Hullosam’s Sammie Kolk Is The Friendliest Influencer On Instagram
When social media is at its best, it introduces the world to relatable personalities the Hollywood machine with its handled shellacked goddesses couldn’t possibly produce. Sammie Kolk is such a personality. Your steadfast bestie with perhaps cooler hair, any girl would feel comfortable turning to Kolk for lipstick tips. “Being friendly is a huge thing to me. I never want to come off as snobby or too good for anyone,” she says. “I will sometimes just post a photo of my messy hair. I don’t get too serious. I hope people see my stuff and have a smile on their face.” Kolk’s stuff is a cheery, matcha-sprinkled feed and the natural beauty must-read blog Ma Vie En Vert. Beauty Independent chitchatted with Kolk about her nanny gig, dazzling dupes, Instagram likes and brand loves.
How did you get into green beauty?
I’ve always been really sensitive to certain foods. I don’t do dairy or gluten and I try to eat really clean. I was getting bad migraines, I would get three migraines a week. I went to see a chiropractor and some holistic nutritionists. They wanted me to cut out all dairy, gluten and refined sugar. At the time, I wasn’t using 100% clean cosmetics. I was using more clean skincare, such as Eminence Organic, and it helped my combination skin so much. At the end of 2013, I was eating better and using cleaner skincare. Then, I got the Think Dirty app—I used Think Dirty as my bible. I would go into Whole Foods and scan everything…I swear I got the weirdest looks!
What’s your approach to social media content?
I really believe in being 100% real on Instagram. As much as you see pretty pictures, I don’t want to ever be posting about just beauty, just products, just me with makeup. I incorporate lifestyle. I will post an outfit I’m wearing or of me traveling with my husband. It may not have anything to do with green beauty. The feedback I’ve received is that people get tired of just product shots, and they love that I post about my life.
How did you evolve your content to incorporate beauty?
I started really seeing growth with Instagram in 2012. At the time, my blog used to be just solely about music I loved and bands/albums I reviewed. In 2014, I decided I wanted to go into green beauty and talk about the products I was using. A lot of brands started reaching out to me. I began working with EcoDiva Beauty whom I contribute to twice a month. It’s been a crazy journey of figuring out what works for me. At first, with clean beauty, you think everything is so expensive, and I had to see what worked budget-wise. I finally feel, three years later that I have this down pat, and I can confidently give other people advice.
What sort of posts resonate most with your audience?
What resonates the most is a makeup look on myself. I did a cat eye with a red lip the other day, and it was insane the response and engagement over it. Then, regular lifestyle shots like photos of my husband and I resonate, and people love to see food photos. As I don’t drink coffee anymore, I am very big on matcha lattes, so I do post about matcha a lot.
“I really believe in being 100% real on Instagram. As much as you see pretty pictures, I don’t want to ever be posting about just beauty, just products, just me with makeup. I incorporate lifestyle. I will post an outfit I’m wearing or of traveling with my husband. It may not have anything to do with green beauty.”
You are an expert at green beauty dupes for conventional beauty products. What dupes do you get asked about frequently?
Nars is the big one, and I get asked about the cranberry copper shades a lot. Hynt Beauty makes the most beautiful trio of eyeshadows, and there is a coppery berry tone in there. W3ll People has its Elitist line of eyeshadows, and there’s a copper loose eyeshadow in it that’s incredible. You don’t think it’s green beauty and non-toxic because it looks so amazing and pigmented. I love lending girls ideas, option and tips to my followers that they can choose from and relate to.
When did brands begin to reach out to you?
I was probably at 9k or 10k when I started switching my blog over to green beauty. I already had a decent following from going to events and from collaborations I had done with people who weren’t related to green beauty. One day I posted that I was switching over to green, non-toxic makeup and, when I did that, I worked with Meow Meow Tweet, Alima Pure and Laurel [Whole Plant Organics]. To this day, we have great relationships. I would also reach out to brands and be like, “Hey, I’m trying to figure out if I want to do this clean beauty thing, and I’d like to try your products.” It’s different now. I don’t reach out to too many. My inbox is flooded with new small batch companies.
What do your brand partnerships entail?
Now, if I reach out to a brand, I will ask them the budget they are working with. I want to be genuine and honest in product reviews. If they are saying we will offer you x amount of money for an Instagram post, I won’t accept the money until I have tried the product and I love it. If I don’t love it, I tell them I don’t want to post about it. Fragrance is a little different because it’s really about your personal taste. It can be easier for me to tell a brand, “Hey, I didn’t love the fragrance on me, but someone else might like these notes.” I want to make sure I’m never posting anything negative because I don’t want to harm any small business or give someone a bad rep who has worked really hard. I might share criticism privately if they are asking.
What are some of your favorite natural beauty brands?
Fitglow Beauty, Vapour Beauty, Jane Iredale, 100% Pure, Agent Nateur, Lily Lolo, Leahlani Skincare, Kaia Naturals, Crunchi and Elate Cosmetics.
What has been an effective way to work with brands?
Giveaways are a huge plus. I just did a giveaway with Elate Cosmetics. I think we probably got 2,000 entries or more. The engagement was great. Even though the algorithm on Instagram hasn’t been the greatest and everyone is complaining, the whole experience of that giveaway was really encouraging. It showed that giveaways are still great things. People love to win free makeup. Instagram Stories or Snapchat takeovers are also really cool. I did a Snapchat takeover with Osea Malibu last summer. It was a day-in-the-life of Sammie and all the products I was using. It didn’t have to be just Osea Malibu, but the majority of the products I was showing were Osea. People love to see you use a product or test it on your hand.
How do you see social media changing?
I feel Instagram is headed in the direction of having you pay to do well. It’s changed, and I don’t particularly love it. A lot of girls are starting pods. You get into a pod, and you like and comment on other peoples’ stuff. To be honest, I literally could not handle it. There are pods with 20 to 30 girls in them, and I couldn’t keep up. A lot of it was duck-faced selfies, and I felt fake posting, “I love it,” when I didn’t love it.
“A lot of girls are starting pods. You get into a pod, and you like and comment on other peoples’ stuff. To be honest, I literally could not handle it. There are pods with 20 to 30 girls in them, and I couldn’t keep up. A lot of it was duck-faced selfies, and I felt fake posting, ‘I love it,’ when I didn’t love it.”
Elaborate on pods.
When Instagram revamped and did the whole non-chronological algorithm, influencers were getting terrible engagement, so we need to figure out how to get a lot of likes and comments quickly. If you get a lot of comments, Instagram will push you up someone’s feed. A pod has a Facebook page. When the girls in it share posts, you have to like them and comment immediately. It’s pretty intense. I have friends that are beauty bloggers, and we like each other’s posts, but I don’t want to go into a pod where girls are telling me I have to like and comment. It feels disingenuous.
How do you think brands should react to the changing social media landscape?
Brands need to look at whether your content is well done and well shot. I have friends that might have 2,000 followers on Instagram, but they have writing and content skills, and sales come from their blogs. Affiliate links are great because brands can see if you make sales for them. Brands should definitely not look at your followers, but look at people interacting with you. For example, how many DMs are you getting? Engagement is everything. I feel like people aren’t liking posts as much nowadays. Social media isn’t as excited to them as it used to be, so they just pass over things.
What do you charge brands?
It’s really important to have a model because I feel like people underestimate the work that goes into this a lot. I go by the CPM rate. I have 25,000 followers. I will divide that by 1,000 and times that by $10, and that’s what I charge. The common CPM model is $5 for average engagement, $7 for good engagement, $10 for really good engagement and you can aim even higher if you have incredible engagement. For the blog, setting a rate is a bit tough for me. It really depends what the brand wants, but I don’t charge under $200. I’m flexible, though, and if I really want to work with brands. We can work together to reach a happy place.
What digital platforms do you concentrate on?
Definitely Instagram is my top one. I actually really love Pinterest. It’s overlooked a lot, and I think it’s really beneficial. If you are pinning content from your blog, it will grab images from the posts and link them on Pinterest. That’s huge. I have maybe 6,000 followers on Pinterest, and posting my content there is a good way to get more views and traffic.
You work outside of social media. What do you do?
I work 8-to-6 Monday through Thursday. I nanny. I love kids, so that’s an easy thing for me. Plus, the boy I nanny for, he takes naps, so I can get other stuff done during the naps. He is almost 2. I work for a family that’s super supportive of what I do, and that’s one of the reasons they gave me Friday and weekends to focus on my blog and Instagram. I absolutely love consulting and makeup artistry, and I would love to do that full-time. Once I feel it being steadier and I see more business coming through, I will transition into consulting and doing makeup for events.
What do you detect growing in the green beauty segment?
There will be more green beauty events. Indie Beauty Expo is going to London, which is really cool, and there’s the WELL Summit. Brands want to get the word out, and not just in New York, but in Charlotte, Charleston and all over. People love going to these events and trying out products on themselves. They get to experience maybe 10 different brands, and they’re with friends and there’s a good atmosphere and good vibes.