could find my people and I could find girls who are very similar to me within the black community, um, who are down with wellness. We are down to talk about their mental health and how wild and crazy their mothers were. Mm-hmm  growing up. And it's, it's like this shared experience that I, I wouldn't get anywhere. Where else if the internet didn't exist.

The brighter side of social media is that I could find my people and I could find girls who are very similar to me within the black community, who are down with wellness. It's like this shared experience that I wouldn't get anywhere else if the internet didn't exist.- Elyse Fox.

James: Yeah. Since the murder of George Floyd, there's been a lot more attention on the black creator community. We saw a huge spike in brand interest and, and the money that was being spent in that community. And just making sure that campaigns were more fair and diverse. And, and there was an extra level of strain. This is something DonYe and I were talking about. Um, and I think the pricing, um, when we were talking about pricing, it was like sometimes a brand wants to work with you as a, as a creator. Sometimes they wanna work with you specifically as a creator of color to make a statement about their brand mm-hmm  or about race. And you should charge a different amount for that than you do if it's just, you know, they want to use as a creator. So how has the last, you know, um, the last few years changed the conversation? Um, obviously it's, you know, we just had the tragedy in Buffalo. It seems that the, you know, the tragic events, especially around the black community in America, just are pretty relentless. It's difficult to, I think be a public person who also has to deal with this trauma while going out and doing sponsored posts for brands. So what is that, you know, converse, like how often is that conversation coming up and, and kind of, how has the last two years, um, shaped the mental health conversation in black community?

Elyse: I feel like the last two years have definitely, they've obviously been hard. And there's been a lot of brand awareness. I guess I would say for black creators and it's interesting cuz SGCs club raised the most it's ever raised after George Floyd was murdered. And I really chalk it up to like brands are finally put in their money where their mouth mouths are. Like for the first time you can always just pledge X amount of dollars once a month. And like do that every few, every few years and like, feel good about yourself. But I think people are holding brands and agencies, all of these places accountable and people in general individuals in general. So with that being said, like, I feel like black creators are like, no, you're gonna pay my full rate. Like before I used to be really I can I have this, please?

Can I like, please? Can I have more? And I'm like, no. And now I'm saying I'm gonna put it on the table. And like, if you say no, like we can negotiate, but that's, that's, that's like a strong figure that I'm putting on the table. We gotta have to get as close as possible to that. Or you can find someone else to do it. If you wanna use my voice, if you wanna use my platform or my whatever, I'm bringing to the table to help out your brand, like that's gonna come with additional an additional cost. Um, because it is emotional labor. It is an extra, I'm putting myself on a line. What if your brand like messes up again? Then my word is really trash. So I have to really believe in what you're doing. I have to understand what you're trying to use me for cuz everything is in exchange.

So I have to really understand what the purpose of this of this is. And I think we really have been, try to encourage black creators more to talk about how much you make and like really compare because we won't know what we should be getting and brands aren't gonna tell us. So I feel like there's, there's been a lot more support with what people want and how they want it and doing things from people's perspectives and like letting them do the creative design and be more behind the scenes and like pick their team and all like so many things I had did a shoot for a big brand and they were like, you could pick the photographer and I'm like, what? Okay cool. Like, you know, and you can actually lift people up as you climb too, which I think is another beautiful thing that that gate keeping was something that brands had down pack. But now we're allowing and opening the doors for other creators to like thrive and you know, live their best lives too. Cause we all deserve to have our voices heard and be paid equally to any other creator.

James: Yeah, absolutely. Outside of, of obviously following you on Instagram, you know, if I'm seeing this and I want to be involved, I want to be able to use the services. Like what what's, what do people need to know? Where do they need to go? Uh, how does it all work?

Elyse: Yes. So we just got a brand new site this year, um, SS club.org. Thank you. And we have all of our programs lists, all of our upcoming events are on there. We're actually hosting a really big summit this weekend. But if you aren't in New York city, we're actually announcing that we're, we'll be on tour this summer. The summer of sad girls tour is gonna hit eight cities in the U.S. and then we're gonna stop.

James: I'm excited for that merch.

Elyse: Oh, the merch is sick.

James: Yeah. I need to get, I need to get a t-shirt cuz I there's a sad girls club here at the office that I'm, uh, founding member of, but it's more like people that like sad girl music  um, but uh, I definitely am gonna need the merch. Um, that's super exciting. And you seem to, you love to be on the road, you get in front of people, right?

Elyse: I do. I miss it. I'm happy. We're able to see people in person again and like we'll be entering some new cities, new territory, so excited to just meet some people.

James: Well, I'm super impressed with everything you've done. I love this and thank you so much for sharing the insights and, and you know, again, I think this is a topic that's not talked about enough and, and uh, I appreciate you coming and, and shedding some light on it for us. Thank you.

Elyse: Thanks for having me.

Cheers, and thanks for watching.

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