Blair Bao is a social media Influncer (check out her instagram @wow_blair) and works for People’s Daily, one of the biggest Newspapers in China running their Social Media! She runs the social media for a number of big companies and Universities in China but is based in NYC! Check out her interview this week!
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Alice: Hi everyone! I’m Alice, the social media manager for Jubilance and today I have Blair joining me for Weekly Woman. Thank you for being here.
Blair: Hi, I’m Blair. Thank you for having me.
Alice: Yeah. So I was wondering, so Blair lives in New York and I was curious how you got here? How you came to live in New York City?
Blair: Okay. So I’m from China and I came here three years ago. I came here for graduate school at NYU. I studied Media, Culture, Communications. Ever since freshman year in college, I really wanted to come to New York City for grad school so I worked my way up here, which I got, aimed to NYU and got into my favorite program. Then I came here, I moved to New York City, and that’s how I got to New York.
Alice: That’s awesome. Can you talk about where you’re working now?
Blair: So right now, I work at People’s Daily. We’re the biggest newspaper in China and I work as the Social Media Manager right now. What I do is mostly post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram YouTube, and TikTok.
Alice: Wow. You guys are using that now. That’s so cool.
Blair: Yeah. But it’s really hard to get followers on TikTok, I’m not sure why. But, yeah. My job is kind of fun. I’m managing all these accounts for our news agency, and sometimes I go out to interview events or people, but that’s not happening very often. I hope I can do more of that. I also manage some other accounts for some top government agency and universities in China.
Alice: Oh wow. That’s amazing.
Blair: I really enjoy doing it. I’m really passionate about social media. I used to study journalism, which is why this job really fits into my passion and my undergrad major.
Alice: Yeah. Can you talk about how you use social media for yourself now? So Blair is an amazing influencer and you should follow her, wow underscore blair on Instagram.
Blair: Thank you. I think when I was in grad school, I have a friend, she’s an Instagram influencer and she has a blog, and I really loved her page and I was asking her a lot about how it started and how does that work? She kind of got me interested in doing this. So when I graduated and I got my job right now, and I had more time and energy to do my passion, so I started doing my Instagram account. At first, it was very taxing I would say because it’s really, really hard to get followers.
Alice: I am struggling with that with our company.
Blair: It’s just getting harder and harder now.
Blair: It’s especially hard when you just started because you want more people to get to know you. I wasn’t sure what kind of content would be good for me, which would differentiate me from other people. So I was struggling a lot doing that. I have to spend hours and hours researching and staying on Instagram. Every day I was on Instagram, trying to figure out what kind of content I want and finding inspirations, and following other people, commenting, liking other people’s posts. I think it’s been one-and-a-half years since I’m doing it. Right now, it’s doing pretty well.
Alice: Yeah. It’s amazing. It’s really awesome.
Blair: So, yeah. It was really hard at the beginning to get followers. I used all kinds of techniques. It was hashtags, following people, talking to people, and yeah. There are a lot of amazing bloggers and influencers; they just help me a lot. They bring me to all kinds of groups and events, and help me to know what kind of industry this is, and how do you reach out to brands, how do they reach out to you, and what kind of price you would ask, or how do you negotiate with them when you’re doing a campaign with them. It’s all very helpful and I feel just really lucky that a lot of people help me even though we’re just internet friends. We’ve never seen each other and they’re willing to spend a lot of time to explain all these to me. I am really grateful for that.
Alice: That is so cool. Your blog, your Instagram has fashion, it has travel, how do you get all of those amazing clothes and what do you do with them once you’ve worn them?
Blair: Well, most of the clothes I used to post were from Rent the Runway.
Blair: So it’s a fabulous service, which they should collaborate with me.
Alice: They should. Oh my gosh.
Blair: I told everyone about it.
Alice: Yeah. Rent the Runway, work with Blair.
Blair: Yeah! Come, please! I use that a lot. I think I used the unlimited one and you pay like a hundred and seventy for four pieces of the clothing or bags or whatever you want each time. And you can just swap it all the time. They have a location here. You can go fit it in the fitting room and they’ll rent it.
Alice: Wow. That’s amazing.
Blair: Yeah. So I don’t have to waste my money or–
Alice: Or closet space.
Alice: ‘Cause I was like, how do you fit all of this in your apartment?
Blair: Yeah. I have a tiny apartment but I have all those clothes. So it’s been amazing and I’ve been using that for I think a year now. But I stopped for a little bit because I started to borrow clothes from my friends.
Alice: That’s even better.
Blair: They have amazing clothes! I was in their closet. I was like, “Oh this looks so good! Can I borrow it?” And my friends are just really nice and they just let me borrow all kinds of clothes and then I go style it. And, yeah. And I go shooting with friends or photographers. Mostly friends because photographers, they cost a lot of money. But sometimes, some photographers, they will collaborate with you for free. If they can post your pictures on their page or if they feel like doing a project with you. So, yeah. I’ve been working with free photographers and paid photographers. They are all very good and I’m just really happy to see all those pictures. I’m excited to post them!
Alice: That’s so fun. Blair was just visiting in California. Can you talk about your trip there and was it just for your Instagram or was it like- what was it for? With vacation, I guess?
Blair: It’s like a mini-vacation. I’ve actually been to California a few times. I really- I like the weather there, it’s always sunny. ‘Cause I really like to be warm and sunny all the time. I worked with one photographer there. She’s a friend of my friend’s. She’s the daughter of my friend’s. We used to visit her family there a lot but I’ve never seen her before.
Alice: Oh cool.
Blair: So I went there and I knew she was a fashion photographer. I was like, so yeah. Her name is Alex. I was like, “Hey Alex. I’ve never seen you but I’ve visited your beautiful home a lot. So I’m happy to see you and if we can work together for some content”. So she was very kind and she drove me all around to take all kinds of pictures. She had an assistant with her.
Alice: Oh my gosh! Look at you!
Blair: Yes, queen! Very fabulous there! It was amazing. I got so many great pictures. It was such a fun trip. And then I went to the desert. I visited there.
Alice: It’s so pretty there.
Blair: Yeah. It wasn’t a long time. It’s not a long trip but I enjoyed it a lot. If I had the chance, I might move to California.
Alice: You should! It’s amazing.
Blair: Yeah. If I know how to drive. I need to learn how to drive.
Alice: I need to remember how to drive.
Blair: Oh yeah.
Alice: I haven’t driven in like two years. I’m very nervous to move to Massachusetts for a little bit and drive.
Blair: But I think in New York you don’t really need to drive.
Alice: Which is great.
Blair: Because the subway takes you everywhere.
Alice: Where are you from in China?
Blair: I’m from Xinjiang. It’s a city in the middle of Asia. We’re right next to Kazakhstan, Mongolia, and Russia.
Alice: Oh wow.
Blair: Yeah. It’s a really exotic place for a Chinese because I grew up with Muslims. So most of the population in my hometown was Muslim. So I had a lot of best friends, they are Muslims. We have a very different culture but somehow we fit perfectly, and we always hang out together. It’s amazing. The food is so good.
Alice: You get to go back to China in a couple of weeks. Do you get to go back home or are you just going to like Beijing or Shanghai?
Blair: No, unfortunately. Yeah. Just Beijing. But it’s okay. I can still eat some great Chinese food there.
Blair: Yeah. And I’m going to get my haircut.
Alice: Oh nice!
Blair: Because in China, it’s just so cheap. It’s probably like, let me see, 10 bucks?
Alice: What? That’s awesome.
Blair: Yeah. And you don’t need to pay tips in China.
Alice: Here it’s so expensive. In New York, it’s like a hundred dollars or something. It’s horrible.
Blair: So, I’m happy to go back and do some massage and cut my hair. We got all the cheap activities in China.
Alice: Oh my gosh. All the spas.
Alice: That’s awesome.
Blair: I’m excited.
Alice: Our podcast is really about being a woman. Can you talk about what it means to be a woman in China versus a woman here? Or maybe it’s all the same, I don’t know.
Blair: It’s not really the same. But I would say I’m feeling more open and comfortable here than in China. But China is developing right now. We’re used to being asked questions like, are you single, will you get pregnant next year, when are you getting a job interview? Which is impossible to think of right here.
But right now, there are more laws and regulations to work that direction. So I think starting this year already, in Beijing the company can’t ask you these questions when you’re interviewing.
But a lot of other places can ask you all these other questions and use that as excuse or evidence that you can’t work for them; because you might get pregnant, you can’t do this or that as a woman. They’re more inclined to hire men than women. It’s kind of common there. So it’s probably why when I first graduated, I would rather look for jobs here than looking for jobs in China. It was not really a very ideal environment for women to work in. Especially that I knew that a lot of companies, even law firms, would ask you do you want to have kids, or are you married?
Alice: Very personal.
Blair: Those are very personal questions.
Alice: And against the law here to ask.
Blair: Yeah. But not in China. Which we are working towards that, this year since Beijing already passed the regulations that you can’t ask women when they go to interview. But I think here, it’s more comfortable for me that my boss can’t ask me, “Are you single?”
Blair: It’s hard, I think. I feel like it’s really different here and China in regards of women’s employment. In a good way and in a bad way. ‘Cause here, I think, as a woman in the company, you can’t really say that, “Because I’m married, I have kids, I have to go home to do this or that.” But in China–
Alice: In China you can do that?
Blair: In China, because I work for a Chinese company.
Blair: I have colleagues, they have kids. So if you have kids and you are a mother, you have to take care of them sometimes, it’s okay for you to take off work to do that; and nobody would blame you. It’s very good in that way for them.
Alice: That is. Yeah. So it’s a double-sided coin.
Blair: It’s kind of like a balance I would say. Also in meanwhile because I’m single, I’m not married, I don’t have kids, which is very hard for me to understand that sometimes. Because some of my colleagues they can get off work early.
Alice: They can just be like, “Bye! I’m leaving.”
Blair: Because they have kids. Which is hard for me to understand sometimes because it’s different choices between people.
But we have this culture in China that we should be a community and we have to look out for each other. And when you have a baby and you have to take more time off, the other people would work around that. So they would work more for you so you could get home and take care of your baby or your child. So that’s kind of a normal thing in China. So I’ll say it’s good and bad.
Blair: It’s kind of, I would say, it’s a balance.
Alice: It’s just very different. A different way of working. Do you have any plans to ever go back to China or do you think you want to stay here? Stay here, Blair.
Blair: I think, for now, I would rather stay here. I’m not sure about the future because right now I’m still on student visa.
Alice: Oh wow.
Blair: I’m working here on my OPT which is on student visa but you have three years to work here without a working visa.
Alice: Will the newspaper, will they sponsor you?
Blair: Hopefully they will.
Blair: But I’m not sure right now. But I would love to work here long-term because I really like the environment here and I enjoy doing what I’m doing right now.
Blair: Yeah. I would like to be here for longer.
Alice: That’s awesome. Stay here. Stay In New York.
Blair: I would really like that.
Alice: Yeah. So if a woman were to come up to you and ask for just, like, one piece of advice, what would you tell her?
Blair: I would say, stand up for yourself.
Blair: Yes. As a woman, especially Asian women, a lot of people would think that you are maybe submissive or you’re easy to pick on, especially on the street. I don’t know if they’re intentionally doing that or unconsciously, but they would just be, in a way, making me uncomfortable. But if I don’t say anything, then they would always treat you like that. On subways, men would sit like this.
Alice: Oh, I hate when they do that. Man-spreading.
Blair: Yeah. And they would sit like this. If you don’t tell them to give you some space, they will never know. Maybe they don’t even notice that. So you have to stand up for yourself no matter if it’s a small thing like this or it’s a big thing that you need to ask for, like a raise or–
Alice: A work visa.
Blair: Yeah. As a visa. So I think I would suggest- my only suggestion is to stand up for yourself, yeah.
Alice: That’s awesome, Blair.
Blair: Thank you.
Alice: What is next for you? So you have your influencing thing that you’re working on. What do you think is next?
Blair: I want to keep doing it and see how it goes. If it goes well, maybe I can open a workshop or something.
Alice: Oh my gosh.
Blair: I’ll just see how it goes because right now it’s still very small and I’m still working very hard on it. So hopefully, I’ll get more followers and I will run more content that is appealing to people, and I will see how that works.
I’m also doing a lot of accounts for other people and agencies, so I’m still trying to learn how social media works. I’ve learned a lot but I want to learn more. So after that, I’ll see how that works and how that would fit in my future career. So, yeah, I’m not sure about anything certain yet. But I think I’ll still work in social media.
Alice: That’s amazing, yeah. So if you want to follow Blair, which everyone should. It’s wow, W-O-W, underscore Blair. B-L-A-I-R on Instagram because her account is amazing.
Blair: Aw. Thank you so much!
Alice: Thank you so much for being honest! It’s so nice to get to talk to you. Yeah. Thank you.
Blair: You too!