How Home Interior Influencers Got it Right (a 1000 word fangirling of Shavonda Gardner)

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"How Home Interior Influencers Got it Right" With a green couch and tiger blanket draped over the back


Whether you love them or hate them, influencers are a part of your social media experience—and you can’t ignore it. 

Some brands question the value of influencers, while others fully embrace these trust-building social butterflies. I spend a good deal of time curating and purging my Instagram feed. Through this process, I focus on who I can learn from, who inspires me, who helps me feel my best, and who challenges me.

While home styling and interior design have always been a passion of mine, in 2020, I became obsessive. Like much of the world not on the front lines, I spent all my time at home. I wanted to create a safe haven in an extremely tough time. Uninspired by my normal go-tos, I sought out to diversify my feed. It’s the best decision I have ever made on Instagram, and my house has never brought me so much joy and creativity. 

Here’s the thing.  Any chance I get to introduce someone to Shavonda Garder, I. Will. Take. It. Here’s why:

  1. Her interiors represent real lives lived AND are gorgeous. No shame if you like an all white kitchen and perfect neutrals. But my lifestyle can not handle that much white. I am messy, I have two big dogs, who are often covered in who knows what. I do not want to spend my precious free time cleaning my house.
  2. She loves to shop, but she values being a conscious consumer and knowing who she’s giving her money to. She’s chosen not to shop at some brands because of what they stand for. With her #BuyOnceBuyWell, she teaches us how buying high end can often be the more cost affordable option if it means you don’t have to replace it in a year. 
  3. Speaking of luxury, Shavonda speaks of buying luxury as a form of self-care, especially for Black women. And if you haven’t noticed, Black women deserve every ounce of self-care and then some.
  4. Shavonda Gardner knows how to influence. (That’s the whole point of this article in the first place.) She checks all the boxes of what you would expect from an influencer—unboxings, showing off the product packaging, and talking about the brand. But then she really uses the product. She gives herself time with the product, often saying, “I will report back in a couple weeks to let you know how I really feel.” Then, she will give real honest reviews of the product. If she’s not crazy about it, she will say something like, “Here’s what I don’t like about this product and why it's not right for me and my family. BUT, here’s why you might still like it.” She gives you the information you need by letting you know her true experience. It’s not enough to be just authentic these days. A good content creator also needs to be transparent, and Shavonda is DAMN good at it. I’ve been influenced by Shavonda more than once. #ShavondaMadeMeDoIt. 
  5. Next, community management and moderation is often an overlooked, but extremely important part of being successful in today’s social media world. At H&G, we preach how important it is to all of our partners, and to make sure you do so in your brand’s voice. We know that 80% of social media users expect a response within 24 hours. And it isn’t just about responding to comments. Shavonda will often share the conversation in her stories, and the knowledge I’ve gained from her followers has been just as valuable as that that I have gained from Shavonda herself. She has built not only a loyal following, but also a true sense of community.
"Values a Conscious Consumer, Represents Real Lives, Honest & Real Product Reviews" on a teal background

Now, as much as I would love for this just to be my podium to tell you about my fandom of Shavonda Gardner, there’s more here to discuss. The things I love about Shavonda as a content creator is something I’ve seen across the home interior space. You’ve got DIY bloggers like Cass Smith, who has crazy DIY skills and the ability to make you scoop up the power tools she’s using, the lipstick she’s wearing, and fashion your hair into cute buns, faster than I can say #Influenced. What I’ve noticed from these DIY home influencers is they make you believe in yourself.  Why wouldn’t you purchase the same tools from the person that made you feel so confident? Isn’t that every brand’s dream partnership?

Ad breaks. We all know them. The commercial break on Hulu that gives you 60 precious seconds to run to the bathroom during your binge. But, now ad breaks have entered the influencer world. As you’re scrolling through your favorite influencer’s Instagram story, you’re hit with a frame that simply says “Ad Break”. Then, after a few frames of said advertisement, you see a conclusion of, “Thank you for your support.” Medina from Grillo Designs is credited with the concept and this format of sponsored content has swept across almost every home influencer I follow. 

As an advertiser, you may be thinking, “But I want my content to fit naturally into the influencer’s lifestyle. Isn’t that the whole point of an influencer?” Yes and no. There are some brand partnerships that are just too obvious that it is a brand partnership. For example, both Shavonda and her bestie Carmeon Hamilton, were part of a Lincoln Corsair brand partnership. While the brand itself doesn’t feel forced, cars don’t naturally into their lifestyle content either. If they hadn’t used the “Ad Break” messaging, it would have felt forced, disingenuous, and possibly hurt their credibility on other brand partnerships. Transparency is one of the greatest things an influencer can offer both consumers AND brands. Those that aren’t eventually will be called out and consumers will stop trusting them, along with any brand they have represented. 

Home interior content creators that I have welcomed into my feed are some of the best influencers I have seen. They practice honesty, transparency, and give genuine real reviews for the brands they represent. Their branded content fits beautifully alongside the content about their families and real lives. Haven’t these traits always been at the heart and soul of what makes a good influencer in the first place? The value and future success of influencer brand partnerships hinge on keeping consumers trust at the heart of the business relationship. 


Becca Post
Co-founder & CEO

Since its founding in 2016, Becca has led Helen & Gertrude to more than triple in size by staying true to her core values of practicing empathy, transparency, and finding creativity in every facet of building a business. On her off hours, she can be found tackling a home project, getting her hands dirty in the garden, or convincing her husband to adopt another dog.