We had the good fortune of connecting with Brandon Baker and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Brandon, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
One thing most people are not aware of within the influencer space is the amount of work and man power that goes into creating, establishing, and maintaining a brand. As a one man team I am in charge of every aspect of my brand, Sir Brandon Nicholas. Meaning I am responsible for forging creative ideas, networking within the industry, and capturing, editing & distributing social content at scale. I am my own publicist, agent, assistant, creative director, copywriter, photographer….the list goes on and on. Not to mention being the figure head/talent for my brand.
I thoroughly enjoy my job and the position/rooms influencing has placed me in but being an influencer and content creator is not for the weak or weak willed. It requires a “CAN DO” attitude because you are often placed in unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations that will cause you to wear a hat you may not feel suited for. But if you believe in yourself you will find a way to “get er done!” (And some how… some way I always get er done….)
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Social media influencing really fell into my lap…. I started out on Instagram simply posting content that I enjoyed. Ive always loved the idea of being able to capture a memory and I especially love sharing my memories with the people I love. So when I started to grow my community it felt even more exciting to document and share my travel, food, and fashion experiences with the world.
My first brand collaboration was in 2017 just a few months after I had graduated from college (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro). I had spent months looking for the perfect job and funny enough I finished school with a Bachelors in Political Science and a minor in African American & African Diaspora studies so I NEVER saw myself working in social media much less as an influencer. However, I was posting content daily and shooting every week so I was getting noticed by brands and influencer agencies. That summer my first brand, Godiva chocolatier reached out to me to work on a campaign to promote one of their seasonal drinks. They invited me to come into the store and take pictures with their shake and of course try out their decadent chocolate collection. After Godiva the brand collabs came rolling in…. It was like clockwork. Next was Timex, Taco Bell, Filas, Reebok, Kit Kat.
It was getting to the point that I couldn’t even keep up with my inbox. I was shocked to see that so many reputable brands wanted to work with little ole me! Nevertheless, I knew these were opportunities I couldn’t pass up on. So I went full steam ahead creating content at scale. I took on every new project and exceeded brand expectations every time! I moved back home with my parents, got two jobs and a virtual internship with College Fashionista as a Style Guru. My career began to take shape and I was really excited to see where Social Media could and would take me. Later that fall, I had some friends from college who knew how much I love the Fashion Industry ask me if I wanted to come to New York Fashion Week with them. (Thanks again Douglas Lewis & Jamal Bull!) Of course I said “YES!”
So they sat me down and taught me how to send pitch emails to various designers and their PR teams. And with all of the campaigns that I had completed I had a massed a pretty healthy portfolio so I was able to communicate my value. I was invited to cover social for a bunch of shows that season. Not to mention I was featured in GQ Spain. Elle Poland, and a few other notable publications.
Once fashion week wrapped the campaign proposals reached an all time high. I literally needed a team so I started getting my best friends to help me capture content. My content was getting better and my network was growing. I became known as the “social media guy” and started marketing myself as “the police sci grad turned fashion lad.” As my reputation grew my followers wanted to know how it did it. They came to me for their branding needs so I began free lance image consulting. I would audit their social channels, create brand strategies, manage their accounts, and even teach them how to walk and talk like a personal brand. I worked with everyone from authors, to friends, to lobbyists…..
I then began creating marketing materials for brands to distribute locally, nationally, and even internationally. So I was more than just a “dedicated insta post” I had become the face of several brands. I was working around the clock and no it wasn’t easy. I was straining friendships, getting crazy looks when I would bring my camera everywhere I went, or it didn’t have time to dedicate to the ones I love. But my friends and family knew I was on a mission; they just couldn’t see my vision yet.
That was until a few months ago. In December I experienced my proudest moment as a content creator! I was reposted on Ivy Park’s (@weareivypark) instagram. Everyone is well aware that Ivy Park is Beyoncès brand & baby. She launches a new collection every few months in collaboration with Adidas and she had just launched the honey drip collection in September. So my friend, Prince Adams styled me in an Ivy Park Crop Top and wide legged trousers and we had a photoshoot. I edited the pics and posted them to the Gram issuing a call to action amongst my followers. My community showed up and showed out! They tagged Beyoncè, Adidas, and Ivy Park in the comment section. I figured someone was bound to see these photos and like them and apparently they did!
That December as I was ready to quit social media because I was stressed and burnt out (the holidays is always the most stressful season for influencers) I was surprised by a regram to Ivy Park. I was in the middle of decorating and felt my phone buzzing incessantly. I was tired and annoyed so I ignored it for a while but it wouldn’t stop buzzing. So I login to see myself on Ivy Park’s instagram literally RIGHT next to a post featuring Marsai Martin (The actress from Blackish!) I was overjoyed and so incredibly proud of myself!
That repost was a nudge from the universe to keep going. To keep trusting myself. And that is the advice I share with anyone I know in pursuit of a great dream. You must ALWAYS BELIEVE IN YOURSELF IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCES! You have to know that everything will work out for you, because things are always working out for your good. I know that to be true and the proof is evident within my experience. I a black gay man born and raised in North Carolina. But God saw fit to place me in an industry where I could be a voice for the voiceless and share my light with pride.
Luckily Ive learned to breathe and take time to destress and reenergize so that I can shine even brighter! Its hard to be a light when you’re burnt out. So I always make time to recuperate between big campaigns and projects.
Last but not least, I want the world to know that I am not just a cute face, trendy outfit, or a pretty photo. I am a person with dreams and a heart and I hope to share my dreams and this heart with the world. I have only gotten to where I am because I am kind to EVERYONE! My motto (and first tattoo) is “Have courage and Be Kind.” And I believe in the power of kindness. Love and light will get you a lot further than any amount of exposure, connections, or sponsorships. So be sure to treat people with love and compassion and the world will shower you with all of the love your heart can handle and then some!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If my best friend were visiting LA I would take them to Brunch or lunch probably at the Beverly Hills hotel. Im absolutely obsessed with the Beverly Hills and they have a ton of great restaurant options that include Al Fresco dining so we can even lounge by the pool and enjoy lunch if we want to. We would have to hit the beach ! Venice beach is one of my all time faves. As well I would take them to dine at Nobu because their sushi is DIVINE! And if they like Ethiopian cuisine we would have to make time to visit Meals by Genet.
As well would have to visit the Highlight off of Hollywood Blvd and club it out in WEHO (West Hollywood). There are so many gay and straight clubs you can hit up so we would have a great night on the town and probably stop by Dennys afterwards for an early morning omelet.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
If I could dedicate my shoutout to any person it would be author, transformational speaker, and philanthropist Lisa Nichols. Nichol’s book: Abundance Now along with her transformative speeches have helped me to elevate my mindset and look at success from a more wholistic view.
I no longer hold the rigid beliefs that I once did surrounding work ethic and success. Instead of allowing fear based thoughts to motivate my business decisions. I now believe I can be, do, or have anything that I want and achieve any goal that I set for my business/brand all because of Lisa Nichol’s “commit to your commitments to yourself” philosophy.
Photographers: Janathan A. Cruz, Prince D. Adams, Brandon N. Baker, London L. Kasmir, and Leila Jacue