Caroline Calloway understood marketing

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

My life would be infinitely better if I’d grown up with such an intuitive understanding of brands:

Her account was called #Adventuregrams. “You can have an adventure anywhere, if you’re curious,” she told me as I took pictures of her balancing on a stone wall. “That’s what the brand is about. It doesn’t matter where you live or how much money you have. You could be a teen from Nebraska and by following me you can feel like you’re here.” But I was the one who was actually there, standing right next to her, and already I was beginning to feel invisible. When we left our room in the morning, she packed several outfits so she could pose for days’ worth of photos in one afternoon. I meanwhile was deputized as the photographer, instructed to find her best angles and keep my shadow out of the frame. When Caroline was satisfied we got the shot, we’d hurry back to the hotel to connect to the Wi-Fi, brainstorming the caption together. After she posted the photo, she would hold her phone in her palm and watch as the comments rolled in, responding to each one. She was building a second version of herself in front of me, and how could I compete with that? I should have been having the time of my life in paradise, but Caroline had a way of making me feel small, as if I had folded myself up like a travel toothbrush so she could take me along for the trip.

She has obvious talent in marketing. And it’s an intuitive talent, she clearly knew these things from very young, she did not need to go to class for it.

And yet, so much of this is actually the writer Natalie Beach. It seems clear that the two of them might have been one of history’s famous marketing teams.

For the three months I helped develop #Adventuregrams, Caroline in Northern Italy, me in South Brooklyn. We ran up our families’ phone bills but kept gaining followers. Our captions were mostly chirpy travelogues — “Hand-made spaghetti tossed with black truffle butter and Atlantic squid ink … It’s how Venetian aristocrats do munchies.” “That jolt of disorientation when you wake up in a place you’ve never been before … And you see a sword.” Watching the likes accumulate, I began to believe that what we were making mattered to my career (for the first time I was being paid to write) and to our readers around the world. It was 2013, and the internet felt like the future of writing, at least for girls. The boys from our classes were churning out different versions of Fear and Loathing in Bushwick, but I believed Caroline and I were busting open the form of nonfiction. Instagram is memoir in real time. It’s memoir without the act of remembering. It’s collapsing the distance between writer and reader and critic, which is why it’s true feminist storytelling, I’d argue to Caroline, trying to convince her that a white girl learning to believe in herself could be the height of radicalism (convenient, as I too was a white girl learning to believe in herself).

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