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Shaira Mariel Habon is a millennial health and fitness buff, HIIT instructor, MMA enthusiast, lecturer, entrepreneur and writer based in Manila. In addition to a social media audience size of over 140,000 people, Shai runs a blog called Wander With Me that features the latest trends in food, fashion, consumer products, her personal thoughts, and more.

You can follow Shaira on Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook, to name a few, or check out her blog at to learn more.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, including how you became an influencer?

I started out 2016 when Instagram wasn’t, well, there’s already Instagram, but it wasn’t as big as how it is before, no TikTok yet and whatnot. I remember it’s because I really just wanted to blog. I wanted to have my own blog, my own website where I can write because I am a communication major and I wanted to have an outlet where I could write about things literally. And I remember during the time, blog was really right. We would really craft no AI yet, so we don’t have any tool.

We just would freely express ourselves and whatnot. And so yeah, I put up my own blog. I actually hired someone to help me out with putting up the blog, and then I started writing, and then I remember getting an invite to an event and I was like, oh, okay, that’s interesting.

I did remember during the time I did think that there’s a business out of it. I just really wanted to write, and then I started getting invites and the rest is history. And it opened up so many opportunities for me because after that, I wasn’t just writing, I was doing so many things. I was traveling here and there and getting invites, but it started out with me just being passionate about writing and being able to express myself, and then suddenly it blew up to me doing a lot of social media stuff, specifically Instagram.

Photo courtesy of Shaira Mariel Habon

And right now we do have TikTok. And so yeah, that’s how it all started with me just wanting to write and me just wanting to share with people my emotions, my thoughts and everything else.

What are some challenges you face as an influencer? Because a lot of times we’re just looking at the posts and we see beautiful backdrops and imagery, and I think we all kind of understand that there’s a lot more to it than that. So what are some of those challenges that you face when creating social media content?

Well, first is because I’m not a full-time content creator, and some people might think, oh, it’s just about posting nice photos and having some aesthetic and having a nice camera or like a phone to record and whatnot. But there’s actually so much work that happens in the background, and that involves really conceptualizing, especially when a brief is given to you, you have to make time for it. It’s something that you have to do with great intention.

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You cannot just, okay, there’s a nice background. I’m going to take a photo and then a post about it. If you really wouldn’t want to create content, then there has to be some deeper reason on why you’re doing things, especially if you’re collaborating with the brand. Also, apart from that composition, I had to study all of those things because again, there’s just some technical stuff that goes on with every post that we make, and when I post something, there’s always that intention of I want to communicate something.

There’s a message that need to be sent, and I’m not just doing this because it’s pretty or it’s nice or it’s beautiful. And so I remember just a quick story because I started out doing lifestyle things, anything and everything, literally, I travel, I eat, blah, blah, blah. And later on it’s when I kind of shifted to focusing on a personal brand. And right now, because aside from doing content and whatnot, I’m also an athlete.

And so I shifted my content from just anything, everything under the sun to something that’s more configured or something more specific to fitness. I mean, I still do post about travels and whatnot, but every now and then I would create content related to health and nutrition, my trainings, workouts, my routines, et cetera. And that’s when I was able to really enjoy it more. And that’s when I feel, I mean, I felt like my messages or my posts are resonating well with a very specific target audience.

That’s when also I started getting collaborations with brands that are very specific to fitness. So right now, when I do content, it doesn’t feel like work because it’s just something that I truly enjoy because I do it anyways on a regular basis. If a brand asks me, okay, we need a video of you working out, it’s just me going, I mean, it’s me going to the gym, doing my routine, but also me doing contact. And so that’s how I got to into it.

But again, going back to the question, main challenges, it’s really all the works that happen behind the scenes before you’re able to create an output. And at the same time, it’s me really as someone who does, but the things I really have to make time for it, I really have to sit, think about how I’ll put everything together, how I’ll shoot everything and then shoot it, make time for the actual really having a recording something and then right after that sitting again and stitching things together before it goes live. So that’s for me.

What have some of your favorite brand collaborations been to-date?

One brand that I really love is Avon. Avon is, well, it is a very strong brand. It has been around for decades already, and I remember them bringing me to China to visit their R&D facility, and it’s an all-expense paid trip. But apart from that, because my mom used to work in Avon, one of the Avon ladies, but we weren’t really know what happens behind the scenes. You don’t really know where the main office is, the research and everything that happens before a product is released to the market.

And so it was a really nice experience for me to not just go out of the country and experience another culture China and whatnot, but it’s me really knowing the brand deeper. It was such a good experience. Another collaborations I really loved was when I was sent to Taiwan was the Taiwan tourism government asked or invited us to go there for us to have an immersive experience of the Taiwan culture because they’re trying to promote the tourism.

We went around, I think I was there for a week or so, and every day we were in a different province. So it’s a totally different experience because I’ve been to Taiwan, I’ve been to Taipei, but I was just visiting all the tourist spots. But when the Taiwan tourism invited us, I had a different look at Taiwan. So I was eating all of these things. I was visiting the mountains and seeing everything about, because Taiwan is a small country, and so we were able to roam around.

And so it was nice. I mean, aside from the trips being all expense paid and me having an allowance, but it’s beyond that. It’s really being immersed into a different culture in understanding it. And it’s something that I get to share with my students as well. But there is so many, there’s a lot of things that happened after that. We had to create content and whatnot. But I truly love those experiences though. I mean, if I am not a content creator or influencer, I don’t think I’ll be able to have that experience. I might be able to visit the countries, just be an ordinary tourist, what to be able to really get to see all the other things beyond what people are commonly doing. I don’t think that’s going to happen.

On the flip side, what has been the weirdest pitch or a couple pitches that you have received from our brand?

I can’t think of any super weird or something, but I remember declining to some offers and collaborations, and I mentioned this a while ago. I used to do just anything and everything. Literally, there’s an invite. I go there with her without pay. There’s a collaboration, I get a small token, I get. But when I have shifted to really, number one, understanding my value as a content creator because I’m making time for it, I’m devoting some hours to doing all the works, and when I also was able to figure out the niche that I want to be in, suddenly I want to be not suddenly.

Photo courtesy of Shaira Mariel Habon

But it was a gradual shift to right now I’m an athlete, and so I want to talk about fitness and wellness and health and whatnot because I got to prioritize it now. And so whatever I receive offers about brands that are not very much aligned with my personal branding, then I had to politely decline because obviously, does it coincide with the things that I do now if I may be specific offers to promote liquor or smoking of any sort or even partying because just because it’s not my life, it’s not part of me, and I don’t really want to give my audience an impression that I think she’s just doing it for the money because she’s promoting health and wasn’t this me, she’s, she’s telling people it’s nice to have, and I’m not saying it’s wrong to drink, I’m just saying it doesn’t work well with my brand anymore.

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So that’s one thing that I got to be more conscious about. So even if I get the huge pay for doing this, but then it already affects my values and my integrity, I have to, again, I’m not saying no, no, it’s just that I have to give them, have to explain my side and why I am not taking the project. And I’m glad that most brands would understand. But yeah, it’s just for me, I haven’t encountered something that’s really out of this world, but it’s more of me just being as I got to because I’ve been doing this for years now, and I got to be more picky and picky in a good way because I only want to work with brands that I really love because it’s just me. And I’m not saying also that I’m not open to new brands. It’s just that right now I study the brands first before I work for ’em. And I think that’s a good thing. I think that’s a good practice that influencers and content pages should be able to practice as well, because you also would want to take care of your personal react.

What are some of your goals for the remainder of the year as it pertains to influencer marketing?

Well, right now I’m in competition season. I’ve been competing here and there. I went out of the country to compete in Malaysia, and so it was a nice experience. And as someone who also does content and not just compete, I had the chance to document my journey from being, and I posted several posts, I mean several content about it, how once upon a time I thought I wouldn’t be an athlete because I’m a small girl, I’m a, and women in general. Being an athlete is not so much of a common thing, especially before. But right now, I get to post about it. I want to make sure that people get to see that side of me for me to be able to express it. But hopefully I’ll be able to inspire people as well, especially young girls. You can do all of these things as well and you can explore your skills, your talents and whatnot.

I’m looking forward to making more posts about my journey as an athlete. I’m still, I mean, I’m not a pro athlete. I mean I love competing, but I want to reach that level and hopefully be able to share that with my audiences and all of the things that happen in between. And right now I’m not just sharing victories with them because sometimes I don’t get the win, right? I mean, I compete. It’s either you win or you lose, so I get to share all the wins with them. I also would share with them my struggles, my pains, my challenges. I also would share with them my vulnerabilities because that gives them the impression that she’s human and she experiences all of these things and emotions, and so I want to be more relatable in that sense. And so again, yeah, I document everything like literally and not all posts through posts, but sometimes I would share them with my stories and people would react. I love getting feedback from my audiences. It really warms my heart to get messages from people saying that they got inspired or saying that they’re just enjoying seeing the things that I’m posting, even if sometimes they get to be random stuff about my day.

Note: Influencer Spotlight interviews are edited for time and clarity.