Today, you might know Kinya Claiborne (@kinyaclaiborne on Instagram) as the founder and editor-in-chief of STYLE & SOCIETY Magazine—a digital publication covering all things fashion, beauty, travel, and lifestyle. Or perhaps you know her as an award-winning content creator with over 350k followers across Instagram and TikTok, and a regular partner with brands like Vons, Ipsy, Revolve, and more.
But way back in the early days of the internet, Kinya was just a curious college student eager to dip her toes into media and news reporting. Little did she know that her desire to tune into the 5 o’clock news, or read the local paper, would turn into a thriving career as a digital content creator.
“I remember the first thing my professor said on my first day of college. He told us that print as we knew it would be dead in the next ten years,” Kinya told CreatorIQ during a recent interview. “At the time, I was shocked. The internet was still very new. I had only just gotten my first computer and cellphone.”
Kinya quickly got as much experience as possible under her belt, working in public relations and public affairs. After being in and out of top corporate roles and glamorous agency gigs, she no longer felt fulfilled, so Kinya founded STYLE & SOCIETY Magazine as a creative outlet where she could share her passions with the world.
“I always say, if your job isn't your passion, then you should create something that is. And so that's exactly what I did,” Kinya said.
Kinya began making sales in 2013, and STYLE & SOCIETY enjoyed steady growth. Soon, Kinya was traveling the world and attending prestigious events as a part of what was once merely a “side hustle.” Brands even started reaching out for advertising opportunities. In a time when “influencers” as we know them hardly existed, Kinya began exploring the emerging area. But between managing a full-time job and an active side gig, Kinya felt she was spreading herself too thin.
@976marselle x @styleandsociety
“Around that time,” Kinya told us, “I read an article claiming that over the next four years, 40% of all millennials would quit their jobs. I grew up in the era before technology as we know it. I lived and worked through the recession in corporate America. I grew up with the understanding that you go to school, you get good grades, you graduate, you get a great job, you get married, you have kids, and you retire.”
When Kinya approached her employer and requested a more flexible schedule, they were not receptive, so she quit to pursue content creation full-time.
“Today, the younger generation is really mixing it up—they're doing things their way. They don't want to be a slave to a desk and necessarily have to work a 9-5. They want to be more creative, and they want to hone in on their passions,” Kinya said. “I had to be truly open to the move I made. I stepped out of fear and into faith.”
Kinya’s approach paid off: she was soon signed by a management agency, and the doors “fully opened” for her.
@shotbyshelly x @styleandsociety
“What makes my content so unique is that I come from a corporate and editorial background. I had experience working for print, and working in TV and radio. I think these experiences really put me at an advantage today when I work with brands,” Kinya told us. “Another thing that makes my content so unique is that it's diverse. Most content creators work in a niche. People would tell me that I needed to pick my niche. But I'm a dynamic woman—why should I put myself in a box?”
Kinya has a unique approach to content creation. Not only did she build her personal brand from having grown up during the “print age,” she’s also strategic about how her content is consumed. She understands which platforms need to be leveraged, and when, in order to reach the right audience.
“You have to stay competitive on all social media platforms, taking advantage of all the tools out there. It's important to be active on both Instagram Reels and Stories. You have to look at the trends and how people are consuming media, and stay on the cutting edge of it all.”
While many digital-native content creators pride themselves on effortless, organic content, Kinya associates herself with professionalism. She only posts top-notch, highly polished content, a quality that she attributes to her traditional media background. Additionally, she’s a strong proponent of today’s aspiring content creators pursuing a full-time education and career, in order to get the proper experience under their belt.
“You can’t expect success without putting in the work. I guarantee you that influencer marketing is going to change in the near future, as it has already so much in the past five years. People need other experiences to build off of.”
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