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MEGAN PINCKNEY RUTHERFORD

Shades of Pinck in The F-Suite Fall 2021

Columbia’s lifestyle influencer shares what her life is like promoting as Shades of Pinck

By April Blake

Photographs by April Blake and Crush Rush

She’s in Palm Beach. She’s on a boat in Miami. She’s looking impeccable in Charleston, camera-ready with a beautifully tailored outfit, high heels, and flawless skin. But she’s also just as likely to be found at her desk, checking emails or on Zoom calls for hours. As a business owner, influencer and content creator, Megan Pinckney Rutherford is probably working harder than anyone you know. She makes it look incredibly effortless and ultra-chic, yet somehow almost attainable when you view her through your phone’s screen.

Rutherford, also known as @shadesofpinck online, prefers to think of herself as a digital content creator. “It means I work with local and national brands to create imagery for them to use in marketing materials,” she said. “I see myself as a contractor for other businesses.” She’s definitely a business owner — Shades of Pinck became a limited liability corporation in 2019, which is when she really started to feel like a bona fide business.

With seven years as an influencer-content creator, Rutherford got her start during her Miss South Carolina tenure in 2013. “By nature of my title, I was working with sponsors, attending events, and promoting organizations. It was influencing, but it wasn’t what we called it at the time,” Rutherford said. After being on screen in the Miss USA competition, she observed a spike in her Instagram following. After she moved on from her title, she noticed her following falling because her posts lacked entertaining content or useful resources. So she created a blog in January 2014.

The blog is the heart and soul of her brand, where she can express herself and develop her ideas. “But Instagram is my main platform because by nature of the app there are more views,” she said. “I see the traffic reflected on my blog though; it has continued to grow and the views are much higher now because of Instagram.”

Rutherford makes hard work look easy

What does life look like for a successful content creator? It looks busy and hectic once the details are exposed. But as Rutherford explained, the whole goal is to look glam and effortless. “No two days are the same when it comes to content creation,” she said.

Some static tasks she and her assistant tackle are scheduling photo shoots for content, getting details on deliverables, preparing the products she’ll wear, creating shot lists and writing copy. Then repeat it all multiple times for each brand or campaign, plus doing it again for organic content and blog posts, and more recently, adding in Instagram Reels and video content … all while building and maintaining relationships with other bloggers and brands, and oh yeah, having a personal life.

Even the luxurious, enviable vacations she goes on quite frequently end up turning into work due to her wanting to recap it for the ‘gram. “It’s more work than people expect or imagine it would be,” she said. “I’m trying to let people in on the other side more because if I’m just sitting in my office for eight hours, I don’t have anything to show people. But if I don’t show them, they don’t realize the back-end work that goes on.”

Showing her hard work is essential to keeping it real. This helps stop the naysayers who believe that influencing is not a real job. “It is a female-dominated field, and I think that’s why it gets a bad rep,” said Rutherford. “People who speak negatively about it are naive and don’t understand it.”

Marketing in the digital age

Megan Pinckney

Photo by Crush Rush

Of course, she points out, there are influencers out there who fit the negative view people have of the job and who don’t have a business mindset behind what they are doing. “I know it exists, and I try to position myself in a different way,” she said.

One major thing people don’t understand is how influencers make money. In Rutherford’s case, she has several streams of income. This includes sponsored posts on Instagram and her blog; creating content for brands to use that she doesn’t share on her social media; ad dollars; affiliate links; and designing products for brands, like she did most recently with Show Me Your Mumu. Most importantly, she is now represented by an agent who handles her contracts and irons out the details, leaving her to handle the creative side. “This has completely changed my income,” she said.

Despite the constant carousel lifestyle that content creation can be, this fashion major and former model loves being able to use the traditional marketing skills she’s learned in a more modernized digital space. So where does she see the future of influencing going? “I couldn’t imagine it would get to where it is now, and I am just riding the wave and giving it my all!” she exclaimed. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it was gone in 10 years, or just exploded further — I think what is going to determine that is consumers.”

What’s ahead for Rutherford?

As for her own future, Rutherford knows she has a big deadline looming: the birth of her first child. She’s planning ahead to slow down a bit to soak up life with a newborn, including the recent hiring of an assistant well before her due date. And yes, she does plan to share her life as a new mother online too. “I can’t think of an industry where people are looking for advice based on experience more than parenthood!” she said.

Though her life is only going to get busier, Rutherford is excited about the future of her brand and her business. And she has a list of things she wants to do. It includes more design collabs, and possibly even creating an influencer course or workshops so she can share what she’s learned along the way with a new crop of upcoming content creators. Like many things in life, the world of influencing and content creation is ever changing. But the truth is it’s now a very real business option that can allow someone to be self-employed and successful, just like Rutherford.

Learn more about Megan Pinckney Rutherford at shadesofpinck.com.