What the F is the Fohr Freshman Class?
Have you ever gotten so excited about something that you felt like you were about to have a panic attack? That was how I felt when I opened up my acceptance email to the Fohr Freshman Class. Out of over 1600 applications, I was one of 10 individuals selected to join the inaugural class of 2018. I couldn’t get into an Ivy League college but I got into this, so uh… are you proud of me Momma???
If you’ve been following me for at least two months, you probably saw all the excitement and craziness surrounding the Fohr Freshman Class. From my application, to my acceptance, to my flight into New York where I stayed at the most boujee hotel ever and even visited the Instagram headquarters... everything was a blur, honestly.
Keep reading to find out what exactly this opportunity was and what we did! I’ll have a part two coming up soon on the biggest lessons I learned from my experience with Fohr.
WHAT IS THE FOHR FRESHMAN CLASS?
Up first: what even IS the Fohr Freshman Class?
I bet most of y’all were watching my stories, seeing my posts, and thinking “The heck is going on? Why is she at a boujee hotel ordering room service we KNOW her broke ass can’t afford and like… What even is Fohr?”
Fohr is an influencer marketing agency, meaning (in an extreme oversimplification) that they connect brands to influencers and vice versa. There’s lots of companies who do this, but Fohr has made waves in this space over the past few years. Whether through their amazing tools for influencers and brands such as Verified Reach or through their Fohr U conferences, they’ve remained at the forefront of the conversation surrounding influencer marketing. The Fohr Freshman Class is just one of their many initiatives that makes Fohr stand out from the growing crowd of influencer marketing agencies.
The Freshman Class was an initiative born out of the diversity issue that exists in the advertising world, specifically in influencer marketing. In an episode of Drink with James, Fohr’s Youtube series in which their CEO answers questions about the world of influencer marketing, Valerie Eguavoen @onacurve discussed diversity, privilege, and more with James Nord, Fohr’s CEO. I highly recommend giving it a watch. Denisse, one of my fellow Fohr Freshie classmates, also wrote a great blog post that touches on this.
So what is it? According to Fohr, the Freshman Class is “a pilot program that is meant to provide mentorship, access and networking opportunities to influencers who typically have been excluded by the industry.”
When I found out who the class consisted of, I was shocked by how diverse we were. I was admittedly skeptical of the program (more in this Instagram post), as many companies seem to throw out the “d word” in an attempt to stay relevant. They fail to understand that diversity isn’t a temporary trend, but a necessary movement toward inclusion of all people that furthers justice for everyone. Seeing the full class, however, showed me that Fohr meant business. We were diverse in race, age, size, sexuality, and more.
In alphabetical order, the inaugural class was Aicha Balde @talesandturbans, Denisse Benitez @chasingdenisse, David Cano @damericano, Alysse Dalessandro @readytostare, Destin Grayson @carpe_dmg, Ali Hemsley @alihemsley, Catherine Grace O’Connell @catherinegraceo, Kate Terentieva @pretaportkate, and Yvette Ward @yvettecorinne. Everyone was incredible and I’m so honored to know them.
Y’all! They FLEW me from DC to NYC for Campus Week. It was ridiculous. I felt so boujee, it was incredible. Once we all got in, we checked into the Four Seasons Downtown New York in Tribeca.
My dear friends… I HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED SUCH LUXURY. I NEVER WANTED TO LEAVE. (If you’re reading my caps like I’m shouting with excitement, that is the only way to read those two sentences. It was so amazing!) Aicha @talesandturbans wrote up a great review of our incredible time with them. The two images below are from her blog post. Definitely check it out to see the rest of the photos and find out just how incredible our stay was.
The second we got there, there was a doorman to help us with our luggage and hold the door from us. I gasped when I saw how stunning and elegant the decorations were in the lobby. We went up to our rooms and I gotta tell you, when I opened the door… my jaw DROPPED. I took videos immediately and sent them to my family and Cam just geeking out over how beautiful everything was.
The bathroom was the most spacious and beautiful bathroom I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s the kind you see bloggers taking cute photos of but never imagine you’ll experience for yourself. I mean, there was a TELEVISION in the mirror in the bathroom. That’s a thing, apparently!
After fawning over the room, it was time for dinner. We enjoyed a delicious four course meal at The Cut where I met my mentor, Sabrina @stylophyle. Sabrina is so down to earth and has a killer sense of style. I loved getting to know her and am so happy Fohr paired us together.
Post dinner, I ordered myself some room service for breakfast (can you say boujee again???) and wiped the heck out. My bed was wildly comfortable, especially compared to the sad twin beds I’m so used to sleeping on. The blinds successfully kept out so much light so that I thought it was midnight when I woke up to room service ringing the doorbell with my breakfast. I’ve never been so happy to eat breakfast. I mean… just LOOK at that! I enjoyed an acai bowl, avocado toast with a poached egg, delicious potatoes, some tea, and a sample of their delicious freshly made fruit and vegetable juice.
Following breakfast, we enjoyed a meditative sound bath in the Four Seasons’ spa. It was such a great way to start my day. I’m definitely an anxious person, especially if I haven’t slept well or am feeling overwhelmed, so this sound bath was a welcome hour to center myself and let go of the tension I typically carry with me. If I had the time (and money), I’d definitely start all of my days like this.
Post relaxation, we headed to the Fohr headquarters, where we delved into brand communication, our own questions about working with brands and more, and had our portraits taken by Jacob Pritchard.
After lots of learning, we headed out to lunch with our mentors. Sabrina and I chatted about the million things that were going on in my life at the time in regards to interning at DC, approaching graduation and dealing with my honors thesis, the goals I have for my blog, and the questions I have about growing it and improving my content. Sabrina offered so much wisdom and her realness and sureness of self were both refreshing and inspiring.
I learned a lot from Sabrina and the breakout sessions at Fohr so I’ll be wrapping all of that into a second blog post. Catherine @catherinegraceo released a great blog post about her experience with Fohr that includes her six takeaways, so check that out in the meantime!
We had a surprise in store post lunch: a visit to the INSTAGRAM HEADQUARTERS. What!!! I still can’t believe I was actually there. We sat down with Kristie Dash, who handles Beauty and Lifestyle Partnerships at Instagram, and asked her all of our Instagram questions. Answers to those will of course be included in part two to this post!
Our very busy day hadn’t ended yet, though. Last on the list was the recognition ceremony. We rushed back to the Four Seasons for dinner (via room service, of course) and changed before hopping in our ubers and heading downtown to a speakeasy hiding by The Roxy Hotel, which I later found out is one of the most exclusive spots in NYC.
This speakeasy was major Instagram goals and was the perfect place for the recognition ceremony. James got started talking a bit about the program before handing over the microphone to Valerie, who I mentioned previously. Valerie spoke about the importance of diversity and advocacy. It was incredible to see James act as an ally and create that space for not just all of us in the Freshman Class, but also for Valerie. Rather than speaking about diversity himself, he acknowledged his privilege, stepped aside, and gave that platform to someone who truly deserved it. That told me so much about how serious James and the rest of Fohr are about this program. I’m so proud to have been part of their inaugural class.
The ceremony continued as James congratulated myself and the rest of the class and presented each of us with our own Fohr varsity jacket. I was so touched when James congratulated me. Apparently, my blog was what pushed me into the final ten selections. James said that my vision was so clear and so right (I wanted to cry) and that they felt like they were investing in some majorly undervalued stock that would someday make them rich. I like to think I’ll prove them right someday.
That was really it, friends. I said bye to Sabrina that night and then said goodbye to everyone else the following morning (after one last hurrah with the Four Seasons’ delicious room service). It was an incredible experience and I’m still so honored that I was selected out of so many incredible applicants. Thank you to everyone who took the time to submit a testimonial on my behalf, thank you to everyone who’s ever supported me in any way, and thank you to everyone at Fohr for believing in this lil bean!
P.S. Part two of Fohr featuring everything I learned is coming in 2019!