By Shelcy Joseph

Fashion and Lifestyle Influencer Ali Hemsley is facilitating positive conversations on chronic illness and mental health.

Welcome to our “Influencer Spotlight” column, where we highlight some of our favorite content creators.

At first glance, Ali Hemsley’s feed is a colorful display of her outfits and lifestyle. But a closer look at her images and captions tell a powerful story of her struggle with chronic illness and mental health. Ali candidly shares her journey to holistic wellness, with raw unfiltered honesty. On a platform where polished, highly edited snippets of our lives have become the norm, her candid approach to Instagram is not only refreshing, but deeply inspiring.

We’ve been lucky to work with Ali on multiple campaigns, mainly with Primark. And we recently got the chance to interview her. Read on for the full Q&A.

How did you get started creating content?

I was starting my fitness journey while dealing with my chronic illness, so I decided to tell my story on Instagram, first through gym selfies. 

What does a typical day in your life look like?

To be honest, because of my chronic illness, my days are heavily impacted by how severe my symptoms are, so I manage my time carefully to ensure I have enough energy throughout the day.  wake up between 8 and 9 am and spend an hour or two on Instagram—posting and engaging with my audience and other people I admire. Throughout the day, I’ll alternate between replying to emails and cuddling with my dogs (the perks of working at home!), if don’t have any meetings. And I usually head to the gym in the evening.

Define your style in 3 words.

Colorful. Fun. Comfortable.

Who and what inspires you? (A film, artist, book, social movement, friend or family member?)

I’m lucky to surround myself with so many inspiring people. One of my greatest inspiration is the late Frida Kahlo, a Mexican painter who didn’t let disability rule her life (she even painted from her bed).

What is the biggest highlight of your influencer career so far?

Last year, I was selected by agency Fohr to be part of a the Freshman Class, a group of 10 influencers flown to New York City for hands-on education within the influencer marketing space. It was an amazing opportunity and New York City has a very special place in my heart.

What has been your favorite branded campaign you have worked on and why?

This summer, I worked on a campaign with Boots where I created an IGTV speaking about confidence, what that meant to me and how self-acceptance helped me find it. It was really meaningful and I loved that the focus was on me as a positive influencer rather than on a product.

If you could share one tip for someone building their Instagram channel, what would it be?

Engage and appreciate those outside your circle – it’s very easy on social media to only follow people who look like you. I find following and engaging a diverse range of accounts gives you a greater understanding of the content out there, and sparks lots of exciting ideas!

What is a brand you think is doing things right on social? And why?

Lounge underwear: their recent Breast Cancer Awareness campaign was really eye-opening and raw! It sparked a very important conversation and included a diverse range of people.

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