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Episode 6: Relationships: With Special Guest Maram Aoudi

AFB 6 | Influencer Relations

 

Beauty bosses, this one’s for you! Want to know the key to moving up in the world of influencer relations and PR? First and foremost, it’s all about cultivating meaningful relationships. Maram Aoudi is the senior manager of influencer relations and PR at Lady Gaga’s internationally acclaimed beauty brand Haus Laboratories. Based in Los Angeles, Maram has extensive experience in the beauty industry, with previous stints doing influencer relations and PR for Too Faced Cosmetics, Bite Beauty and LUSH. You’ll instantly fall in with Maram, whose vibrant positivity radiates from the inside out. In this episode, she talks with Breanna and Karen about how she finds unique talent in the saturated world on beauty influencers, how she’s able to cut through the small cut and instantly cultivate deep, meaningful relationships with the talent she works with and her tips for moving up the corporate ladder while taking care of what’s most important – yourself. Maram opens up about how she practices self-care and takes time out for herself, how she’s been surviving quarantine and what it means to be an integral part of such an influential brand.

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Relationships: With Special Guest Maram Aoudi

We are so excited to have Maram Aoudi on our show. She’s an amazing boss babe. She is the Senior Manager of Influencer Relations at Haus Laboratories. She also has some previous work experience at Lush and BITE Beauty. She’s an overall boss babe. She has made her dreams a reality of creating this amazing network of influencers and a supportive community that is lifting her up along the way. You are going to be inspired by this episode with her.

We get the opportunity and pleasure to work with Maram and have for the last few years. She’s made such an impact on our company and on our influencers. You are going to be in for a real treat because she has such a unique approach to business and we can’t wait for you to hear all about it.

Enjoy the episode.

I am so excited about this episode. We have my very good friend on, Maram Aoudi. She is a Senior Manager of Influencer Relations and PR for Haus Laboratories.

I’m so honored. You know how much I love to talk.

She’s a friend to everybody. Everybody knows Maram and you have this contagious personality, laugh and spirit about you. We’re so excited to talk about everything and how you got to where you are. You are the ultimate breadwinner, so this is going to be much fun.

Thank you. I love you both so much.

From the very beginning, how did we meet?

 

AFB 6 | Influencer Relations

Influencer Relations: As your personality evolves, so should your self-care habits.

 

We met before we physically met. I was at BITE Beauty and we met through Manal from Wake Up And Makeup. We met via email for a while and it was weird because I quickly made the switch and moved to the States. It was crazy because I remember Manal being like, “You can hang out with B all the time because she’s out there.” I was like, “Really?” For anyone that’s reading, I’m the worst at geography in general. People will be like, “You’re going to be here.” I was like, “How far is San Francisco? Can I come to you in a day?” They’re like, “What is wrong with you?” I remember you guys are both in Orange County, Anaheim. I was like, “I have a friend,” automatically off the bat. We met my first week here also by accident. You’re coming into the Too Faced offices. For dinner, I remember that dinner place that was so yummy.

Honestly, the first time that we met in person was when I was throwing a bridezilla fit at AIA Awards getting ready because I couldn’t find my eyelashes. I didn’t care who was there. Bethany Crellin, the Founder of AIA Awards was there and John was there. Maram and Manal were there too. I threw up the biggest diva fit ever like, “I can’t find my lashes.” I had presidential hair.

What’s crazy is that B is talking about it as if she was like being crazy. I remember thinking, “She’s so sweet.” It was sweet because she turned around and I was hanging out with Manal on the corner and I’m like, “I’m not cool enough to be in this room. I’m not feeling it. I’m here doing my best. I put on eyeliner.” B turned around with this magical angel and she’s like, “It is so nice to meet you. I’m sorry. I can’t find my lashes but it’s nice to meet you,” even though she’s saying that she was acting like a bridezilla.

I blacked out to be real. I was so stressed out. That was in 2017 at the AIA Awards in November. Now, look at where we are. It’s insane. I would love to start at the very beginning with you. How you got your start, the brands you’ve worked with and where you’re at now.

Let’s go down the journey. I went to school for PR. I originally did Political Science. Growing up as a child, I wanted to work for the UN. One day, I was walking around the mall and I walked past a Lush store. The Lush store had opened at the mall and they had in the display these cupcakes and I was like, “They don’t make cupcakes anymore.” This was before cupcakes came back and had a strong moment. Now I feel like we’re missing cakes. We need to bring back the personal cakes. I walked in because I thought it was a cupcake store.

I started talking to the manager and we hit it off. She was like, “Do you want to consider coming to work here?” They had opened. They were looking for people to work. I was like, “Sure.” I like soap. I didn’t know all the things that Lush were about. I started working there and it was the most incredible experience, the most incredible company. It shaped the person that I am. I remember going to my guidance counselor in university and being like, “I don’t know what I want to do. I’m going to graduate this year. I have this Political Science degree and I don’t know what to do with it.”

She was like, “I think you’d be good at PR.” I looked it up and I was like, “I can do this. This is cool.” I emailed the PR team at Lush and was like, “I want to work for you one day. What do I do?” They were like, “Go to school for PR.” I was like, “I’m doing it.” From that day, I kept applying for any job that I saw at Lush to get into the head office. I got into the head office and that’s how I got my foot in the door into the beauty world. I worked there for about 2.5 years. I moved on to BITE Beauty and I got to experience BITE, which was another incredible brand. I’m so blessed. I’ve only ever worked for companies that have been amazing to me and amazing products, products that you can truly stand behind. I went on to Too Faced then now I’m at Haus Labs.

What a journey. I want to know too, at what point you realized, “Influencers are the next big thing in social media and I need to integrate this into our marketing strategies.”

It was interesting how I got my start into influencer relations. Before I ever got my job at Lush, me and my friend back in London, Ontario, Canada, we used to stay up at night and watch YouTube videos together. That was our thing. That was our jam. We would sit there and watch YouTube videos and we’d make our shopping list, go to Sephora the next day and buy everything. When I got my job at Lush, I was doing social when I started off. That was when people were starting to realize that influencer relations should be integrated into marketing. I would see that people were featuring Lush on their own.

No one’s going to love you more than you do.

It was when Twitter was the thing and I was sliding into people’s DMs on Twitter and remember thinking no one was ever going to get back to me but I was like, “I might as well connect with them, say thank you.” That’s how it got started. The majority of the companies or all the companies I’ve worked for is once you get the product in people’s hands, that’s it. With Lush, it was at the beginning of influencer marketing. All I ever wanted to do was get people to enjoy a bath. Let’s bring back taking a bath, bath art and all that stuff. It kicked off from there.

This was also way before people were talking about self-care too. I think now people are like, “You need a Bath Bomb. You need to relax and unwind at the end of the day.” It was different when you were working for Lush. That wasn’t the culture yet.

Self-care has come a very long way and I think one’s going to love you better than you’re going to love you. Taking the time out and taking those 5 minutes or 10 minutes. I’ll be honest, people always make fun of me because even when I had college roommates and stuff, my baths don’t last more than ten minutes. I put the Bath Bomb in there and I sit. It’s an amazing ten minutes and I get out. Those ten minutes mean so much to me. That’s the beautiful thing about self-care is it doesn’t matter what it is, it’s yours. You own that. Whether it’s you want to do a bath, have a face mask on or sit on the couch for ten minutes and have no one talk to you. It doesn’t have to necessarily be attached to an activity that’s standardized by society. You do whatever you want. For the longest time, self-care was putting and soaking olive oil in my hair, doing a face mask and watching a reality show. That was it. That was my thing. You evolve and as your personality evolves, so should your self-care habits.

What do you do to take time for yourself now? If you have a stressful day, how do you unwind and relax?

My favorite thing to do is I stepped away from olive oil in my hair. That was so awesome. I got a bike from Amazon. In the beginning of quarantine, I self-cared a lot in the sense that I did face masks, hair masks, took baths and those have been awesome. As my quarantine has evolved, now if I’m sitting down and watching TV, I’m like, “You could be pedaling on a bike and still watching your reality shows.” It’s funny because you’re watching shows where people are out and about. They’re living their life, on the beach and doing their thing. I’m going to sit here and I’m going to do it while I’m on a bike. That’s become my new self-care. If I don’t do that at some point during my day, I feel like my head is like suffocating. It’s weird. I feel like I’m trapped. That’s almost my breath of fresh air.

This is bad but even though we’re on our phones all day, at the end of the day I do scroll and catch up, see what everyone’s doing. For our influencer team now, it’s so big. It’s always someone’s birthday. I like to go in, give someone a comment and like. I have my phone in my hand and I’m half paying attention to that and half paying attention to watching TV.

I hate to copy that exact answer but that’s the same for me as well. We started this show. Instagram has been killing it with and I can relate because I started another personal page to document my weight loss journey. That’s been my outlet too. I can’t even watch TV anymore. I’m not interested in watching TV or movies and I can never really unplug but working out too has been helpful. I do work out with a trainer at least twice a week. She’ll come in and interrupt my day at 1:00 PM and I will take an hour to work out with her twice a week. Because I’ve been able to do that, I do feel a lot better.

That’s part of the normal. That’s what brings me back to normal because it’s so funny. I’ve always exercised in my life but I’ve never been excited to exercise. Once I get there, I’m like, “This is good for my body. This is good for my joints.” The process of getting me from my house to the gym has always been a challenge. Once I’m at the gym, I’m happy. It’s funny because I feel now exercising at home has become the one thing that I have connecting me to my past life. This is something I can do super easy. I don’t have to have a mask on, I’m doing it at home. It’s great. It keeps you active. It’s funny what you guys were saying about social because it’s true. Much of our life is spent now on social for work with what it’s making us do that you don’t get to look back at social and interact and be like, “I’m not looking at it from a work perspective. I’m looking at it as, ‘What’s my mom up to?’”

You start to enjoy it when it’s your job and you’re living and breathing social every day.

AFB 6 | Influencer Relations

Influencer Relations: People’s energies are important. It’s easy to stay in touch with the ones that give you that positive energy back.

 

Now it’s at night too, that’s when I go through and I’m like, “What’s mom up to? What’s her Story? What are my sisters doing?” Social has kept us all so connected throughout quarantine, which is amazing. Something I always used to say is my family lives in all different parts of the world. Thank God for Skype, FaceTime and the platforms that have been able to keep us all connected because it’s a blessing for all of that technology.

I love that we’re talking about this because we had been on our show too. It’s the same thing with us three. We’re separated by at least an ocean between our families. Have you been able to see your family this entire quarantine? Were you able to go home at all?

I did but I think one of the biggest struggles for me is my parents, high risk. I don’t want to take the risk of ever being the person that even if I had it or someone got it through me, I don’t want ever to be that risk. That’s why I’ve been keeping myself at home. Me and my dad FaceTime every night, even for two minutes I’m like, “How are you? What’s going on?” The same with my mom, I FaceTime with her or Messenger her like, “How’s it going? How are you?” I’ve been with my parents. Let’s talk every single day, let’s check in every single day. I’ve been thankful for that. I feel much more comfortable with that because I’m not necessarily as worried about myself as I am about my family and friends.

That’s what keeps getting me stuck at this place too. I selfishly want to associate my family but then also we run a business and if I come home, I used to quarantine for X amount of time too. Even though Hawaii is on a completely different system and they’re doing well but even thinking about the work part of it, how I’m going to be away from work for a month. If I go out to Hawaii for two weeks, that’s me away from work for two weeks even though I’m going to be working on my computer and stuff. I’m not in the studio with the girls. I had to come home and then quarantine for ten days, which I’m like, “That’s another two weeks to a month of not seeing everybody.”

I think the thing that I struggle with too is if I go to see my dad, for example, quarantining in the same house to me is such a high risk. I love my dad but he’s going to open that door and he’s going to be like, “Did you eat?” I’m going to be like, “Dad, close the door.” I don’t want to risk any of that. I did get a chance to go see my family in Dubai but for that one I quarantined and got tested twice before I interacted with the world. You’re paranoid for so long. That’s why I’m like, “Stay put.”

Luckily now too, if your dad is over 65, he does qualify to get the vaccine now. Hopefully, we’ll have changes soon.

It’s a moment in life that it’s best to be super responsible. Everyone’s going through it. We’re going to all evolve together. I’m like, “I’m going to sit here, follow the rules, do my thing and stay at home.” Nothing is worth it. I do go for my walks around my apartment building and Trader Joe’s has become the place where I wear eyeshadow.

Many other things have changed other than being home, us being away from our families. I want to let whoever’s reading, Maram wears so many different hats. She holds down many different relationships, especially with our influencers. I know exactly how much she communicates with them and it’s a lot. She’s become such a friend to every influencer that we’ve worked with and that’s our roster. I know that she does that with many other influencers too and many other brand managers and managers in general. I commend you for being truly such a friend to everybody. I wanted to know how has influencer relations and marketing for you changed. How have you evolved with it?

I’m a huge extrovert. Leo and all the things. It took a while for me to be comfortable with the fact I’m such a huge extrovert. For the longest time, I was like, “Why am I so loud,” but that’s who I am. It is what it is. One of the biggest things for me that I love the most about my job is the fact that I get to be friends with many people. I always wanted to make friends. The idea for the longest time of no new friends was never a thing for me. I’m like, “Why no new friends?” be friends.

Passion shows up in consistency.

What’s nice is through this role and my career, I’ve had the opportunity to meet so many incredible, amazing people and they truly become your friends every day. Keeping in touch has never been a huge issue, whether it’s connecting with you, with Bari or with Jazmina. You guys are my friends and in California, you are my family. That’s who I’m here with. We also have talked about having friends and getting comfortable with your personality and your shine. Those are all things and being protective of your energy. I think that’s a huge thing too is becoming friends with people while still making sure that your circle is amazing. I’ve been so blessed that my circle has been amazing. Your roster that you speak of is incredible. It’s filled with amazing people. Karen and I met at Too Faced once and you exude amazing energy. A huge thing is people’s energies is important. It’s easy to stay in touch with the ones that give you that positive energy back.

I have a question too for our influencers who are reading. There are so many influencers out there and talent in the world. When you’re scrolling, what jumps out at you to signal, “This person is special.” For our influencers, if they want to get noticed, what tips could you provide for them?

One of the biggest things is passion. I think passion always jumps off a page or an Instagram account. Consistency in posting and staying engaged with your fan base. Those are the things that I look for. A huge thing for me is everything is about building a positive, beautiful community. For me, every job I’ve had has always been about building a positive, beautiful community, whether it’s the team that you’re working with internally or influencers that you’re working with externally. When I look at influencers, I also look at what is your community? Are you engaging with your community? Are you posting? Are you engaging with them in that way?

That’s the thing that I look at because artistry evolves over time. Content evolves over time. I have evolved over time. I don’t look at someone and I think, “Your content is great. That’s it,” because we all change. We all grow. We all become different human beings. One day you might be really into red lipstick, another day, you might be into super lavender. I don’t look at someone as like, “What is your content now?” I look at it, “How are you engaging with people? What energy are you putting out with your feed? Can I see your passion through the consistency of your posting?” Those are the main things that I look at.

I think that’s so important too. No matter what’s trending, you need to be authentic to yourself. Don’t do things because you think that’s what people want to see. It all comes back to being true to you.

You truly see that when you look at someone’s engagement as well. That’s the beauty of every place I’ve worked at and even speaking more in relation to Haus. Haus is such an incredible brand. It’s your artistry, it’s our house, your rules. There’s no such thing as like, “This is the Haus way of doing things.” We’re all about express ourselves. These are tools for self-expression. Do what you want with them, express yourself. As long as you are expressing yourself, you are happy, are being kind and you are a positive individual, those are the amazing things.

It’s all about really engagement because even if you’re putting out something and it’s going to five people or your core five people. When you look back at marketing from back in the day of word of mouth, it’s huge. When B tells me there’s a certain eye shadow palette, foundation or a product that is life-changing, I listen to her. I’m like, “Let’s go check it out.” That’s because trust and word of mouth are still so huge. When it comes to influencers, that’s really what you see through engagement.

It reflects in your work and how you’re able to pick such genuine influencers to work with. Honestly, it’s like, “Wherever you go, we’re going with you.” I get so excited for you because seeing you coming into a different role where you’re jumping in front of the camera for Haus and you’re creating that community. I feel like the community is such a key thing to bring up because Editour was very much introduced to this when we took on Bianca. It was ‘91. Bianca is probably 1 out of 5 influencers who has the biggest community following. She built this up through doing Facebook Lives and doing Lives on IG.

It has been insane to see because also community converts. Bringing it back to the business portion, the community converts. We see other categories too. For example, whenever anybody comments on Jazmina’s posts in the first hour, she always comments right back. I always tell her this is how her and I met because she commented back to some of my comments back in the day. I was like, “I love her.” It means so much taking that extra step as an influencer and not posting something as, “I need to get something up on the feed,” and you post it and then you back away. It’s important to follow-up and try to get more involved in your community of followers. I also like what you were saying about how you’re very extroverted, you have a certain shine and you like to protect your energy. I wanted to know from a business stance, with your amazing personality, have you ever run into someone who’s tried to dull that shine?

AFB 6 | Influencer Relations

Influencer Relations: You can’t control what other people do. The only thing you can control is how you react.

 

I think China tried to dive down my forehead about that before. I wouldn’t say it was necessarily like industry. This was in relation to every human. For me, there are people that I meet that I’m like, “I know I’m a lot for you.” When I was younger, I used to be like, “Why doesn’t this person like me?” I went through my stages of I needed to work on my confidence. I needed to work on the things that I was like, “Why do I seek validation? Why am I spending time with people that when I left them, I felt exhausted?” At the core of it, I wasn’t being myself and that stemmed from the fact that at that moment in time I lack the confidence in myself that I needed.

One of the most important things is looking into yourself and why do I need this validation from this person? That’s ultimately what’s dimming your shine. I don’t think that people look at you and they’re like, “I’m going to dim your shine.” Even if a person is like, “I’m going to dim your shine,” it’s more about you’re allowing them to do that. Why are you allowing this person to do that? Why are you giving them access to your energy? That’s where I say you are protecting your own personal energy and your own space. Why am I allowing this person to affect me in this way? I remember sitting down with my friend and she said to me, “One day, you can’t control what other people do. The only thing you can control is how you react to it.” Whenever I catch myself in a moment, I think back to that, it’s like, “I can’t change what you’re doing but I can change how I react to it.”

That’s when I looked at things that were sparking my anxiety or sparking my self-doubt. I’m like, “Why am I doing these things? What is triggering those things?” Ultimately, that’s when I looked at it, “There are things you have to let go of and there are things that you have to accept.” For me, I’ve accepted that some people may not like me and that’s okay. That’s fine because as long as I lead my life. I try my best to lead my life with kindness and everything that I do. I try my best always to be welcoming. I try my best to always be friendly and welcome everybody with open arms. That’s the best that you can do because when you leave a conversation with someone, people aren’t going to be like, “She was too nice.” Even if they say that, they do that but to me when she was too nice, I’m like, “I’m down for it.” There’s the thing for us with Canadians also, I ramble so feel free to cut me off.

There’s a thing with Canadians that I always joke around about is if I bump into someone, I always say sorry. My sorry is my excuse me. When I want to say, “Excuse me, can I do some? Sorry, can I get this? Sorry, can I do that?” I think it’s a Canadian thing but people have always said to me, “Why are you saying sorry? Don’t say sorry,” but now I’m like, “That’s my thing. I’m going to say it.” If you choose to be like, “You’re wrong,” then that’s you. I’m going to be comfortable with my personality because it’s so exhausting to try to be somebody else. That’s what I say when I come back from spending time with someone, if I feel depleted, it’s because I wasn’t being myself. I wasn’t being 100% genuine to me and that means that something needs to be evaluated there.

I love that you feel very supported and I think Breanna and I being in publishing, we were in this world where there were women who were intimidated by younger editors and who did feel like there’s room at the top for everybody. Do you feel like social media is a different world because a younger generation will be more tapped into trends and what’s going on almost more than older people in the industry?

At the end of the day, each generation has its trends. We all have our cycles. I was around during the ’90s and I saw the trends of the ’90s. I’m seeing them come back. We all have our different trends. We’re the last generation ever to experience not being on social and then being on social. There are advantages to us and there are advantages to younger generations. My big thing is this surpasses younger or older, we all have our journey. We all have our paths. I have friends that are significantly younger than me that have their own businesses, that are entrepreneurs and that have built empires.

I have friends that we have elevated to we’re on the same level that are older and they were mentors at certain points. I think your journey is your own. The number one person that you should be competing with is yourself. The only person that you should be comparing yourself to is yourself. We all have our own different paths. We all have our different objectives. We all have our different goals. I have friends that their biggest goal was to be on Forbes 30 under 30. They achieved that. That was not a goal of mine. There are different things that we’re all working towards. Ultimately, you got to stay centered with yourself. You have to look at what your career goals are.

Back in the day, when we used to talk, owning your own business was your goal. That has not been my thing. I’m not like, “In five years, I want to work at this company for this.” The universe has led me in so many different paths and I’ve gone places that if you would’ve asked me a few years ago, “Would you be living in the States?” I’d be like, “Absolutely not.” I would never expect that for me. I would have never thought I’d have this opportunity. I let the universe lead me on my path as long as I’m like, “In five years or ten years, I want to be happy. I want to feel fulfilled in these things.” I look at my goals as more to help me with like, “How do I value myself in this universe?” For me in five years, I’m not thinking I want to be a VP of this or that. I think in five years, I want to be happy and I want to be impacting this world in a positive way.

I’m proud of you. Even you come in and jumping on to the Haus Labs page and shining in other different verticals. Even when some of our staff is able to do that, it means a lot to us because the brands are seeing that we’re able to grow our communities that way. You’ve been killing it all the way around and been positive. When everything first happened, everything was shut down, you made sure that you jumped on Zooms with a lot of the talent that we represent. I always saw you were on Zooms with everybody and huge influencers. I’d always see on Stories and stuff people tagging and you’ve done such a great job with that. I want to know, what has been your career highlight to this point?

Your journey is your own. The only person that you should be competing with is yourself.

Honestly, I don’t know if I feel like I have a career highlight. I think I am proud of myself in general. I look at the people that I’ve met in my life. I look at my personal life journey, the growth as a human being and my learnings. I also look at my career and I think as a monster, one day I would get the chance to work at Haus Labs. I still remember the first time I heard a Gaga song. Even being able to work with some of the people that I’ve been able to work with, my boss, my team, the people that I’ve met, those are the things that I’m so thankful for.

If I was to look at something that I’m proud of, I truly am proud of my journey at Haus and being able to be on social. There are so many people that have taken chances on me. When I was at Lush, our director of communications, who’s the most beautiful person inside and out, she was also my first mentor and is still my mentor. She was one of the first people to take a chance on me and bring me into the beauty industry. She was one of the first people to be like, “Do Facebook Lives.” We used to do this thing called Lush Live. I’m not sure if they still do it but she was like, “Do you want to give that a shot?”

Even at Haus, my boss is also a huge, beautiful individual, human being, the best person ever. When she was like, “Do you want to do Stories?” Those are the moments that I think I’m the proudest of when someone recognizes things in me that I didn’t have to fight for it. I wasn’t like, “Please put me on Instagram.” Someone’s like, “You love makeup. You do makeup in your way. Sometimes you’re applying eyeshadow with your fingers or whatever. You do you. Do you want to come on and share some of your insights on our platform?” That’s so amazing to me. Those are probably my moments.

What is it like to be on the opposite side of that? You had people who believed in you and now you get to open the door and change the lives of a lot of influencers because being featured on Haus Labs is game-changing.

We have the most beautiful community and I sometimes think when I do a Story, people find me and then send me a message. Those are the moments that I’m like, “Hi, new best friend. Welcome to my Instagram account, which is filled with photos of my face. It is nice to meet you. I hope you like my sarcastic, awkward sense of humor.” When I look at our community, I don’t see myself as someone that’s shaping or influencing other people. When I do those Stories, I think, “I’m on here and I’m showing you makeup in my way. I hope that you feel confident to test out eyeliner,” because I’m not an expert.

I did not go to makeup school. My eyeliner tips and tricks or things that I learned along my path and my journey. Sometimes my hand is wobbly when I’m doing it. I hope that watching me do it gives you more confidence to like, “If you’re at home and you’re quarantining, test out eyeliner. You can wash it off. If it doesn’t work out, it’s no big deal, wash it off.” I look at it that way. That hit me. I’ve never really thought of myself as someone that’s influencing. I hope you have a good time. You watch the Stories, you enjoy them. You have a good time. We have a couple of other beautiful people that work at Haus Labs have also been jumping on Stories and doing TikTok. I think that’s the biggest thing about Haus. It’s such an empowering place. It’s like, “What do you want to do? What’s your favorite look?” I’m like, “All right.”

I think that’s part of what makes Haus Labs so unique. It’s much more than beauty. It’s not about the makeup. It’s about expressing and being your true self.

Haus came in like a wrecking ball. Honestly, it shook the industry. It still does. It’s created such a safe place to express yourselves and like being on set with Jazmina for that one shoot that we did for the lippies, that was next-level. How you guys were able to manage such a huge production and all the influencers and giving them all the same amount of time and putting so much care, effort and thought behind it? I appreciate that because I don’t have to be on set with ten of our influencers. I’m handling one influencer, one talent at a time. I know even that can be overwhelming.

This is what I mean by getting to work with awesome people. At the end of the day, we all want to be loved. We all want to be appreciated. We all want to be given attention and care. Those are things that we all need in life to a certain amount. My job at every company I’ve ever worked at has only been as fun as it is because of the people that I work with, the influencers I get to work with and the collaborations I get to do. That’s why I say people become my friends. It’s a real talk conversation. When I started my career, the reason I’m here is some of the biggest mentors I’ve ever had have been influencers.

AFB 6 | Influencer Relations

Influencer Relations: At the end of the day, we all want to be loved. We all want to be appreciated. We all want to be given attention and care.

 

You have a conversation and you’re like, “We’re friends. What do you want to do? What’s your five-year goal? How can I help you?” That’s something that I think I learned from being in PR for so long because it’s all about having a conversation like, “What can I do for you? If it’s something I can do and it doesn’t hurt or it’s easy, why haven’t I wanted to do that? Why not?” Breanna and I talk all the time about outfits we want to wear and we’ve gone thrifting together. We’ve gone makeup shopping together. You’re my friend. It’s like, “If you want something, give me a call and tell me what it is and we’ll work on it.”

I love that you said that some of your biggest mentors have been influencers. You’re so good with people and in every different range of followings. Have you ever met a person where you’re like, “I’m a little bit nervous?”

It’s like every time when I meet someone, I’m probably a little bit nervous because I started out watching Samantha Ravndahl and Desi Perkins. I watched all those YouTube channels before I ever got into what I do. That’s why I’m still thankful that I got to follow my passion. It synced up. Every time I meet someone like Manal, I remember that first video you did back in the day where you did this. There’s a little bit of me that’s like, “I get to be here. I get to do this.” Even when we had our call with Jazmina, when I first met her, I was sitting next to her and we found out we’re the best of friends. That was a moment for me. I’m like, “I’m finally sitting next to you. For the longest time, I followed you on social and I didn’t even know what you looked like. You only did lip art for a while.” I was like, “This is you.”

I get that question as well. I think that at one point too we’re all human. If we treat people the way that we would want to be treated, mellow, being casual and being able to have a conversation. I feel like it puts everybody on an even playing field. It makes influencers feel comfortable and like, “I can have a conversation with this person.” I’m so glad that we were able to start early on in the influencer industry because I feel that’s taken away some of the nervousness for me because I was able to be in a room with the biggest influencers like Candy, Patrick, Jeffrey, Manny, Jacqueline and being able to be comfortable enough to go and talk to them.

Even James in the beginning and Bretman. I was like, “These are regular people.” I feel like there’s so much to be said too when you’re creating these relationships. You’re like, “It is like a friendship.” You’re saying before we’re all such great friends and it’s true. I always describe my being a manager. My approach is not super typical for managers or agents in our industry. I can be the big sister. I can be the little sister. I can be the best friend and the business partner all in one. It’s because of the relationships and being able to be relatable. Having conversations with them like, “I’m a real person and I’m going to treat you like you’re a real person too.”

You said it so beautifully. We’re all people. We all want to be spoken with respect treated with respect and shown love. As long as you lead everything that you do with kindness and I always try to lead with kindness, be the best person I can be to others. That’s what you leave people with, that’s what they remember. They remember your energy. They remember how you interacted with them and that’s what’s important.

It’s like always say, “I want to live my life. I’m living life.” That’s what everybody’s trying to do. I think that also you go over and beyond for people when used to do tea parties or lunches for us. I think that’s very important too for brands to understand, you can’t send an email these days. You have to have those relationships. You have to go out of your way to make them feel special. Even when we do influencer events ourselves, we get everything customized and do what we can with the budget that we have but we try to make things so special and intentional. Those are things that stay with the talent for years from now.

I used to work in retail for the longest time. I used to work at Lush retail. When you give someone a massage like a hand massage or an arm massage, you’re always thinking about the touchpoints. That’s how you keep someone engaged as you’re having a conversation with them. You’re making sure you’re not breaking the connection. It’s the same thing as what you’re saying with building a relationship. It is about the customized things but it’s also about the touchpoints and making sure you’re staying connected to that person.

When you’re having a conversation, I like to get past the surface-level stuff and I go straight into, “Are you dating somebody? How did you guys meet? How did you fall in love? What did they do to sweep you off your feet?” Those are the touchpoints. That’s how you get to know somebody or it’s like, “Were you born here? What was your first job?” It’s because I want to know people. I don’t want to be like, “What’s your favorite thing at this moment?” I want to know the core of you.

Always try to lead with kindness and be the best person you can be to others. That’s what people will remember.

What you were saying earlier about how your goals aren’t as career-focused but it’s more about how do I personally feel? Do I feel fulfilled at this job? For anyone reading who feels like they might be stuck in a rut in their career, what advice could you give them about building your dream life, dream job and being the architect of that?

A huge thing is looking at your life and looking at your job. To some people, their job is their goal. That’s their thing. To other people, if you’re feeling stuck in your role, what can you do outside of your job? What are the things that you have control of that can change your outlook? If you’re feeling stuck in your job, does your job have to be your number one focus that’s taking up the most of your mental energy? What can you do on this? If you lack creativity and you want more creativity, what can you be doing on the side to get you that creative spark? What can you be doing to reignite that?

Do you want to go to a paint store, buy some paint and paint some things on a piece of paper? What will help you de-stress your mind? I do sometimes look at my mind as this thing that’s overstimulated. It’s like, “How can I take a step back?” It’s almost like a deep puff my mind. Maybe it’s doing something with my hand. When I was young, I used to love redoing my jewelry. If I had a broken necklace, I would take another necklace that I didn’t wear anymore and I’d take pieces out of it and piece it together. It’s like, “What activity can I be doing to stop my mind from working in a path that I don’t want.”

If you’re feeling stuck, look at the things that can bring you joy outside of that. Maybe one day that thing is going to become your career. That’s how social media like an influencer started for a lot of people. The amount of people that I know that used to work at a beauty counter and then eventually started doing looks on their channels and now are the number one influencer in the world. That’s how it started. You don’t have to follow a path. I come from a household of you have to go to school, you have to be a doctor, you have to be a lawyer. Those are the things that you got to do.

For my parents, those were the things. It had a lot of stability. You can always be a doctor, you can always be a lawyer, you can start your own firm. It’s stable but now we have stability outside in so many different ways. Look at other outlets that can bring you that joy. Also, what’s keeping you stuck in your role? You can’t seem to find another job. Is it something internally that you can do? Can you speak to your team and say, “I’m feeling stuck?” My biggest thing in your career is don’t ever go to someone and tell them your problem.

Don’t go and be like, “This is my problem.” It’s like, “This is my problem. This is what I’ve tried to resolve it and it hasn’t worked. Can you give me advice? This is my problem. Here are some solutions. How can you help me bring one of them to life?” Going and saying, “I’m unhappy.” It’s like, “Why are you unhappy?” A good manager is going to sit you down and they’re going to say, “Why are you unhappy? What can we do?” Also, you have to have thought of your plan of, “I’m unhappy and this is what I need to be happy.” You have to come with a solution.

Are you an advocate for in your job, you’re going to your boss saying, “I need a raise. I need to feel more valued. I want to add this to my role?” Have you done that in the past in your career?

Absolutely. I have been a manager and I have been reporting like an employee. As a manager, I’ll say sometimes I don’t know the struggles and nobody’s perfect. You can try and have the conversations of saying, “Where do you want to grow? What do you want to do?” I can’t figure out for you what you want your path to be. Because I can tell you in six months, you should be a manager and in another year, you should be a senior manager. Some people might not even want to be in PR. You may have realized at entry-level like, “I don’t like PR.”

Come to me and be like, “I’m struggling. To be transparent, these are the things I’m struggling with.” It’s all about trust with the person that you work with and say like, “I would like to gear my career into events. I want to gear my career into product development,” or whatever it is. On my end, I evaluate and I’m like. “I can’t get you a job in those departments. Why don’t we schedule meetings where you have visibility into how that department works?” It’s all about a trust relationship that you build with your team. I’ve gone and been proactive and said, “This is what I need in order to be successful.” I think the times that I have been the most successful is when I show up and I’m like, “Here’s my plan. This is what I’ve been doing. This is why it’s not working. This is what I need in order for it to make it work. This is the growth I’m going to see if I see at work.” You have to come with facts. I don’t know if you have watched the episode with Michael asking for a raise, that’s the thing. You got to put your plan together. You got to be like, “This is what I need.”

AFB 6 | Influencer Relations

Influencer Relations: If you’re feeling stuck, look at the things that can bring you joy outside of what you’re currently doing. Maybe one day that thing is going to become your career.

 

I love what you said too about managers. A good manager would be like, “What can we do to make you happy?” I think that’s so important because that’s something that I learned from David Metzler. He was saying that too. Your job as a manager is to make sure that everybody around you and the employees is happy and the staff is happy. That’s very important to keep in mind too. I don’t have a lot of experience with a manager where they’re there to make me happy. If it was, it was always like it, especially in the beauty industry, a little bit catty, competitive and more like, “You can come to me but let’s go ahead and gossip.” It’s not getting down to, “How am I being supported?” This is what we do in our companies. We try to support our team as much as possible. I think that’s amazing. I would love for people to understand too. Those managers need to shift their mindset and make sure that what they’re doing is making the employees around them happy. That’s what being a manager is about.

Part of what I’m trying to say is everything is a relationship. That’s why I say, “If you want something, go for it,” because you have to communicate with your manager that you’re unhappy or what are the things that are making you unhappy in order for that manager to turn around then and be able to resolve it. I try my best always to be as loving and supportive as I can. Sometimes I’m like, “I didn’t know you didn’t want to do influencer relations at all.” I think it’s always a two-way street and all of us in this human race could do better. We’re communicating more. We can all communicate. If something’s in your heart, communicate it. As long as you’re communicating it with kindness, I’m all here for it.

There’s a way to be direct and then a way to have some heart behind it. I appreciate that. You’re such a breath of fresh air and any company would be so blessed and fortunate to have you. I love having you on our team. I know I can introduce you to anybody and they’ll think, “I love Maram.” That means much to us. We’re appreciative to have you on our show. Is there anything you want to add about anything?

Believe in yourself. Take time out for yourself. No one knows what you want more than you do so keep that in mind. If you ever need anything, hit me up on LinkedIn, ask me questions. I’m always here. Hit me up on Instagram. I’m always there. One of my things is, I wouldn’t be here without all the mentorship that I’ve had in my career and my life. I always love to pay it forward. If someone has ever mentored you and gotten you to the place that you are, please continue to pay it forward.

Plug your socials too so that everyone can follow you.

My social is @MAoudi.

Read this and feel so inspired and re-energized. I love how you’re all about taking time for yourself and making sure that you are fulfilled and making a positive impact on the world. It’s something that we can all do more of. We can all spread more kindness on social and in our daily lives.

I love you both ladies because you both are the perfect examples of positive energy, kindness and women supporting each other.

Thank you. We love you. You’re amazing.

We can’t wait to see you continue to kill it and do more amazing things. We love seeing you on social.

We love working with you. We love to see it.

Thank you for reading.

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