VOICE OF IMPACT: Darlene Lebron
A snowy, February day in New York doesn’t necessarily give off “go shopping” vibes, but Darlene Lebron was driven by frustration at the lack of voices and representation for plus size women in fashion. She didn’t go shopping, but she did create a blog, which at the time, wasn’t trendy.
As a full figured woman working in the corporate space, she became increasingly disheartened at the lack of options. Plus size women spend more than $21 billion on clothes in one year, and that’s nothing to be ignored. She took these insights and what she was feeling personally to fuel her passion project and launch her platform, which in turn led to a career.
Here’s the thing about starting a blog - you’re new. Your audience doesn’t know you, so you’re not very influential. Darlene recognized this, and knew she had to introduce herself in an authentic way. Insert Diaries of a fat girl, Darlene’s most inner, truest voice. By doing this, she was making sure from the beginning her followers and readers would know she would keep it authentic and honest and not using her position as a marketing ploy.
With her decision to share her authentic journey with her followers, she knew she had to ask herself this question - how personal is too personal for my personal brand? Sometimes what she posts is difficult for her to do, sometimes it’s difficult for her followers to read, but at the end of the day, it’s real. This pure way she approached her personal brand also had an effect on how she built her community.
One pain point of being a full figure woman is sometimes you don’t have girlfriends to shop with. It’s lonely. Darlene knew this and invested in what they needed, and created Closet Sale for them to shop together. This community turned into the friends who you could get outfit advice from or the ones you tell about your upcoming vacation. Her readers turned from followers to relationships, which is more than just a like, comment or post on social media. By taking the time to invest in her followers, they’ve invested in her and her authentic voice.
“If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.”
There’s no question that Darlene’s success is attributed to her authentic voice. Many Own Your Voice Summit speakers have this level of bravery, like Dr. Brittany Barreto. Both of these women own the truth and therefore scale their voice to meet the masses.
We are encouraging you to own your authentic voice - STRATEGICALLY. Don’t talk about it when you’re going through it - hindsight IS 20/20. After you have gone through your challenge or healed the wound of failure - share that story - and prepare yourself to feel uncomfortable. The voice of guilt and shame like to creep up in these vulnerable moments, don’t lend your ear to them too much, as Brené Brown states:
The new ROI is Return On Relationship, your audience has digital fatigue they need deep down dialogue. This doesn’t mean airing your dirty laundry, this means first becoming one of them and meandering through comments on other pages and profiles and actually getting in on that conversation.