‘I’m 17 with 5million TikTok followers and my own place, but my parents don’t understand what I do’

Having 5.7million followers on TikTok happened quicker than you'd think, but I never actually expected my videos to get so many views. It all started in lockdown when I decided to make a second TikTok account because the platform was viewed as quite 'cringe' at school. So I wanted to make an account for myself, where I could post videos about makeup or acting – just things I enjoyed.

All of a sudden I started to get a lot of views, and something I started out doing for myself gained me millions of followers, and fast!

I'd always followed the likes of Charli D'Amelio and other TikTok stars making amazing content, and I'd always admired how people on the app could really express themselves, in a way that Instagram doesn't really allow. So I started to use the app as a way to show my true self and for expression, from dancing videos to trends to videos with my boyfriend, but didn't realise it would change my life.

It's changed my life

When things really started to pick up I had a bet on with my dad that, if I reached one million followers, he'd buy me a baby duck! He didn't complete his end of the deal as I did reach that amount of followers, but still no baby duck. Now I've nearly reached six million – I should have six baby ducks!

I'm really lucky to have the support of those close to me when it comes to TikTok. There was a bit of confusion at first – my friends who aren't on social media thought it was a bit weird, and my family were asking if it's even a job because it's such a new world to them, but now everyone is super supportive.

I rent my own place and I've been able to make a living from TikTok. I don't actually make money from the app itself, but from brands I've collaborated with and people I've worked with. I was shocked about how it all worked to begin with. In my head I always assumed the app paid money, but I was surprised to have my first big collab come through, with Amazon! I really enjoyed doing it.

But I do know that the success on TikTok can end as quickly as it came, so I'd love to get into another career too and I've been focusing on modelling.

I don't feel famous

I've wanted to model from a very young age but I do worry social media can be limiting. When you walk into the room sometimes people won't see you for you, but instead as the girl on the social media app, and for your account. It's weird though as I don't even view myself as a famous. It's just TikTok!

Pretty much everyone I know is on the app. Yes, I've been noticed, but when people approach me in the street I don't think of them as 'my fans,' but more just people who recognise me.

I do TikTok because I love it, at the end of the day. I don't really have a favourite video because I love all the content I make, otherwise I wouldn't post it. And it's a job that can change day to day, with the amount of content I make changing at any given time.

Sometimes it can be so draining, and you'll be travelling around, going to fashion shows, doing fittings, making content and doing TikTok non-stop, then the next you could be having a day doing absolutely nothing!

And actually making the TikTok videos isn't the difficult part, that's super fun and enjoyable. It's what goes on behind-the-scenes that can be more tiring, like the business side, the events, the networking, and all of that kind of thing. Luckily, I have the best managers. What's amazing about them is they'll turn up to pretty much every event I go to, and most managers don't do that. They're super supportive.

Do I get hate? Yes. I think everyone does when you're on a platform with a large following. Maybe it's for how you look or for your content or just because someone is bored and wants to comment on you. I get hurt by some of the comments, but I try to look at the positive ones instead because they'e the ones that count. With hateful comments, you just have to remember they don't actually know you, so you can't focus on that.

I love what I do, and can't wait to see what the future holds…

You can find Issey on TikTok here

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