WHEN Miriam Mullins had to leave her dream job in a country club in Florida and return home due to the pandemic, she never thought that isolating in her bedroom would present an opportunity to begin a whole new creative career. But it did.
Miriam is a Tik Tok influencer with a massive 1.6 million followers.
“The pandemic gave me a career,” says Miriam, 25, from Garryvoe east Cork, who also has a whopping 93,000 followers on Instagram
“I had finished college, got my degree, and like lots of people I thought, oh my God; what do I do with my life?”
Miriam was at a crossroads.
“Do I start a job, do I go travelling, what do I do now? I was in that rut as well.”
Miriam sought out new horizons and she applied for a job in the sunshine state of Florida.
“I decided to travel abroad and work,” says Miriam.
“I had worked here in hospitality, in Garryvoe Hotel, so I applied and got the job and I booked the flights and I went over in November, 2019.”
Was she daunted, heading away from home for the first time?
“I had no mammy with me anymore!” says Miriam, laughing.
“I had to do everything myself, my own cooking, my own washing, etc. It was a big change! It was the first time I had moved out of home; the first time that I was all on my own.”
Florida, apart from the fabulous climate, had its perks.
“Working in the country club was a great experience,” says Miriam.
“I planned to stay at least three years. And I met my boyfriend, Tiann, there; he is from South Africa.”
Clouds began to form on the sunny horizon.
“In February, 2020, the clouds started forming,” says Miriam.
“Europe had been hit quicker than the USA by the pandemic. My mother called me and said; you need to come home, but I wanted to stay in Florida, I planned to stay as long as I could.”
The pandemic had other plans.
“The place where I worked told us; ‘guys, we are going to have to let you go and send you all home, we’re sorry’,” says Miriam.
“So I travelled back to Ireland and Tiann went home to South Africa.”
Things weren’t so sunny at home.
“I was back to my old bedroom in Garryvoe,” says Miriam. “It was like; Bang!”
She got a light bulb moment while isolating in her bedroom.
“Here I was in my bedroom,” says Miriam.
“Mam was like, ‘open the window and let in some fresh air’, or, ‘it’s 12 o’clock in the day. Are you still in bed?’ I was like, ‘what am I going to do?’”
Miriam recalled an experience from her childhood..
“Growing up I did speech and drama and I dabbled in social media before I went to the USA,” says Miriam.
“I had done a bit of Youtube but I was never really that consistent; it was a bit of fun. Tik Tok was a new thing, everyone was on it.”
Miriam got to work.
“I said, you know what? I’m just going to make these videos and see how they do, and I basically started doing the classic Irish mammy videos; doing fun ones like where the mammy gives into the demands of the oldest and youngest child and dismisses the middle-child. People love it.”
Miriam wanted to fully engage with her followers.
“I wanted to do content where people come into my page and be like, ‘oh my God I can relate to that’ or ‘that happened to me’.”
Tik Tok content doesn’t take itself too seriously, topics range from food to fashion, pranks to pets, dance challenges and comedy. It is not off the cuff, it is a craft, planning ideas, rehearsing, editing and posting at the right time.
“It was the perfect fit for lockdown when everyone was stuck inside desperate for some silly fun.
“I post videos that engage people,” says Miriam.
“I try not to be funny. People can come onto it for a break away. They engage with it. The videos are under one minute, they are snappy which is better as people’s attention span can be short.”
Miriam’s followers are all ages, from seven upwards.
“I love being a role model for young people” says Miriam, who was a guest of Ryan Tubridy’s on The Late Late Show in September.
“I look at my own experience from going to school and college and I can bring that to people to help them. I offer back-to-school tips for instance, and I get a lot of engagement from both teenage girls and boys asking about certain situations. It is all about engaging with others. I love Tik Tok.”
Miriam is a bubbly, confident, enthusiastic young woman who is passionate and motivated about relating to her followers, all of whom enjoy hearing her story.
“I make videos with Essence and Inglot make up and the clothing brand Va Va Voom; I endorse them and I get good views across the board.”
What comedy videos does she make that people find hilarious?
“There’s one where the mammy is hanging out the washing and she puts the clothes pegs on her fingers, then she goes to the nail salon and they paint the clothes pegs that are still on her fingers with nail varnish! People in the USA loved that, they thought it was hilarious!”
Does Miriam spend a lot of time on her phone?
“Well, I have other things to do too, so I work on and plan the videos Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. Often I’m asked to go to schools to talk about subjects like mental health or bullying.
“Tomorrow I’m going to a school in Limerick as a ‘surprise’ for the pupils there. I’m also asked to do ads for various brands through an agency and I have a manager who monitors my emails and replies to them. She helps me get work too.”
Miriam is an all-rounder.
“I play football with St Coleman’s Club, Shanagarry. I have an apartment. Tiann and I got a puppy recently, Lucy. She’s great, we love her.”
Does Miriam think young people spend too much time on phones?
“I don’t think younger children under 10 should be on phones so much,” says Miriam.
“And I’d worry about young people’s posture as they get older because they are bent over looking down at their phones. It’s better to look directly at the phone in front of you when you’re using it.”
Was Miriam chuffed to be on The Late Late Show?
“It was brilliant,” she says.
“I got an email from the producer of the show out of the blue. Ryan Tubridy is lovely and he put me at ease. It was a fantastic experience. All my friends and neighbours were delighted for me.”
Miriam is popular.
“I went to Dundrum Shopping Centre the next day and I was mobbed!”
Would she like to be on television again?
“Tik Tok gives you huge confidence,” says Miriam, whose confidence grew as her followers grew.
“I’d like to go into television presenting.”
And maybe she’d give Ryan Tubridy a run for his money!