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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?!
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.
You’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.
Thankfully, 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.
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.
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.
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,