Jillian Harris, like most other social media influencers, didn’t become famous for doing much in life.
But what she’s done with her newfound fame is impressive: creating a small empire that is responsible for a large circle of influence with her hundreds of thousands of social media followers around the world.
“We’re still trying to navigate it. This is a business? How’s this possible?” Harris told Global News during an exclusive interview in Kelowna.
A decade ago, the Alberta-born woman was living and working in Vancouver as an interior decorator with designs to be something more.
A stint on the 13th season of The Bachelor led to another TV gig, starring in the fifth season of The Bachelorette.
In recent years, Harris has co-hosted Love it or List it Vancouver, which has now begun filming its latest season in Kelowna, which the 38-year-old calls home with her nearly 2-year-old son Leo, her fiancé Justin Pasutto. They also have a baby girl due in October.
Harris initially hired a woman to help her build up a personal website. Shay Merritt, her managing director, is an original member of Team Jilly.
“We both worked our derrieres off for a couple of years,” Harris said. “Slowly but surely the website did $300/month. Then it was like $1,000/month. Before you knew it, Shay was like, ‘I’m overwhelmed! I can’t keep up with this.'”
Now, companies and causes are lining up for partnerships with Harris, who employs communications coordinator Mindy Crawford, photographer Mackenzie Dempsey, makeup artist and hairstylist Kaitlin Hargreaves.
“How do you say no when a company is going to offer you five digits to post about a mop? How are you going to say no to that?” Harris said.
“You can give people raises. You can go on vacation. You can put money away, donate money to charity — there’s so many things you could do with that.”
Because partnership opportunities with clothing, food and furniture companies have been plentiful, Harris has been working on the boundaries of her brand.
“We try to partner with brands with items/products I actually use,” she said.
“Eventually you realize the longevity of your brand and the trust that my followers and friends have in me and I’m like, I can’t talk about this anymore because I don’t even use this!”
And while Harris better defines what she believes in, her love for where she lives has brought the spotlight back on her community.
Tomorrow, how this Okanagan influencer is sharing her growing fame.