The 17-year-old TikTok star chats with us about her blossoming career, her inspirations and her personal style.
Photography by Holly Desmond
There’s no denying that TikTok has a powerful chokehold over multiple generations, yet what is so often overlooked is the intrinsic power of influence that comes from the app’s most passionate and relatable content creators — a precedent which is far from lost on the 17-year-old TikTok star Issey Moloney. Having already garnered an astonishing 5.7 million following on the app, Issey landed herself in the top ten of the UK’s most successful content creators, and has since carved her own lane in the influencer business with her relatability, her style and her music tastes.
With some of the biggest brands in the business already catching onto the teens ascendency, Issey has landed partnerships with Amazon Prime, Netflix, YouTube, Jack Wills, Rimmel, Look Fantastic and more. Also using her platform for promotion, Issey has helped Tion Wayne and Russ Million’s “Body” track to become the first drill song to go to UK Number One. Her video for the song generated over 10million views that helped the catchy tune record 71,000 chart sales and 10.7m streams to date. Presenting up to eight tracks per week in her videos, her partnerships with labels like Universal and Warner & Sony has led her to work with the likes of Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes, Elton John and Dua Lipa.
Talking of her rise on the platform, Issey explains, “My parents are divorced, after a house move and a new school, I didn’t feel like I fitted in anywhere and I found it difficult to make new friends. When lockdown started, I struggled with my mental health; I was open about this on TikTok and posted quite personal videos of myself crying, just to let people know it really is OK to express your emotions. I did get some trolling as a result, but I received many more messages from people saying I made them feel less alone, and that made me want to continue”.
On a mission to prove the often overlooked power of social media presence, Issey spoke with us about her experience on TikTok, and what it takes to build a career in a digital world. For insight on Issey, her influences and her trend-worthy style, scroll below…
Hey Issey, how are you? How has this past year been for you?
A lot has happened. I’ve gone from finishing my GCSEs to moving out from parents home to living in London. It’s been both overwhelming and exciting. So much has happened this past year it’s been surreal, it almost feels like a dream.
Let’s start in the beginning, when did you first start making TikToks?
At the beginning TikTok was called musically and I had originally started on that platform from the age of nine. I had always loved that app just for how fast-paced it was and how there was always something new to watch. It then changed to TikTok and I decided I wanted to be a creator on the app, but it wasn’t until the first covid lockdown that I was starting to be noticed. I wasn’t really fussed about how many views I got, it was more about how much I enjoyed making content and helping other people.
And you’re only 17 years old! Do you feel pressure to be a way on social media?
Most of the time I don’t! Just sometimes I look at other people my age online or celebrities who are also my age and it sometimes makes me compare myself to them, but I don’t think it does in a negative way overall. I think it just makes me want to challenge myself more and set myself new goals. I do feel sometimes people try to pressure me into doing things or not doing things online, but I try to look at what everyone is commenting on and I not only do what’s best for me and take my friends and family’s advice, but I do take the advice from the comments quite often.
How do you juggle creating content and your education?
I decided to leave school due to a lot of reasons and I know most people would jump to the fact of it being because of social media, but there is a lot more that just that reason. I feel like with education it’s important to stay in it until you feel like you can’t really push yourself anymore, and I realised I’d found my passion in social media. I did try to continue that and college but I found that the course I was doing wasn’t as challenging as doing it in real life. So I went down the same career path just without a degree. But I do recommend everyone to stay in school personally! It’s just I couldn’t see myself going to university in the future.
It’s fair to say social media has changed your life completely, what has been the biggest change for you?
I think that social media has changed my life in many ways yes! Both positively and negatively. I think one of the biggest positives about social media for me was being able to meet people with the same sort of mindset as me, and to bond over being a content creator on the app.I also feel like being on social media has matured me a lot as there are a lot of people making sure you don’t make any mistakes. You have to really take a look at yourself and do everything a normal teen girl would just without the mistakes. Which is hard sometimes because it’s so easy to make mistakes during that period of time in your life. Which is why I think it has matured me quicker than other people my age because i have to be a role model for others and make sure I’m being a good influence and helping people.
Moving to London from Kent, how would you say this has impacted your career?
Yes it has. Before I started making social media a career I lived in Kent and was living in a small town called Benenden. So there were very few things to do which was nice, but when I started social media there were so many new opportunities but they were all in London. So, I thought the best choice for my career would be for me to move to London. I have also always wanted to live there as a child so it was amazing to finally fulfil that lifelong dream of mine.
And you’ve worked with some incredible people in your career, what has been your biggest pinch-me moment?
I think there have been many pinch me moments more than I could name. But some of the biggest ones for me was when I attended the House of Gucci premiere, as I was lucky enough to find myself in the same room as Lady Gaga who has an icon to me for many years of my childhood and has continued to be through out my teens. So it was so surreal to be invited to watch the premiere.
A lot of people criticise influencers and TikToks stars for their careers, what would you say to those people?
I think it’s hard to find what to say as I know that before I became a creator myself I found it very hard to understand the world and industry of influencers. As when you’re watching them you’re only seeing 15 seconds to a max of ten minutes of their life, so it’s hard to judge everything off of that. So the best advice I could give would be “you never know what it’s like until you’re in their shoes”. I think people need to remember sometimes that most of these influencers are growing up too and are teenagers who are going to make mistakes in life. We just need to remember that they’re human too, and we shouldn’t be so harsh on the small things unless they are being harmful to society.
Who would you say inspires you?
Bella Hadid, she grew up on social media with TV then transitioned to modelling. I love her style, her kindness and her modelling work. I like how she has continued to stay strong in her career no matter what people have said and how many times people have compared her to other models and to her sister. She has stayed true to herself and has continued to chase her dreams and reach her goals.
What are you up to next? What would be a dream for you?
I’m the type of person who likes to live in the moment, so I like to put my all into the thing that I’m doing at the time. A dream for me would be to continue my career into modelling as I’ve always wanted to be a model since a little girl, so I really want to work towards that this upcoming year.
Now lets move onto fashion. It’s definitely another passion of yours, how would you describe your personal style?
I find that with my personal style I don’t like to limit myself. I prefer to switch up my style quite often and explore different looks and find a range of different designers.
What brand would you say represents you perfectly?
I don’t think just one brand represents me, I think that many do but in different ways. If I was going to have to choose one though, it would be Prada as it’s timeless and constantly evolving.
What’s one piece of clothing you couldn’t live without?
One piece of clothing I couldn’t live without is a sweater, because you can wear one in any situation and they are also really comfortable — which is also really important with clothes.
And in terms of fashion, who would you say is your icon?
I would say my icon is Emma Chamberlain, the way she dresses is so relatable and a lot of people can find inspiration in her outfits from everyday clothes. I also like the fact she brings back old clothes from other generations.
Issey is managed by Cadence Talent.