• For this one, I actually reached out to Sydney, who has been on our show. Right? Yes. Sydney from LaFORCE who does a lot of the work for Veuve Clicquot. I reached out to her, she's been on the show. I just wanted to get the perspective of someone who was at a brand. We chatted about it for 10 minutes today and we're pretty aligned. I think that one thing is brands are-- I think the smart agencies and brands increasingly are doing less unsolicited gifting than they did in the past.

    There is a trend in the industry towards relationships and brands wanting to build relationships with influencers, instead of just what I'd call spray-and-pray of just like send out a bunch of shit and hope people post it, which is still totally common and probably more common than not. I look at LaFORCE as a leader and the fact that they're actively saying, "We're doing less of the spray-and-pray." I think that that's going to generally be a trend.

    Now, if you get stuff that you don't want, you probably can't stop the flow of packages out there. I understand, as an influencer, not wanting to say, "I'm not taking any gifting." Because if Dior is sending another round of saddlebags around, you're going to want in on that. There's probably a lot of stuff that you get that you feel really fortunate and lucky to get, so it's tough to say, "I don't accept gifting." There are big influencers, I know, that say that, that they just straight-up don't accept gifting because it creates an expectation.

    Something to consider as an influencer is that, unfortunately, when someone sends you something, they're expecting you to post about it, so even if you don't like it, they're probably going to follow up. I know it causes stress that, again, you didn't really ask for, but you have to deal with. You don't want to say, "Don't send me anything." Because if there's someone at a PR agency and they have 10 brands they rep and you say, "I don't actually want gifting anymore." You may like the nine other brands they rep, just not the one they sent you.

    It's a difficult line to toe as an influencer of when do you say no, how do you stop the flow from being overwhelming and then what do you do with all this stuff that you don't want. In talking to Sydney and we were aligned on this, I think that honesty and candor are always appreciated in the industry. I think if you get something and you really don't want it or you can't use it, reaching out respectfully saying, "Thank you so much for thinking of me. I really appreciate it. I know these products aren't cheap. It's not something that aligns with my tastes. Is there any way you could send me a return packing slip so I could send it back to you?"

    They may do that and you send it back. They may say, "You know what? Don't worry about sending it back. You can just give it to a friend or whatever or keep it. Regardless, in that case, you've asked. You've said, "Hey, I don't want this." Certainly, as an influencer, you shouldn't be expected to pay to ship it back to them yourself but you're saying, "Hey, I don't want this and I know it's not free and maybe there's somebody that would want it so can you just give me a return packing slip so I can send it back to you?"

    They will probably say, no and then I think you're much more free to do what you want. I understand the brand perspective and Sydney agreed that finding your product for sale is a tough position that you're putting the agency rep or the brand person in because they had to get you approved probably and they probably said, "Hey, I think this person's great, we should send them this thing," and they sent it and then the VP of Marketing is on Poshmark the next week and they see the brand new limited-edition thing that they sent you up on Poshmark.

    They send a note to their brand contact saying, "What the hell? Why is this thing for sale?" Now that person is in trouble. Again, I understand from the influencer side because it's like you didn't ask for this shit. I'm sure you guys give some stuff away to family, I'm sure you give some stuff away to charity, give it away to friends, give it to people on your team but the volume is so much that there's things that you're probably like, "You know what? I'm going to sell this because I didn't ask for it and it's $1,000 coat and I can get $500 on Poshmark," and I get that.

    Fair or unfair, when they sent that to you, there was an expectation. The expectation is that you're going to post about it. Again, that's not necessarily a fair expectation, I think brands should always do opt-in gifting. I think that they should be reaching out and asking you if you want something before they send it to you. I don't think that putting it up for sale is the right thing to do if you want to continue to have a relationship with that brand. I think if they catch you selling it, it is going to be hard to explain that and it's going to be hard to repair that relationship.

    Now, if you said to them, "Hey, can you send me a return packing slip, I don't like this." Much nicer way than that but that's the gist and they say, "No, it's not we're sending you a packing slip, you just keep it." Then can you sell it? I think you're probably more in the clear to sell it. You have done your best to try and return it and do the right thing, they have said no. That feels not like permission but I would feel better putting that up there because if they found it then, you could be like, "Oh, I'm so sorry, I tried to send it back.

    I told you that it wasn't my taste so I just figured I'd sell it. Sorry if that's a problem."

    You're in a more defensible position than just not selling it. Nobody likes to be made a fool of. You have to put yourself in the brand's position. Even though they're putting you in an unfair position doesn't mean you should do the same. It's going to come down on that brand person if their boss's boss or their client finds that the gifting that they're doing, that you talked them into, now a bunch of those clothes are up on Poshmark.

    I'm telling you, the brand's do check it. The fact that the person who asked this question, the fact that they are checking means that this is a thing brands are looking at and I just don't think it's worth ruining a relationship for whatever you're going to make on the clothes. Try and send it back, if not, do what you will with it.
    Episode #161
    - Unsolicited Gifting, Image Permissions, Tumblr Acquisition