your regular 19-year-old…with 1.5 million followers


photo courtesy: azaria mckinnon

Azaria McKinnon from Miami, Florida, is a 19-year-old like me, but we have one slight difference: she has over 1.5 million followers on TikTok, and I have 105. On Instagram, she has 384,000 followers. But I’ll give myself a break since McKinnon works with social media, it’s her job as a content creator, and I just do it for fun. I have no deadlines, contracts or a management team, which is why I always wondered, How does someone become a social media creator? How do they deal with online criticism? Gladly, the lifestyle, fashion and beauty influencer was eager to answer. 

The path to success may seem glamorous, but it is no smooth ride. McKinnon first started creating content for social platforms when she lived in a small town in Massachusetts, and people weren’t supportive. “I got made fun of by a lot of kids for wanting to post on social media and model, so I was always kind of nervous to do so due to judgment,” McKinnon said. 


But a family trip became a life-changing experience. “Finally, it was time for my family to take our annual trip to Florida, where we would live during the winter, and I just started posting and finally didn’t care anymore,” McKinnon said. “To me, it was like a switch clicked in my brain thinking, ‘Why would I hold myself back from doing something that genuinely makes me happy and that I’ve wanted to do for so long just due to fear of judgment from others?’”


In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether or not what you’re doing is right for you. For McKinnon, it was. “I love the thought of being able to share moments, be creative and be able to uplift people in any way I can,” she says.

In McKinnon’s opinion, the key to succeeding on social media is consistency. “Being consistent definitely has a huge role in growing your platform,” she said. “We’ve seen a huge shift in the type of content that is being put out on social media, especially TikTok since the start of the app. Now people want to feel like they are on facetime with their best friend.”


“Also pay attention to what you watch on social media and what you skip. Pay attention to what catches your attention and what doesn’t. Being consistent is key,” McKinnon explained. 


Even if the internet is helpful, it is also challenging to deal with people online. Some use it for good reasons, others for bad, and we can’t control it. But we can control our reaction to it, and to McKinnon, it is “more of a thing that has to do with the person who said it rather than about me.”


“Most people who hate on others or try to tear someone down, usually have a deep-rooted insecurity within themselves that has gone unresolved, so they choose to take it out on others,” she said. “People who are fully healed, fully secure, and truly happy would never go online and spread negativity to someone they may not even know.”


For those having a tough time with social media trolls, McKinnon advises people to remember they don’t know the person. “At the end of the day it really only matters what you and your actual friends and family think,” McKinnon said.


“Never take it personally, I guarantee that most of the negativity would not exist if the person were face to face with you,” she said. And always remember you can block, report or delete hateful comments.

Still, many people criticize the role of influencers. But whether you like them or not, they were the first to break the wall between consumers and brands, and create two-way communication. What once was unimaginable is now possible. In fact, that’s how I got this interview, by sending a DM to an influencer.


McKinnon is also launching her sustainable swimwear brand, Azaria Swim. Even though she said she always wanted to own a business , the idea to develop a swimwear brand came from her personal experience with the beach. 


“I grew up always at the beach. It’s always been just such a happy place for me,” McKinnon said. “Whenever I felt upset or lost I would always go to the beach, lay in the sand, and look at the ocean. The ocean is such a peaceful, beautiful thing and since I was always there, what better thing than to start my own bathing suit brand?” 

Even if it may look simple in theory, it takes time to launch your brand. McKinnon has been working on it for months, from designing the looks to sampling materials and products. It is not a quick process and it was quite difficult to figure out where to start once she had the idea. 


“The challenge I mainly faced was finalizing it,” McKinnon said. “That was the hardest part for me because I am such a perfectionist when it comes to something I’m putting out into the world. I wanted to feel 100% proud of what I have created and accomplished.” 

Also, sustainability is a main concern for Gen Z and McKinnon said she makes it her priority. 


“My brand revolves around wanting to create the best environment possible in any way we can,” McKinnon said. “Anytime there is an option we pick the greener one. We use recycled fabrics for the swim, packaging, labeling and almost everything possible. The packaging will all be 100% biodegradable.”


Azaria Swim uses sustainable techno-fabric made from recycled materials. The brand’s manufacturer also cares about workers conditions, and this was hugely important to McKinnon when choosing who to work with. After all, if you don’t care about the environment, your customer won’t care about your brand. 


As for new projects ahead, you can expect “a lot of fun things coming,” she said. “My plan this year is to become as healthy and happy as possible while exploring, traveling, and creating new memories,” she adds. “Super excited for what 2023 has to offer!”

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Hi! I’m Catie Pusateri, A Magazine’s editor-in-chief. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.