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#CurtsyCrush INSPO

Homeschooled to 16,000 Followers: How Brittany Merrill Schooled The Haters And Turned Her Passion Into A Career

Brittany sold more of her clothes in her first week on Curtsy than most people sell in their first year.  A small-town girl with a big-time Instagram following, you’ll never see her carrying Louis Vuitton. Her style is just-ran-out-of-the-house chic: an oversized men’s utility button-down French-tucked into a leather mini skirt.

@britmerl on Instagram

After Brittany sold 30 items on Curtsy in one day, I wanted to know how she did it. What was the secret to her success on Curtsy? Where did her fab yet unpretentious style come from? What’s behind her charm? With these questions in mind, I gave her a call. 

Brittany grew up as a self-described ‘loner’ in a small town outside of Athens, GA.  Just a few years ago, only a handful of people knew who she was. She was homeschooled until high school, when she started at a small Christian academy with 35 students per grade.  She struggled to fit in at first, finding it hard to relate to things like sports.

She soon found her niche as editor of her school’s yearbook.  She dove headfirst into the role, spending countless hours taking photos, telling stories, and organizing those into a final product she’d share with her classmates every spring — a process she loved.

On weekends, she’d explore nearby towns with friends, taking photos and gradually becoming more comfortable in front of the camera as well.  

Driving with a friend one day, they spotted a huge American flag on the side of a building.  Her friend snapped a photo, and Brittany did what anyone her age would do: posted it to Instagram. Overnight, she got her first taste of what it meant to ‘go viral.’

The pic that started it all.

That photo, and a few tweets on Twitter, helped her go from 900 to 6,000 followers in a few weeks.  At school she was dragged by fellow classmates, who called Brittany’s new hobby ‘the biggest joke.’ She didn’t care; she thought it was fun.  She loved talking to her followers, who she interacted with as if they were lifelong friends. 

Her “ballin’ on a budget” style came from necessity, she told me.  Her family didn’t have a lot of money growing up. She learned to hunt for treasures on regular outings to her local thrift store. Most days, she throws together disparate pieces that somehow end up looking cute. Her fave look for fall is a simple turtleneck under a bulky sweater and, of course, a mini skirt. 

Brittany had never sold her clothes before Curtsy, and she initially hesitated because she can’t stand shipping stuff.  After learning about our Shipping Kit program — where we send you everything you need to ship so you don’t have to go to the post office — she was sold. 

The key to her Curtsy success? Good photos. She uses a full-length mirror in her room to show what the clothes actually look like, rather than just throwing them on a hanger (or worse, the floor). She recommends taking mirror selfies with good natural light.

The mystery of how her clothes sold so quickly?  When she shared her Curtsy closet on Instagram, she included her promo code for $10 off. This gave her followers an extra reason to check out the app (and when her friends used the code, she’d earn a $10 credit as well). 

One can’t help but be captivated by Brittany.  She carries herself like someone who’s doing what they were put on this earth to do — not in the sense that she knows all the answers, or that she’s reached perfection — but that she’s confident in her own power to grow, and figure it out as she goes along. I wanted to know where this confidence came from. 

As Brittany’s senior year in high school rolled around, her peers were applying and getting accepted into UGA and Ivy League schools like Yale.  When they’d ask Brittany about her plans, she’d shut down. Despite having good test scores, hobbies outside of class, and teachers who’d write beaming recs, something about college just didn’t feel right.  

In the spring of her senior year, Brittany’s then-boyfriend invited her on a drive to visit his family in rural Georgia. Thirty minutes in, instead of pulling into a suburb they were pulling into a college campus. She was furious. “How dare you force me to come here!” She yelled, feeling betrayed.

“I’m not asking you to apply,” he shot back, “I’m asking you to tour.”

That day she fell in love with the campus of Georgia Southern. She applied, but likely due to the late timing was rejected. She took a gap year and reapplied the following year, improving her scores and getting those beaming recs in the meantime. But she was rejected again. The next semester, she was rejected for a third time. 

The period that followed was filled with depression and anxiety. She’d compare herself to friends who all seemed happy at college. She started seeing a therapist, who helped her accept that maybe college wasn’t for her; maybe her hesitation to go in the first place was a sign; maybe God would show her another path forward. 

It was around that time that Brittany’s success on Instagram started paying off. She started charging for collabs and selling her popular Lightroom presets. Now she also sells her clothes on Curtsy. This money allowed her to move to Savannah, GA, into a dope apartment with her friend. Not one to sit still, she wakes up daily at 8 am and does what she loves: takes photos, tells stories, and shares them with the hope that they’ll inspire others. 

Brittany’s Curtsy packages ready to go out

Brittany recalls a turning point for her in high school. She and her friends were in the bathroom doing something they did a lot: complaining about the things they wished they could change about their bodies.

Out of nowhere, Brittany blurts out: “My favorite thing about my body is my belly button.”  After a few seconds of silent shock, everyone started laughing. Then they all went around and said their own favorite things. 

“Instead of saying ‘I have acne,’ I’d say, ‘I’m an awesome person.’” She gradually made the switch in her head from obsessing over what she didn’t have, to becoming obsessed with what she did have. “I started thinking about myself about as this engine of power.” She’d introduce herself like her name carried weight: “I am Brittany Merrill.” 

Her favorite quote is from Steve Jobs: “…the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” If you have dreams, she told me, nothing can stop you.  

And when she said it — and probably because of the forceful, Brittany Merrill-like way she said it — I believed her. 

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College Lifestyle INSPO

An Open Letter to My Freshman Year

Dear 3 AM,

Isn’t it funny, that you can go 18 years of your life feeling like you have it all figured out, just to find out you still don’t remember how to do your own laundry? And this is only the beginning.

Eight months ago, worries of what people might think would have kept me from putting my thoughts out for all who knew me. Today, I realize you do these things for you and not for anyone else. So here I am writing a letter, and somehow finding myself in the process.

In my first year of college, I truly realized how little I had come and how far I have to go. Leaving home for the first time eight months ago, set me out on a journey that I could have never imagined. That journey has been complicated, confusing and one heck of an adventure. This year, I have grown immensely in my understanding of myself and the chaotic life that surrounds me. These lessons have guided my freshman year and have turned in to persistent reminders on surviving life on my (almost) own.

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The friendships I have gained and lost in the past eight months have showed me the real blessings of the people God bestows in our journey.

To the friendships that have been lost: Remember that God has a plan and that people are truly sent into your life when you need them most and leave when their purpose is fulfilled. If your life is anything similar to mine, you will feel the absence of so many people who use to be your whole world. When you feel this absence, remember that they may just have finished their part of your story and be moving on to the next chapter of their life. Let them go, let them find their next chapter, let them become a better them, let them be great.

This lesson of letting go will be one of the biggest struggles that you will ever endure during your freshman year. You will feel like you know what’s best and that the advice of letting go is for everyone but you. You would refuse to accept the change and fight for these people to remain in your life.

One of the greatest lessons that you will ever learn is that if you actually care about these people, let them go. Let them go be great, let them grow on their own, and let them find themselves. Pray for them and be proud of them. Realize that you were blessed to know them and witness the beginning of their great life. Watch as they soar, and know you were a part of a chapter that got them to where they are today. Let that be enough.

To the gained friendships: This is what college is about (besides school, of course). Freshman year is the year you will gain the most wonderful and unique friendships in the world. You will make an abundance of those “friends for life” and you will be happier than ever to have them by your side. You will be severely confused on how you survived your first 18 years without them, and not so casually let them know that they are stuck with you for the next 60 years.

You will have your roommate who if you’re as lucky as I was, will become a best friend, your family, and the person you spend countless hours enjoying and accepting the severe Netflix addiction you both suffer from.

You will have Greek involved friends and not so Greek involved friends that will equally impact your life in all different ways.

You will have your much-needed classmate friends who will sometimes be the only reason you pass a class — be extra thankful for them, because they just took one for the team.

You will have your life of the party friends or as I like to call them “Meredith and Molly”, who will never let you forget that college is about having a good time and seizing every opportunity thrown your way.

No matter the assortment of friends you will inevitably make, you should know they are the glue to your college experience. Don’t be afraid to tell them their importance and never to let them forget how thankful you are for their existence. They rock, and they should know it.

Beyond the blessing of friendship, you will also ultimately realize the overwhelming importance of your parents.

As a freshman, you will discover that the people you couldn’t wait to not have bossing you around, are actually your rock and biggest fans. The countless hours you spent under-appreciating them will now have you spending the rest of your life letting them know how much you value and appreciate their support.

With a new found respect and appreciation of your parents, you can quite possibly make the greatest friends in the world in them. The friendship you bestow in your parents is the most genuine, empowering, and beautiful thing in the world that God gives us on earth. Sadly, it takes most of us 18 years to discover the true greatness of this friendship. With first-hand experience of having parents who have grown into my best friends, I can promise you that there is nothing more fulfilling.

In the past year, I transitioned from the daughter who all who knew me thought I would never call home, to a daughter that my parents hear from daily. These phone calls encompass some of the greatest advice, laughter, and love that I have ever experienced. Whether you’re having a rough day, a great day or even just running low on the summer cash that was supposed to last you all year, the phone call home will always be beneficial. No one on earth knows you better than the people that brought you here, so be thankful for them, and happy God gave you such a fantastic pair of built-in friends.

Freshman year is tough, yet amazing, and your biggest fans want nothing more than to know all about it, so don’t hesitate to share. Don’t take these guys for granted, they’re the most important people God has given you.

Lastly, if there were anything in the world that I could have engraved in my mind during these past eight months, it would be to love yourself unconditionally and never to forget to see your self-worth. When you begin a new journey and lose your comfort zone in a matter of seconds, your self-love is truly tested.

This is the time you should remind yourself that no matter what is happening in your life, loving yourself and seeing your value should always be first and foremost.

If you are anything like myself, you struggle with this concept and seeing the truth in those words on an almost daily basis. You constantly compare yourself to the skinnier, the prettier, and more talented people around you. These comparisons are nothing but a warped perception of judgments you make and have no serious meaning to anyone but you. In these moments, don’t lose sight of your great attributes. God gave you this life, body, and characteristics for a purpose, and we all should take pride in his work and not devalue oneself from a skewed perception in our head.

Loving oneself is a constant battle that requires constant effort and endless do-overs. I would tell myself to not let others define your value and always to stand up for the things that matter to you. You are in charge of loving yourself, and no one can or should be in charge of creating a value to you. In the end, freshman year is tough, and you must always fight to believe in yourself. You must not forget to love yourself as much as you love others.

This year doesn’t define who you will always be, but it’s a beginning of a great journey. Your journey isn’t always going to be easy, and in those not so easy moments you must remember to have confidence in yourself. As long as you have confidence, you will always be able to overcome the day on top. So remind yourself that you got this, and you’re killing it on your (almost) own.

To wrap up this never-ending, yet essential letter I have written to not only you, but also myself, I ask that we remember that this is just the beginning. You have only just begun this journey, and you have all the power in the world to make it the most beautiful, unique and impactful adventure. God has given you everything in his possible power to succeed and sore. Take advantage of the blessings of friendship, the great parents you have, and the value in yourself that he has bestowed in your life.

Laugh a lot, cry a little, and continue to make the memories of a lifetime. Always choose to live by your rules, and let others live by their own. This is your time, your moment, your life, and you’re going to be great. So be proud of yourself, you’re surviving on your (almost) own for the first time in your life.

You may not realize it now, but you’re leading only a life that you can lead, and freshman year is only the beginning of your kick-ass story.

Sincerely,

4 AM & exhausted.

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INSPO

Don’t FORGET you are ALWAYS Somebody’s Role Model

So today I was checking out at Wal-Mart, and making small talk with the cute, little old cashier. During our short moment together I learned she was a retired professor from a small college in Oregon, her children moved her down to Fayetteville to be closer to her grandkids, and she often got bored during the day, so she applied to work at Wal-Mart to pass the time. She went on to tell me how she wanted to work at THIS particular Wal-Mart so she could meet ‘all the kids going to school.’

As my items were bagged and my total was paid, I said goodbye to the cutest old lady I had ever met. I begin to walk away with my bags in tow, when I heard her raise her voice and tell me,

“DON’T FORGET YOU’RE ALWAYS SOMEBODY’S ROLE MODEL”

It felt like an odd thing for someone I hardly knew to say to me, but it also felt empowering.

I chose to tell you all about this story because just like the cute old lady said to me, we are always somebodies role model. Maybe you are the role model for a younger sibling, a friend, a classmate, a teacher, a community, perhaps even a stranger. That is the beauty of the little old lady’s statement—we are role models for some we don’t even know. I hope we all take a note out of the old lady’s handbook and pursue our best selves.

I hope we pursue our best selves for so many reasons. When we are pursuing a better us, we are changing for the better. We are putting our best foot forward. When we put our best foot forward we have the power to impact so many beautiful lives.

LIVES that are struggling.

LIVES that are lost. LIVES that are thriving.

LIVES that are in need of a role model.

So take a chance on a better you because you are always somebody’s role model.