The third in our series of ‘ask the successful interiors Instagrammer for all their secrets so we never have to work again’ is here. Oh, but we went for a slightly more succinct series title ;)
This time we chatted to Shelley Carline, owner of amazing interiors shop* and Instagram account Hilary & Flo. Shelley spoke to us about the blurred line between personal and professional when your social media accounts are your business, as well as how to grow sales by growing your Instagram account.
*Warning: The Pink House cannot be held responsible for purchases you make from Hilary & Flo as a direct result of Shelley’s drool-worthy Instagram…
The Retailer: Shelley Carline
Shelley Carline runs her Instagram incredibly successfully as a storefront for her online interiors shop Hilary & Flo. Her house perfectly encompasses her retail brand with its unique pieces and original use of space. We talked making content from a single house, pesky algorithms and the perils of drunk-gramming as a business.
Hi Shelley, thanks so much for chatting to us about Instagram today. @HilaryandFlo is an account for your interiors store but the captions are often funny, relatable and personal. How do you balance the professional and the personal side of your social media?
Ahh, glad you think they are funny! I have always been really conscious about being professional on Instagram and the things I post are not totally the real me, as I think you need to be a bit careful when you are trying to sell your products. However, I also think that people like to get to know a little about the person behind the business, especially small independents. I try to talk a little about my day or ask questions and also point out any news about the business or new stock.
I have actually just started another Instagram account ‘just for me' where I can be a little bit more myself – posting what I want, when I want, without always thinking about the business. It's a place where I can just post dog photos, or drunken dancing videos without feeling like I might be judged!
We might have to follow your personal account too! A lot of people want to know, how do you build your presence as an Instagrammer when you’re first starting out?
My teenager first signed me up for Instagram – something he never lets me forget! I opened an account when I first opened my physical shop as a place to document the build-up, opening and day-to-day life. I didn't really know what I was doing! Gradually, I got chatting to other Instagrammers online and started joining in hashtag competitions. It wasn't until we completed our kitchen extension and I started to alternate shop photos with home photos that it really took off, and I suddenly gained thousands of followers within months.
What do you take your photos with?
I always take them with my phone – an Iphone 7 - soon to be upgraded to whatever good camera phone that’s out there.
As an interiors Instagrammer, is it hard getting enough content from one space to keep your account active and fresh? How do you deal with this?
Most definitely! We don't have a huge house, the rooms are quite small and difficult to take different angles of. I often think that my photos are really repetitive and so try to change it up a little in each photo by rearranging items, introducing new stock that we may have in, and taking slightly different angles. I also try to alternate with product shots as I am using Instagram to promote my website and products.
I like to decorate often which means I have something new to photograph every now and again!
A very good excuse to decorate. Do you post images that you love or find interesting but aren’t particularly ‘on-brand’ for Hilary & Flo?
This is where I find it a bit tricky. Instagram has become an invaluable tool for promoting my business and website and I try to use it for that. I am currently finding different avenues to market my business so that I don't have to rely as much on Instagram, and can be a bit more free with what I post.
The new account I have started will be a place where I can share things that aren't 'on-brand' and this is a lovely choice to have.
What are the best and worst things about Instagram?
Best: the people and inspiration. I have always been mad about interiors and my family used to think I was slightly strange for redecorating constantly. When I joined Instagram, I found that there were thousands of people just like me who are as obsessed with interiors. I have made some true, genuine friends through Instagram who come from all walks of life. It has also been amazing for my business and given me opportunities that I would only have dreamed of before, such as our house appearing in a book and a magazine, and being asked to design interiors for clients.
Worst: I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with Instagram and sometimes wish I had the luxury of having a long break away from it. I can't as I rely on it a lot for business. I suppose it depends on what kind of person you are. I am a serial self-doubter so can fall into the trap of comparing myself unfavourably to other Instagrammers/businesses and it can sometimes affect my mental state. I think we all need to remember that everything is not as wonderful as it seems on the 'gram, but it's sometimes hard not to get sucked in. Oh, and the algorithm thing! Sometimes I think Instagram really hates me - ha!
I think everyone feels like that sometimes, so good to know you get it too. Talk us through your favourite or most successful post of all time, the image, the caption, the hashtags and why you love it.
It's a strange one, but the post where I announced I was closing my shop was one of my favourites! I had written a small blog about it and the response from my followers on Instagram was amazing! I received hundreds of messages of support and positive feedback for my blog post. What was a pretty hard/sad time was turned into something really positive because of all the lovely Instagrammers. It made me feel like I was doing the right thing.
Thanks so much for chatting to us Shelley! You can follow Hilary & Flo here and look at the shop via the website. We won’t tell you where to find the dog photos and drunk dancing on Shelley’s personal Insta though…
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