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Up Yours, Influencers

Once upon a time, 12th December 2022 to be exact, a mega-influencer with 250k followers on Instagram, Anna Kurtoglyan (@annkurtoglyan) reached out to me. Her email was very well crafted. She said she was a big fan of our cakes and she loves supporting us on social. Her best friend, Alina Rafikova (@alinaal.jpg), was a big fan too. It just so happened, that the best friend’s birthday was coming up soon, and she was wondering if she could have a cake in exchange for exposure as she would made some gorgeous content and share it with their combined 600k+ followers.

Anna Kurtoglyan Influencer Free Cake Beggar

It all sounded fairly standard. We’re so used to such “reaching out” emails asking for a “collaboration” which is a word used by influencers to mean freebie (they’re just too embarrassed/entitled to use the actual word). However, @annkurtoglyan was never a follower, and neither was her best friend. For a lifestyle influencer to make such a claim of being such a big fan when she wasn’t even following us on social media was outrageous. Furthermore, if they were true fans, they’d know exactly how we feel about influencers and brands asking us for free cake. Content is NOT our preferred currency. Our landlord and utilities provider do not accept exposure as legal tender. Besides that, her content was dark, dreary and dire, with no food posts and with very low engagement stats.

Bakery Response to Influencer asking for Collaboration

So I wrote back in my usual style to those who ask us to work for free. If they were big fans, they’d have known what that’s like as I’ve been very vocal for the last 7 years about my distaste for influencers asking for freebies aka collaborations and have a very handy flowchart on our website for their reference. 

Collaboration Flowchart for Influencers

I didn’t get a response and soon forgot about it and got cracking with Christmas. I was reaaaallly looking forward to putting my feet up after NYE for a few days having worked through all of the festive period. Just binging on Netflix, cheese and pigs in blankets.

However, the two influencers, AN&AL, crept into my comments on an unrelated post on Instagram and decided to preach professionalism and tone police. Almost a month after I rejected them. It’s kinda creepy that I lived in their minds rent free for so long. 

Alina Rafikova Influencer free cake beggar

Instagram Reply to Anna Kurtoglyan  Influencer asking for freebies

Cooler Cake Comment

Alina Rafikova Controversy - The Cooler Cake

They didn’t like that I bit back to their comments. So they decided to up the ante and share “their side of the story” and do a few cute polls for their 250k+ followings in their Instagram stories.

Alina Rafikova Influencer Free Cake Begging Justification

It backfired brilliantly in beautiful fashion (unlike their actual fashion). When the majority of your own following doesn’t agree with you, it’s time to take a seat.

Anna Kurtoglyan Influencer Poll

You’d think that would be the end of it but I woke up the next day to a slew of 1* reviews by them using made up names. I was livid. How entitled and bitter must you be to be so spiteful about not getting a cake for free and then actively try to harm my business?!

Fake 1 reviews by Influencers Alina Rafikova and Anna Kurtoglyan for not getting free cake 

Absolutely livid, I took to Instagram to name and shame them and told them I would leave the post up until they deleted the reviews.

Original Instagram Post outing Alina Rafikova and Anna Kurtoglyan influencersYou’d think that would be the end of it. But again, no. This time, instead of actually going and pulling down the reviews promptly, the twosome, who are like the perfect spawn of the Tinder Swindler and Anna Delvey together, got busy reporting the post and having Instagram take it down.

Instagram ViolationThankfully, Instagram reviewed the content and has put it back up. I am leaving it there for good as a warning to all other small businesses thinking about engaging with influencers. Even if you give in to the temptation of exposure bucks, do remember that paying customers would not like seeing businesses give away freebies to help fund influencer lifestyles when they have to pay. I have stopped purchasing from businesses I see doing this, it's extremely off-putting.

Anyway, you'd think it would end there right? Gosh, no. The Anna Delvey wannabes ran to the press with their story and it was published in the Daily Mail. A story so manipulated and even more cringe-worthy than their initial email and subsequent actions.

Influencers Free Cake Daily Mail

They say there's no such thing as bad publicity. Well, unless you're an influencer. My faith in the British public's ability to see through BS and voting (in insta-polls) has been restored.

Anna Kurtoglyan Alina Rafikova influencers daily mail comments 

And to think of it, this could all have been avoided if they actually followed my Instagram to start with, or just "briefly looked", maybe just accepted my response, even if it was abrasive. They’d know never to ask me to work for free.

The Coolest Cake

Thank you so much to all our customers and followers for rallying around us - your comments, messages, shares, emails and reviews have really lifted us through this. These past two days have been hair-raising and I'm hoping these two have had their fill of own goals and can now go get actual jobs. Paid in cash money. To buy a cake.

Lots of love,

Reshmi xoxo

5 Responses

Monica S

Monica S

January 06, 2023

The entitlement of these influencers is mind blowing. Good on you for exposing their unprofessional and frankly, immature practices!

Fred Hunt

Fred Hunt

January 06, 2023

The thing that made me laugh most was the “cooler cake”, straight from a supermarket shelf…

If you can’t afford £100 for an amazing cake from Reshmi, then let her help you make your own amazing cake from the recipes she publishes for free! Personally, I’d rather have a home made cake than a blagged one, but maybe that’s an “influencer” thing.

NH

NH

January 06, 2023

Yeah and not being funny do influencers ever approach people like me that work in the NHS and say things like if you collaborate with me on a hip replacement I’ll create content and exposure. No. And why? Because that would not be ethical and neither is this. It’s just a way to get things free and the rest of us have to pay. And I’d always pay because your cakes are delish and your responses show you value us, your paying customers over these people who are just outright blaggers!!!

Ncl food bible

Ncl food bible

January 05, 2023

What is even worse about this whole thing… there followers are FAKE! There likes on posts are FAKE, they are literally praying on small businesses which may see this amazing ‘600K’ combined following a great opportunity to get exposure when in fact, it’s all smoke and mirrors and it isn’t real, pretty much scammers! I love that Instagram allows stuff like this to happen and people can have fake followers / likes to look good and yet a post calling them out, its taken down within an hour because it goes against there terms and conditions… nothing makes sense 😅

Ash Bibi

Ash Bibi

January 05, 2023

May I just point out also, their initials put together… ANAL
Lol you couldn’t make it up if you tried!

Anyways, I hope they see the error of their ways, which I doubt, but hey ho! I’m so happy Reshmi stands up to these people, I wish more people would do it.

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