What started as a normal personal Instagram account where proud mother of two Brittny Ervin shared cute photos of her kids, later launched into an influencer lifestyle blog called The Sweet Life of Bean, run by 8-year-old Bean Ervin. She landed her first brand deal with Belk this summer.
The normal Instagram account with a few hundred followers became The Sweet Life of Bean in June 2017. Since then, Bean has earned 2,860+ followers and is pursuing passion projects that even some adults would intimated by, including organizing a fashion show for charity and a back-to-school campaign with Belk.
A normal day for Bean involves obligations typical of any 8-year-old — school, TV, chores, iPad games. But in the summer and in her free time, she’s using talk-to-text to create Instagram captions, doing photo shoots, interviewing newsmakers for her blog and working on special collaborations.
“I saw my mom doing it, and it looked fun. I like that you can like other peoples photos,” Bean said of how she became interested in using Instagram.
Bean started posting photos of herself, under Brittny’s supervision, and slowly her following grew. She told me she considers herself to be a lifestyle influencer, and her favorite things to post about are her outfits, fun things she’s doing and anything else that inspires positivity.
“When we do something fun, I sometimes post about it,” Bean explained of what goes into creating a post.
She also gets inbound requests from people wanting to be interviewed for her blog, kids’ clothing brands wanting to collaborate on a post and other typical influencer opportunities — and she says no whenever she wants to. Everything you see in 100 percent Bean-approved, and she leaves her mark (the brown girl and heart emojis) to let you know the words are coming from her.
“I still have a heavy hand in it because of her age,” Brittny said. “There’s some crazy people out there. I go through every evening to see who’s followed, and if they’re weird, I block them. And I don’t fill her in on all of that, because at 8, she doesn’t need to know yet everything that comes with (Instagram). … Even if she were 16 doing this, I’d do the same. But I recognize it’s her show.”
And brands love Bean.
She was recently approached by Belk to work on a sponsored back-to-school campaign, and because it involved creating custom pieces, Bean was all in.
When The Denim School Bus — a bus filled with kids’ activities for back-to-school shoppers — stopped at SouthPark Mall, Bean was able to use patches to customize her own jeans and a denim jacket. She wrote a blog post about it and did an Instagram, too.
Brittny explained Bean’s done a collaboration in the past where she designed headbands for Pop Girl Poms, but this was her first paid partnership.
“The experience came from Belk reaching out and inquiring if Bean would be interested in partnering with them to help promote their Back to School Denim Style Bus. She actually was able to experience what it feels like being deemed an influencer,” Brittny said. “She was contacted because of her Instagram and relatability to tweens, adolescents and of course the moms that buy the back to school clothes. She’s also the youngest writing blogger that helped to promote this Back to School initiative.”
“As we look to the future of Belk style, we aim to partner with creators who share that vision,” Tyler Hampton, senior manager of PR and community impact, told the Agenda. Maya embodies everything we’re hoping to be. Her cheerful personality and bright, bold sense of style made her stand out to our team. Once we knew she was a true fan of Belk and interested in attending our Back-to-School DIY Denim Lab, she was the perfect fit. We also enjoy collaborating with hometown talent who have a unique ability to connect authentically with their local audience.”
Bean said “it feels great” to be doing things most kids aren’t, and partnering with Belk was “really awesome and empowering” — definitely one of her favorite opportunities of the summer.
But she also hit another career milestone this summer: producing her own fashion show for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation – Charlotte Chapter at Tiny, a high-end children’s boutique off Selwyn.
“I wanted to do a fashion show for my birthday,” Bean said of how it all started. “My mom told me to write down ideas for where to do it, we got in touch with the store we wanted to do it at, and made it happen. It was for Cystic Fibrosis.”
And Bean will be walking in a fashion show at a gala for Fashion Breathes Life, also supporting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
Beans says part of being an influencer is using your platform for good. So she offered some advice for aspiring bloggers: “Ask your parents if you can do it first. Post positive things. Be involved. And have fun.”
Cover and bottom three photos by Sunshower Photography; Belk photo courtesy of Brittny Ervin