Many people in our corner of social media know Abbie Tayo, a commercial model, biochemistry student, and social media creator with followers numbering hundreds of thousands. In a recent conversation with PiggyVest, she explains how she combines studying with the business of creating value (and making money) on social media.
Give me a fun fact about your childhood.
I attended five primary schools!
Whoa. How come?
My mum was a headmistress. My dad is a mining engineer.
So wherever there’s a mine he goes?
[Laughs] Something like that. It’s mostly about my parent’s relationship…
Oh. I think I understand. So, five schools. In how many states?
It’s becoming hazy. [Laughs, pauses] Plateau, Abuja, Ogun and Lagos.
As a child, did you have a clear idea of what you wanted to do when you become an adult?
No. But my folks wanted something science.
What were your hobbies?
I liked to write maybe because my mum had a library.
Did you eventually study something science?
Yes. Biochemistry. I am at the University of Calabar.
That’s far away. Was that by design?
Yes. [Laughs] I wanted to be far away.
Did you get into anything entrepreneurial in your first few years in school?
Not really. I was young so I couldn’t do too much.
So when did social media fame and money come into your life?
That was in 2020. I was always on my phone, so I started making videos in my house and it started getting traction.
What was the first one to go viral?
It was a video I did about my crush. The crush turned out to be imaginary. It went viral. Blogs posted it. Before then, I think I had about 5,000 followers and it went to 10,000. I also had another one that Davido quoted.
I can imagine Davido had a massive effect.
Yes he did. There was another one. This one was a photo of my nails.
A photo of your fingernails went viral? How does that work?
[Laughs] The colour of my nails matched the colour of a pair of onions in the photo.
It looks like everything you post goes viral.
I don’t know o.
Evidence dey sha.
Did brands come reaching out to you?
Yes. That happened after the Davido tweet. I had artists reaching out.
How much did you charge that first time?
That was about ₦5k. But by the time one major brand came it was about ₦150k.
How did you know what to charge?
I have friends who are influencers. They helped me fix my prices.
If all of these happened during the pandemic, I imagine that you were pretty famous when you got back to school.
Yes. It strained some of my friendships. But even outside of my school, people know me. One time I was in UNILAG when someone recognized me and then many people knew. Do you know I was scared?
I can only imagine. Does your schooling affect your income?
Yes! I was supposed to be in one of PiggyVest’s ads and I missed it because of school.
No vex, abeg.
So how did you get into the business of commercial modelling?
I went for an audition for a hair brand in 2021, but I didn’t win. They wanted someone who would be around. But they were interested because of my Twitter. At the time, my hairdo used to go viral and people would post my photos on Pinterest because my styles were pretty.
What was the inspiration for your styles?
Interesting circle. You got the ideas from Pinterest and the product of that inspiration ends up on Pinterest.
Right. Really interesting, now that you say it.
How did that translate into a career in commercial modelling?
I realised that being in front of videos was something I liked, and so I added that to my work. Then brands started reaching out. But I had already been in one ad before that audition I mentioned. I was an extra in the production.
How much did that pay?
When did you become lead?
It was for a food brand. It took about three days.
So what’s been your favourite brand to work with?
Itel and Google. They are respectful, keep to time and they pay well.
How much are we talking about?
[Laughs] Many digits.
From six digits and above?
[Laughs] It’s you who said that. Don’t come and put me in trouble. Let me just say that sometimes there’s a bundle price if we are working for a while.
So what’s a good month financially for Abby Tayo?
That would be a month where my income is spread across platforms. That would be millions. Let me break it down: It would involve a commercial modelling gig on TV, some Twitter influencing and then maybe a video or more for Instagram. That would be a very nice month.
This sounds like a lot. How do you handle all of that and school?
Because of the course I’m studying, sometimes I leave all of it to focus on school. But sometimes I leave school because it is the money I make that I use to pay my bills.
How do your parents handle their daughter’s schedule?
I save them financial stress so they are not talking too much.
So if you had to break down your success into three pieces of advice, what would you say?
Consistency, contentment and creating value.
How do you mean contentment?
As an influencer you’ll see things! Brah! You need to be content so you don’t get into certain relationships just for comfort.
Hmm. With all of this money you’re making, what are your spending habits?
It used to be bad. I’d squander it all — buy this, buy that. But now I’m saving. My friend Toyosi Godwin gave me some advice that has helped me.
This means you use PiggyVest, right?
[Laughs] Yes, I do!