“My influencer and advocacy work isn’t about me. It’s about helping others, which has always been my intention from day one. There’s a quote from C.S. Lewis that says, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You, too? I thought I was the only one.’” When people find me online, they realize they’re not alone. Five percent of the global population suffers from hyperhidrosis, but they don’t have to do so in silence. One day we’ll find a cure. Until then, I’m creating a sweaty community where others don’t have to feel ashamed of their bodies. My story is their story.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Maria Thomas aka My Life as a Puddle. She is the founder of mylifeasapuddle.com, a site dedicated to creating hyperhidrosis hope and awareness one drop at a time. Maria’s writing has been published in SELF Magazine, Women for One, Healthline, and The Urban Howl. Her work as an influencer also was recognized when she was named one of O, The Oprah Magazine’s inaugural #OMagInsiders, brand ambassadors for OMag.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I began writing about hyperhidrosis (uncontrollable excessive sweating) seven years ago after an incredible experience with the International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHhS). I never thought anyone would want to read about my sweaty life, but now I am creating a community for others so they know they are not alone. My blog and social media channels have been growing consistently, and it’s all a grassroots initiative, which I’m very proud of. I don’t spend money on advertising or buying followers. My efforts are the real deal.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you in the course of your career?
Hmm. I try not to take myself and my hyperhidrosis too seriously, and I’m not sure there’s much to laugh about when it comes to having uncontrollable sweating. It can be downright debilitating at times. I guess the most interesting story would be from last summer, when I was a model in a Chico’s fashion show onboard Holland America Line. In the middle of the ocean on our way to Alaska, Oprah’s creative director Adam Glassman handpicked my wardrobe, put me in some smokin’ heels straight from Oprah Magazine’s fashion closet in NYC, and encouraged me to love the skin I was in. He helped me love my butt again, and in a Christmas miracle I actually did NOT sweat the entire time I was on stage!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I volunteer for the International Hyperhidrosis Society (IHhS), and some of my freelance contracts include a line-item donation made on my behalf. Last year, I donated my birthday to the IHhS and raised money in lieu of gifts. My influencer and advocacy work isn’t about me. It’s about helping others, which has always been my intention from day one.
There’s a quote from C.S. Lewis that says, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: ‘What! You, too? I thought I was the only one.’” When people find me online, they realize they’re not alone. Five percent of the global population suffers from hyperhidrosis, but they don’t have to do so in silence. One day we’ll find a cure. Until then, I’m creating a sweaty community where others don’t have to feel ashamed of their bodies. My story is their story.
If someone would want to emulate your career, what would you suggest are the most important things to do?
Never stop learning. Sign up for every continuing education opportunity you can, whether it’s social media platforms, marketing, advertising, etc. Many of the classes I’ve taken I can apply to my day job in addition to my side hustle.
Find people in your space and network with them. Find a mentor, too. Many ideas I’ve had I run through my support network first, and they help me refine the action items before I launch something.
Believe in yourself! We all have to start somewhere. The more you put yourself out there, the more confident you will become. And, don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Two projects I’m now involved in with brands are because I pitched them the ideas in the first place, and they then created programming around my needs.
Is there a particular person that made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful?
Yes! Lisa J. Pieretti, Executive Director and Co-Founder of the International Hyperhidrosis Society
Can you share a story?
I waited six years to properly honor Lisa, a woman who changed the trajectory of my life. I was a featured panelist speaker at the Patient-Focused Drug Development Meeting (PFDD) for Hyperhidrosis in Washington, D.C. last year. Before the meeting, I gave a speech in her honor to tell her — and everyone in the room — what she means to me. For months, I had been thinking of what to do. I scoured the Internet for a glass-blown award that resembles a droplet of sweat, which I then had engraved. And because the best way I know how to express myself is through the written word, I decided to write a speech for her. Multiple handwritten drafts appeared in my journal, along with one-liners to include that woke me up in the middle of the night begging to be written down or typed into my phone. Several times during my commute to work, I would get teary-eyed envisioning the moment I would surprise Lisa with this award. Yep, I’m a total sap. You can watch (and read) my speech here: http://mylifeasapuddle.com/lisa-j-pieretti-my-hero
So what are the most exciting projects you are working on now?
I’m flying to Charlotte, NC to star in and film a commercial with Carpe Lotion!
I just wrapped a podcast episode for Run This World with Nicole DeBoom, the founder of Skirt Sports.
I’ll be helping another company recruit for clinical trials soon on another medication used to treat hyperhidrosis. Once those trials are complete, the FDA could soon approve a new treatment option that could help people find relief.
I’ve recently opened up my blog to guest posts for others with hyperhidrosis to finally tell their sweaty stories publicly. The first story is from a mother whose five-year-old daughter has excessive sweating. I’m looking forward to creating a larger sense of community through this effort.
What are your “Top Five Ideas About How Influencers Can Monetize Their Brand” . (Please share a story or example for each.)
1. When pitching yourself, if you don’t have what some brands would consider a large number of followers, angle your pitch differently. While I don’t have what some would consider a huge following, I do have a loyal and responsive audience who are engaged with my content. Numbers shouldn’t necessarily be the main goal for a brand working with an influencer, especially in niche markets.
2. Seek out the brands and people who are already doing what you’re doing. It should be a natural fit that way and an easily identifiable benefit for working together.
3. Become a niche influencer. It can bring companies a great ROI when done the right way. I never thought brands would care about what I’m talking about (hyperhidrosis), but they do.
4. Always be ready with a business card and an elevator pitch. You never know when opportunity will strike.
5. Know the brands you’re working with inside and out. If you understand their brand voice, you can better weave it into your own content to create a mutually beneficial relationship.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂
I’d love to share a meal with Oprah Winfrey. She has been a mentor to me since age 10 when I’d rush home from school in time to catch The Oprah Winfrey Show. She has taught me how to use my voice and not apologize for my success derived from my own hard work. I was so close to meeting her while being an O Mag Insider!
Originally published at medium.com