After five years of Internet friendship, Fohr’s Clare Moore was delighted that she finally got to meet IRL with creator April Lockhart (@aprillockhart), self-proclaimed “disabled fashun gurlie” and former corporate brand marketer.
April talked about leaving her 9-to-5 at a top brand to make the leap to full-time creator, and how her limb difference inspires her content and empowers her to be an “influencer” for disabled and able-bodied “gurlies” alike.
CLARE MOORE: Love that we are finally meeting in person rather than through a screen! As we get started, what is the title you share with people when they ask what you do when they may not be familiar with your work? Influencer? Content Creator? Etc?
APRIL LOCKHART: Creator would be my preferred term - because we create such a variety of things. But I’ve used everything under the sun – especially when you’re trying to explain to your husband’s extended family in Louisiana - usually I just tell them I create things on the internet lol.
MOORE: When you started your career, did you know what you wanted to do long-term?
LOCKHART: No, when I started my career in 2017, I just knew I wanted a job in marketing. I began in retail marketing but was always passionate about social media. Influencer marketing was happening, but it wasn’t really a dedicated role at the time. The interest started in my personal time from fostering community and talking about beauty on the internet. When I started at Caudalie, they noticed my personal social media and asked if I wanted to switch departments. When I switched, the role started as a hybrid of social and micro-influencer marketing or community building. I never really thought I would be doing what I’m doing now. As a content creator, I always thought I would stay on the brand side
MOORE: At Caudalie and ILIA, part of your role was shooting and creating content for the brands and creating the briefs for the influencers contracted by the brands. Is that when you realized you could use this skill set to be a content creator yourself?
LOCKHART: I was creating assets for both brands very early on. The whole time I was at Caudalie, I was shooting here and there for the brand. I had always done it personally, both in college and as a teenager. In those roles, it was never an unlocking of “now I know I can shoot content” because I was already doing it in the background.So I wouldn’t say shooting content at Caudalie or ILIA was an unlocking, but it helped me understand the brand side from what they want content-wise and how to brief other creators to create that content.
MOORE: You weren’t going in, saying, ‘I will be an influencer or content creator one day’?
LOCKHART: No, not at all.
MOORE: What was your first partnership as a creator?
LOCKHART: My first paid partnership, I think, was Urban Outfitters. It was about $500 for a post, and I got all these free clothes and thought it was the coolest thing ever. I remember thinking, “I can’t believe people do this.” I still love Urban Outfitters, and I work with them now!
MOORE: Such a fun, full-circle moment! You were obviously working full-time and kept moving up in your role at ILIA, leaving when you were a Director. How did you balance the two?
LOCKHART: I was very passionate about my corporate career. I wanted to reach a certain level. For me, the most achievable level was Director. I wanted to work towards that and feel capable in my skill set. I truly never thought I would do content creation full-time until about a year out from quitting my job. Before that, my boss would laugh and say, “Don’t ever quit on me and become a full-time influencer.” I remember thinking that’s so funny because I could never do that financially. Being financially secure was important to me.
MOORE: So when did you hit that point of being financially secure, to feel comfortable going full-time?
LOCKHART: The first year I started making money, it was only one-eighth of my salary, so when my boss would say things like that, I was like, “Oh yeah, right.” It was just fun money for dinner once a month. Then, one year, it was the same as my salary, and the next year, when I quit, it became exponentially more than my salary. So there was a switch, and financially, it just didn’t make sense for me to keep my full-time job and miss out on the time I could be creating and unlocking new creative energy.
MOORE: Was there a certain series or moment your social channels started to grow?
LOCKHART: The initial growth was after my disabled fashun girlie series which led me from 20k to 50k followers on Instagram in a year! I had a similar trajectory on TikTok.
MOORE: Yes, I loved that series!! What inspired you to create it?
LOCKHART: When writing down my goals for 2022, one of the more practical ones I set was consistency. I landed on posting 30 days of outfits on TikTok and Instagram Reels. Once I started, as I thought about the content I’d been creating, it just felt...dull.
That’s when I decided to film a reel getting dressed, with my quirks and all—no more hiding. I included clips I’d normally leave out, like buttoning my pants one-handed, the hilarious struggle to tie my shoes, or roll up my extremely long, dangling sleeve. Spotlighting that yes, I have one hand, but mostly that I can also put a cool outfit together. The two can coexist without it being weird. In fact, it can feel light and joyful and fun.
Beyond normalizing my disability, I want to emphasize that clothes have power. Putting on a good outfit can give you the confidence you need for the day.
MOORE: Did any partnerships come out of this series or are there any recent partnerships that you are very excited about?
LOCKHART: I was very excited to partner with Victoria’s Secret on their new adaptive line.
MOORE: Yes! Congrats!
LOCKHART: Thank you! That felt like a really major moment! I also have a very personal relationship with the brand as I interned with Victoria's Secret. I interned in the fashion show department, which was obviously so different then. And they have made many changes, so it has been a very full circle, heartwarming partnership for me.
MOORE: Are there any goals you haven’t reached yet that you are excited about jumping into or working on achieving–whether that is building your own brand or going on a reality TV show?
LOCKHART: I’d love to be able to consult with brands behind the scenes on helping create adaptive capsules. Seeing some of my favorite brands start to dip their toes in the adaptive space is really major, for me and the whole disabled community. I pinch myself at some of the brands I get to work with on a content side, so to get to go a bit deeper with them and perhaps revise some of their bestselling styles as an adaptive capsule would be epic.
Hoping to do more public speaking as well - I’ll be on my first SXSW panel this upcoming March sharing a bit on fueling virality. I hope that I can continue to offer a unique perspective on both the brand + creator side. Would be a blast to also get to speak to students – something I have on my list for 2024!
I also LOVE Shopbop. They are always a brand I have wanted to work with.
MOORE: Oh yes, that was going to be my next question. Any brands you would love to partner with?
LOCKHART: Yes, Shopbop. Also, Levi’s;, it’s classic, I love them. Maybe an airline? I’m a Delta girl, even when it pains me. I’m Delta loyal until I die.
So, for people who want to be content creators when they grow up, as that has become a more popular desire, it feels like there are steps and experiences you need to have before diving into this career path. Do you recommend going brand side and then content creator, or is there not really a direct path or ladder?
LOCKHART: It’s totally dependent on the person. Some people are just born with creativity. But if I could recommend something, then yes, of course, I think the experience you gain on the brand side, agency side, or just in the corporate world is valuable to being a creator. You learn things like basic email communication, relationship building, and project management skills. Is it what you need to do first? Maybe not. But I do think it’s what has been the most helpful for me and helped set me apart.
MOORE: It feels like you are a part of a trend right now: marketers turning into content creators full-time. Are you noticing this as well?
LOCKHART: Yes, before I made the career shift, I had people to talk to who made a similar move. And I agree, I do feel like more people are leaving their corporate jobs and starting their own businesses, whether it’s content creation or consulting.
Clare Moore is a Senior Manager of New Business and Strategy at Fohr. She wants to meet all her Internet friends IRL, so email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.