In the times of a global pandemic, it is safe to say that job security has taken a plunge for the country’s younger generation. With Australia’s unemployment rate reaching its highest level in over two decades, young people across the country are needing to get creative as to what they should do for work. I sat down with Depop queen Lillian Scott to discuss the highs and lows of working in an industry that depends on keeping your ‘fans’ engaged.
Over the past ten years, many young women have been turning to online platforms to create wealth and to gain more flexibility in their lifestyle. Whilst most know of social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, there are new online apps drawing similar amounts of traffic, making those who use such apps strategically, financially successful.
Within this trend emerges the relatively new website OnlyFans: the growing sensation that allows users to charge their followers a subscription fee in order to see the content they produce. Originally created for principally ‘explicit’ content, OnlyFans has set a new precedent in which social media influencers (and sex workers alike) can demand financial payment from their followers in exchange for a more intimate look into their lives. At the end of the day, if there’s money to be made, aren’t these ‘influencers’ just capitalising on the market demand for their product?
23-year-old Lillian Scott runs both a successful Depop page (an app that allows individuals to sell second-hand clothes), Instagram and recently, an OnlyFans account. Together we discussed what it takes to be successful online, the opportunities that OnlyFans presents, as well as what a future in the online fashion industry actually looks like.
Olivia: How would you describe yourself and what you do?
Lillian: I’ve been a lot of things. I think until recently I would have predominantly described myself as a traveller although for a multitude of (pretty obvious) reasons that side of me has been put on hold for a bit. Presently I’m a hoarder, or if we want to romanticize it, a ‘collector’. Depop is a facilitator of this, as it allows me to spend as much time and money on ‘collecting’ as my heart desires and rewards me with an income, which is very cool.
I love dressing up. My wardrobe is outrageous, I really need to start being invited to some important events so all my balls gowns can have a meaningful night out.
O: With over 15,000 followers on Depop, your account seems to have received quite a positive response. What drew you to Depop and how did your account become such a success?
L: I’ve always had a ridiculously sized wardrobe and I was brought up in second-hand stores, so I guess I have my mum to thank for my thrifting obsession. Depop presented itself to me as a means to rid myself of stuff I didn’t want any more without having to have a market stall, which can be pretty exhausting.
I was on the app quite early on, mainly because lots of people who had heard of it suggested it to me because they knew it would be ‘right up my alley’. This has played massively into my success as I think a lot of my following is a result of having been a substantial account for a number of years now. It didn’t happen overnight! Obviously a PASSION FOR FASHION helps too.
O: What are the main pros and cons of working online, as opposed to more ‘normal’ forms of work such as hospitality, working in an office etc.
L: I work for myself, I set my own time/pace/goals, I LOVE what I do and am constantly grateful for the opportunity I have to make a living off doing what I love. The flexibility is incredible too. Just last week I went to Byron in my van, deciding I was going two days beforehand. Luckily, I had lots of stock pre-photographed so I was able to keep my Depop running at the same capacity as I would have at home, all the while I’m chillin’ on the beach in Byron. Pretty cool huh?
I think the positives are all pretty obvious and are overwhelmingly more meaningful to me than the cons, however, the cons are definitely worth addressing because I think about them a lot.
Firstly, and most predominantly, working for and by yourself is lonely. I find myself really craving human interaction. The subtle kind, where you aren’t necessarily ‘hanging out’ you’re just occupying the same space and passing comments. All my social interactions are exactly that; social, and often quite tiring because I place so much emphasis on them because I need them, so I burn out easily.
Another con is that in working for yourself you need to be entirely self-motivated and while I love what I do, it does require a lot of energy and also for me to be constantly ‘feeling myself’. I need to be ‘feeling’ my taste when shopping for stock and then ‘feeling’ my look when I photograph them and some weeks I just AINT FEELING MYSELF.
Con number three is that the work never ends. I’ve been at dinner parties responding to messages, so I don’t lose a sale. I find myself checking my phone without thinking about it, I’m completely addicted to the dopamine hit and the more successful it is, the harder it is to disconnect.
My greatest source of anxiety surrounding my work is the lack of certainty behind it. While my current lifestyle is fantastic and incredibly lucrative there’s no set-out career path or stepping-stones for me to follow in the way that my peers from university experience in their 9-5s. The lack of security does make me worried as I feel like I’m constantly being asked what my future looks like and I HAVE NO IDEA. I’m really struggling with this at the moment as I find it hard to take what I do seriously, especially in comparison to my friends with ‘real’ careers.
O: Has COVID-19 and the shutdown of in-person retail caused a change in the number of customers coming to your Depop?
L: Yeah definitely. The first few weeks of lockdown were horrendous as people were scared, losing their jobs and simultaneously not leaving the house and hence not needing any fire new ‘fits. A few weeks later, after the government made the first payouts for JobKeeper and JobSeeker, sales went wild. People had money and were bored at home on their phones. This didn’t last though as I was unable to source anything new (all the markets and thrift stores were shut) so I was pretty stressed out.
Since everything has started to open up again sales are consistently high, although it is hard to say whether this is due to COVID and a change in people’s retail habits or whether it is an outcome of my hard work – it’s probably a combination of both.
O: OnlyFans seems to be a growing platform for women to make money from more explicit material through the advantage of having 100% control over their own content and privacy. What spurred you to create an OnlyFans account and what has your experience on the platform been like thus far?
L: I was actually encouraged by people who follow me on Depop and Instagram who messaged me saying they’d love to follow my OnlyFans account. I wasn’t really sure about it at first but people were persistent, and I guess curiosity got the better of me. It was hard to ignore this new platform that was so prevalent in the zeitgeist in which women like me were making lots and lots of money for basically doing what I already did.
My experience so far has been super positive. I don’t post anything I wouldn’t be comfortable posting on Instagram (if nude content was allowed). All my content is pretty, tasteful and sexy and I really enjoy having a platform to share it on. I also really enjoy making money from it obviously.
O: Is there a kind of liberation/empowerment that comes with making money out of your own content?
L: There is liberation and empowerment in making your own money regardless as to what avenue through which you acquire it. OnlyFans does not necessarily empower me any more than Depop does. I am empowered through the freedom they award me and through my ability to use my body as a tool to make art and money rather than a sexualised object.
Platforms such as OnlyFans could become dangerous if one was to use it as their sole means of income as there are a lot of pressuring men on there who offer you money for things you don’t want to do. However, I am in a place of strength and have no problem saying no.
O: Finally, how do you see your online businesses progressing into the future? What would your ideal work-life look like ten years down the track?
L: This is such an overwhelming question and I get asked it all the time. Ideally in the next year, I’d like to expand my Depop and move across to my own free-functioning website/store that I sell both vintage and my designs from. As much as I love Depop and want to continue using it, it’s scary to think that my livelihood is reliant on an app. I’d just like to have a slightly greater degree of control.
In the future, I’d love to open a concept store/space with a collection of art, homewares, clothing, flowers, music etc along with a coffee shop, all second hand. Basically, a place for people to come and hang and shop that is curated by me and filled with all the things I love. This would be the ultimate amalgamation of all my passions.
Go follow Lillian and support her on any of her following platforms!
Travel Blog: www.lillianscott.org
Subscribe to FIB’s Weekly Alchemy Report for your weekly dose of music, fashion and pop culture news!