Get That Life: How I Became a Social Media Strategist and Gained 15.6 Million Followers

"I love empowering women"

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Manal Shaikh, 23, is a Toronto based Social Media Stragiest who turned her obsession for makeup into a successful business. Manal has an insanely impressive following of 15.2 million people amongst her three Instagram accounts: @wakeupandmakeup (9.8mil), @naildecor (1.9mil) and @naildecorvideos (3.9mil). She has also recently launched her own beauty line called 'Eyeris Beauty' and continues to grow her empire. Her secret? She is all about empowering women.

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Growing up, I always had a passion for painting. Whether it was on a canvas or my nails, I loved being creative. I grew up in Toronto with my parents and younger sister and had a sensitive childhood. My younger sister was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, which is a loss of motor function.  While all my friends went out, I stayed home and helped babysit my sister because both of my parents worked full time. That may sound negative to some, but staying at home and taking care of my sister was a huge blessing in disguise.

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I would often take pictures of my nail 'artwork' and as I was babysitting my sister one day, I decided to start my very own 'nail art' Instagram page. That is how @naildecor was born. I would post a lot of my own nail art and it started to grow rapidly when other nail feature accounts would repost my work. I gained a lot of followers through their pages and watching my likes, comments and followers pour in motivated me to start another Instagram account about my other love: Makeup! 

At the end of 2012, I decided to launch @wakeupandmakeup which would feature work from all different artists, dedicated to people who loved makeup as much as I do. I have over 9.8 million (and counting) followers who religiously follow @wakeupandmakeup. It has become a community where I can support makeup artists and help them grow, but it is also a place for ordinary followers to come for inspiration and makeup ideas.  

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I never envisioned my hobbies turning into my full time job but I live by the word 'maktub', which is an Arabic word that means 'it is written'. If I am ever enduring a loss, or being blessed with a great opportunity, it is already know to the one. It is destiny. Things were meant to be this way. When I had come to the realization that my sister had a disability which was chronic, I used to often ponder why and how things turned out the way they did. I read a book called "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho 7 years ago and that specific word has been carried with me since. 

I live by the word 'maktub', which is an Arabic word that means 'it is written

I get asked all the time 'how can I do what you do?' And the answer is so simple: Follow your passion and what your heart desires. You are never too young or too old to step into the cosmetic industry. If it is your passion, go for it and don't let anyone hold you back. 

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I also love empowering women. With every look that I repost of women wearing makeup, I reinforce the idea of women empowerment. Women are able to do as they feel, whether they enjoy wearing heavy or subtle looks. It's all about being confident in the way makeup makes you feel. Self-confidence is a huge part of the reason why people in general avoid opportunities and if covering those dark circles under your eyes and correcting those acne scars makes you feel better about yourself, then do it. Makeup isn't something that is necessarily applied to attract others, but rather it is a way of expressing yourself. Also, the fact that wearing makeup has given women the opportunity to actually create a sustainable and financially stable lifestyle for themselves is truly commendable.

If it is your passion, go for it and don't let anyone hold you back.

I recently launched 'Eyeris Beauty', which is a 3D silk lash line. It is a 100% cruelty and fur free lash line. Along with Eyeris Beauty, I am part of the 'Dream Team Tour' with TNT Agency, a leading makeup school, which teaches our attendees amazing makeup techniques as well as social media strategies through my expertise. There is no better feeling than being your own boss, but it has its challenges as well. I am a one person army. Running three successful Instagram accounts and managing my new beauty line, while traveling for the tour is not easy. But I have come up with an alarm system that reminds me to post on my Instagram account(s) and I am able to work on everything else in between. Multitasking is definitely not easy but with trial and error, you can find a system that works for you. Nothing is impossible, with hard work and dedication, you can achieve all your dreams! 

Get That Life is a weekly series that reveals how successful, talented, creative women got to where they are now. Check back each Friday for the latest interview.

Follow Arshia on YouTube & Instagram

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