Social & Influencers

What creator Anna Kai looks for in a brand partner

The creator, who’s built a 2+ million following across TikTok and Instagram, told us that humor and audience trust are top of mind.
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Anna Kai

· 5 min read

In a little over a year, Anna Kai went from 87 TikTok followers to more than a million. All it took to kick things off was one viral video.

That video, a “get ready with me” (GRWM) confessional where she discussed dating and commitment with humor and a steady eyeliner hand, was the first step in building a following that many creators—and brands—can only dream of. In addition to her TikTok following, Kai counts a million followers on Instagram.

Kai’s GRWM videos have become her mainstay, racking up millions of views and likes. But she doesn’t confine herself to just one box, also posting skits, throwbacks, and musings on dress pockets.

“I still don’t really quite know how to categorize myself,” Kai told Marketing Brew. “Elevator pitch, I’m a dating and relationship influencer, and I make a living talking about my exes on the internet. But from a more overarching, broader perspective, I think the underlying message behind all my content is empowerment, and, specifically, female empowerment.”

Kai’s openness to various forms of comedy and content also extends to her brand partnerships, which she said she started getting offers for almost immediately after she first went viral. To date, she’s worked with brands like Morphe, Lovesac, La Roche-Posay, Secret, and Free People.

Just as there are green flags to look for in romantic partners, the same goes for brand partners, and Kai walked us through what matters most to her.

Zero to 100 (times 10,000)

Kai’s journey to becoming a full-time creator started with her blog, maybe both, which she created after leaving New York City and her job in real estate early in the pandemic. She first posted about home decor, then fashion, and finally landed on dating. When she decided to make videos on TikTok, she tried different things, like unboxing and try-on videos. Nothing really seemed to stick until her first GRWM video, after which everything changed.

“Some content creators build their audience gradually over the course of 10 years,” she said. Because her following grew so suddenly, “I never had an opportunity to really think about it. I just had to learn on the fly.”

When Kai assesses potential brand deals, the audience she’s built over the last year is what she often thinks about, she told us. “At the end of the day, I have this job because of my audience and the fact that they trust me, and if I break that trust, it’s so hard to get back,” she said.

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That’s why she spaces out her paid content between frequent organic posts and why she’s turned down offers from brands that sell things like beard oil, which she said she had “no business” peddling—especially because her husband doesn’t even have a beard.

“It can’t just be, like, ‘Hey, I’m just going to take every single offer that comes my way and just inundate my audience with ads,’” she said.

Just go with it

That approach to brand deals has seemed to resonate with some of Kai’s followers. On a video sponsored by Secret where Kai revealed the biggest “secrets” to surviving your 20s, she received comments like, “If this isn’t the most flawless ad…Idk what is.” The video is nearly indistinguishable from an organic GRWM. Same with another one sponsored by skin care brand Ole Henriksen.

“I’ve never been in a situation where the brand’s like, ‘We don’t want your voice,’” she said. By the time deals get to her, she added, brands are already telling her, “‘Hey, we can see ourselves in your content.’”

Before shooting any material, Kai said she prefers to get more details around things like a brand’s history and its products. When she worked with Lilly Pulitzer earlier this year, she said she researched the founder’s history and was able to integrate that into her post. The final product retained her initial creative vision, even though she said the brand made some small edits.


To date, Kai said her most successful brand partnerships have been ones where she has “full creative reign,” but she always scripts her content before shooting so brands can review and flag any concerns—legal or otherwise.

“I make fun of myself, but often, I don’t think brands want me to make fun of them for obvious reasons, so there’s kind of a balance to be struck there,” she said.

Creative trust and freedom can lead to strong brand-creator relationships, Kai told us. In a video with Lulus, she talks about what to wear when dating certain types of “Chads.” “They just let me run with it,” she said of the collab. “They let my freak flag fly and people loved was a really great partnership.”

At the end of the day, she said audiences are more likely to watch an ad if they’re being entertained, which is why she injects humor and doesn’t take herself too seriously. Brands, she said, shouldn’t either.

“[This] is a very cool, creative industry,” she said. “Have fun with it.”

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