Meet Sasha Exeter, health and fitness guru, with 40k instagram followers.
This beautiful woman has shared all facets of her life with her followers from the early days of fashion and beauty content, to health and fitness, to motherhood, divorce, & all the bits in between. Being open and vulnerable with her followers and taking them along for the journey has allowed Sasha to become widely successful on the platform working with various brands such as Nike, Adidas, Joe Fresh, & many more.
Through watching Sasha’s daily content, you will come to find she is genuinely authentic, and absolutely hilarious as she tends to reveal snippets of a day in her life as a mother, whilst also being a superBOSS.
Continue reading to find out more about Sasha’s (@sashaexeter) journey and the obstacles she had to overcome to get her to where she is today!
When did you first start using social media?
I started using social only when I first launched my blog. My IG account was created a year before I started my blog, which launched in Oct 2012. I was on social media to promote my website, and was not active by any means on instagram. I also got twitter around the same time I got instagram, which let me just say, Twitter is the real MVP. Twitter gives you the real tea, the real news, the best memes, it’s always reliable, it’s always loyal.
Walk me through the step-by-step process that you went through to get to where you are today. What was the first thing you did? Next?
The difference with me, and others that have come into the landscape in the past five or six years, is that I didn’t start my blog to monetize it, or to become a business. Today, we see how profitable it is and how easy it is to monetize your social media platforms, so naturally individuals are now turning to this career as a back up plan in case things don’t work out elsewhere.
I was in the corporate world and I went to school in the US on a scholarship. After I graduated, I moved back home, and I had several jobs in many different industries and I was doing quite well. Back in the day, I was working for a tobacco company (ironically), and I was diagnosed with a rare kidney disease when I was in university, so I took some time off. When I started working, I had a massive relapse in 2009, and I was forced to take time off of work, thinking I’d only be off for two weeks. Two weeks, turned into two years.
During that time, I was hospitalized for a year and a half, engaged and my relationship ended. I lost my sense of independence, because I had to move back in with my family after I got discharged from the hospital. I was 29 at the time, and it sucked. I had assets, I had cars, I had an amazing job that was paying well, but I had to rent out my condo, sell my cars and live with my parents and younger brother. I was basically a shell of who I am today and I was heavily medicated. I was basically comatosed. My doctors told me that I wasn’t going to be able to have a high-functioning lifestyle anymore, and this is pretty much what I can begin to expect for my foreseeable future.
From being so sick, and being on bedrest, and also not eating well – this led to depression, anxiety and insomnia. At the same time, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder.
When you hit rock bottom, there really is nowhere else to go but up, so I got completely fed up with it all, and I decided to take matters into my own hands. I got rid of all my specialists, including my kidney specialist, my GP. I called the insurance company for my employer and said I wasn’t going to fight my claim anymore. My job became focused on ONLY becoming healthy because I began to realize there was a reason for why I was being pushed in this direction and away from the tobacco company, so I let it all go.
Back then, there weren’t a lot of portals and resources surrounding this topic vs. what exists today. Regardless, I put together a team of my own specialists including a reiki specialist, a nutritionist, osteopathic physician, a chiropractor, physiotherapist, as well as began practicing thai chi. In addition, I was also on medications, but went off those completely and began taking medicinal marijuana.
Through all of this, someone said to me, so let me get this straight, you are healing yourself naturally through marijuana, diet and exercise – why are you not talking about this online? I struggled asking myself, who would care to hear my story? I completely had fallen off the map, and worried the market was too saturated already, which is funny considering how saturated it’s become today. At the time, I was too afraid to make it solely about my health journey, so I decided to start my blog and make it about the topics I was passionate about, which was fashion & beauty.
SO long story, but this is how the whole thing started!
After all of this happened, I was working with Nike, and they had wanted me to run the half-marathon in San Francisco, but no one really knew the extent of how sick I was and my dad was extremely against me going mainly because of the state of my health. Despite this, running was a big part of my recovery, because I was insecure about how I looked, so I didn’t want to go to the gym. After lots of debate, I came to the conclusion that I was going to go for it, and not care about the end result as long as I tried. A few weeks leading up I told the PR director about my health, as I was writing down my emergency contacts and warned her how I may not finish the race, and this is what opened up the larger conversation about once again, why are you not sharing this? Long story short, I finished the race and it was an extremely emotional experience for me. Afterwards, I did a race report on my site and opened up about everything and my road to getting there, and my blog shut down, my socials blew up to the point where I couldn’t get to all the DMs. It was very overwhelming, and from that day forth, everything changed for me.
How long was it before your social media platforms became profitable? How did you live through those first few months/years? Did you have any struggles?
The reason why I was able to survive was because I had support, and didn’t have to worry about a mortgage, rent, my cars. I was in the perfect environment for me to thrive. My blog had been up and running for 7 or 8 months before my first real collaboration came in.
The little money that I did have, I invested in myself, and I didn’t take any shortcuts. I went out and found a good photographer because I knew the photos and the writing had to be good, and I knew content was king.
I still remember my first collaboration, and I will never forget it because I am still in touch with them today, Ann Taylor.
What did you do prior to influencing on social media? If you weren’t an influencer, what would be your dream job?
Several jobs in the corporate world – I was a brand manager, trade marketing manager at account director on the agency side.
My dream job – if I wasn’t doing what I am doing now or exposed to this industry, I would have stayed in the realm of fitness and hopefully worked for Nike as a Director of Marketing.
What are your thoughts on social media? And what do you think is the most commonly misunderstood thing about social media?
Things have changed so much on socials, and the things that people loved about it at the beginning in terms of being able to post how you feel authentically and in real time has changed. Also, with the ad standards making so many changes, and how creators post and monetize content, it’s quite scary.
I do agree that we should be disclosing if we are receiving any type of compensation for content, but Instagram knows that we are being compensated and they want a piece of that pie. Meaning, whenever people are adding these disclosures aka #ad or paid partnership with x,y,z to their content, Instagram is plummeting the content, so creators are forced to pay and promote their posts.
In addition, I am not loving how much control brands now have over wanting to see content and going through so many rounds of approval. I try to limit this approval system to one round. Being honest, the campaigns that were the most successful or my longest standing relationships have been with brands that do not even review my content. By doing this, it leads to more organic storytelling.
On the positive side, I have met some of the coolest people, I have been given a career, I’ve been able to travel the world, and also work with the companies I’d dreamed to work at as an employee, but on my own terms. Being my own boss makes me love that aspect of social media.
I think the most commonly misunderstood thing is that people who are not in the industry, think that bloggers or content creators do not make any money. Personally, my experience is that you can make a great living off of it, especially if you are business savvy.
What negative assumptions, if any, have been made about you via social media?
I think since the job is quite cyclical, especially with a heightened number of sponsored ads during Christmas that people who tend to follow me closer to this time get the impression that all of my content is paid ads only. Since I’ve become a mother, I’ve been ridiculed about my parenting style.
Tell us something about yourself that your followers don’t know
People think I am so unbelievably strong with everything I’ve had to overcome, but the truth is that I cry all the time. I think I’ve cried everyday for the past two years, so I am a big softie and quite emotional.
Of all the gifted packages you receive as an influencer, which product/item excites you the most? What would be your dream brand to collab with?
I am a sucker for personalization, so naturally, I love items that are monogrammed. If a brand pays attention to my lifestyle, and gifts me something that actually works and is a need for me, I really appreciate that.
My dream collaboration – I am so blessed because I don’t have a huge following, but I have been able to monetize a business and make long term partnerships with so many amazing brands with only 40k followers, and I truly feel I’ve worked with all of my dream brands including Apple, Nike, Clinique, Knixwear, L’Oreal, HBC, Indigo, Air Canada Vacations, Joe Fresh.
Who are three of the most important, and influential people in your life? and why?
I don’t look very far for influence, and it starts at home for me. Therefore, my parents, and also my father’s mother, who had 13 kids and brought all 13 kids from a small island, called St. Vincent to Canada with a sixth grade education. She put herself through school, became a nurse and supported all thirteen children single handedly because my grandfather passed away of kidney failure in his 30s.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to an aspiring influencer if you only had a few minutes to give them your best tip?
I think right now it would have to be – finding a niche, and know your WHY. This landscape is so saturated, and anyone can come into it so for this reason, I am constantly removing people and finding new people to follow to keep it fresh.
Another reason I say this is because someone once asked me what’s your legacy, and what do you want to be known for? You should always be using your WHY as your moral compass and your motivation to stay grounded and on the straight and narrow.
In 10 years, Sasha prefaces that she will be the big 5 0, and let me just say, this gal doesn’t look a day over 30, and although she loves what she is doing now, she hopes to take on a role more behind the scenes.
You may be wondering, what does that imply? Well don’t worry folks, you won’t be losing Sasha online for good, she plans to stay active on socials, but her passion for production and consulting for brands has grown very strongly through her work at Joe Fresh that she feels a strong urge to continue down this path.
But wait there’s more, Sasha may also be dabbling in a bit of fashion design, specifically in the fitness space, but shhh, I can’t reveal all the details here! If someday, you hope to find out the answer to this mystery, I recommend following along @sashaexeter to stay up to date on all the exciting announcements bound to come from this special woman!
Who are some of Sasha’s biggest inspirations?