Meet Cara Irwin, Founder of Goldalamode
Cara Irwin is an influencer, content creator and blogger specializing in interior, DIY, and lifestyle content. And she invites her followers into that work while sharing about her emotional and physical healing journey living with both Lyme disease and Epstein Barr.
We got to chat with Cara about how she began partnering with big brands, how she creates authentic connections to followers, and what advice she has for other Babes In Business who are navigating similar emotional and physical health challenges while building their brands.
So, let’s dive right in!
Get To Know Cara
Hi Cara! Can you tell our readers a bit about you and your work?
I currently work as an influencer and blogger. I work with brands to promote their products and events. The other side of what I do is creating lifestyle content for readers.
I want to help people live happier and healthier. I started posting strictly about home decor and have now moved into lifestyle and wellness. I’m healing my emotional health but also working diligently on healing Lyme disease and Epstein Barr. I want to be completely open about my healing so it can help others.
Some things I have been thinking about while I begin to feel better include possibly opening an online store and learning more about spiritual healing like reiki and yoga that people can work into their lives and homes. Then maybe when I’m healed I’ll write a book.
And when you were little: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Is that anything like what you do today?
When I was little I wanted to be a veterinarian. I do have a lot of animals now. So I guess I still love animals! I have 3 dogs, a cat and 11 chickens!
So, we’ve got to ask: Where did your handle, the name Goldalamode, come from?
The name of Goldalamode came to me when I first started my Instagram. I really had no idea it was ever going to turn into anything so it was purely for fun.
I was going through a phase of spray-painting everything gold because we were on a major budget after buying our house. I used to spray old frames, vases, whatever! So Goldalamode meant gold trends or gold fashion to me.
Partnering With Companies and Growing A Following
You’ve partnered with some pretty big companies and brands. How did those partnerships begin?
My first big partnership was with Home Goods. They reached out to me. I’d say it took a couple years for me to really learn about taking partnerships and making money at it.
Most of the partnerships I take on are through PR companies or influencer marketing platforms.
You’ve got 60k+ followers. Have you lost/gained followers throughout this process and what has that process been like?
I have definitely lost followers here and there. It’s a lot harder now to gain followers on Instagram.
When I first started, if Home Goods reposted me, I would get around 900 new followers. The reach used to be much higher even for big brands. If that same company posted me now, I would get around 70-100 new followers.
The process of gaining followers has slowed down and has more so turned into an authentic relationship with followers.
Taking Followers Behind The Scenes and Staying True To You
Your followers feel so connected to you because you’re truly honest with them about your life. How did you cultivate that connection with the people who follow you?
I think the most important thing to know when growing an authentic relationship with followers is that you just have to start.
It feels really awkward at first because of the fear that people may not accept or like the “real you” but when you be yourself the right people show up.
What challenges have you dealt with as you show followers your “behind the scenes”?
One of the biggest challenges I’ve gone through when showing my followers my true life is feeling like I’ve overshared or peeled a piece of me away.
I think a lot of us grow up thinking we shouldn’t tell family secrets or talk about emotions because we will look weak. It can be a very awkward feeling sharing the things you’ve only known how to hide.
Have there been benefits or drawbacks to getting real with your followers?
I think one of the drawbacks to being real with followers is that there’s an off-growth phase. You start to lose followers who only came to your account for the perfect squares.
But I think it will pay off in the end.
The benefit would be that you get to be true to yourself. Being true to yourself only leads to more success and personal growth.
Instagram and other social channels can sometimes feel like a “best of” or “highlight reel”. Have you ever dealt with the comparison game? How have you found your way through it?
I find myself comparing myself to others every day.
We get stuck in the scrolling trance and all we think is “I don't have that, I can’t afford that, I wish I looked like that”. It’s super unhealthy.
The way I get myself out of that is consciously recognizing I’m doing it and then
A) stop scrolling and
B) remind myself of what I am grateful for.
Letting Followers In As You Navigate Health Challenges
You’ve offered your followers a chance to see into your life and how you’re taking care of your mental and physical health. What have you learned about yourself by navigating your own mental and physical health alongside your followers?
There are a couple things I’ve learned by sharing my health journey with my followers. One of the things I learned is that there are SO MANY people going through the same thing. It was nice to know that other people can relate and that I’m not alone.
The other thing was that I became very aware of how I talk about my health and the energy I have about it.
As you’ve gone through this part of your journey what has helped you the most?
The greatest thing I did was begin to address my mental health. My physical health and past trauma put me in a really bad head space. I could not begin to heal physically without feeling better mentally.
I became really honest with myself. I just had to keep pushing. As cliché as it sounds, just keep pushing. It’s a job every day to be conscious about healing.
I never took no as an answer.
I didn’t and will not listen to doctors when they say there’s nothing I can do. I’ve always found there IS something else I can do.
I’ve also found it helpful to join Facebook groups about Lyme disease and Epstein Barr. I try not to live in those groups because it can drag you into your illness more but I have found great info on there.
What would you tell one of our readers who is trying to build her business while dealing with mental or physical health challenges?
The main thing to remember is your health comes first! I have trouble with this but I am no good at anything if my health isn’t good.
You can start a business at any age but health will only get worse and harder to heal. It’s hard to watch others crushing their goals but it’s even harder to wake up and try to do something you’re not physically able to do because that takes a toll on the mind and spirit.
Rest and self-care will always push us in the direction we are supposed to go.
Really connecting with what Cara shared in this interview?
You can find her on Instagram: @goldalamode
Or on her website: www.goldalamode.co
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