All about #SephoraSquad 2022: Feat. Ndeye Niang & Suzannah Tarkington – Episode 8

James Nord
March 16, 2022
Updated Feb 09, 2024

Today’s episode Today’s episode is all about #SephoraSquad 2022! Tips for applying, the inside scoop on being a member, and more from our interviewees Ndeye Niang and Suzannah Tarkington.

Each Negronis with Nord episode will focus on your most pressing questions about the space. You can submit your questions here.

This episode includes:

Part 1: Featuring #SephoraSquad Launch Partner, Ndeye Niang

  • How & why Ndeye got her start as a beauty influencer
  • The first time Ndeye felt like she was making an impact & starts to build a beauty community 
  • How Ndeye discovered #SephoraSquad and her first time applying 
  • When Ndeye got into #SephoraSquad
  • Ndeye shares the impact that #SephoraSquad has had on her career 
  • Ndeye addresses common misconceptions about applying
  • Ndeye’s #1 tip for applicants!
  • Ndeye’s goals for herself and the program moving forward

Part 2: Featuring Suzannah Tarkington, Director, Campaign Management & Strategy

  • Welcome, Suzannah! Here to give us insight from the brand side.
  • Suzannah shares how you can stand out in your applications 
  • More about Testimonials and why they’re so important 
  • The long-lasting impact of #SephoraSquad: What it’s like to be an alum 
  • Benefits you may not have considered: access, community & equal opportunity 
  • Suzannah’s goals for herself and the program moving forward
  • How to take advantage of all of #SephoraSquad’s opportunities

All about #SephoraSquad 2022

James Nord: Welcome. Negronis with Nord, episode number eight. Today, we are talking all about #SephoraSquad. Applications are open. They're open until April 6th. If you don't know what #SephoraSquad is, first of all, welcome to the world. I don't know what rock you've been living under, but this is the biggest ambassador program in beauty, potentially the biggest ambassador program in the influencer space. It is a life changer. It's a king maker. It is all of the things you need it to be. You're talking about a yearlong paid contract with Sephora, amplification on their channels, opportunities with all the brands that work at Sephora, mentorship, community, hopefully in person events, you're meeting with Jennifer Lopez sometimes. She's just popping onto Zoom talking to you. This program does it all, and it can totally change your life. Today, we are hearing from Ndeye Niang, who was a member of #SephoraSquad, and then is now a launch partner and Suzannah from the 14 who runs the whole Sephora program here.

If you have ever been interested in applying for #SephoraSquad, you actually want to see these through. They're going to talk about tips for your application, what the program is, what makes it special, the impact it has on your life, and generally why we think you should apply. As always I'll do the YouTuber thing and say, like and subscribe. We have these videos every week. You can always ask questions in the comments. You can DM Fohr, get in touch with us in any way we will answer your questions.

Talking with Ndeye Niang, #SephoraSquad Launch Partner

James: Onto the interesting part of the episode. First, we are going to talk to someone who has been through all parts of #SephoraSquad, applied and rejected. Applied, gotten in and now a launch partner for this year. So we're going to talk about what all of that is like. So Ndeye, thank you so much for joining us. Congratulations on being a launch partner. We're going to talk a little bit about what that means and how you get it. But before that, maybe tell the people out there a bit about how you got into this world. You do what your focus is on Instagram, YouTube, and then we'll jump into #SephoraSquad.

Ndeye Niang: I think I can't tell the story of what I do on Instagram or YouTube or TikTok or anything like that without saying first, I am a first generation American. So like my parents are both Senegalese, born and raised there. So growing up, I didn't know what I had a passion for, but I knew that one of the options had to be lawyer, doctor or engineer. So I ended up choosing lawyer that didn't really work out. I ended up teaching and as I was teaching, I was just falling more in love with beauty specifically on YouTube. I was watching some huge beauty gurus, just learning, how do I do my makeup?

Ndeye: And so, as I started learning, I actually started to share that with other people. I just started my blog. I don't know how or why, but I just had such a passion for makeup that as I started to do my face and just share how I did my face, I shared tips. I shared tricks. And I think that my background in education and my background with constantly explaining things to people really helped in showing how do you put on a foundation? How do you wear a blush? And so I taught for three years and I actually quit in 2020 to go full time as a content creator and then applied for #SephoraSquad. And here we are now.

What made you want to start your own channel as a content creator?

James: There we go. I want to actually go, go back a little bit because that jump from, I am consuming content and this is really fun too. I'm actually going to create it. What do you think made you want to start your own channel? That's not something most people do. Most people just continue to consume content. So what was it that made you think, you know what, I think that I have something to add to this space.

Ndeye: I didn't see anyone that looked like me. I saw of people that were similar. This was back in 2015 when I started really consuming beauty content. And I didn't start sharing content of my own until 2017. And in those two years, even when I would watch the beauty gurus, even when I would try to take their tips and tricks, it didn't always translate to me. It didn't always look the same on me because my complexion was much darker. My facial features would different. And so I just got to a point where even before I started creating my own content, when I was still lost, I started to do makeup on other people as a makeup artist. And I remember specializing in clients who were of deeper skin tones, just because there was that lack of education, that lack of visibility. And so I think I turned from consumer to producer once I realize if there's no one there that looks like me, maybe it could be me.

"I turned from consumer to producer once I realize if there's no one there that looks like me, maybe it could be me." - Ndeye Niang

James: Yeah. I think that's such a powerful thing about social is that unfortunately groups that are underrepresented were ignored by the beauty industry for so long, were ignored by the traditional press. If you're in Vogue and it's giving me tick, it's mostly for White women that look a certain way. When did it start to feel like, oh shit, this might be, I might be good at this? And this might be something I can really do.

Ndeye: I think it was less of a moment of, I might be good at this and this is something I can really do. And more of a moment of, wow, I'm making an impact. I can't stop. When I first got a DM from someone saying, "Finding your page has made my day so much better. I've never seen someone who's looked like me. I hope you continue to thrive." And starting that dialogue with them via DMs. This is someone I didn't know. It's one thing when your friends tell you. Oh, you've helped me do something. It's something completely different when someone who doesn't know you tells you matter. And you're making me feel like I matter it was at that moment. I knew no matter what happens, whether this goes somewhere or doesn't go anywhere, I can't stop.

James: Yeah, I just got chills.

Ndeye: Me too.

James: No. Good. All right. So then, okay, so you start doing you, the channel is growing. You quit the job in 2020. Which is a huge jump, especially in a pandemic.

Ndeye: I know.

James: So congratulations.

Ndeye: Thank you.

What was it like first applying to #SephoraSquad?

James: Tell us about, when did you first hear out #SephoraSquad? When was the first time you applied? What was that like?

Ndeye: So I was actually still teaching. It was in 2019 that I first applied and I remember just seeing the application. I was just like, well, I spent all my money at Sephora anyway. So if this is a #SephoraSquad, who better than someone who spends their check, the entire teacher's paycheck on products. And I remember I was actually talking to some of my students and they were like, "Miss, just do it. Just apply." And I was like, okay. And my students is so funny. They literally put sticky notes around the school building, leave a review, miss Ndeye makeup is always good. Make sure you let them know. And I remember just doing it and asking people to submit testimonials, my audience to submit testimonials and then I didn't get it. And I think at the time I literally, I have it to this day. I think I posted thank you guys so much. This isn't the end. This is a no for right now. And I just put my head down and just kept creating content.

James: You decide to apply again the next year then?

Ndeye: No, I didn't apply in 2020 year, I took a year off.

James: And then what brought you back in 2021?

Ndeye: I always knew that I wanted to do it. When I did my vision board at the beginning of 2021, I put #SephoraSquad. And so I knew that in 2020, the only thing that stopped me from applying was fear, was nervousness, because it's like, there is no other ambassador program, like #SephoraSquad, where literally you are putting yourself out there, not only to your audience, but to your peers, your colleagues of I'm trying to get this, please help me. And they need to submit the testimonials for it. And so I think for a little bit, there was this fear of, well, what if I don't get it again? Everyone is going to see that I didn't get it because of how I campaigned for them to submit a testimonial for me.

And then I remember just having a moment of, I'm always telling people, feel the fear and do it anyway, no matter what it is in life. If you're nervous about something, if you have the thought, just do it. The worst that can happen is you don't get it and you apply again. And so I remember in 2021, when I saw the applications came out, I was just talking to my myself, just do it, just do it. And I literally said, you know what? I want it. If I fail, who cares, if I get it amazing. So I put my testimony or I put my application in, I started to ask for testimonials.

James: Okay. So you put the application, you're getting the testimonials, you get through semi-finals and then you're in the squad, which is probably pretty exciting. I mean, what was that like once you got the semi-final where you're like, this is going to happen. This is like, I feel really good about this.

Ndeye: If I'm being honest, when I got the finalist notification, I was like, okay, I'm excited, but let me not get too excited until they announced the final roster because in 2019, I actually did make it to the semi-finals. And so it was kind of like a, okay, I've made it here before. The first time it didn't go so well, let me just keep telling them to push testimonials in the meantime. Once I did get the actual notification of okay you've made it, I remember opening the email or I got the email mid walk. I was downtown and I was like, oh gosh, this is either going to be good or it's going to be bad.

And I was like, do I want to open my email now or do I want to wait until I get home? And then I was like, you know what, I'm going to wait until I get home just because I need to make it there safely. And so as soon as I got home, literally key was still in the door. As soon as I walked in, I opened, checked the email and I literally jumped up and down and screamed so hard that my neighbor came from downstairs. Just making sure everything is good. And I was just like, yeah, it's good.

James: I love that. I mean, the amazing willpower. I don't think I could have, I don't think I could have waited. So then you get in it. And I think that one of the things that's hard for us is to fully explain in the application process, what it is like to be in the program and how transformative it can be for your career. So your first year of it is about to close. You're about to be a launch partner, which means you don't have to apply anyone, which is great. We think we've gotten you to apply enough. What's that first year been like? And what's the impact been for you as a creator?

What impact has #SephoraSquad had on your career?

Ndeye: It's been amazing. It's been life changing. And I tell that to anyone that's interested in applying, if you're hesitating, if you're nervous, do it. Simply because as soon as you get, or as soon as the announcements come out, that you've made #SephoraSquad, literally I was inundated with emails from brands, some brands that I had been emailing, or my management had been reaching out to for months that we didn't necessarily get a response back from, "Hey Niang, we heard you're part of the #SephoraSquad. So excited would love to gift you, would love to do this." And I'm like, I've been trying to reach you guys three months and share your products all over my page. But not only do you get brands who you love also now noticing you and seeing you outside of that, I think what's had one of the big gets impacts on me as a creator, especially a creator whose background is in education is the meetings where we're able to meet brand owners and brand founders, because there are literally so many products on the market.

So many products that you can get at Sephora and so many products for different people based on their needs. And being able to have that one-to-one conversation, one-to-one education from the brand owners of what their products do, who they work for, allows me to be able to better speak to my audience. And so that education, that educational aspect is invaluable. Outside of that, I think just being able to have one-on-ones with people from both the Sephora team, the Fohr team, and just asking questions, not even just specifically about #SephoraSquad, but about the industry. I have to one on one with Suzannah, because I have like a life changing moment that happened. I got married and I'm thinking-

James: Congrats.

Ndeye: Thank you, about moving to Canada. And I remember asking her, "Hey I'm a US based creative. If I move to Canada, how is that going to impact me with deals? How is that going to impact me in my career?" And she took the time 30 minutes and we just talked it out. And I feel like that's something that if I wasn't on #SephoraSquad, I don't know who I could have gone to, who was going to be able to give me that information. And so there's been so many benefits for me personally.

James: I've heard that story so many times of people when they get in #SephoraSquad, getting on PR list that they hadn't been on getting inbound that yes, you get the contract with Sephora and that's great, but you're also working with all these other brands that maybe hadn't noticed you before, or you've been trying to get in touch with, and hadn't gotten back to you. Is there anything else that outside of the one-on-one help in the community that's inside of #SephoraSquad? Is there any other big either misconceptions you had or things that you think people don't understand about the program when you're saying, "Hey, y'all need to apply for this."

Are there any misconceptions about the program?

Ndeye: I guess the only thing I can say is if there's a creator, that's worried that, oh, if I take #SephoraSquad, how is that going to impact me with being able to work with other brands? Or am I still going to be able to shop at other places? Or how is that going to impact how I can show with my audience? It really doesn't, everything works together in tandem. And what I can say is that the #SephoraSquad team that I worked with, they work with you, not against you. So if there's something that you want to do, if there's a brand that you want to showcase love to, as long as you're within the parameters you're all set.

And if anything, they champion for you to really be able to work with brands and to be able to elevate in your career. It's not just about you being a part of the #SephoraSquad. It's about you and where you want to go and the impact you want to make in the beauty industry. And so if you have any hesitations of how this can impact you in a negative way, I can honestly say there's been no negative impact. If anything, there's just been positive impact. So that's what I've taken from it.

"It's not just about you being a part of the #SephoraSquad. It's about you and where you want to go and the impact you want to make in the beauty industry." - Ndeye Niang

James: Love it. You're a launch partner, obviously. So you're going to be announcing this driving people to apply. We're obviously using your story as an archetype of what can happen. What is any tips that you have for people who are applying on what they can do to get in.

What other tips do you have for people who are applying?

Ndeye: Yeah. I'll give you my tips. The first thing I did was at the time Lauren who was here, she was doing a Clubhouse Room with Brittany Hennessy. And I made sure I was in that Clubhouse Room. If you are seeing people who are representatives of #SephoraSquad or for holding meetings, holding talk sessions, putting up videos telling you here's what's #SephoraSquad is about, here's what you should do, tune in, tap in, don't just tune in and tap in. After that follow, whoever was speaking on behalf of #SephoraSquad, engage with them, send them a DM, engage with the post on the Fohr page that talk about #SephoraSquad, make sure you stand out.

There's thousands of people who apply, but what can you do in your application process, your testimonial process, and anything leading up until the selections what can you do to stand out so that they remember you? If you leave a comment every day and your name pops up, when reviews are happening, maybe they remember, oh, hey, this person left a comment. And so they know how invested you are in the program. And so my biggest tip would definitely be to do your homework, do your research, LinkedIn, then see who's a part of it. Just find ways to connect with people so that you can make sure that who you are stands out and let it be known how passionate you are and that you're not just applying to apply, but you're applying because you love Sephora and you want to be a part of #SephoraSquad.

James: I love that. And I think it's the data, the numbers, all of that is really important. But I do think that so much of this program hinges on the passion people have for it, how invested they are, how much they want it. And often that's stuff that puts people over the edge both in the way they answer the application, any communication they've had. And of course their testimonials, which I know for you were very strong. You had your students out there being, putting up bulletins in the hallway and stuff, which I love. Last question you're going from participant to leader in this program. You're going into your second year in it. What goals do you have? How are you using that amplified platform of being in #SephoraSquad? What are your goals for yourself and for the program as you shift your role inside of it?

What goals do you have for yourself and the program?

Ndeye: Yeah, I think for a long time, a lot of my content was focused on my audience and teaching and education when it comes to makeup. And I think that still remains a main content pillar for me is to just be educational when it comes to using makeup, but also to just be an expert in the industry when it comes to complexion products, skincare products. But beyond that, the way I want to take it a step further is also being a voice for other black content creators. I think we've seen over the years, you said, in the beauty industry, there was not a lot of promotion or help or amplification of black voices, of black content creative voices. And so I think for anyone that is a content creator, there is a hurdle. There is something that you have to jump from when it comes to going from just being someone who puts up content to being a professional influencer.

And so my goal over the next year, or the next two years is to really not just lend my hand to my audience, but also to other people who want to walk into this space and being able to guide, to help, to provide insight on how to do certain things. And I think being a launch partner gives me that perfect balance of still being able to share what I love, but also being able to give that helping hand to anyone else that is trying to break into this space in a bigger and a more professional way.

James: Well, I'm sure you were a very good teacher and while I'm sure your students are upset to not have you, we are very happy to have you in #SephoraSquad for the second time. Excited for this to all roll out. If you don't follow, we will put up your Instagram and YouTube mostly.

Ndeye: Yeah, and TikTok.

James: Okay. Instagram, YouTube TikTok. You should follow Niang. You can learn something. This professor over we're here y'all. I mean thank you so much and guess good luck to all the applicants.

Ndeye: Thank you for having me. Good luck. DMS are always open. You guys got this.

James: And she's promised she's going to answer, so you can hold her to it.

Ndeye: I will. Thanks so much.

James: Thank you.

James: Thanks again to Ndeye for sharing her story. I feel inspired. And now that we've heard from the in influencer perspective, I want to kick it over to Suzannah who runs the seven person team here at Fohr that operates #SephoraSquad throughout the whole year. She's been on this program since this program has existed and can say from the brand side and from Fohr side, what it takes to get in what it takes to be successful in the #SephoraSquad. We are moving on to interview. Number two, the big boss, the head honcho here, Suz, who runs #SephoraSquad. You are the queen. I mean, you've been here really since the beginning.

Talking with Suzannah Tarkington, Director of Campaign Management & Strategy

Suzannah Tarkington: Yes. I have been here now, well, we're launching year four of #SephoraSquad, which is very exciting, but I've been here since it's inception. Yeah. First week I came onto Fohr. I brought on had the brief and Ray, I was this is literally just a piece of paper saying we should launch an entire ambassador program. And here we are four years later, it's such an exciting program to be part of.

James: Suz is a success story in our own. Started on the team and now runs the team.

Suzannah: Yeah, we are now, oh my gosh. It's wild. We're seven people. And originally we started with two. In that first year, we ran 80 campaigns, just myself in one other person.

James: That's a whole other episode. Obviously this is such an exciting part of the year. It's my favorite part of the year. I love #SephoraSquad. I think even just talking to Ndeye, there are always those stories that are so heartwarming and I think in an industry that can feel a little, I don't want to say vapid, but I don't have a better word. So vapid, there is so much wholesomeness. It's have people watch to British Bake Off. It's just all just so wholesome and hearing about her students posting links to her testimonial page. You realize that this has a real impact on people. So I'm excited. I know once you get through your pile of work, you will be excited.

Suzannah: I'm already excited, trust me.

James: She's a kingmaker.

Suzannah: I didn't say it.

James: You have a big part in, you and your team have a big part in deciding who makes Squad and you have reviewed tens of thousands, 50,000 applications you've seen come through since you've been here. So what are the things that make people stand out? What are the tips for those people who are thinking about applying to cut through those thousands of people?

What makes applicants stand out? What tips do you have?

Suzannah: We always have people say what is it about my application that allows me to really stand out for Sephora and Fohr because we are, like you said, I think last year we had over 6,000 people that we were really vetting through heavily. What I'm looking through for, in an application is really to see the passion for someone and why they actually want to be part of #SephoraSquad. And it can definitely be about their personal storytelling and their experiences with Sephora, how that's helped to impact their career in a larger sense. But I'm also really looking for how they've connected and built community with people. And I think a great part of that is the testimonials we have. We're really looking through, of course, the platforms, the data, getting into those details about what content you create.

But at the end of the day, a lot of the choices and what we're really looking for is people who are going to come in here and showcase that they love beauty. They're creating a space of belonging. They're inviting their community to be part of that. And being able to truly amplify and represent those voices. You said earlier with Ndeye that are not always shown in the beauty community. So for me, it's looking through, yes, of course, the data and analytics, are you actively posting on your profiles? Are you able to have strong engagement and reach, but really it's about the story that you're sharing about both, why you're passionate about Sephora and why you feel you're going to be able to make the largest amount of impact being on the squad with us.

Why testimonials are so important to your application

James: Yeah. That testimonial part, obviously it is so important and it's the hardest part. Because you have to put yourself out there, nobody really posts one link to it and gets thousands of testimonials. It's something you have to consistently tell your audience, that you have to give them reason to leave it. They have to feel like you're really excited about it. You want this and they can help you. And we know that's the hardest part, but also it is I think that hurdle that we expect and hope that people will jump over. Because again, we understand putting yourself out there is hard. We are reading those testimonials, not just so how many you get.

Suzannah: Yes. But we're really going in and literally looking at what people are saying about you, because I find that oftentimes you can really be able to tell your story really well, but if other people are resonating and connecting with your story, they are more than happy and willing to be able to come and advocate for you because you've been able to be there for them. Quite a few times that people all always say, I really regretted. If I didn't ask for testimonials, I applied and I felt nervous that my audience wasn't going to receive it well, or that they were not going to be supportive or that maybe I wouldn't make it, something bad would happen.

I'd have a negative backlash from my audience, but more than less, those people have come back later and said, I really regretted not asking for testimonials. I saw everyone around me and a lot of people. I mean, obviously it isn't the only factor, but a lot of people around me that made it into the squad, they were advocating and getting their audience to come out and support them. That was a huge part of them being able to showcase what their worth was and how they were able, going to support and amplify the #SephoraSquad on a larger scale.

James: And let's maybe play myth buster for a second. If I'm, I don't want to leave this, I don't want to put up the link because I'm afraid someone will say something negative again. We see all the testimonials. Is that something that happens often?

Suzannah: Honestly, no. Usually if people are willing to spend the time to go and leave a testimonial for you, it's because they really love you and they want to support you and they want to do well and achieve your dreams and your goals. So it's truly something that I find nine out of 10 times, you're going to have a glowing review and people want to share that. And at the end of the day, even if you don't make in the squad, you're going to be able to see how much love and support you have from your community. And no one's going to say later on, I'm so upset that I went and I spent a minute writing a testimonial for someone. And so they're going to say, wow, I really rallied behind this person. And I can see that they are grateful for that. And that I was able to help bring value to their life as much as they brought value to mine.

James: Yeah. The first year I remember we were really worried that there was going to be a lot of backlash and anger and there's a lot of disappointment and that's understandable. But I think that the testimonials, a lot of people find that the pro sense of applying is worth it because they're getting feedback. They never have gotten before.

Suzannah: Yeah. Totally.

James: Being a creator can be a lonely job and it can be hard to understand your impact and seeing even 10 people, even five who are like this person has really helped me. I really appreciate what they've done can be really impactful. And I'm sure you hear that more than I have.

Suzannah: Yes. All the time. It seems it's a big undertaking to fill out an application for a program because usually for a lot of partnerships, you don't have to do that, but truly taking 15 to 20 minutes to change your entire life potentially. I mean, it feels worth it to me at least.

James: Feels worth it. Yeah.

Suzannah: Yeah. And I think also, like you said, you're able to really drive home the sense of community and let your audience be part of something that could also really impact them as well. Like Ndeye said earlier, when you're part of the squad it's not just access to being able to work with Sephora. It's being able to understand and learn more and people about the brands that Sephora drive and build your business as a creator and offer more value to the people that are excited to be there in that community. There's so much more that goes beyond that. So really when I think about it, the time it would take you to go to Starbucks and grab a coffee, you could completely change your career.

The long-term effects of being a part of #SephoraSquad

James: Getting into #SephoraSquad is probably the closest thing the beauty industry street has to winning an Oscar because it really sends a signal to the industry. Like Ndeye said that if Sephora and Fohr have picked this person, be it 5,000 followers or 5 million followers. That's sending a signal that there's something really special happening there. Again, I think that it's something that you take with you years beyond even being in the program.

Suzannah: 100%. And I think that is one of the great things about #SephoraSquad and some of the longer term effects of being a #SephoraSquad partner is of course, the years that you're on squad, you're able to participate in a lot of campaigns, events. You have mentorship, community, no matter your following size, you truly can have so many different levels of impact on your career. But we also really still champion and work with our alumni members as well. So we tend to say, once you're in the squad, you're always in the squad. We're really a family and people still come to me from years back to ask advice, to be able to understand what is that they could do to improve their channels, working with us and the brands at Sephora even. There's so many opportunities that this really just opens the door for. And I think that really it's something that I'm really proud of to work on year over year, because I see we've supported over 200 creators and amplified their voices in so many ways. And people literally written me and said, this has changed my entire life.

James: I think they can look back on #SephoraSquad as a turning point in their career. Even if things were already going well, it's like an elbow that brought it to another level. What outside of the contract, I think we talked about some of the mentorship and other things like that, but what else is it that people don't realize as part of the program that you think is really special?

Suzannah: I would say probably a lot of the access you get to the Sephora and the Fohr teams. We have monthly office hours available where literally you can come sign up to meet with the Fohr teams, anyone here, or with anyone of the Sephora teams, including the influencer marketing team, the social team, brand marketing. And you also have access to all of our launch partners to get advice, mentorship, coaching, peer to peer moments that really are not common outside and at least in the influencer space in general of a program like this. So having the access to be able to understand how to grow and expand your business, but also how to become a better content creator and literally using tips and tricks and best practices from one of the biggest beauty brands in the world. I mean, that's huge. And on the Fohr side, I think it's really impactful that we're able to help people who no matter where you are with your follower size or your growth or your goals, we can be there for you to be an advice from an industry perspective.

Because we don't work just on the beauty side here at Fohr, but we also work across many verticals. And so as people are growing and changing and evolving their channels, we're able to be a solid point of advice no matter what. So I think access is huge for me. And then additionally, I think the community building, like Ndeye said, being able to build lifelong friendships and influencer work can be a bit singular. A lot of times you're just sitting in your home, filming something potentially, and you don't have a lot of coworkers. And so I think that it's really wonderful. Ndeye had said to me previously, I feel #SephoraSquad allows me to have the coworkers I never had when it came to influencing and that community and the friendships you can build that go beyond just your time on the squad, I think is really something that I don't know. It just makes me really happy. And I think it also is really impactful for everyone.

James: Yeah. In previous years we've done a lot of in-person well, a few in-person events a year. Hopefully we can bring that back. This year variance.

Suzannah: Yeah. Safety permitting.

James: Yeah. Variance permitting. Because I think that community aspect of something Sephora is also really passionate about and I think something I've always really admired is the way that once you're in the squad, no matter your following size, you're treated the same way. Everyone's a squad member. There are variations of clicks inside of that or something. And Sephora really works to make sure whatever the benefits are. Everybody's getting those benefits.

Suzannah: 100%. Yeah. We're really focus on making sure that it's a very equal opportunity for everyone because we don't want anyone to feel they're getting a different experience than someone else on the squad. Based off of any factor, we're really a place about belonging and being able to truly come and commit time and energy and space for every single one of our members. And so I think that's another thing that working with someone for a year long and a paid capacity, it just allows for so much more relationship building to happen over time, compared to a lot of partnerships that might be you are one off or shorter term being on a year long paid partnership. One allows you some stability, but also allows you to be able to build and cultivate your relationship with not just Sephora, but with the people around you, the brands that you're working with and really to be able to build up. I think it does a lot more consistency within your own feed and with your life in general when it comes to content creation.

What are your goals for yourself and the program?

James: Yeah. Now you're coming into your fourth year of this, is this your first year completely running it? Being the boss?

Suzannah: Yeah. This is my first year being head honcho.

James: Being a big boss. Great. What are your hopes for what to do with the program? What are some of the things that you want to do more of and your hopes for this next class coming up?

Suzannah: Yeah, I'm really excited because one, being able to help amplify even more voices is huge for me. I feel being part of this program year over year, like I said, we had over 200 creators, we've already helped Sephora so being able to expand that for another year is really exciting, but I'm really hoping to dive a bit more into leading with an influencer strategy and really allowing their creativity to be at the forefront of what Sephora is doing. As we expand more into emerging platforms like TikTok, even things like reels, we're seeing that the influencers truly have so many great ideas and we really want to listen to those and be a sailing board to bring those ideas to life. And Sephora is a wonderful, super collaborative partner. I mean, honestly from an account perspective, this is a dream client because they do trust the influencers so much and they really want to allow them to shine, and Sephora's really working on different and new ways that we can and continue to incorporate their voices into both Sephora's channels and amplification on that side.

But also within the influencer's own content they're creating for campaigns. Another goal of mine is really being able to expand and help continue to support our mentorship side of the program. I think especially this last couple years, it was really difficult because people were so isolated. They didn't have a lot of opportunity to connect. And we're really hoping this is a space where people can truly come together and be able to celebrate and enjoy the wonderful things about beauty, but also get serious and learn and educate themselves and educate one another. So for me, I'm excited about that and I'm also excited about hopefully having in person events, if it's all allowed, because it would be wonderful to get more face time.

James: Those events, everyone brings the looks in a big, big way.

Suzannah: People are showing up. I love that. I mean truly the content's great, but seeing the people in person it's wonderful.

James: It's always great. It's something that's so, so exciting and so rare for creator is they are so receptive to those ideas and even things that aren't, campaigns that we are saying, hey, here's a brief. And the influencer says, "Oh, I have a great idea for that." But you can come to the team and say, this is something I want to put into the world. This is something I want to do. And you may not always be able to make it happen. But as you said, the team is there, Sephora is there to try and make those ideas happen. So you have access to this absolutely massive platform. One that can drive, not just your business, but follower growth, things like that. Getting onto Sephora's channels, their Instagram, their TikTok, their site, their emails, YouTube. Yeah. And I think that those things are all there. And I think that this program, it rewards people who put the effort in and the application. And then it rewards people that put the effort in during the actual program.

Suzannah: Yeah. I always say you get out of it, what you put into it. And I think that's so true for this program because there's so many opportunities that you can take advantage of in so many ways that you can continue to help support both yourself and your audience throughout the entire year. And so once again, taking the time to do the application is just the start, being able to then dive in and if selected increase your social media tool kit, you could say, as you go through the entire year is a really huge benefit. And I think personally too, it's interesting to see how far influencers come over the year. We recently, jousted a review of all of our squad members and we were looking at the amount of growth people have had. And it is wild. We had some people that were at 400, 500% growth from last year.

And I think so much of that is driven because of this partnership and because they were able to really dedicate time and energy and work with the brands they were genuinely excited about to create really compelling content that spoke to people universally. So I think that's a, it's a huge benefit to be able to be amplified on Sephora's channels and to also be able to continue building content that you're excited about on your own.

James: You've made it this far. You've taken step one, you're doing your research. You're doing your homework. GEICO's like whole thing, 15 minutes. Could you save me 15%? This is 15 minutes could change your fucking life. So I think as from a scale perspective, this is really important and impactful. We hope you apply, but thank you so much. I know you're a very busy woman, so thank you for giving us 30 minutes.

Suzannah: I appreciate it. Thank you.

James: And I'm excited about this year.

Suzannah: Yes, please apply. We can't wait to see it.

James: Okay. Thank you all so much again, please apply. Put yourself out there. You really can change your life. As always like, subscribe, ask us questions. We'll see you next week. And as always, if you don't want to look at face while listening to me, we are on Everywhere That There Are podcasts. I haven't pulled it from Spotify yet in protests of Joe Rogan. I might, I'm leaving that in the back pocket, but as of now, we are still on Spotify as well.

Cheers, and thanks for watching.

Make sure to subscribe to the Fohr YouTube channel to get notified of new episodes.

Psst… You can still watch all 202 A Drink with James episodes here. Binge it – we dare you!

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