There is always a client influx, so have a backup plan ready to go on how to get more clients, like a wait list. I guess this is common sense, but I didn’t realize how fast some clients would turn over, especially in the beginning. While I was figuring out my niche and what I really loved, I had some clients that changed career paths and didn’t need my services, and some that just didn’t have it in the budget to keep going.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Hayleye Edwards.
Hayleye Edwards is a high-end Instagram engagement specialist who empowers busy female entrepreneurs to release the hassle of Instagram and social list building. She finds, nurtures and converts leads into buyers and clients and is passionate about relieving the stress of lead generation and social media engagement.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born and raised in Southern California in a small beach town named Sunset Beach until I was 17. I have a brother who is 14 months younger than I and two little sisters that are twelve and thirteen years younger than I. We all are very close and spent many days together running and playing on the beautiful beaches I spent my childhood in.
My days were spent swimming in the canal we had behind our house, paddle boarding to my friend’s houses down the canal and then going back and forth to my grandparent’s house in Seal Beach where I spent a few days a week. In the summer, I got to attend junior lifeguarding with my friends, and in the winter we’d sled down this big berm they would put up on the beach to keep the ocean from flooding out the houses that were facing the beach. I was a very carefree kid and am so thankful for that.
When I was 17, my family moved to a small coastal town in Oregon after my dad retired from the fire department. My time was different in that I spent it then with lots of different animals. Mainly my horse, potbelly pig, and my dog. Even with the coastal “farm” life I have been a beach girl since the beginning.
When it comes to what I wanted to be when I “grew up,” I used to dream about being a doctor, the want was there and so was the drive, but in the end, the heart wasn’t. I found this out by a lot of trial and error and heart to heart talks with my great grandpa and boyfriend ( now husband).
I attended school in Eugene, Oregon, then transferred to Santa Barbara where I had an amazing year and really discovered that the whole doctor thing wasn’t for me after lots of long nights volunteering in the NICU at the local hospital. I ended up going back to Oregon where I finished out my degree in health and wellness. I connected with my now husband, who was a wildland firefighter also living 800 miles away from the place we both called home, during this entire process. We dated for 5 years and have been married for 4. I guess you can say it was a teenage love story that came true, and I now get to live everyday with him and our soon-to-be two babies.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If you end this life with the same number of friends/loved ones as fingers on one hand, you are a lucky person” — My great grandma Mitzi
She would tell me this when friends would come and go, when I had my first heartbreak, and when I was an adult in college in a season of true loneliness. Now as an adult, I resonate with it so much more. I am a mama of soon-to-be two children ( by the time this is published most definitely two) and the wife of a wildland firefighter. Sometimes life feels so isolating and the pandemic, plus the fact that my best friend is across the pond in England doesn’t help that isolated feeling. However, I have an insanely supportive husband, family near and far, and a few amazing friends that have become like family that I see regularly and that is perfect. This quote helps me remember that in all seasons of life, people and circumstances change and I am so lucky for the people I have in my life. I guess the life lesson part of this would be to be very thankful for the people you have, the people who choose you.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
Honestly, this is so silly, but that same grandma I mentioned got me hooked on the Chicken Soup For The Teenage Soul books from the late 90’s. They were my saving grace as a teenager when I was trying to figure out who I wanted to be. I went through so many changes in life when my little sisters were born, so many that sometimes these books were the only thing that brought a sense of normalcy to what I felt. They helped me not feel alone when I thought I was, and they always had life lessons that resonated with me that have helped me into adulthood.
As an adult, I have done so much reading, listening, and watching that I have a brain full of amazing content snippets that have impacted me and helped me grow. Currently, I am in the thick of parenting podcasts, business podcasts, and self-growth podcasts. You can never learn too much.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
Before the pandemic, I had so many different jobs in my early adult years. I started working at age 15 at a small surf shop in Seal Beach. I would hang up bikinis and entertain my co-workers by singing while I vacuumed the shop at the end of the night. From there, I had other odd jobs as I grew older. As an adult I have worked as a medical assistant, at a surgery center, and as a teacher (a job I LOVED and would have done forever but I had my own little one and decided I loved being with her more) before I found my end-all be-all job.
That job was for a multi-billion dollar publicly-traded company doing a job I loved. I was planning on promoting and staying with them for as long as possible. I can’t disclose the company or the job, but I can break it down by saying I was supposed to build relationships with clients that turned into sales. I worked remotely and got to raise my daughter, while doing a job that brought smiles to customers’ faces and helped them feel like their best selves. I was so good at my job and had finally felt like I had found my calling.
I had the pleasure of working for them for a few years before 2020. When the pandemic first hit, the company was doing well. Right when we thought we were out of the red, I, along with 3,000 other California employees, woke up to an email saying we were laid off months in. Needless to say, I was devastated and was left wondering what I was going to do next. How I was going to work from home, raise my daughter, and still help bring income in? I had always been searching for the one job that I never got tired of, that I could work into the night with and still have energy for the next day. The job that would give me so much joy and fulfillment. I thought I had it with my previous career, but turns out, I had no idea how far from that dream I really was.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
I decided to do something so scary and foreign to me: I became my own boss. I created a position for myself as an Instagram engagement and conversion strategist. I didn’t start there though. I began working with my sister-in-law and doing some VA tasks for her and her social media consulting business. She ended up helping me gain the knowledge of the app as a business platform, and she helped me regain the confidence I needed to discover my calling. I really wanted to bring the authenticity back to Instagram.
A few years back, I had a very successful Instagram account that was for personal use. I had a loyal following who actually liked what I had to say, and was there for me. However, every time I would log into the app, I felt sad afterwards. I was always comparing myself to the other moms and women who would pop up in my feed and I was only seeing the good that they wanted me to see. It started to become overwhelming as I was trying so hard to show the raw and vulnerable. After a while, I got tired of constantly comparing myself to other people as well as watching accounts of people show snippets of their lives that looked so perfect when I knew for a fact their lives weren’t.
So I stopped posting, deleted the app, and never looked back (or so I thought). When my sister in law mentioned helping her out, the thought of going back onto Instagram actually gave me anxiety. I felt like I was going backwards, like all the soul searching and authenticity I brought back into my day to day life would be for nothing. However, I needed the money and I was grateful for her offering me the chance and taking a chance on me, so I said yes. I knew I had a knack for the platform when it came to people liking what I had to say, so I gave myself a month. I told myself if it didn’t work out, there were a ton of job apps I had in and could follow up on.
After working with her for a while, I realized that I liked a certain aspect of Instagram and wasn’t so into the rest. I learned I loved conversing with people and building friendships. So with a lot of guidance and coaching from her, as well as support and so many conversations with my husband (the most supportive person I’ll ever know), I took a chance and started to seek out my own clients. I then, by a random twist of fate, ended up in a mastermind and started gaining the business skillset to attract my perfect clients.
That is when my business started and took off. I took what I was doing before in the corporate world — building authentic relationships and converting them to sales — to a platform that I thought needed it the most. See, engagement on Instagram isn’t new. What’s new is what I bring to the platform. By taking the concept of building relationships based on genuinely caring about each and every lead, the process in which I find the leads, and then the process in which I nurture and convert them into sales/list signups, I took the skills and the tactics I had learned and made them completely unique to myself and my team. This way, I can help female entrepreneurs thrive and gain leads and clients without having to stress about the tactics behind finding them. By taking the burden of Instagram off them, I help my clients focus on the aspects of their businesses that they love.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
The truth is, there isn’t one. I don’t have some crazy story about being in the shower and what I was meant to do for the rest of my life hitting me. How it happened for me was I had to hit rock bottom: I realized that I was let go from a job I thought was safe forever. I have had so many jobs I love taken away from me at the hands of someone else due to things like bankruptcy and the pandemic, so much that I was feeling defeated. I remember sitting on the couch crying to my husband asking, “Why does every job I have ever loved gotten taken away without it being my choice?” He sat there with me, holding me as I cried and told me everything would be ok. At that time, he reminded me that every time something like this happens, we move forward and a new door opens. He also reminded me that I always do what I set out to. He was my light in the darkness, but I was ashamed that once again I put us in a place of financial insecurity, and I wanted that cycle to stop.
One day, even though he told me not to in order to hold out for something I loved, I decided to apply to be a Discover Card telemarketer. Right before I was going to hit send on the application, my sister-in-law called and offered me the job helping her. I remember that anxious feeling I mentioned creeping in, and how I thought I never wanted to get back on the app. Yet I was in such a weird place where I needed work and it was something I knew how to do, so I took a chance since she was willing to take a chance on me.
That was my “ AHA” moment. It wasn’t one moment, so much as a series of moments that brought me to fate intervening and allowing me to create something I never knew I wanted or needed. I am so thankful every day that I picked up her phone call instead of finishing the application and hitting send.
How are things going with this new initiative?
Honestly, things are going amazing. Better than I could have ever imagined. I have always had a very hard time believing in myself, and so there have been times where I didn’t think I was going to succeed, but to my disbelief I have.
I have been able to 6x increase my income from my corporate job. I have now hired two people and am in the process of hiring a third to build my team. I have built amazing relationships with clients and have made friendships as well. I have learned so much and honestly love what I do. The best part is, I control my own fate and that is the best feeling I have ever felt when it comes to business.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
As generic as this sounds, my husband. I have been with him since I was 18. He has been through all of my job ventures with me, and has supported ALL of my dreams — some crazy and some that took up the entire kitchen and living room of our house ( I used to make soaps and candles and also had a sewing business for a while). No matter what I do, he always makes sure I have everything I need to succeed and he has never once said I can’t do it. He has only ever wanted me to be happy and feel important.
When I lost my job I was honestly more devastated then I have ever been. He not only listened to a month of sobbing and venting but he asked over and over how he could help me feel better. He works insane hours, is gone a lot, and is the best hands-on dad to our daughter. Losing my job caused him so much financial stress, and we were in the middle of him renovating a house to sell, while enduring a high risk pregnancy AND moving to where he had to commute 3.5 hours a day. Yet he was worried about how he could make me feel better. When I told him that this is what I was doing and that I thought I could make a legit go at it, he asked what I needed.
He has spent so many of his days off watching our daughter so I could be on meetings and do other work related tasks. He supported and encouraged me in joining a business mastermind, and on the daily he encourages me and tells me how great I am doing. I honestly wouldn’t be where I am without him and I wake up so grateful for him and his support every day.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
One day I was reading an article where the writer said, “I am finally everything I knew I could be,” and it was in that moment I realized I NEVER dreamed I could be the woman I am today. In fact, I NEVER wanted to be this woman but I am the best version of me now. I LOVE THIS WOMAN and she is who I want to be forever. After that realization, my entire way of thinking shifted. Instead of approaching things with the “what if I fail” attitude, I shifted to the “when I succeed” attitude, and that’s when the doors really started opening for me.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
There are SO many things I wish I had known but the ones that make my top 5 are:
- There is always a client influx, so have a backup plan ready to go on how to get more clients, like a wait list. I guess this is common sense, but I didn’t realize how fast some clients would turn over, especially in the beginning. While I was figuring out my niche and what I really loved, I had some clients that changed career paths and didn’t need my services, and some that just didn’t have it in the budget to keep going.
- Get a legal contract drafted and use it every single time you sign a client. The first few clients I signed, there were no contracts. Just invoices. I quickly figured out that when you are handling people’s personal information, like login information, that there needs to be a contract they feel safe behind. It also has protected me before when I needed to end a client’s services early.
- Take days off. When you are working for yourself, there is ALWAYS something to do. I spent the first few months working 6 days a week for clients and the 7th for myself doing the admin and behind the scenes work. I was staying up ridiculously late and never had down time where I wasn’t working. I got burnt out, and in the end my family time suffered. It is so important to have those off days to unplug.
- Schedule time for client communication. This is another huge one. My clients get access to me via text, but I had to learn to only read and respond at certain times of the day. I have working hours and then weekend hours where I check in with the messages from them. Again, you have to be able to turn off work, and when you are starting your own business, it can be so hard to do.
- Check and see if you need an LLC or some other kind of legal coverage. I was told by some that I needed it and others said that I wasn’t big enough. It turns out I did need it for the kind of business I run. It is so important to do the research before starting your business.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
Honestly, I don’t watch the news. I have a few sources that I go online to and read the news. I also listen to alot of AM radio talk shows of people I trust. I find that when I watch the news, I get very anxious and so having those trusted sources that I can go and read when I am in the right headspace has really helped me. I also make a point to either write down or just say in my head the things I am so grateful for in the world and how I am going to make it a better place despite the pure chaos it is right now. I found by saying or writing these positive affirmations I am able to handle the news of the world a bit better.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
An authenticity movement. I would create something that challenged people to show up as they are, not as they think they should be. I would encourage them to love themselves and see the beauty in them and the others around them without judgement or comparison.It sounds so silly but I think people need to be encouraged to be genuine and to know that it’s ok if they aren’t loved by everyone else. Loving themselves and having core values and beliefs that they live by is what makes them amazing. I think we live in a world where so many people want to be like everyone else, and what they don’t realize is they are missing out on sharing their amazing qualities to the world.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
Stevie Nicks all the way. My parents would play her and Fleetwood Mac all the time to the point where I knew her songs from a very young age. My house was always filled with an eclectic array of music. One of the first concerts I ever attended was a Fleetwood Mac concert.
When she sang “Landslide,” my little soul felt so comforted and so at peace. Then “Gypsy” came on and I was sold. It became the theme song of my life. All the way through childhood into my teens and adulthood, “Gypsy” fit with my personality more than anything else. It is a perfect picture of who I wanted to be, and who I still hold so true to my heart. That free and fearless side that helped make me who I am. Every time I need a boost or I am feeling lost and far away from that girl I used to be, I play the song and I am taken back.
How can our readers follow you online?
You can find me on my Instagram at
Or on my website at
I would love to connect with you!
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!