We had the good fortune of connecting with Sonja Mitchell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sonja, what’s something about your industry that outsiders are probably unaware of?
A common thing I see most outsiders aren’t aware of is the amount of work it takes to consistently create while remaining authentic, and forming a genuine connection with your audience. Being a Social Media Influencer is more than just daily posts, cute outfits, and discount codes. A successful Influencer creates content that inspires and improves their audiences’ quality of life. They also provide a safe space for their audience to be in need while simultaneously fulfilling their needs through various niches and forms of content. Being an Influencer is a publicized form of servant leadership that most people who just want to make money underestimate. Specifically for me, I currently design, direct, shoot, and create all of my content myself. This takes dedication and discipline that only someone who is passionate about their subject area commits to. I was every sense of an Influencer way before I got the platform. Influence and inspiration are in my DNA, and I’m blessed to be able to express it creatively online!
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I’m a Christian, Plus-Size Fashion Influencer based in Hampton, VA. As an Influencer, my mission is to help Christian women design the life they desire without shame. My content centers around faith, fashion, beauty, and sharing my lifestyle to connect authentically with women. My audience thrives on education that organically teaches them to develop internal confidence, and how to express that confidence externally. I started my YouTube channel, Simply Sonja, in September 2017 with no niche or mission. To commit to being a YouTuber, I started vlogging my life weekly to get myself use to filming and being on camera. It wasn’t until some personal trials took place in my life where God called me to begin creating Christian content on YouTube. He challenged me to use my testimony as a source of healing for myself and others. Let me clear, I DID NOT WANT TO DO THIS! I come from a Southern family who raised me on the mantra “what goes on in this house stays in this house!”. Although I was terrified, I obeyed! I created Transformation Tuesday as my first Christian Inspirational series on YouTube. I used my past experiences in romantic relationships, struggles in maintaining confidence and body positivity, paired with biblical stories to inspire women to release guilt, shame, fear, and insecurities. Guiding them to internal self-empowerment that reflects in their external circumstances.
My Christian content is what gave me the courage to begin creating fashion content on Instagram and YouTube. The more transparent I was in my testimony, the more comfortable I became with being vulnerable online. This vulnerability fueled the confidence I needed to show my body and style for the world to see. Every outfit I’ve styled, every lookbook or try-on haul made me more and more proud of my tummy, curves, rolls, thighs, funny ankles, and square booty (shout out to the Square Booty Gang)! The first fashion video I ever uploaded was a plus size swimsuit try-on haul that is still one of my most watched videos today. I still find it funny that I was struggling to love my body, but the first video I ever uploaded was with swimsuits where my body was mostly exposed. That’s what sets Simply Sonja apart! I am literally my audiences Line Leader on the journey of taking leaps of faith! I share my stories, my setbacks and come ups, work through my own insecurities and doubts, while staying authentic to myself and my journey. I overcome any challenge with transparency and resilience. That’s what people see exuding through my content and they trust me to coach them into being the best version of themselves. I value the growth of self over popularity and I show up with compassionate energy that creates a safe space for women.
Although I’m no longer doing Transformation Tuesday videos, I have a new series called Ghetto Bible Study: A relatable way for black women to learn God’s word and be authentic in Christ without shame! I give the same experience as my old YouTube series, just in a live version on Instagram throughout the year. I’m still creating fashion content, but am now also venturing into the beauty & lifestyle fields to show my audience more of who Sonja is day to day. My brand is growing because I’m growing and I couldn’t be prouder of myself right now!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m a foodie and so is my bestie so we would of course spend the majority of the time enjoying our favorite foods lol. For breakfast we’d go to brunch at Bay Local Eatery for Rose’ Sherbet mimosas and shrimp and grits. Since we are lovers of wine we would definitively make reservations during the week at the Williamsburg Winery for lunch and a wine tasting. Knowing us we’d order about 2 bottles of wine to the table (Sauvignon Blanc and Governor’s White) with a charcuterie board and most definitely dessert. And because we’re fashionistas we need to go somewhere to sit cute, eat again, and take pictures lol. So reservations must be made for Orion’s Roof or afternoon tea at the Cavalier Resort. To hang out, we’re more than likely to go to a local museum like the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk or the Beyond Van Gogh Exhibit coming to Virginia Beach soon. We can’t deny our love for Mexican food, so you’d definitely find us at Senior Fox having street tacos and jumbo margaritas. Finally, because the weather would be so nice, we’d spend the day at a non-tourist beach in the area like Chic’s Beach to enjoy the water and fresh breeze.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have to dedicate my shoutout to my audience aka my Beauties! To any and every one of you who has supported not only my content but my journey, thank you! Thank you for all the messages about your growth that remind me of why I do this. Thank you for showing up for my brand, especially on the days I don’t feel like it. Thank you to my inner circle that holds me accountable to my desires and reminds me to celebrate even the smallest wins. For creating a space for me to become completely undone and vulnerable, while loving me back into my purpose and power. And last but certainly not least, thankyou God for validating me, defining my value, redirecting me, and loving all of me as I continue to learn more about myself.
Other: Tiktok: tiktok.com/@simplysonja_m