Anna Victoria and Katie Dunlop Chat About Influencing and Building a Brand While Remaining Friends
You might think that every fitness influencer is out for blood when it comes to competing for likes or follows, but not these two. They know that real success happens when you join forces and learn from each other.
Open Instagram and you're likely going to be inundated with "plandid" photos and selfies from influencers. (By some counts, the Instagram influencer world is an almost $2 billion market for the app.) With the oversaturation of the space (there are influencers in beauty, food, pop culture, fashion, and, of course, fitness) some of these accounts can be a bit questionable, promoting products, lifestyles, or workouts that aren't always so healthy, smart, or safe—an action that, in part, led the social media app to ban posts that promote diet products to people under 18. All of this leads you to wonder what's real and what's, well, BS. Worse, if you follow some of these accounts and get sucked into their negative messaging, you could start to feel not so great about yourself (reminder: Insta is a highlight reel) or, at the very least, defeated and unmotivated.
But by following and engaging with positive, responsible accounts that have educated, empowering people behind them, you can open yourself up to a wealth of fitness, health, and wellness information (plus, a community full of like-minded women). And that's exactly the goal for two of our favorite women behind some ~!ery~ influential accounts.
Take Anna Victoria, trainer and creator of the *über* popular Fit Body Guide (FBG) workouts and the Fit Body app. After starting out on her own fitness journey in 2013, she decided to turn that passion around and spread what she learned to others. "When people started coming to me for advice on my Instagram page, I wanted so badly to help," says Victoria. "I knew firsthand how hard it is to start a fitness journey and to stick to it," she says. "It was in 2015 that I realized this was turning into a business and a brand—one that I wanted to continue expanding in order to help even more people make the same life changes." (Related: Anna Victoria Opens Up About Her Fertility Journey, Encouraging Women to Be More Real On Instagram)
Katie Dunlop, trainer and creator of Love Sweat Fitness (LSF) was going through a total lifestyle overhaul when she had her 'aha' moment, realizing everything she'd been told about being 'healthy' (which included restrictive, fad diets) had been wrong. "I realized change had to start from the inside out," says Dunlop. "I became passionate about sharing that with other women who were dealing with the same physical, mental, and emotional struggles I had dealt with for so long." (Related: I'm a Fitness Influencer with an Invisible Illness That Causes Me to Gain Weight)
But here's the thing: While more women serving up this kind of messaging on social media is great and needed, the competition can be fierce in the world of influencers clamoring for likes. But these two argue that women lifting up other women—like when Dunlop was working on her LSF the app and Victoria shared some advice—is a key to sustainable success.
"I feel so grateful to have a handful of incredible friends in the industry like Anna," says Dunlop. "I've always felt very strongly that we all have our own unique gifts to share and there is room for everyone." Dunlop notes that she's constantly finding new ways to connect with and celebrate other women who inspire her. "I want to collaborate with women in the space regardless of their social following or if some might see them as a 'competitor'. I want to lead by example." (Related: Katie Dunlop Was "Really Upset" By This Photo of Herself—But She Posted It Anyway)
So what do these two incredibly successful ladies say it takes to do just that, plus, own and operate their own businesses, make time for themselves, and keep growing personally and professionally? Recently, we caught up with the friends for our Women Run the World series, and the two sat down together to chat about the secrets behind their entrepreneurial endeavors—and why women are total forces to be reckoned with (in the Insta workplace and beyond).
On Building Your Own Business
Being your own boss might *sound* like a dream, but as anyone who reports to herself will tell you: You can be the toughest boss you'll ever have. "Running your own business is not a 9 to 5 gig," says Victoria. "It's 24/7, 365 even if you have a team." To some extent, that's normal. After all, your business can become your baby.
"It can't be part-time," echoes Dunlop. "I don't necessarily just mean hours in a week, but more in your mental focus." During the first few years of LSF, Dunlop says she tried working two jobs while creating her brand on the side. "It was exhausting trying to do it all," she remembers. "While we continued to steadily grow, I know my lack of focus slowed us down." (Related: Anna Victoria Explains Exactly Why Fitness Should Be All About Balance)
Her takeaway: If you have a passion for something, go all-in, no matter how uncomfortable it is. "That's where you see the change, and that's where your dreams will finally start to take shape."
On Learning From the Mistakes
"Part of being an entrepreneur is constantly dreaming big, getting excited, and having to learn from things that don't always go as planned," says Dunlop, who notes that a 'failed' big-picture idea of hosting live workouts is actually what led to the development of her app. "Our goal was to reach as many women as possible and give them the most motivational workout experience. We thought that would be through those live workouts, but it ended up leading us to develop the app."
Today? "It's been a huge success and might never have happened without that first failure."
On Asking for Help
When Victoria launched her first e-book, she was also completing her MBA (read: class, gym, eat, then work on the business). "Luca, my husband, would tell me that I needed help, but that was almost out of the question for me. I didn't feel that I could trust anyone else to take care of my girls as I did."
"I was creating a ceiling for myself, limiting my ability to help more people and to expand," she adds. "Shortly after, I brought on my first team member, and we've been expanding ever since." The latest addition? The Fit Body app just added a doctor of physical therapy to the team (who, BTW, all members get access to for free).
Dunlop agrees that a support system is important for managing workload at work and at home. "It's really hard to learn to let things go and get help, but it's the most important thing you can do as a growing business and entrepreneur."
On Finding Time for Self-Care
Carving out time for yourself is hard no matter what you do, but when wellness and self-care are your business, it's all too easy to let your own wellbeing fall by the wayside. "I'm such a worker bee that I can easily verge on becoming a workaholic," says Victoria. "It's hard not to when you love what you do." Over the years, she's set boundaries (i.e. not responding to every email the minute it comes in) and takes days off of social media entirely. She also swears by her morning and nighttime routines, which include workouts and phone bans, respectively. (Related: Anna Victoria Apologized to Her Followers for Making Her Fit Body App Workouts So Hard)
As for Dunlop? "I take my wellness super seriously," she says. "Anyone that knows me knows I love to sleep and always make sure I get plenty of it." She also has little self-care routines (including what she calls an LSF Magic Coffee—espresso, almond milk, Vital Proteins Collagen Creamer, and cinnamon) to make sure tapping into the best version of herself. "If I can't take the time to work out, care for my body, make nourishing meals, and have a little 'me' time, I shouldn't expect my community to do it." (Related: How to Make Time for Self-Care When You Have None)
On Why Women Can Do Anything
"Women run the world because not only do we have the drive to succeed and achieve our dreams, but we do it with empathy and while making the world a better place," says Victoria. "Many have said female emotions are what make us weak, but in my opinion, they're what make us strong, able to connect, and how we're able to truly help others and leave this world better off than we found it."
"Women have layers of depth and complexity that allow us to offer so much to the world," add Dunlops. "It's finally time we're starting to see it. Women run the world because they are strong, confident people who've fought for their time and are here for it."