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Molly Mae (00:00):
I’m the creative director of Pretty Little Thing, like I’m not just an influencer anymore. This is just the start for me. I’m only 22, I’ve got so much more to learn. We literally only are given one life, we have to just go to the extremes. I’ve worked my absolute arse off to get where I am now. A lot of people don’t believe that, but I work. I spend time with my boyfriend and I go to bed. That has achieved my life.
Can’t have anybody knowing where I live. I actually have close protection security now and really there’s no price on feeling safe. That was like a really, really low moment for me. When we got back, it just felt cold and eerie and it just didn’t feel like home anymore. He can literally go away for weeks on end and there’s not a doubt in my mind that if he was to be around a load of girls, I could sleep peacefully at night knowing that he’s just, he’s for me and I’m for him and that is literally the key. You’ve got trust, you’ve got everything. There’s so much more to it than people see. They have no idea what really goes on. I mean, I would never say like I’ve had like a mental breakdown, but that was close to it because I just went crazy.
Steven Bartlett (01:02):
Molly Mae, she is, in my opinion, and according to a lot of the data, the UK’s number one Instagram influencer creator right now. She started out many years ago on a show called Love Island, but many people have been on Love Island and nobody ever has had the meteoric rise in their brand, their career, their profile like Molly has. So as much as it’s easy to say, well, okay, she had a boost from Love Island, that does not explain what’s happened in her life subsequently.
So I wanted to sit down with her today and find out exactly what’s driving her, what’s caused this meteoric success, almost 10 million followers in no time at all. 25,000 new followers a day. Just imagine for a second being thrust to the number one spot in terms of influence and having tens of millions of followers online, becoming a multimillionaire overnight and being 22 years old.
Imagine, imagine the mistakes you would make. It’s absolutely fascinating. And the way she deals with it, I think you’ll find incredibly inspiring. And what comes with that success? Recently, her house was burgled and she reportedly lost 800,000 pounds worth of her possessions and had to move immediately to a new home. She now has to have 24 seven close protection security. And I’ll be honest with you, this is something Molly and her manager and team shared with me before we started recording. Molly doesn’t do interviews like this. So this really is, in many respects, her first real in-depth interview of this kind.
And I can’t wait for you to hear it. So without further ado, I’m Stephen Bartlett and this is the diary of a CEO. I hope nobody’s listening, but if you are, then please keep this to yourself. Hitchen. That’s where you grew up, right? Take me back to Hitchen. What was life like when you were growing up there?
Molly Mae (03:14):
Hitchen, I actually still am extremely fond of Hitchen. And it was a really, it’s a really, really special place for me. I spent 18 years there growing up in a very normal house with a very normal family doing very normal things. In a very normal school, not a private school or anything. It was just an extremely normal area to live in. I loved it and I got my first job there. I had a lot of firsts there and I think it will always hold a special place in my heart. I was a lifeguard there at a swimming pool for four years. I had a job in hairdressers. I worked in a gym. It was all going on in Hitchen. That’s where it all began, obviously, is the air.
Steven Bartlett (03:52):
Family dynamics, brothers, sisters, mum, dad, tell me about your family, what they do, who they are, what their character is.
Molly Mae (03:57):
So I have one sister, she’s actually in the army. She’s three years older than me. People are always shocked when I say I have a sister that’s in the army, because obviously it’s so, so different to what I do. But I’m actually really proud of that. I think it’s, I don’t really say that, but I’m super proud that she is who she is. And we’ve grown up to be such different people. But both parents were in the police. So that was interesting growing up. Something else that I’m really proud of, actually, having two parents that are police officers, because…
I don’t know, I quite liked it at school, like sort of being known as the police officer’s kid. Like, I kind of liked it. No one really messed with me. It was quite, yeah, like even at parties, like I think even a couple of times, my dad actually, well, I remember one time my dad actually showed up to shut a party down that I was at. Yeah, yeah, it was that kind of thing. Having parents as police officers, but I didn’t mind it.
Steven Bartlett (04:48):
And at that age, when you’re in Hitchen, what is it that you want to be when you grow up?
Molly Mae (04:52):
Oh, God, I mean… I always wanted to be doing something different. I mean, I went to fashion school for two years because I really wanted to pursue a career in fashion. All my friends sort of stayed on and went to thick form in college. But again, I wanted to do something different. I wanted to do something outside the box. So I had an interview at the Fashion Retail Academy in London, and I got a spot there and ended up going there for two years and studying there. I was commuting to London every day at like 17. So, yeah, it was outside my comfort zone, but I’m really glad I did that because it was just different. I love doing things that were different.
Steven Bartlett (05:28):
And did you have a… Because when I was younger, I wanted to be a dentist and a doctor and then a surgeon at one point, and then, you know, I bounced around and then I was like, I want to manage a business. Yeah. What were you saying to yourself in terms of what you would be when you were older? Was it fashion?
Molly Mae (05:42):
I think when I was younger, it was mainly performing arts. I’ve definitely got that performing arts streak in me. I think a lot of people that sort of fall into being in the public eye do have a bit of that performing arts streak in them because they have that confidence, but I couldn’t quite make it in that. I tried auditions, I tried, you know, castings, all this, but I didn’t quite have that. I wasn’t quite there, and I sort of accepted that very quickly and realised to do well in performing arts, you have to be the best. It’s like the most cutthroat industry. People say fashion’s cutthroat. No, performing arts is like, it’s not an industry you mess around in.
So I accepted quite quickly that that wasn’t going to work for me. So fashion was where I focused on. And I really did think that I was going to end up being like a fashion buyer, like a large business, or that’s kind of what I wanted to do.
Steven Bartlett (06:25):
Your mum and dad lived very, as police officers, very solid. Yeah. Lives and careers, right? Yeah. Did you, at that young age, did you, because I’m trying to understand from like a very young age, and I always ask this about myself, like, how much of it was this kind of innate desire to have more and be different and not live the standard life? Yeah. Or how much of it is just, you know, following the heart and seeing where it goes?
Molly Mae (06:54):
I think for me, watching my parents have a very ordinary life, it sort of petrified me a bit. It was like a bit terrifying, this thought of, I don’t want to grow up in this house. And when I’m old in my rocking chair, I tell my grandkids, you know, like I had this really ordinary life and I had an ordinary job. I had an ordinary income like that. It petrified me from, I think around, I reckon I started feeling that way from about 15. I realised, like, the world is literally our oyster and we can do whatever we want with the 24 hours in the day that we’re given. So why the hell am I not going to go out and, like, make the most of them and do crazy things and make the most, as I said, make the most of it? So, yeah, I think.
My parents having this very ordinary job, I mean, please, obviously, it’s not necessarily that ordinary, but for me, it was like, it just terrified me. I was like, I don’t want to have this life in Hitchen forever. I know that there’s so much more to achieve. And I moved to Manchester when I was 18. And started my life there, I just moved out. I literally said to my mum one day, I walked down into the living room and I’ll never forget it. And I said, I found this flat on Rightmove and I’m moving to Manchester. And she was like, no, you’re not. I was like, no, no, I’m going. She was like, you don’t have enough money. I was like, I’ll find it. Like, I’ll make this work.
And I literally went within a week and I was gone. I packed all my stuff up and I just left and I moved to Manchester. And I remember the first night in my apartment in Manchester in Ancoats, I was like, what have I done? I was like, this was the worst move. I felt so homesick. It was horrendous. But then I settled in and it was the best thing I ever did. Looking back on it now.
Steven Bartlett (08:20):
Were you moving for a job? Were you moving just because you were sick of history?
Molly Mae (08:22):
I’d sort of, at that point, I sort of missed out a part. I’d sort of started to grow following on Instagram and it was growing quite rapidly. And I’d found a management in Manchester. So I just thought, I’m just going to go up there and just see what happens. Like, what’s the worst that can happen? And all sort of the fast fashion companies and everything was in Manchester at that point. It became like the new place to be. So I just thought, let’s go, let’s do it. And yeah, I went by myself. No one believed that I was going to do it. And I just did. And yeah, I definitely couldn’t afford my rent. My mom was right. I think if I’d stayed there any longer, I probably would have had to move back home at some point because I really couldn’t afford my rent. I think it was like £900 a month and I was barely making £1000 a month. So after my rent, I had about £100 to live on. And a Starbucks at that point is what, £5. But yeah, it was the best thing I ever did because I’m still in Manchester now and I don’t plan on leaving. I love it.
Steven Bartlett (09:11):
Do you consider yourself to be, just thinking about that, taking that step, because you can often see in people’s journeys, there’s that like one step into uncertainty where people think, well, I don’t know why she did that or I wouldn’t have done that myself. But your career seems to be riddled with these kind of steps into uncertainty. Would you consider yourself to be at that age, especially a confident person?
Molly Mae (09:30):
Yeah, I’ve always been extremely confident. I’ve never, ever struggled with my confidence. Even meeting new people, trying new things, I’ve never felt unconfident in any situation, which I’m really blessed to have that. Even when I went on Love Island, going to my auditions, super confident, always super confident in everything I do, everything I stand by. I just have that confidence and I’m lucky to have that because I think it’s something that just comes. I can’t really build on it, like it’s either there or it’s not. So yeah, very confident person.
Steven Bartlett (10:04):
Do you think you’re, as you kind of like, so if we zoom forward a little bit, we’ll zoom back, but as you zoom forward on this point of confidence, one of the things that I learned in my life is as I managed to do more things and achieve more things, I actually realised that the previous version of myself knew so little about the nature of the world. And I just want to like scream back at myself, oh my God, Steve, even though you were ambitious then and confident then, you were wrong. Like you can do even more. As you look back on that young girl in Hitchen and other people who will be in that situation, I’m the same. I’m from a small town where there’s not a lot of global dreaming going on. What have you learnt about the nature of like confidence and how it builds and how capable and how powerful your potential really is as you’ve…
Molly Mae (10:52):
Yeah, I think it is just believing in that Beyonce has the same 24 hours in a day that we do. And I just think like, it’s literally you’re given one life and it’s down to you, what you do with it. Like you can literally go in any direction. And when I’ve spoken about that before in the past, I have been slammed a little bit with people saying, you know, like it’s easy for you to say that, you know, you’ve grown up and you’ve not grown up in poverty, you’ve not grown up, you know, with major money struggles. So if you just sit there and say that we all have the same 24 hours in a day, it’s not correct. And I’m like, but technically what I’m saying is correct. We do. So I understand that obviously we all have different backgrounds and we’re all raised in different ways and we do have different financial situations, but I think if you want something enough, you can achieve it. And it just depends to what lengths you want to go to get where you want to be in the future. And I’ll go to any lengths. Like I’ve worked my absolute arse off to get where I am now. A lot of people don’t think that and believe that.
But it’s true. I’ve worked so, so hard.
Steven Bartlett (11:46):
On that point of time, and Beyonce, that kind of mindset of being very, very efficient with how you spend your time, you must get a million requests to do everything. Like I get a lot of requests, you must be getting pulled, pushed, do this, do that. How do you make the decision as to what is truly in line with who you are and where you want to go? When, you know, I don’t think people understand thousands, you’re probably getting thousands of requests, DMs, opportunities, some of them, which I’m sure you’d love to do, as you say, 24 hours in the day. How are you filtering that?
Molly Mae (12:23):
I think what you’ve just said is actually the key to why I’ve become successful in what I do is because it is so strict with what I do take on and what I don’t take on. My days are planned out to like the nth degree, like it is so particular what work I’m doing. And everything is done with such thought and like such understanding behind it. Like I’m never taking on work that I don’t understand or posting things on my socials that I’m not 100% behind or using. Like I think that is the key to being successful in this industry and influencing, if you want to call it like it’s knowing what you’re doing and knowing what you’re talking about is gospel.
Like you use those products, you stand behind what you’re saying. Like I think that is why I have done well in what I do because I am so believing in what I say and my followers know that. Like they know that I’m not talking about something on my YouTube unless I use it, unless I believe in it. And that is the key to being successful in this. You have to have the trust of your audience. So what work we take on is honestly 1% of what comes in, less probably. Fran gets, I’m not even joking, 800 emails a day for work coming in. It never stops. She’s on her emails from 5am going through work that comes in and you have to turn down so much to earn that respect from your audience and earn that trust.
Steven Bartlett (13:41):
And between you and your manager Fran, do you then have to kind of initially agree where you want to go with your career, what your values are, what aligns with you? And that kind of becomes the filter of these 800 messages a day?
Molly Mae (13:53):
We set goals. We have like, Fran and I have like this sort of regular meeting every like six months or so and we sit down and we make a list of what I want to achieve. And it used to be, well, at the start we were like going to do it every year, but I am achieving them rapidly now. So we’re doing it like every few months and creating new goals and setting new targets of like, okay, I want to work with this brand. So if they’ve not reached to me, Fran will reach out and lo and behold, it normally happens where we were a really, really great team. And I think having a manager that understands your direction and what you want to do is really key because, you know, it’s just so important that you can’t do it alone. It’s impossible. Like, okay, it’s not impossible, but I couldn’t do it alone, no way. So having a manager that really, really understands where you want to go is just so, so, so important, I think.
Steven Bartlett (14:41):
And there’s a pretty remarkable long-termism to your mindset that I’ve garnered from watching some of the videos that you’ve made. One in particular was the video where, you know, brand has come along and offered you two million quid to like be the face of their brand or do a partnership with them. And Fran has presented you with that opportunity. And you said, no, I don’t want to do that. Two million quid, Molly.
Molly Mae (15:04):
Yeah, no, I said no.
Steven Bartlett (15:06):
If that brand is still looking for a face. Oh my God.
Molly Mae (15:10):
Why did you say? That’s the thing. Like, as I just said before, like no amount of money can make me take a job that I don’t believe in. I’m not wearing the clothes. I’m not taking the job. No matter if they offered me five million, 10 million. And I just solely believe that because the money will come from your audience, like appreciate that you didn’t take that job. And do you know what I’m saying? Like it’s, I’d rather build that trust and then take that money because the trust is what will earn you money in the future anyway. So I know that two million pound is going to come back to me at some point because I’ll work with another brand that I do believe in instead and my audience will see that and they’ll buy into it. They’ll like the picture. They’ll engage with the content, whereas they’re not going to if I took that, that brand deal before. So, cause the audience see through, they’re not stupid. Like people, I follow on Instagram that I love when they do something that’s not authentic, I see straight through it because you’re the consumer, like, you know, and it’s just, yeah, I think I knew you’d bring out that two million one because everyone was really fascinated by it. Everyone was really shocked. But that’s the side to me that people don’t see. And I was really glad that me and Fran had that chat on my YouTube because it showed people that, you know, it’s, there’s so much more to it than people see with this whole influencing thing. It’s, they have no idea what really goes on.
Steven Bartlett (16:18):
And my last point on this, this point of you and Fran, one of the things I found actually quite, quite remarkable is when, when you’re coming down today and you know, we were sorting out the logistics and those things, you and Fran stayed in the same hotel room, which is not typical of, you know, manager and client. How close are you, you and Fran?
Molly Mae (16:39):
We’re literally like best friends. She’s I say like, she’s like a second mum to me. Like it, it’s grown that way because we spend like, we spend every day together.
We’re on the phone 24 seven. Like I speak to her more than I speak to Tommy. Absolutely. Like it’s the constant, constant conversation. It never stops. If we’re not on the phone, we’re texting. If we’re not texting, we’re in person with each other. Um, yeah. So like even after the last few weeks, what’s been going on with Tommy and I, like Fran took us in, she’s looked after us. She’s like my mum in Manchester. Like without her, I honestly don’t know how I’d have got through the last few years of my life. Like she’s, she’s, um, yeah, it’s much more than manager. And I’m so blessed. I know it’s not a normal situation, but people to have a manager like that. I know when you come out of a show like Love Island, having that manager that is on it is so key. It is honestly so, so key because without that, it can really, really fluff things up for you, which I’ve seen firsthand with so many people and it’s so sad, but yeah.
Steven Bartlett (17:32):
So let’s talk about that then. So Love Island, um, I don’t want to talk too much about it because I think everybody understands the show and the concept of it, but when you first were presented with the opportunity and you were debating, cause a lot, you know, I think everyone’s got a mate who says, Oh yeah, Love Island asked me to be on it. And I said, no, that nonsense. Right. So when you first were presented with the opportunity, what was your incentive for saying yes?
Molly Mae (17:53):
Well, it’s, it’s tricky. I’ve always struggled with how to talk about it because I answered a question once on my YouTube about was Love Island a business move for you? Like, and I, and it is tricky for me to say the right thing without upsetting people, but put it this way, I didn’t go on that show to find love. No one does. People go on it for the experience. People go on there for a laugh. And I think because I went on there with a completely, probably incorrect mindset, that’s why I did come out with a boyfriend. And I think, cause you know, when you’re not expecting something, it happens. Um, but yeah, I remember the, it, they came forward and I just thought at the time my influencing was going really well and there was actually a side of me that thought I can actually do this without going on this show. Like I know I’ll be fine either way. My following, my following was growing rapidly. Like I think I was about 170,000 followers at that point. And that was all organic growth. There was no TV shows or anything and I hadn’t had any friends of large followings that sort of posted me. It was all very natural growth. So I knew I’d, I’d say now that if I hadn’t gone on the show, I’d probably be, I’d like to say I’d be hitting a million followers. Um, cause I had that really good work ethic with my Instagram, but the show just sort of, it just elevated me. And then I think one thing I always say is that when you come off that show, you’re all on a level playing field and it’s totally up to you where you go with it. And I just knew that I wanted to go just to levels that no one had ever gone to. And that’s why I never really speak about it. Cause I just feel like I don’t, oh, that’s not the reason why I am where I am now. Yeah. It gave me a platform. Yeah. It elevated me, but the things I’ve done now, not because of Love Island, they’re because of me and what I’ve decided to do in my work ethic.
Steven Bartlett (19:24):
So I want to drill down on that point then. So you’re completely right. Um, Love Island is a platform, but the, it’s super, super clear that if you look at the outcome of everybody that’s been on that platform, the results are wildly varying. And um, you’re, you’ve, you know, you’re part of that platform, but what’s happened to you subsequently after you’ve been on that show is, um, unprecedented.
There’s not been another example of someone who has risen so high following being involved in that platform. So what is it about you and you know, your character, your, you know, whatever it might be. I don’t want to put the answer in your mouth. What is it about you that’s, that’s caused that?
Molly Mae (20:08):
So many different things, but I think I knew the minute I came off that show that I just wanted to do crazy things. And one thing for me is that when I reach one goal, it’s what can I achieve next? It’s never enough for me. And I think that’s a bit of a downside to my personality because when I achieve something incredible, I just want more. I always want more. Like I remember I was speaking to Fran about this. I was like, I remember when my goal was, I really want to get a million pounds in my bank account. That’s all I wanted to do. I was like, that is my goal. And then the minute I reached it, I was like, well, I want to now I want 2 million and it’s like, I never am happy with where I’m at. I’m constantly working towards the next thing, but I think you need that. You need that work ethic.
You need that desire to always want more. It’s never enough for me, even when I got my biggest dream collabs and it’s just, what can I get next? Fran’s think of it as well. She’s like, it’s enough now.
Steven Bartlett (20:59):
Come on. When someone hears that, they might think, well, how do you be happy and satisfied and content whilst always striving to have more and more and more. And once you get to that mountain top or what you thought was the mountain top, they call it like a false peak and climbing where you get to that bit and then you look up and there’s more to go. Yeah. And so how do you find the happiness amongst and amidst the climb?
Molly Mae (21:24):
I’m working on that, I think, because even recently that we moved in into a new place, we moved into this new house and I’ve realized I’ve actually got a bit of a problem with it. So I was like, this house is literally a dream. It’s a dream, but it’s not enough for me because I still want more. Like I still want a bigger house. I still want bigger things and it’s like, I need to work on that because you do need to find that happiness because, you know, 16, 17 year old me is screaming at the things I’m doing right now. And I’m still like, it’s not enough, you know, but I think that’s why I’m doing the things I’m doing. And I am achieving great things because it’s, I’m never sort of like, okay, yeah, I’m happy this week. I’ll just sit down and this is fine. No, it’s like, what are we doing next week? It’s always more.
Steven Bartlett (22:05):
Why do you think you want more? What does it, emotionally, psychologically in the mind? What is it that’s saying that more, why is more important?
Molly Mae (22:15):
I think again, going back to that point where like when I, when I’m older and I’ve got my kids around me and I want to literally look back and say like, my life was unbelievable. Like I did every single thing I could possibly ever want to do. There’s not one thing on my list that’s not ticked and I think I’m not there yet and I know I can achieve more because it’s possible. So why not? Because if we get you only a given one life, we have to just go to the extremes and that’s what I’m trying to do.
Steven Bartlett (22:40):
I am, I’m very much the same in many ways and over the years, I think I got to a point where my book is called Happy Sexy Millionaire because at 18 I wrote in my diary, range, bear in mind I was living in Moss Side and didn’t have a driving licence, a Range Rover Sport will be my first car, I’ll make a million before I’m 25, I’ll have a girlfriend and I’ll have a six pack, basically.
Molly Mae (22:55):
Love that. That’s my life goals. Brilliant.
Steven Bartlett (22:58):
24, I’m driving a Range Rover Sport, I’m a millionaire, whatever, whatever, whatever. And then that anti-climax of getting there, this like feeling of where’s the marching band and the confetti? Like I thought…
Molly Mae (23:01):
Amazing. It’s a huge anti-climax, isn’t it?
It’s mental, like don’t get me wrong, it’s incredible to reach your goals, but it is a little bit, oh, you know when you hear people, the richest people in the world and they say you’re not happy though because you have all this money thing, yeah, you are happy, like of course you are, you’ve got all this money, but they’re probably not because it really actually doesn’t mean anything, all of that stuff. Your happiness comes from within and the people around you and your life, it doesn’t come from how much money you have in your bank and what car you drive and what house you live in. It really doesn’t. It sounds cliche, but I’ve learned that and I’m only 22 and I’ve realised that straight away. I’m like, oh gosh, okay. It actually doesn’t come from all this stuff. It comes from your mental state and your family and the more important stuff really. The non superficial stuff.
Steven Bartlett (23:50):
That anticlimax is very real though and my concern, as you’ve said there is like, I just was scared that I’d never be happy if I’m not happy now because yeah, like this is like, I think for both of us from what you said anyway, this is the dream that Hitchin Molly May dreamed of and Hitchin Molly May at 17 said, when we get there at 22 we’re going to be happy.
Molly Mae (24:09):
I’ll sit on my sofa and I won’t work another day and I’ll be happy and I’ll just, it’s not that way. It isn’t. You think it will be and don’t get me wrong. It’s incredible. And I’m so happy. I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. I don’t want for more, but I do if that makes sense. I don’t know.
Steven Bartlett (24:24):
Have you got a lot of friends?
Molly Mae (24:25):
No, I don’t. That’s a blank question.
Steven Bartlett (24:29):
Yeah, no. There’s lots of blank questions here.
Molly Mae (24:32):
Straight up. No, no, I don’t. My life is minuscule. I have literally about five people in my circle and that includes friends. I have acquaintances and I have people in my life that I say are my friends, but no, my circle is absolutely tiny and I like it that way. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I work, I spend time with my boyfriend and I go to bed. That is actually my life and I’m not bothered about social life. It’s never been something that I’ve been interested in. I don’t know if you’ve like, I don’t know if you know, but I don’t really drink. I don’t party. I don’t go out, but that is just because I actually don’t enjoy it. It’s not for me. I’d rather just focus on making money, being successful and, and being happy.
Friends, they come and go and I just, I find it a bit of a waste of time.
Steven Bartlett (25:17):
So you don’t, you don’t actively want more friends?
Molly Mae (25:20):
No, no, it’s time consuming, like trying to make people happy. Like I’ve lost a lot of friends, but since coming off Love Island, because I don’t have the time and I, and in the end I just say, do you know what, like, like I’d rather focus on the things that are actually going to elevate me and, and it sounds savage, but sometimes friends, they just not cling on, but they, they don’t add much. Yeah. I know it sounds a bit savage, but no, it’s true.
Steven Bartlett (25:45):
And especially when you evolve as a person, you kind of, sometimes I think you lose the thing that made you resonate with certain people and you can relate to them and stuff.
Molly Mae (25:52):
Yeah, 100%. Well, I’m not that girl from Hitchin’ anymore. And you know, like I’m not that young girl that was a lifeguard at Hitchin’ swimming pool. Like that’s not me. I, I’ve, I’m living a completely different, in a different world now and a lot of my friends can’t relate to that. And even though I’m still the same person, my life and my circumstances, they’re just so different that you do just naturally, just people just fall off, don’t they? But friends have never, I’ve never needed lots of friends. It’s just something that I’ve never really needed. And people pick up on, pick up that about me really quickly. They just say like, you’ve got your circle so small, bit of a loner, but I like it.
Steven Bartlett (26:25):
I, I, you know, I, I asked that question in part because every successful person I’ve sat here with doesn’t have a lot of friends and, you know, I was actually having a conversation with one of the previous guests on this podcast and she’s got two and a half million followers on Instagram and she was telling me last night that she has one friend as her boyfriend. Yeah. Sounds about right. She literally said, I have one friend and it’s my boyfriend.
Molly Mae (26:46):
Yeah, that sounds, that sounds about right for me.
Steven Bartlett (26:49):
And it’s sometimes, it’s weird because when I ask people this question, it feels really uncomfortable.
Molly Mae (26:52):
Yeah. When you first said it, I was like, Oh God, no, I don’t. But it’s, yeah, it’s, it’s a weird one because you don’t want to sound like you, you don’t have any friends because then people think, well, you’re probably the problem then. Do you know what I mean? Like you’re pushing people away. But it isn’t that. It’s just like, I haven’t got the time. Like I really would rather just spend time with Fran because we’re friends and we talk about work and we get, you know, we, we make money and then I spend time with my boyfriend because he’s amazing and it doesn’t, you don’t need to force the conversation. You’d have to go for dinners and split the bill. It’s just like, sounds terrible, but I just don’t have the time for it. I’m lazy with it.
Steven Bartlett (27:28):
Does it become hard to trust people, especially following, you know, your meteoric rise in the public eye? Does it get more difficult to trust? Yeah. People did. Cause there were, you know, people always, well, sometimes people are in it for themselves. They’re trying to sell stuff, stories about you or they’re trying to take advantage.
Molly Mae (27:42):
Yeah. I’ve been quite blessed with my rise in that I, cause my circle has always been small. I’ve not really had to cut people off because they’re, you know, selling stories to the press. I’ve never had that. I’ve never had that sort of anyway. Um, I mean, yeah, but, um, yeah, I mean you, you do have to be worried about who’s in your life because I think Fran always says this to me, she’s like, you just think you’re still that 17 year old girl from Hitchens sometimes you’re not, and people will come into your life for the wrong reasons. But I think I’m a bit naive to that sometimes. And that is another reason why I keep my circle so small because it’s different now. I think it’s just, it’s hard to trust people.
Steven Bartlett (28:18):
I am. I was watching something you said about how you’ve been very open about sharing the lows and the highs that come with your meteoric rise and the publicity and being in the public eye that it’s, it’s very easy to see a lot of the clear upsides, right? The nice things, the general sense of, I’d say like freedom to choose freedom of choice in your career and stuff like that. But what are some of the like trade offs of that success, which you just think, Oh, that
Molly Mae (28:45):
sucks. Oh, there’s a lot. There’s lots. I’ve talked with a lot in the last two years in terms of, I was trolled extremely badly. I mean, it’s like a cliche topic and I don’t really talk about the trolling a lot because it’s, I feel like it’s all anyone talks about on social media these days is trolls and trolling. And it did happen to me extremely badly. And there was this one time we went to Barbados to shoot a campaign for my fate time business and we were followed the whole trip by paparazzi. We didn’t even realize. And they were posing as like architecture photographers in front of this building. And I did think at one point I was like, is that guy taking pictures of me? But I just thought, no, he’s taking pictures of the building behind me. There’s no way in Barbados that they’re going to be taking pictures of me. Anyway, that afternoon, me stood in this white bikini, like completely, like they were just the most horrendous pictures in my eyes. And I, I actually rang the daily mail myself. I went through to someone on customer service and I just was like, this is Molly Mae. You must take those pictures down now. Like I was hysterically crying and I was, and this poor person on customer service was probably just like, what is going on? And I was just screaming down the phone, like, please, like you’ve ruined my life. I look at the comments under that picture, like, please take them down. And it was just like, when I look back at that now, I mean, I would never say like I’ve had like a mental breakdown, but that was close to it because I’d lost, I just went crazy. I was like screaming down the phone at this personal customer service that could do anything about it. But for me, I was like, this is going to make it better. Like if they take them down, it will all go away. But that was like a really, really low moment for me. Probably like the lowest of coming out of the show. It was horrendous. It was just horrendous. Like people calling me fat, over weight and I’m a size eight, so like it just, it made me so upset to think that if people are calling me over weight, you know, a girl, a very normal size 10 girl, like, what are they going to be thinking if I’m being called fat? Like it’s, it’s heartbreaking and I think the whole trolling thing, like I have kind of dealt with it now. Like I’m really good at dealing with it. And so I sort of had this approach of like, if it doesn’t matter, like people can say what they want to say. These people are just genuinely so unhappy in their lives that they try and bring you down and it’s so sad, but you do learn to deal with it. It’s just part of it. And we’ve really, we’ve learned in terms of like, we’re, we’re on, we’re on pack watch now and if we go away on campaigns, like we literally have someone that’s job is specifically to look out for people taking pictures. So it doesn’t happen again. Cause it was, it was quite bad that for me.
Steven Bartlett (31:01):
Those daily mail comments really are a cesspool of just vileness. I remember when I was announced as a dragon and dragon’s den and like, I don’t look at comments sections cause I’m just really not bothered. It’s like not going to add to my life. But then my family calling me and being like, Oh my God, those comments, I’m like, don’t look at them.
Molly Mae (31:18):
My mum does that to me. She goes, have you seen the comments on daily mail? I’m like, mum, why would you tell me that? I don’t know. I’m not looking. So neither do you. But yeah, I think obviously they’re just looking out for you and they don’t understand that you’re probably just trying to avoid it.
Steven Bartlett (31:30):
That’s a pretty remarkable way to live as you’re talking about, you know, being on holiday and having someone on pack watch and you must always be on edge to some degree.
Molly Mae (31:38):
You are always on edge and it’s, it’s a weird way to live, but it’s become normal now. It’s been two and a half years and that was really early on in Barbados. That was, I think maybe three months, four months after I’d come out of the show and that was, okay, this is how we need to live now. This is how we need to do things and it’s just been the same and having an incredible team as well to be protective of you is, is I’m really lucky for that because I couldn’t do it by myself. It is really vulnerable, like it’s such a vulnerable job to have. And yeah, perhaps posing as architect photographers, like it’s just the snakes everywhere.
Steven Bartlett (32:13):
Before we started recording, Fran, your manager told me that you are a little bit of a perfectionist and that you care a lot about getting all the details right for your customers, but across your life generally. So I guess my question to you is how do you do that? How do you, dare I say, worry about details and also still maintain your peace of mind?
Molly Mae (32:35):
I mean, it’s, it’s compartmentalising, it’s sort of like, I, I don’t really switch off. It’s almost like I just, it’s sort of built into my mind. It’s a 24 seven. It’s, I’m always, always thinking in the back of my mind how everything I’m doing is affecting my work because that’s, I am my job at the end of the day. Like I’m Molly Mae and Molly Mae is what makes me, what makes me my income. It’s not like I go to work and I come back and I switch off. I’m 24 seven on my phone. So everything I’m doing, everything I’m saying, one story post that takes two seconds to post everything I do affect how I make money, how my audience perceives me.
So it’s, I just think I’ve just thought of like, I don’t know, it becomes one. My life is just, is.
Steven Bartlett (33:19):
It sounds chaotic, right? And it also sounds like I find it pretty remarkable based on the people I’ve spoken to that live in a similar way that are very neurotic and that are always on and always thinking and then are in the middle of the like social media, instant feedback bubble. How would you avoid being anxious within that cauldron?
Molly Mae (33:37):
You really just have to sort of accept that Instagram is Instagram and there’s always going to be that one person on Instagram that doesn’t like what you’re doing. I’ve got 6.2 million followers. It is impossible to please everybody. So I’ve really had to understand that, you know, everything I say and everything I do, not everyone’s going to like it no matter how much I wish they did because it would put my mind at rest a lot knowing that everybody loves what I’m doing. There’s always going to be that one person that hates what you’re doing and hates you. So you just sort of have to sort of understand that Instagram is just, it’s very superficial and it’s just a highlight reel. That’s why I love my YouTube as well because I feel like my YouTube is so behind the scenes. You really get that, that bigger picture.
You see the bad stuff that’s happening in my day and I think, do you know what, I think not to sound big headed, but I think that is why I have a really high engagement on my Instagram is because my followers, they, they see me on YouTube and they see that picture on Instagram and they think, we know that she’s not actually had a good day. We know that she’s actually, I spoke about a few months ago how I wanted this really, really incredible job opportunity and I didn’t get it and I’m really transparent. Like I’m like, today’s been crap. I’ve cried today. Like I’ve come on my period today. I’m feeling really rubbish today. Like I’m, I’m really, really transparent. So I think when they see that picture on Instagram, they know actually if we want to see a bit more of like a realist side here, we’ll just go to our YouTube and have a look and I love that. That is why I, to all my influencer friends, I say, start YouTube, start YouTube. If you want your engagement to grow, if you want your audience to fall in love with you, if you want people to understand you more, you have to start a YouTube because Instagram is it’s nothing. It’s a picture. I post one picture a day. What’s anyone going to learn from that picture? Nothing. YouTube is where it’s at. That’s where they learn. That’s where they engage with you and understand you and believe in you. And that’s the depth.
Right. Yeah. It’s so important. Like I do YouTube because I love it. I’ve, I still edit all my own content. I still, yeah, I I’m really, I love it. I actually find it therapeutic editing my videos and I love when I finished editing a video and I upload it, I love that sense of, I just created that and it’s bigger than just editing an Instagram picture and putting it through color tone and putting a filter on it. And I spent time developing that video and you’ve created it and millions of people are going to go and watch that and spend their 20 minutes of their day watching that video that you’ve created. And I love that feeling. That’s really special. And I’ve had so many video editors say like, Oh, I’ll do it. I would never give that job to someone else.
Steven Bartlett (36:05):
One of the things I find really fascinating and it’s linked to what you said there about being very honest and open with your audience, but at the same time, again, if we’re talking about things that feel like they don’t marry together or they feel like contradictions is, as you rise and rise and rise, and as you experience more like material success and you can buy nicer things, do you become less relatable to your audience? And is this something you think about because the girl that is 16 right now living in Hitchens looking up at you and you’re getting, you’re getting apparently further and further away from being, you know,
Molly Mae (36:37):
that’s such an interesting question if when you say that, then I was like, that’s a really valid point. And I actually don’t get me wrong, I’ll be honest. I do see comments on Instagram saying like, you know, can you do like a more high street hall this week? Can you talk about more high street clothes? Because don’t forget in that 6 million followers, there’s such a wide variety of people.
There’s that 45 year old mom that’s, you know, living on food stamps, you know, and she’s got no money and she wants to see me post really normal things. But then I’ve got probably another girl that’s following me, an 18 year old girl that dad funds their life and they want to see the glamour, it’s impossible to sort of cater for everyone. I try. And as I saw, as you say, as I saw my life is changing so much, I still try and stay as relatable as possible. And I do, I would say that I am still extremely relatable. And again, that’s my YouTube, I post all these incredible things that I buy on my Instagram and I’ve sort of stopped doing that now, but I, I, well,
Steven Bartlett (37:35):
Molly Mae (37:36):
Yeah. Yeah. But, um, I, I sort of, that’s again, my YouTube is I’m, I’m, there’s, in a vlog I might be saying, Oh, I’ve just bought this brand new watch. It’s amazing. It’s cost X amount and I’m having a really great day. But then I also might say, Oh, you know, I’ve, me and Tommy just had a huge argument and I’ve walked out the house. So I, there’s, it’s in a vlog, I try and keep that balance as much as possible. So I can sort of, not because I cater for everyone, it’s just because I am that way. Life is that way. You know, when you’re being honest, one minute something’s really great, the next minute something’s really shit. And that’s just the way it is.
Steven Bartlett (38:07):
And I guess there’s, there’s two forces there really, because I think if I was, um, well not even, but if I was following you, it’d be for two reasons, right? For me on one hand, it’s aspiration. It’s Oh my God, look at this amazing thing. All these amazing things she’s achieved. And I really aspire to be there one day, but then obviously the relatability comes from the fact that you’re talking about how bad your period pains are and this problem with your boyfriend. And those are things we can all relate to. And then on the other hand, there’s all these wonderful things that we can all aspire to. And I think, I think at the end of the day, it’s, it’s interesting with social media because a lot of people in your position wouldn’t share the aspirational things because they’ll care too much about what people might say.
Molly Mae (38:46):
Yeah, I would actually say the opposite. I would say, I think a lot of people share the aspirational things, but they don’t share the low moments. That’s true. When I, when I’m watching people’s YouTubes, I’m seeing so many girls being like, my life is just so amazing and I do these amazing things and I’m a vegan and I eat clean and I go to the gym and they don’t talk about the low moments and they wonder why their audience isn’t engaged. You have to be honest and you have to include those things that maybe you don’t really want to include it, but your audience will appreciate that because that girl is probably also having a crappy day that’s watching it. So she wants to see you also having a crappy day, so she knows it’s okay. And that’s where I think some influencers and some YouTubers, they, they fall down because they don’t, they’re not a hundred percent honest. Whereas I really, really am and I stand by that.
Steven Bartlett (39:29):
If you buy something really expensive though, let’s say you buy something really, really expensive. When you go to post it, is there an, is there a feeling of like concern about, it might make some people feel, you know, that are struggling, might make them feel bad or inadequate in a way?
Molly Mae (39:44):
Yeah. I mean, it’s tricky, isn’t it? It’s hard to know what you’re going to, what you post, how it’s going to affect people. Like you might think that posting one thing will have no effect on somebody, but actually it could be all that person thinks about that day. And it’s kind of scary. It’s a massive responsibility because I have super young followers as well and I’ve got to be careful. I’ve done a bit of like a health journey recently. I’ve got to be so careful talking about weight loss and what I’m eating because you don’t know what you’re saying. It’s so impressionable and these young girls, they’re so again, vulnerable. And I know when I was watching girls’ Instagram stories, I mean, I’m sure I’ll talk to you about filler in a bit, but I, Instagram was the reason I ended up getting all that filler because I was watching these girls’ stories thinking they have filler, so I need to go and get filler. So if I’m posting about, you know, a health journey and I’ve lost a few pounds, I feel great. Well, then young girls are going to go and think, well, I need to go and lose a few pounds if Molly Mae’s done it. So everything you’re saying, it has to be so clearly thought about because it’s, you have no idea how that one tiny story is going to affect that person’s day with everything.
Steven Bartlett (40:46):
Isn’t there a lot of things though where you just can’t, you can’t, there’s no way to get
Molly Mae (40:49):
it right. You can’t control it. No, you can’t get it right all the time.
Steven Bartlett (40:52):
I feel like there must be so many things where if you post it, you’re going to get back, because I experience it a little bit. People, it’s funny with me, and I’ve learned this again from my guests I’ve sat here with, I can get away for some reason with a lot more than they can. So I can post something and I’ll typically get like, pretty much 100% positive. Like a good example actually was when I’d been in the gym a lot and I’m saying to Grace who’s in my content team, I’m like, I’m going to post a topless photo and show my gym transformation before and after. And Grace raises it to me that like a lot of influencers who do that, gets like slammed for you know, what you’re saying, you’re saying six pack is healthy. I’m like, no one’s gonna say that in my audience. I post it. Everyone’s clapping. Everyone’s like, amazing. Give us your tips. But it seems to be like almost a double standard for creatives and women like you.
If I look at it and think, oh man, you got, it’s like a minefield of correctness.
Molly Mae (41:49):
I know honestly, but that is another reason why I stay quiet and a lot of things I don’t, I’m often fearful to speak and even on Twitter, I kind of stopped using my Twitter because everything you say, like you, I remember a few months ago I went to Italy for a trip and I mentioned that I didn’t like the food in Italy and the way I worded it probably I probably could have worded it better, but I was trending on Twitter for four days about how I said I didn’t like the food in Italy and I was like literally going through a really hard time. I was like, I can’t deal with this. I’ve made one comment that people didn’t like about the ice cream in Italy and I’m literally trending and I’m getting like death threats because of it. And it’s a lot, it’s a lot like it’s how, I mean, I always say like when I don’t have like a scandal for a while, I’m thinking, God, scandals coming soon. I’m going to say something wrong soon. Like it is, you’re kind of always on the edge of like, what’s going to be next? Like what’s, what’s happening next?
Steven Bartlett (42:38):
So with all this, you know, when you say this to me, my, like, I’ve got to be honest, I don’t envy that situation because I think one of the forms of, one of the real causes in our society and in the world of mental health issues is feeling like you can’t be your true self and there are physical forms of imprisonment, putting someone in a jail and then there are mental forms of imprisonment, which is like stopping them speaking freely about who they are, who they love, what they think and what they feel. And yet when in every interview that I’ve encountered with you, the answer I see is I’m very, very happy.
How is that all possible for you to live in a world where there is so much concern and so many minds that you could possibly step on and to still be?
Molly Mae (43:25):
I know I am always saying that I’m happy because how, I think it’d be selfish for me to say that I’m not like, how could I not be happy? Like 17 year old me creeps back up then cause I’m thinking like, God, I am happy because this is all I ever wanted. And yes, every day in my mind I think, God, I’ve, I have got these worries and I have got these struggles, but let’s just take a step back. I am happy. Like I sort of have to just look at the bigger picture.
I’m healthy. I have my health. My family’s well. I have an incredible manager. I have an incredible boyfriend. I live in a beautiful house. I’m safe. I’m happy. Like I am. Yeah. I’ve got all these, these worries about when am I next going to have a scandal? When am I next going to say the wrong thing? And, but in the bigger picture, like 17 year old me, again, could only dream of this shit and I’m living it. So that’s how I look at it.
Steven Bartlett (44:18):
And that gratitude, you know, it’s clearly so important to be centered and grounded amongst all of this chaos.
Molly Mae (44:24):
Yes. Yeah. A hundred percent. I, I am very grounded and I think that’s one thing that I’m proud of is that everyone that knows me from my life prior to Love Island, they’ve, they’ve all said I’ve never changed. I’ve always stayed the same.
Yeah. My life, my circumstances have changed, but me, myself, I’ve, I’m the same person. And I, and I know I am. I’ve never become bougie. I’ve never become like, I’ve, I’ve never, you know, I just, I couldn’t, it’s not me. I am that. I am still that girl from Hertfordshire, but just with a very different life now, but I’ve never changed. Even then, since I’ve met Fran in that two and a half years, I’m still the same person that she met on that day when I came out of Love Island. So yeah, I stand by that and I’m proud that I’ve stayed the same.
Steven Bartlett (45:06):
Quick one, as you may know, Huel sponsored this podcast.
Molly Mae (45:08):
What are these drinks here?
Steven Bartlett (45:09):
So this is Huel, they’re, they’re, they’re, um, it’s basically a nutritionally complete food. So it’s, um, it’s the fastest growing e-commerce company in the country. Oh, is it? Yeah. Online and internationally. It’s basically like, it’s like your, your perfect meal in a drink. So 20, you know, all your proteins, all your vitamins, all your minerals, vegan, gluten free. And if you’re ever on the, I’m sure you are, cause you’re super busy. If you’re ever on the go and you’re like skipping meals and stuff, you have one of these, fills you and make sure that you get everything you need. Amazing. So I think as the world has got busier, Huel has got more popular, you know, but anyway.
Right, I’ll try Huel. Yeah, we’ll give you a couple of, they actually send you a big package after this. They always do. Okay, um, not that anyone knows where you live now, what does that make you think about? Fran barely knows where I live. Yeah, send it to Fran, she can put it on. Speaking there about social media and you know, one of the changes you made, and you’ve talked about this publicly, is you removed the cosmetic filler from your face, right? And um, and other things, other sort of changes to your sort of cosmetic appearance. Can you talk to me first about what it was that made you want to go and get cosmetic filler in your face?
Molly Mae (46:22):
Well, I think… You’re clearly very beautiful. Oh, thank you. Well, I was seven, 16 or 17 when I first got filler and 16, if it was, I think is actually illegal. Um, I think you have to be 17 legally. Um, but I, I went and got lip filler when I was around 16 and it didn’t stop for a few years. I kept guessing it and I kept guessing it and it became around that time was when it had become very normalized filler was, it was literally like going to go into the gym. Like I’m just going to go get a top off my lip filler. It became so normalized, which is terrifying and so scary that these things are spoken about on social media, like these, these, um, aesthetic pages that post in all these packages you can get with filler and it’s, it became really normal. So I just, I went one day and I just got it and it was like nothing. And I didn’t tell my mom, I just kept it from everyone. No one even really noticed. But I think on social media, as I said before, I was seeing all these girls, um, with filler and with all these things onto our face, their faces. So I thought, well, if I want to be successful in that industry, if I want to be an influencer and I want to have a large following, I’m going to have to get that too. Like I’m going to need to do that to my face. I need jaw filler and cheek filler and lip filler and Botox to look the way these girls do. Um, when actually what I, when I realized now is all just editing. None of them look like that anyway, but, um, it’s scary because it, I wouldn’t say I got addicted to it, but, uh, by the age of 21, I didn’t look like the same person.
I literally looked like a different person. It was when I look back at pictures now, I’m, I’m terrified of myself. I’m like, who was that girl? I don’t know what happened. And it was actually only until my sister said to me, she was like, we need to sort this out. And I told her to tell me, I was at, um, a PA in a club, I don’t remember where I was and she texted me and she was like, I need to talk to you about the filler. Like it’s too much now. Like it’s, it’s, it’s enough. You need to stop. And then I actually sort of, I remember going on my front camera and I was looking, I was like, what’s she talking about? And I actually realized, I was like, I don’t, it’s not nice this, it’s my face. I literally, everyone used to call me quagmire. I don’t even know who quagmire is. I think it’s like a cartoon character. Oh, okay. Well, people would either say quagmire on the screen. Yeah. People used to say quagmire or they said, I look like an X-Box controller. Like my face was that warped, like, Oh, I’ve got all kinds of things. Um, but there was this one pivotal moment where I’d gone and I’d got loads of filler and I posted a YouTube video, um, and I hadn’t let the filler sort of settle and it was really swollen and a picture from a screenshot from that video, it trended on Twitter for weeks. It was horrendous. It was utterly horrendous. It was like, you can insert the picture, we’ll send it to you.
It was, my face was literally like, it was just awful. And it was, that was a moment for me as well, where I was like, I think, I think things need to change. I, I thought one day I’m actually, I’m going to get my lips dissolved in it. And it, it was a process. I went and got my lips dissolved and I posted about it on YouTube and I didn’t expect the response that I got. It was huge. And a lot of girls with sweet things, they made me laugh and was like, Molly Mae getting lip filler does not mean that we will have to get her lip filler dissolved. Sorry. It does not mean that we will have to go and do the same. Cause obviously they all love their lip filler, which I think is great. Like some girls absolutely love it. And by me getting my filler dissolved did not mean that I don’t agree with filler. I got it at one point, like I, I obviously loved it and some girls, it makes them feel super confident and it did for me for a while until I took it too far. I think it can be a great thing. It’s not for me to sit here and bash it because some girls, they do feel amazing with it and that’s, that’s great. But for me, um, the, the minute I started to sort of reverse my image and dissolve the filler and dissolve my lips and I actually had full set of composite bonding like veneers on my teeth. I had them removed as well. I literally took it to the extremes and I just stripped myself back.
And weirdly, I felt the prettiest I’d ever felt once it had all gone. And I, and I, I felt like I’d dropped about five years off my age and it was like, it was a really, really significant moment for me and I just stripping everything back and I didn’t realize how much respect that would get me. I didn’t do it for respect. I did it for myself. I didn’t do it for anyone else. I did it because I knew that I needed to. But from doing it, all these young girls were like, well, all these young girls’ parents remaining frown and saying, thank you so much. Like this is so amazing for us to see it’s so different. I actually had some, a mum come up to me when I was visiting Hitchen with my mum, she came up to me in the street crying her eyes out saying that she was so grateful to me for doing what I did with my filler because she’s so happy that like the effect that it had on her children. And then my mum started crying and it was all like emotions. My mum was, when the woman walked away, she was like, I’m so proud of you. And I just didn’t realize like, from me doing that, the effect it would have on so many people.
Steven Bartlett (50:55):
Your manager friend told me, she said, when you made that decision to remove the cosmetic filler and the bonding from your teeth, she was getting so many emails. She couldn’t keep up with her inbox from parents saying, expressing their admiration and gratitude because obviously previously those parents and their children had been looking up to certain role models who do do a lot of editing because of, you know, because of the comparison based world we live in. And to have a role model like yourself who’s taken the very, very brave and brave is maybe not the right word, but just the very important step to say that I’m going to be a role model that doesn’t tamper too much with my face because of the consequences and what that might tell my audience about themselves. When you went on your transition, when you went from being, you know, a little bit too much filler here, maybe in bonded teeth and stuff like that, to the au naturel molly that you are now, was there other moments of doubt where you looked at yourself and thought, you know what, maybe I’ll nip back and…
Molly Mae (51:53):
Yeah, well, yeah, I mean, it didn’t happen overnight. I can’t sit here and say like, I suddenly just felt incredible, like it was a huge change. Like my, I literally, I looked like a different person with all the filler in and a different person with it out.
And there was a moment where I’d just done the cover for Cosmopolitan magazine and it was a really big deal to me. I was so hugely happy that I’d landed the cover because it was a dream. It’s huge. My mom used to buy me that magazine when I was younger and it was, it was, I couldn’t believe that I was going to be on the cover, but that was the first time I’d been pictured after I’d had all the filler removed. And I actually despised the picture so much that I just, I cried about it for days. Yeah. And I didn’t get approval of the image and I just thought I sort of prayed. I was like, I really hope I like the image and I, I absolutely hated it. And it went, it went out and it was fine.
And everyone was telling me how amazing I looked and it was kind of sad that after everyone sort of confirmed that they, they thought I looked nice. Then I felt better. That’s a bit sad because I think I didn’t until I’ve, until people started to start to say that. And I never really thought I was that girl. I always sort of thought, I don’t need people to tell me that I looked nice like it, but I think then I did because I was really vulnerable. Like I just had all this filler removed, no one had really seen me like that. I looked really different. I did. And I think people noticed it, but people really admired it because it was different. It was new. No one had, no one had really done that yet. I wouldn’t want to say that I started a trend, but I do feel like I did start a bit of a trend with the sort of dissolving. And again, I’m proud of that because yeah, I might’ve been a bit uneasy about it at first, but now loads of people are doing it and I love it. It’s like an amazing movement.
Steven Bartlett (53:25):
And with the, with the brands that you’re involved in, in the businesses you run, do you now seek out models and influencers and creators that are representing that more natural look as well?
Molly Mae (53:35):
I wouldn’t even say so because as I said before, I don’t think fill is a bad thing if it’s done safely and it’s done in a way that makes a girl feel more confident, then that’s great. Whatever makes that person feel amazing. That’s what I like. And if a model comes in and we like her and she’s got a face full of filler, that’s not a problem because another girl that’s looking at that campaign also might have a face full of filler. You know, again, it’s, I don’t really judge people based on things like that. I made a mistake with it once and, but at one point I loved it and it did make me feel confident. So no, I think we just like when we’re looking at booking models for filter and things, we just want to be relatable and we want to sort of have a girl modeling out the fate to hand that that lots of girls can relate to. That’s why we use, always use multiple models in our campaigns and plus size and we try and sort of cater to everybody.
Steven Bartlett (54:25):
Imposter syndrome. When people rise very, very quickly into high places, they often talk about this feeling of imposter syndrome where they, you know, inside them, maybe they’re still that girl from hitching, but they’re in these like big rooms with these big things talking about big ideas. And do you ever feel that?
Molly Mae (54:44):
I guess I’m, I’m extremely honest when I need to ask questions when I don’t understand what the hell is going on. Like I actually said to Fran, I was like, I bet Stephen’s going to use loads of words that I have no idea what they mean. And I’m just gonna have to sit here and pretend that I have a clue what he’s on about when really I don’t.
Steven Bartlett (55:01):
Has that happened yet? But when I was listening to your one with Patricia Bright, you said a few words and
Molly Mae (55:04):
I was like, don’t know what that means. And I was like, it’s definitely going to, that’s going to happen. But I’m really honest.
I’m really transparent when I’ll be in finance meetings with Fran and we’ll be talking about gross profit. And I say, can we just rewind? I have no idea what we’re talking about here. And I’m really, really transparent with that. Like I tried to just remember I am 22. They didn’t teach me this stuff in school. They really didn’t. And I, I talking about mortgages and stuff, I didn’t know what a mortgage was until a few months ago. I’ll be honest because when I started looking at buying a house, I was like, so what is a mortgage? Cause I didn’t know. And I think, um, that’s how I’ve sort of gotten away from that like imposter syndrome. I just, I, I just ask, I just ask the questions, I’m not embarrassed. And um, I’ve had to learn a lot really quickly. I didn’t know anything at the start of this process. I didn’t know. I don’t think I had enough money to even pay a tax bill before I didn’t understand. I was making a thousand pound a month before the show, so I’d never paid a tax bill like it.
And it was, it was a lot of learning very quickly and I’ve just always asked, I’m not afraid to ask you. Then that’s a really important thing. Don’t be afraid to ask if you don’t know.
Steven Bartlett (56:09):
For me, that’s, it’s so inspiring to hear that answer because I’ve been in that exact same situation. I was in boardrooms as well when I was 22 years old and you’re sat there, you’re thinking, you’re looking around the room and there’s people double your age. And of course it’s easy to feel like, um, you’re inadequate or you’re an imposter in that room. But the thing that I always fell back on was this understanding that I’m in that room for a reason. There’s something that I have that those men that are double my age in suits that have gray hair don’t have. And that’s my specialty. That’s the reason I’m there. They have things I don’t have. I have things they don’t have. And I think for me, the thing that’s made me feel comfortable in intimidating situations, whether it’s dragon’s den or being in boardrooms out of my depth at a very, very young age is continually reminding myself that I am there for a reason too. And there’s something that I know there’s some, in your case, you know, unbelievable creativity and understanding of the customer that has put me there. And I think what you’ve realized is incredibly important. You don’t have to speak on things you don’t know. And as a young person in these, in these very intimidating foreign situations, like the boardroom, you don’t have to pretend, you know, everything you can just wait and have the confidence to speak on the things that you know, well, that you know better than everybody. And I just think that’s so incredibly important that when you are in intimidating situations as a young person in business or in your career, you got to know that you’re there for a reason too. You’re bringing value to that room too. You don’t have to speak on everything, but you are there for a reason. When I read about your story, when I’ve watched you over the years and I’ve been close to people that you’re close to, I could not believe the life of me when my team told me you were 22. I was like, yeah, sure. I googled it myself and I was like, Wikipedia’s wrong as well, because it doesn’t make sense.
As you say, there are so many like fundamental things about business and money and life and finance that must just now be like thrown at you. And to be honest, they’re thrown at everybody, especially when we start thinking about mortgages and stuff. In terms of money and finance, what are some of the lessons that you’ve had to learn or the advice you would give to people that are listening to make sure that they don’t blow all their money and end up in jail?
Molly Mae (58:27):
I don’t think I’m there yet myself to give advice. I’m still learning.
I have a large amount of money for someone my age and I have to rely on people around me to advise me with it. I’ve just started investing, which has been a huge, interesting new chapter for me. I hadn’t got a clue about investing, but I know it’s really important. I knew it’s a key thing and I need to do it. I didn’t know where to start. So I’ve been learning about that, which has been really interesting, but I know it is cliche and I know everyone says it, but because you don’t know these things in school, it’s so daunting. And my situation is so niche in that I came to a large amount of money so quickly and it was so vulnerable. I had to sort of get my parents on board with it because you trust all these people, but it was so scary. I’d say it’s probably the most daunting thing really, like coming out in this new world of like, I didn’t have literature, and now I’m like dealing with these huge banks and they’re like, it’s mental. I wouldn’t even give advice because I’m still learning and I’m not afraid to say that. I’m learning every day with it, but yeah, it is daunting as a whole new world.
Steven Bartlett (59:36):
We talked a little bit earlier about, we kind of touched on mental health. One of the things that I was really inspired by is you gave the profits from one of your PLT ranges to the charity Mind, the mental health charity. Why did you do that?
Molly Mae (59:51):
Well, it was shortly after Caroline Flack had passed away, which was obviously heartbreaking and it was a huge, huge, huge shock. And myself and PLT, we’d planned this huge launch party and a big launch dinner and we I was there getting ready for it. We canceled it on the night because we’d just found out the news and it was just, it wasn’t right. It just, it didn’t feel right. And the only way I would feel rightly released in the collections if we did donate the profits made to Mind at that time and it was just, it was a really tricky time and I think I’m so proud to be a part of PLT in a way that they were so on board with it straight away. And it was totally my idea and I went to them and I said, this is what needs to happen. And they were like, yeah, it wasn’t even a hesitation. It wasn’t like, no, but we need to make money back. No, they totally understood. Yeah. And I’m blessed to work with PLT so closely because they’re just, they were amazing at that time.
Steven Bartlett (01:00:46):
Was that one of the things on your proverbial mood board, becoming the creative director of PLT? Did you ever dream about that? What was the, and how did that all come about?
Molly Mae (01:00:56):
Do you know, with Pretty Little Thing, it was crazy because I knew when I started working with them, it was like, I had this feeling that it was going to go bigger than I’d anticipated. We bought out these collections and bought out these edits and it was just growing and growing and my growth was going up and it just wasn’t slowing down.
And I created such a close relationship with PLT and we really understood each other. And it just grew past that point of being an influencer because I don’t really count myself as an influencer anymore. I know I am, theoretically, but it’s more than that now. And I am more of a business woman and I feel like PLT, it was in the works for a while. It was conversations about this role. And I never really spoke about how it happened, but there was conversations about a role.
A creative director was mentioned and I was like, that’s the only one I want. I don’t want anything else. I don’t want to be head of any other department. Creative director is my role and if not, then we’ll just carry on doing what we’re doing or we’ll see. And Fran worked on it with Uma and they spoke and they spoke and it was about six months in discussion. And then Fran rang me, I was in my car and she was like, we’ve got it. You’re going to be the creative director of Pretty Little Thing.
It was a really, it was a crazy moment. I screamed on the phone. I was like, Oh my God, like this is wild. And I was just so excited to tell everybody. I had to wait a few months. I knew I was sitting on it for a while. And then I told everyone and it literally blew up the internet. I didn’t expect it to have like the effect that it did, but it was huge, literally huge. It was massive. Yeah. I don’t know. It was. Yeah.
I think it was just, no one really expected it. I think, um, no one saw it coming. I think they probably just thought when I said I had a big announcement, they probably like, Oh, it’s just another collection. She was just bringing out a few more pieces of clothes. No, it was when I said I had the biggest piece of like my biggest achievement. Yeah. I meant it. It was my biggest achievement. Yeah. Like I’m not just an influencer anymore. I’m the creative director of Pretty Little Thing. Like that hasn’t still really sunk in yet for me.
Steven Bartlett (01:02:52):
And what does that mean? So the thing that brands do very well is they, they like using, you know, influencers, creators to kind of sell, you know, we’ll do a line with you, we’ll do an edit with you. This is different, right?
Molly Mae (01:03:02):
Yeah. It’s completely different.
Steven Bartlett (01:03:03):
Talk to me about how it’s different.
Molly Mae (01:03:05):
Well, I have a huge role within the business now. I have a huge voice within the business. And I think what’s so amazing is that I am the consumer. I am that their, their target market, really that age range. I am that consumer. So to have me in the business with my views, with my, you know, with my guidance, like it’s really helpful to them. It’s a fresh pair of eyes. I think they really needed that. And I think, um, because I know the brand so well and I’ve worked with them, I worked with them way before love Island. I’ve worked with PLT now heading on six years. They were the, one of the first businesses for one of the first fashion companies that gifted me when I had about 11,000 followers on Instagram. So I’ve, I’ve just, we believe in each other from the very start.
So it was just such an organic movement for me, like just to in that business. And another funny story is that when I came out of love Island, I had this day where, um, all these fashion brands, they came forward and they sat down and they offered me all these crazy deals that I’m not joking. There was probably about 15 of all my dream brands. They came in and they were like, we’ll offer you this, we’ll offer you a car, we’ll offer you this amount of money.
Um, and PLT didn’t actually, it was, um, um, zoom called me, they were actually the only one that didn’t show up on the day, but they were the most important to me because I knew that I was like, these business meetings with all these other brands are kind of irrelevant because I know I want PLT. PLT wasn’t the highest money offer that came forward. There were brands that came forward and offered me triple what PLT offered me, but because I love PLT so much and because I believed them wholeheartedly and I knew that me working with them was going to be something the way it is now, I, I went with them and it was the best thing I ever did.
Steven Bartlett (01:04:44):
And what’s the best, what’s now you’ve been in that role for several months. What’s your, what’s your, what do you enjoy most from, cause you’ve taken a big step from being, you know, doing ranges with them to now being inside the business. Yeah. What surprised you? What have you enjoyed?
Molly Mae (01:04:59):
Well, I think people wouldn’t understand that the creative director role, it wasn’t just out of the blue. It came about because I have been, I’ve always given my input in everything that I’ve done in every collection I’ve bought out. I’ve always done more than the average influencer. I think PLT saw that. I think they saw, hang on, this girl has actually got something to offer here. She’s got ideas on every shoe. I have a large input with location sets, um, you know, photographers, models that are used like it’s, I’ve always never just sat back and said, yeah, that’ll do. I’ll do that. I’ve always had something to say. Um, so it was, I think they saw that and I think even things have changed so much now since I’ve come in this role, like the collections that I’m bringing out now, like they’re worked on for a year. They’re not, it’s like, I mean the one we’re bringing out next, it’s, it’s been working on, we’ve been working on it now for about seven months. So it’s, um, things that are done a lot more seriously, they’re not rushed, they’re really thought through. Um, we’re working on it, I don’t know how much I can speak about it, but we’re working on, um, London fashion week show, which has been in the works now again for about six months. Um, there’s, it’s a lot of work and it’s interesting as well. Again, I’ll sit here and I’ll say, I’ll be honest, it’s a business role and I’m learning. I’m not, I don’t know everything about business, you know, and a lot of, I got a lot of backlash when I came forward saying I was the new creative director, people were saying, what do you know about being a creative director? You’ve never been to university. But it’s not so much that I go in and I talk about numbers and I talk about the nitty gritty of like, that I’m more there to give my perspective on how things should be done. I’m there to go into the shoes and say, I think this needs to be changed. I think this, you know, I’m there to be that fresh set of eyes and to be the consumer giving their voice. Um, that’s sort of how it works.
Steven Bartlett (01:06:34):
And Umar, you know, the founder and CEO of Pretty Little Thing, he himself started in that role when he didn’t know anything about fashion other than, you know, he’s got links with his family, but that was his first real chance. And I’ve worked with him as well. And one of the things he’s always said to me is he likes bringing people in that don’t have experience. I’ve seen, I’ve sat in his office for many, many years and he said, we need more 16 year olds in here. And what he’s saying is, you said, is he wants fresh eyes, he wants a fresh perspective. He wants kids that understand TikTok and keeping, and that’s probably why they’ve done so well and been so relevant.
Molly Mae (01:07:04):
You’re so right. You’re so right. When you go into the PLT office, it’s all young girls working in there. All different kinds of girls, but all young. And it’s, it’s really interesting because there’s like two sides to the office. You’ve got like the tech side, which are like all the guys like working around the computers, like trying to make sure the website doesn’t crash when they have a massive sale. Then you have like the side of things where it’s like the young girls doing the TikToks, doing the tweets, doing the Instagram. It’s huge. It’s absolutely, it’s like, it’s like an empire PLT. Every time I go in that head office, I’m like blown away. And I think if I didn’t do what I did now, I’d want to work for PLT in a different way. Like I’d want to work in a social media because it’s an incredible job. All the girls that work there are so lucky.
Steven Bartlett (01:07:45):
On the other side of the fence, I actually have a very unique perspective because I got to see, I was in the car with the CEO of PLT on the day when they were, he was trying so, so hard to make sure you join the brand and I’ve never seen him so frantic and certain, you know, he was not going to lose the opportunity to work with you. So I’ve never seen him like that actually in all the years. He’s a very ambitious, relentless, very driven guy that knows what he wants and is willing to work to get it. But that day in that car, he was like, we need her. He was like, we need her. I can’t let her go anywhere else.
Molly Mae (01:08:18):
He must have just seen something. I don’t know.
Steven Bartlett (01:08:20):
He told me, you represent, as you’ve said, you represent the customer, you know the customer, you are the customer. And for him, it was like the stars had aligned and there wasn’t another human being on earth that was more perfect for the brand than you. And it’s funny to hear from your perspective because you felt the same way on the other side.
Molly Mae (01:08:39):
It matched up quite nicely, I think.
Steven Bartlett (01:08:40):
Yeah. It matched up perfectly. Life, you know, life is very unpredictable and everything has a cost. We’ve talked a lot about that today. Even though the high points have a cost and one of the costs of your meteoric rise and your success and your openness came out in the papers quite recently when someone broke
Molly Mae (01:09:03):
into your home.
Steven Bartlett (01:09:04):
One of the most unthinkable, traumatic things from a psychological perspective, because that is your safe place. It’s your happy place.
Molly Mae (01:09:12):
Yeah. Well, especially the home that we were living in. It was, I spoke about it in a YouTube briefly, really briefly, because again, I’m always too scared to say too much, but that home for me was, I’ve had a lot of homes and nothing quite was like that place for me. It was just, it wasn’t a huge apartment. It was just a normal apartment in a really nice area. And ironically, I just always felt so safe there. Every time I went in and I locked the front door and I run myself a bath, it was like my switch off zone. It was like where I felt like I could just be that 22 year old normal girl with a few thousand followers on Instagram. Like I felt like I just, it was my haven.
So I think out of what happened with the burglary, I think that’s been the hardest thing because that was snatched away from us. It wasn’t, it wasn’t the materialistic things that were taken. It wasn’t all the possessions that were gone. It wasn’t the, you know, them violating our space and it was ransacked. It wasn’t any of that. It was the fact that I knew the second we found out we were in a meeting in London and we got the call and I knew the minute I found out that we were going to have to leave and I just, it was, that was the most heartbreaking thing for me because to be forced out of your home that you love so much and that you weren’t ready to leave anytime soon, it was like, it was heartbreaking. It was awful.
Steven Bartlett (01:10:31):
So there’s a lot about what home is. It’s not really a place. I guess it’s a set of emotions, right?
Molly Mae (01:10:35):
A hundred percent and once those emotions are tampered with and once they’re spoiled, it’s gone. Like it’s not, it’s just, it’s just bricks and mortar and it’s not, it isn’t, it’s not a special place anymore. And I think, yeah, out of everything that happened, that’s been what I’ve been finding hard to deal with because we, um, when I drive past it and stuff, it’s, it’s heartbreaking. It’s like, God, that is how quickly can things change? Like things can change in such a few hours. Everything changed. Like I was in a meeting about something really exciting in London. Next thing you know, your house has been ransacked. Everything’s been taken.
You need to come home right away. And I just didn’t know what to expect. I just expected the worst and it was a good job that I did because it, it was bad, everything, everything gone.
Steven Bartlett (01:11:17):
How did Tommy react?
Molly Mae (01:11:21):
Well, it was, it’s tricky because I’ll be honest, Tommy, he’s different with how he spends his money. He, he doesn’t really buy things. He’s a bit of a, the way he’s been raised, he’s quite shrewd with his, he’s just, he’s different, we’re very different and, um, he reacted differently to me. I was, um, much more like, um, trying to sort everything out, you know, insurance and making sure we’re okay. And Tommy’s just like, sort of, it’ll be fine, it’ll be fine. He’s very laid back. It’s very hard to explain how he is, but we’re like polar opposites, but that’s why we work. But yeah, I mean, it was just different.
Steven Bartlett (01:11:57):
And is this, you’ve talked about how this has changed your desire and willingness to be as open, which I find, I found to be quite sad to be honest.
Molly Mae (01:12:07):
Yeah. I had no choice. And I mentioned that like on my social media, I said like, I don’t want to change the way I live. I don’t want to change the way I talk to you guys. That’s what I love doing. I love sharing everything, but if it’s going to compromise my safety, I can’t, I can’t, it’s not fair, like it’s really hard and I’m now trying to work on this new balance of sharing, but not oversharing to, so that I, um, make me and Tommy not safe anymore. And it’s, it’s finding this new way of living and having close protection security now and, and moving and making sure not even my nail tech so much as it comes to my house because I can’t have anybody knowing where I live now.
It’s like even delivery, no, can’t, it’s not possible. Like it’s just not safe because it takes one wrong person to know where you live. And I, and I think I’ve, do you know what, I will say that it is not a positive thing what happened, but maybe it needed to happen in order to make me learn how I need to be now. I can’t just be that normal girl that is blase and post everything on her socials. It’s not, I need to look, I need to do better to protect myself and Tommy. Unfortunately, it’s sad, but it’s just the way it’s got to be now and everything’s got to change.
Steven Bartlett (01:13:19):
That is sad, isn’t it?
Molly Mae (01:13:20):
It is sad, it is, but I think people understand they, I see a lot of tweets now being like, cause I’ve posted, I mean, a litigious smidgens of where we live now. Like I mean like a cushion and everyone’s like saying, I’m so gutted, we’re not going to get a house tour. And I’d absolutely love to give a house tour because this house is incredible and I want to, I don’t want to show it off. I want to show my followers and be like, this is where we’re living now. This is the new kitchen. This is the new bedroom. You know? Like that’s me. I’m an oversharer. But now I’m taking videos and I’m like, oh, is that too much? Am I showing too much there? Like the newspaper is going to find out from right move which house that is. You know, I’m, I’m thinking that way now. And it’s sad at 22 years old that you have to think that way, but it’s the pros and cons with this, this new life that I’m living.
Steven Bartlett (01:14:04):
Do you feel safe in your new home?
Molly Mae (01:14:05):
Yeah. You do. Yeah. We, we’re really lucky in that, as I said, it’s taught us how we need to be now. And I actually have close protection security now and I’m trying to get used to that. It’s 24, 24 seven and I’m, I don’t know how long or if forever or whatever, but I’m, it’s just mad like that we’re having to put these precautions in place now. I don’t really wear my jewelry anymore. What I have left of it, I’m, I’m not wearing it because I just, it made me realize that just doesn’t really matter. People are just so cruel and, and, and they are jealous that these things it’s better off just to, I don’t know.
I just think it changed things for me. It took that superficialness away. It just made me realize actually these things aren’t important. Your health and your happiness and your safety. Safety is key. I’m spending a fortune now on security, but really there’s no price on feeling safe at all because I’d rather spend money on security than spend it on a handbag because what makes you feel better now? The security, of course, because I can go down the street and know I’m safe. I don’t know. It’s, it’s changed a lot.
Steven Bartlett (01:15:08):
Are there things that you miss from your old life?
Molly Mae (01:15:11):
Old life as in?
Steven Bartlett (01:15:12):
As in, you know, before the, before all the, uh, paparazzi’s in the Caribbean or wherever it was and?
Molly Mae (01:15:18):
No, I wouldn’t say so. You know, I, I, I love my life now. I’m, I literally, I pinch myself every day that this is the life I live and yeah, like things like the burglary happened and it’s shit and it’s scary and I have bad days, but I’m so blessed to live this life. Like I, I pinch myself every day that I wake up and I, I never want to go back to my old life. That terrifies me because obviously, as I told you at the start, that ordinary life that I was living before, I never wanted that. I want what I had now and I’m working on achieving, so.
Steven Bartlett (01:15:48):
If you were to, to, to leave your house and just walk through a mall or down the street now, what’s that experience like?
Molly Mae (01:15:55):
It’s different. It’s, I never really talk about that because it sounds big headed when you’re like, you do get stopped, but it’s, it’s mental and it’s crazy and like it will never feel real, especially when you go out with Tommy, obviously he’s tall, everyone spots Tommy and he has a really different audience to me. So it’s like when walking through like a shopping center, his audience is in there and my audience is in there. So it’s like a huge amount of people and obviously our combined following when we go out, it’s heading on 10 million people. That’s a lot of people.
So it’s a lot of people that know who you are and want to grab pictures and it’s amazing. It is amazing. And I, one thing I always say is that I never, ever, ever in my whole career ever said no to a picture because I just, I like it. It’s fun. It’s nice that people like want to take a picture of you, like what an honour, like that someone wants to take a picture of me, like that will never feel real.
Steven Bartlett (01:16:48):
But is there, I went out with my mate Liam Payne from One Direction and obviously I’ve experienced
Molly Mae (01:16:53):
I met him before, you know? Oh really? Yeah. On a plane. We were flying back from Vegas together at the same time. He was so lovely to me and Tommy and like has always stayed in contact with Tommy since he messages him and says, I hope you’re well brother and I didn’t expect that.
Steven Bartlett (01:17:08):
Yeah he’s a really sweet guy under there, you know, I say under there, I mean just underneath all of the like the fame and the public image and the boy band stuff. He’s this really sweet soul, it’s cool. I went out with him a couple of times in Manchester for the, we did a couple of parties together for the Euros, just getting our close friends together and sit in a restaurant in the Ivy in Manchester, one person clocks that, it’s Liam Payne, comes over, can we have a photo? He’s like, sure. And then they go back to their table and tell their table, then there’s another person. And then the dinner is actually a meet and greet.
And I’m looking at this thinking, cause like, I’m like, no, I’m not famous at all, but like I’ve got like dragon’s den is dropping in January and things like that. So I’m thinking, I don’t want that in my fucking life, like that is too much for me. And how do you find, how do you find those moments where you can enjoy yourself in public without it becoming a Molly May meet and greet or do you just choose to go to other places?
Molly Mae (01:18:02):
I just choose not to go out, I’ll be honest. And I think sometimes it has to take friend to say to me, going to the Trafford Centre on a Saturday afternoon in Manchester is not a smart idea as much as I would like to. Even like the Christmas markets just opened in Manchester, we were going to go the other night, we were like, no, it’s a bad idea. Like it sounds like you’re being beheaded when you say it, but you just, I mean, someone would come out with me and say, like, it’s not, it’s not like a normal experience. You have to take security. You have to, it’s not like a just quit nipping out. It’s a lot. It sounds like you’ve got a baby. It sounds like you’re trying to get a baby ready, you’re not just nipping out. It’s a lot to think about.
Steven Bartlett (01:18:34):
Quick one. I had a few words to say about one of my sponsors on this podcast. As many of you know, I’ve been trying to make my life a little bit more sustainable as it relates to energy ever since I sold my Range Rover Sport and bought an electric bicycle. And My Energy as a sponsor of this podcast, one of the brands that make that transition much, much easier. They are at the forefront of British renewable eco-smart technology and their products are really, really changing the game. If you’re on YouTube, you can see what I’m holding in my hand. This is called the Eddy, right? It’s the UK’s number one solar power diverter. So what is a solar diverter? It’s a device for people like you and me. That means you can divert your excess energy back into your home rather than back into the grid, which will save you power and money. It’s super user-friendly and easy to install, and you can control it using the My Energy app on your phone. To find out more about this product and more products like it that will help you make that sustainable transition, head over to myenergy.com and I highly recommend you check out the Eddy. It’s a real game changer of a product and one that I’m going to be installing in my home soon.
What’s it like being a woman in business, right? Because there’s, you know, especially when you’re a woman that’s come from, you know, built this big Instagram following and it’s been on a TV show. There’s so much like stigma, stereotyping and assumptions being made, right? But even outside of your role as creative director of PLT, you are a businesswoman at the core of it. You’re dealing with multiple brands across multiple deals and you’ve got your own companies. What is it like being a woman in business at 22?
Molly Mae (01:20:08):
It’s hard. I mean, it’s confusing and it’s hard. It’s amazing, obviously. But as I said, like I am learning, so it’s a little bit scary at times. You do feel a little bit like overwhelmed and when you’re in meetings and you don’t want to look like you don’t know what’s going on, you don’t want to look vulnerable, you just have to sort of come across as this woman that you do have all your shit, you will have your ducks in a row, you know what’s going on. And by sort of like pretending that I do, I feel like I’ve sort of become that I’ve sort of embodied someone that does know what’s going on because I’ve had to learn it so quickly and sort of pretend that I’ve now embodied that person that when I’m in a meeting, I can hold my own and I can sit there and say, yeah, I know what’s going on. I want to do this, this and that.
Hasn’t come overnight. As I said, I am so young and it’s such a quick turnaround, like two years ago I was in Manchester and living by myself, going to the gym, taking a few pictures, going to wagon moments on a weekend like it. And now I’m in these huge meetings with huge people about really important subjects and it’s like, God, it’s, it’s, it’s hard sometimes, but I like it. It’s interesting. It’s different. Every day in my life is so different and it’s a bit of a challenge each day. It’s like even today, like this, this, this podcast, I felt honored that you even asked me to do it because it’s like, I’d listened to the people that you’ve done them with and that you sort of sometimes think, God, like, I’m not the same as them.
But then you sort of realize, Oh, wait, maybe I am, you know, like the likes of Patricia bright and Jacqueline gold. Like you look up to people like that and then suddenly you’re being asked to do the same things as them. And it’s like, how has that happened? Like it, it, I don’t know if it will ever feel real. Things like that. Patricia Bryce, especially someone I’ve always looked up to and I actually filmed, I’ve been working with Patricia a few times now and that was really huge.
For me because she was like my woman, she was like my goals. Yeah. She was the woman on YouTube and, and I aspired to just be just like her. She’s just everything I wanted to be. She was so successful, so business minded, but also so relatable and so hilarious. And I loved everything that she was about. And then she asked me to do a video with her after love. I know this is just happening and then you try and act cool and you try and act like this is just the normal, but it’s not, it’s not. And it’s sometimes okay to sit there and be like, Oh God, I cannot believe this is happening. Like even today, like when Fran was talking to me about doing this with you and it’s just like, these things just, I don’t know. They don’t ever really feel real.
Steven Bartlett (01:22:36):
What do your parents think about your life? They must be looking at it and thinking, what the?
Molly Mae (01:22:39):
Yeah, I think, yeah, I think it is crazy. Like when they see me do my Pretty Little Thing adverts on TV, like how does that ever feel normal? They’re just, they’re just really, really proud. They’re just, my parents are divorced now. So it’s dealing with my dad and dealing with my mum is like two separate, completely different things. But they’re both so, they’re both so proud of me and it’s just, I don’t think anyone could really have expected this.
Steven Bartlett (01:23:04):
Do you sometimes see them or feel them trying to work out what they did to cause you to be like, kind of connect the dots back to like, what the, like in hindsight, what did we do, like what did you feed her?
Molly Mae (01:23:16):
I don’t know. But I don’t think that, I think obviously you’re a product of your environment and how you grew up and how you’re raised is a huge part of who you become. But at the same time, I wouldn’t like, no disrespect to my parents. They’re incredible. But I don’t think anything they’ve done made me do what I’ve done now. Does that make sense? Everything I’ve done in the last two years is down to me and down to Fran. It’s us two together. Like we’ve done this. And my parents, yeah, they raised me and they made me into a polite and nice person, but they’re not responsive. Do you get what I’m saying? Like they’re not, I don’t know how you feel about that, but you probably don’t feel like your parents are the reason that you’ve been so successful.
Steven Bartlett (01:23:54):
Or maybe you do. I don’t know. Well, it’s funny because with parents, like I’m the youngest of four and we’re all completely different. So it would be pretty dumb to say that there was a ton of intention that went in for my parents. They were thinking, we’ll raise one entrepreneur, one lawyer. It’s just they do their best and it’s like rolling the dice. And as you’ve said from your family, your sister’s in the army, you’re, you know, this mega star and businesswoman and creator. So you never really know what’s going to happen. And it will be the same someday when I have kids and when you have kids, I’m sure it’s kind of a rolling of the dice.
Speaking of kids, speaking of relationships, Tommy, one of the things I find, you know, when people leave Love Island, you kind of look at it and you think, oh, these are just gimmick relationships. Right? We think that they’re in it for the money. They’re not going to last for five days. And then the minute they leave Love Island, the relationship’s over after they’ve done all like the deals and stuff together and everyone’s like, yeah. With you and Tommy, again, you’ve been an anomaly because you’re still together years and years and years after the show. And from everything I’ve read, you have a really solid relationship. Tell me about that. And I guess you didn’t expect that, right?
Molly Mae (01:25:05):
Yeah, I mean, I think, as I mentioned briefly before, because I went on the show, so not expecting to find love and I just went on for a bit of a, we’ll just see what happens, potentially come out with a million followers. We’ll see. But I came out the only person having fallen in love, me and Tommy were the only couple that year that are still together and that were really together in the show. Every other couple broke up a couple of weeks after we were the only people that actually found each other properly. And it’s been like nearly three years now and it’s just been a whirlwind. And I think what’s been so incredible is that both our lives have changed together at the same time and we’ve grown together and experienced it all with one another.
And I think having him to lean on through all these, you know, ups and definitely lows, he’s been there for me, has been so amazing because it would have been lonely doing it alone. I think, like, you know, after me and Fran have spoken all day and then going back to that apartment alone, when you live in this new world and navigating all these new things that it would have been a bit sad to not experience it with someone. So we’re really blessed to have had each other through this whole thing.
Steven Bartlett (01:26:06):
Is it at times quite a long distance relationship? Because if he’s away fighting in or training in the US or, you know, he’s with Tyson doing some training, which I saw recently, is it a bit of a long distance relationship?
Molly Mae (01:26:17):
How do you manage that? We don’t see each other for weeks on end at the moment, like weeks on end, and we’ve become really good at the long distance thing. I don’t know. Like, I think we’re just one thing that I find so key in our relationship and it’s the most important thing I think in any relationship is trust. We have that complete and utter trust in one another. And I think in a relationship that is literally all you need to survive. If you’ve got that trust, everything else just falls into place because he can literally go away for weeks on end. And there’s not a doubt in my mind that if he was to be around a load of girls, I could sleep peacefully at night knowing that he’s just, he’s for me and I’m for him and that’s that. When you’ve got that, I just think, I don’t know why I’m giving her relationship advice here.
Steven Bartlett (01:26:59):
I do think like, that is the key.
Molly Mae (01:27:01):
That is literally the key. You’ve got trust. You’ve got everything.
Steven Bartlett (01:27:03):
And relationships require work, right? We had a guest on the other day and he said something which I actually spun my head a little bit. He said, you know, in a relationship, there is the relationship and there’s love. You only have to work on one of them, which means like, you know what I mean? The relationship is like a job in the sense that you’ve got to like invest in it, nurture it, commit to it. Whereas the love is going to be there and you can see it because some people have loads of love and a crap relationship.
Molly Mae (01:27:28):
Yeah, that’s true.
Steven Bartlett (01:27:29):
So what work do you do with Tommy on the relationship to make sure that you are working on it actively?
Molly Mae (01:27:36):
I never pictured it like that. I guess you do work in a relationship. It is like a bit of a full time job that never ends. It just comes naturally. I think when you’re with the right person, it does just all fall into place. And I don’t know with it’s, it’s weird with him. Like we know that we’re going to be together forever and we, we, we’re just so excited for what the future holds for us. All we ever talk about is kids and like marriage and I’m so excited, like I’m doing all these amazing things, but I always have that to look forward to. And we, I don’t see our relationship as a job like your other person said, I don’t, I just see it as a part of my life and it’s just there. And I’m so blessed that it just works so well. We never have any problems. We’re really lucky. Obviously we’re not perfect. I’m not going to sit here and say, we don’t argue like cat and dog. We definitely do. He drives me crazy. And I do feel like I’m a bit of his manager sometimes. The way Fran is for me, I am for him, it’s like passed down. Fran does it for me. I do it for him. He just looks after himself. But yeah, I don’t know. I feel like we’ve just got something good going on. It really works.
Steven Bartlett (01:28:35):
As we look ahead then at your future, you’re very ambitious. You’re always asking that question. What’s next? What’s next? You’ve made that, you know, that mood board, that planning session with Fran recently, you know, in the previous couple of months as to what the next big goals are. What are they? Big goals and ambitions?
Molly Mae (01:28:53):
Well, specifically, I wouldn’t, I always try and keep things under wraps a little bit because
Steven Bartlett (01:28:58):
I’ve spoken to Fran, she said, you can tell me everything.
Molly Mae (01:28:59):
Oh, not sure if that’s true. Um, well, in all aspects of my life, I’m working on different things, um, pretty little things. Everything and me where it’s, as I said, 24 seven, it’s a constant thing. And we’re working on, um, London Fashion Week is next and that I’m not gonna say too much because I do really want to keep it mainly a secret, but it’s going to be huge. Like the biggest thing maybe PRT has maybe ever done. Um, so that’s going to be huge. We’re working on that. Then obviously I’ve got fields by Molly Mae, which is my own fate time business, which is growing rapidly. And when I spoke about in this podcast a lot about learning the business side of things, that’s what I’m relating it to is my business. When I go into these meetings with these people, you know, like, um, wholesalers that want to take on the product and sell it on their websites.
And I’m, it’s, it’s just interesting to learn and I’m just looking forward to learning more. Like I, and as I said, I’m not shy to sit here and say that I’ve got so much more to learn. I, I’m not like the likes of Jacqueline gold and the Patricia bikes that sit here and they’ve got a few years on me and they’ve learned all this stuff and they, they do come across like these strong, powerful business women. And I’m, I aspire to be like that and I’m heading there and I’d love to revisit this in a few years when I’m there and, um, can use all those big words like net gross profit.
Steven Bartlett (01:30:12):
Really interesting with you because I actually think you have, you’ve clearly demonstrated the thing that will get you there, which is that humility of like admitting that there’s a lot of things you don’t know. And I think when speaking as someone that was once a very young entrepreneur as well at 22 years old, I didn’t know anything about anything because you’re right. No one tells you business stuff in net gross profit margins.
Molly Mae (01:30:33):
That makes me feel better.
Steven Bartlett (01:30:34):
No, but, but, but the most important like key component I think in entrepreneurs is being like, there are so many things I don’t know and I’m not going to pretend I don’t because as you said, and one of the things that really actually inspired me when you said it was, listen, if I don’t know something, I just ask it. That’s the, for me, the mindset of someone who’s going to, in the future, know a lot of shit. Yeah. Do you know what I mean? Yeah. So tell me more about the future then. What else has it got going on? You’ve got your brand, the tan business, you’ve got loads of stuff happening with your creative director at PLT.
Molly Mae (01:31:04):
Yeah. Well, obviously my socials, I’m growing 25,000 a day on average. It’s not stopping. And it’s, it’s strange to me. Like when I came out of the show, I never anticipated the growth just, it just doesn’t stop. Like, and I could even just appear for a few weeks and it doesn’t stop and I don’t know why. I think it’s just people, they do find me so relatable and I’m just, I’m excited to see with like what happens as I grow, like where is it going to stop? You know, and it has every, every million I hit, I’m, I’m like, well, I want next million now. And then I’ll be working towards 7 million, even though when I said I hit 6 million, that would be enough. I was like, 6 million, wow, that would be amazing. And I’m like, nah, 7 million’s next, that would be enough. And then it won’t be. Then I’ll be working towards 10.
Steven Bartlett (01:31:48):
Does focus not become a problem when you know now, because of how big your platform is, you could pretty much go after any goal or ambition you have with your manager Fran. Yeah. So how, like you, there’s, there is a risk of spreading yourself too thin, right?
Molly Mae (01:32:03):
I guess so, but there is a still, there are, there are still goals that are a little bit like for everybody, there’s things that are a little bit out of reach and I like reaching for those things because it’s, you know, you know, working with like really, really high end fashion brands, you know, we’ve not tapped into that yet because, oh, here we go. Well, we don’t know yet, but it’s just interesting to think about the different types of brands I can work with. You know, I’m working more on like the high street budget right now. And then, you know, in years to come, who’s to say where that’s going to, you know, you just don’t know. And I think with my following growing so rapidly, where is it going to end up? We just don’t know. But that’s what’s so exciting about it. Like it’s just every day is a new, is a new chapter and it sounds so cringy, but it is every day is so different. Oh yeah. My next, my, my main goal has been my main goal for the last two years. I’m just desperate to own a house. I still don’t own a house yet, but it’s not because I can’t or I don’t want to.
It’s because I’ve not found the right house yet and I’m so particular and picky with what house I want. Um, it’s come, it’s come close a few times to like, I’ve got my mortgage in principle and it’s been all really exciting and then it’s no, but I, yeah, that’s my next goal is, is getting on the property ladder and maybe building a house. We don’t know. It’s, there’s loads of exciting things with that and I’m still trying to learn again, mortgages and all that interesting stuff is, um, stamp duty. What the hell is that? And why on earth does that exist, may I ask, because it’s a lot of money. Um, but yeah, there’s loads of things that you don’t realize because I, I looked at this house and I really, really liked it and I was like, yeah, you know, the stamp duty on that’s going to be X hundred thousand.
I was like, what? And then I had a builder come around and look at all the work that I want to do into it. He was like, yeah, so that’s going to be about 900,000 just for the work you want doing. And I was like, this is just stupid. I was like, like, how, but this is the thing, like, I’m in a really financially blessed situation. So how is any normal 22 year old on a normal income ever going to get on the property ladder? I don’t understand that. That’s fascinating to me. How’s anybody ever going to get on the property ladder with the way it’s going? It’s wild, isn’t it?
Steven Bartlett (01:34:06):
So this is the, this is the actual diary of a CEO. Oh wow. This is the famous diary where it all began. And every guest that comes on the podcast, when they leave, they write a question for the guest that’s coming up.
Molly Mae (01:34:19):
Oh. Right. So you actually won’t know who’s written this question for you. I guess it wouldn’t be like, it wasn’t your reason why Patrice said for her, it wouldn’t be that, would it?
Steven Bartlett (01:34:29):
Because we’ve had a couple since then.
Molly Mae (01:34:32):
Steven Bartlett (01:34:32):
So we’ve had, you know, Jimmy Carr came out, we’ve had some, some very big guests recently. And you’ll also be writing a question in this book for our next guest. So the question in the diary of a CEO for you this week from our previous guest was if you had to give all of your money to one organisation tomorrow morning, what organisation would it be and why?
Molly Mae (01:34:55):
I mean, there’s so many charities like, and so many things that come to mind. It’s almost like I can’t even think of one, but one thing I didn’t speak about in this podcast is that I am a massive, I always give money to homeless people, always. I cannot keep cash in my wallet because I will literally just dish them out like fun coupons to, I can’t, I just have to, when I see anybody on the street, I give my money away instantly because I cannot fathom how anybody can end up in that situation of not having a home. It literally breaks my heart.
So I’d probably, I’d probably just find someone on the street and give it all to them. Wow. Yeah, I honestly would. Or give it to a homeless organisation or, or something like that because it is a hard question, but that’s something that I feel really passionate about. And as I said, I just, I have to stop putting cash in my wallet because I just, the minute I get out of the cash point, it’s gone to someone on the street, which I like doing. I enjoy doing that. It’s, I don’t know. It’s a really hard question. Like, It is.
Steven Bartlett (01:35:55):
I like, I don’t, I would have to say, well, cause you’re right, right? So it’s, it has to, it’s a really considered thing.
Molly Mae (01:36:02):
My question is going to be like, what are you having for your dinner tomorrow?
Steven Bartlett (01:36:07):
Yeah, I would, I would, I would probably do the same as what you did there, which is like, what causes, what, what hurts my heart and what, what problem would I like to solve if I was like either vanishing off the earth tomorrow or just having to donate everything? And yeah, I would, people that don’t have stuff, so I’d probably sell all my assets and give it to, I don’t know, one of these organisations that helps people that don’t have stuff like, which is pretty much what you said there, so it makes a lot of sense. If you, if you could speak to Molly Mae from Hitchen now, based on everything you’ve been through and everything you’ve learned, what kind of things would you tell her about, warn her about, advise her on looking back?
Molly Mae (01:36:45):
That’s a good question. I think without repeating myself of what I’ve said before in the past, I do wish I could tell her to slow down a little bit with rushing things and even now it’s something that I’m trying to work on at 22. I don’t want to get to 25 and not have anything to look forward to when I’m 30 because I’ve done everything already, you know, have the best car I can drive and have the best house. I want to slow things down and I want to work on enjoying where I’m at because it’s not healthy to always, always want more because you’ve got to be grateful for where you’re at and the things you’ve achieved, but Fran’s a really good person for that because she grounds me like, it’s a really superficial example, but I’ll use it anyway.
I passed my driving test a few months ago and the only car I wanted was a G-Wagon. I was like, I’m getting a G-Wagon. Fran was like, no you’re not. I was like, why not? She’s like, yeah, you can get a G-Wagon, but what have you got to look forward to when you hit 25? She was like, get something a little bit, you know, underneath that and then you can look forward to it when it comes and I was like, no, no, but then I thought actually you’re right. I don’t need to just always go for the biggest thing, like work towards these things, have things to look forward to because I’m only 22, like I’m so young and I’ve got so much to work on and look forward to and I don’t want to rush things and I would tell my younger self, slow down, slow down on the filler, slow down on moving to Manchester maybe when you couldn’t afford it, slow down on worrying about trying to get Instagram followers and it’s just, everything will come, you know, when it’s meant to.
Steven Bartlett (01:38:10):
And do you think you are, you feel like you, going back to one of the questions I spoke about earlier, do you feel like you are enough now, like you’ve achieved enough and you’ve done enough and to be, to be happy, you know, do you feel like you’re enough?
Molly Mae (01:38:23):
Oh, it’s a really, really good question. I honestly, I’m going to say no because then it just contradicts everything I said in this podcast if I say yes and, but, but no, I would say no because Fran or someone told me today that this was the last day of me working and I’ll go back to Manchester now and I’ll sit at my house and have babies and get married and I won’t work another day, I’d cry myself to sleep and I would not be happy because I’m nowhere, as I said, I’m nowhere near done. This is just the start. So no, like I’m not, I am enough, me, I am enough, but the work I’ve done isn’t enough. Yeah. I’ve got so much more to do.
Will it ever be? I don’t know. Maybe not. Maybe when we, if we ever revisit this and I’ve got more followers and more money and a better house or whatever, I’ll still be saying it’s not enough. I probably will be, but maybe I need that. Maybe that’s like the recipe to making me the way I am and making me different to the other Love Islanders and the other influencers. Maybe it’s because I’m hungry and I always want more, so maybe I don’t need to get rid of that. Maybe I’ll just stick with that mindset because it works clearly.
Steven Bartlett (01:39:28):
I completely agree. And it’s been incredibly inspiring and insightful talking to you because you know, you’re, I still can’t believe you’re 22 years old because you know, at 22 years old, I wasn’t, I wasn’t in the rooms that you’re in now and I wasn’t engaged in the conversations. I hadn’t built businesses and you know, the role as PLT as creative director, I know how demanding that will be and how particular and cautious Umar would have been in picking you. He wouldn’t have done it as a token thing. No. And I’ve actually spoken to the team at PLT, I’ve actually worked with them for about seven years through my business and they say that you are heavily, heavily involved during the office and you are helping to build and shape what that brand is. It’s remarkable that you can do all of that and run all of your other businesses and you know, keep up with your personal life as well. All at the age of 22, there’s a real mature, wise head on your shoulders and it’s really fascinating to watch how that’s going to play out for you over the coming years. And I, you’re a force, right? So I can’t think of anything getting in your way. Thank you so much. Thank you for your honesty. Thank you. You’re doing a real service to the world and being yourself. And I know how I don’t know because I have people hold me to it. They don’t hold me to the same standard as they hold you, but you’re doing a real service to, I think, to a younger generation by being a relatable role model. One that is incredibly real, honest, open and yeah, an all round nice person. Thanks for having this conversation with me today because yeah, I’ve been, I’ve watched your career and your rise with total fascination and I would bet on you for the future. So you’re a formidable businesswoman in person.
Molly Mae (01:40:60):
Thank you so much. Thank you for having me. Thanks for coming. Very grateful to be on the podcast.
Steven Bartlett (01:41:03):
Quick one. Can you do me a favour if you’re listening to this and hit the subscribe button, the follow button wherever you’re listening to this podcast. Me and my team use that as an indication of whether the episode is good or not based on how many new followers and subscribers we get. Thank you so much.
- Your early years
- How do you balance your time?
- Love Island & wanting more
- Your social life
- What are the downsides to your success?
- How do you switch off?
- How do you stay relatable?
- Are you happy with all of this?
- The decision to remove the filler from your face
- Impostor syndrome
- Money and finance lessons from all of this
- Pretty Little Thing - Creative Director role
- The break-in to your home
- Do you miss your old life?
- Whats it like being a women in business?
- Tommy and your relationship
- Whats next for you?
- The last guests question
- Advice to a younger Molly Mae