Born and raised in Los Angeles, Tara Electra, CEO of Unruly Agency, grew up in the digital age at the rise of the social media influencer phenomenon. Electra has proven herself as an indomitable force in regards to influencer activations, influencer marketing and social media management; working alongside top brands and talent. Tara is in the unique position of benefiting from the long-standing relationships she established with her clients before entering a professional affiliation, leading to a more cohesive and synergistic network. This perspective allows her to have a deeper understanding of clients’ career goals and best ways to monetize and cultivate their overall vision.
Electra’s intrigue with the evolving digital era combined with her entrepreneurial drive led her to explore innovative ways to monetize one’s social presence. She enthusiastically entered the industry after proactively reaching out to an influencer agency and landing the job. Tara’s natural talent and charisma allowed her to swiftly rise within the company ranks, most notably working on the successful influencer activation with Lyft, currently one of the most recognizable rideshare companies.
After years of experience and procuring a vast web of industry connections, Electra founded her first company, Electric Mind. The company mobilized within the festival realm to partner with clients such as Insomniac, Rolling Loud, Hard Summer, along with various activations at Coachella and other festivals. After advancing the festivals themselves and acquiring brand recognition, Electra ventured into sponsorship opportunities by collaborating with brands to integrate their products into the festival experience.
Recently, Electra recognized paywalls gaining momentum with the rise of subscription platforms such as Twitch, OnlyFans and Patreon. Tara instinctively identified it as the perfect method for influencers to monetize through connecting with their fans on a deeper level, thereupon, Unruly Agency was born. She worked with smaller influencers and had much success and ultimately grew Unruly through her network. Today Unruly Agency represents more than 100 models and influencers with a combined reach of more than 500 million consumers worldwide. Top clients on their roster include Tana Mongeau, Charly Jordan, Father Kels, Abby Rao and Gabby Epstein. Unruly has catapulted their talent’s careers by growing their audiences, building their brands, and as a result significantly increasing their incomes. Unruly believes in giving power back to influencers and not having to mold themselves to who a brand wants them to be, instead positioning the influencers as their own brands. Unruly also offers strategic brand partnerships with notable companies such as TikTok, Lounge Underwear, Soothe, various dating apps and the emerging rideshare company Alto. At Unruly, Electra is redefining the corporate space with its ninety percent female staff as well as making it a priority to hire employees with diverse backgrounds. She is passionate about giving their office environment, based in Los Angeles, a more laid-back feel and fostering a welcoming space employees look forward to coming to.
Tell us about yourself.
- My name is Tara Electra and I was born and raised in Los Angeles. I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of LA’s leading model and influencer firm, Unruly Agency. We represent over 100 models and influencers with a combined reach of more than 500 million consumers worldwide. Growing up in the digital age during the rise of the social media phenomenon, my intrigue with the ever-evolving cyber network alongside with my competitive spirit led me to a path to explore innovative ways to monetize one’s presence on social media. From there, I founded my first company Electric Mind which mobilized in the festival realm around events surrounding Rolling Loud, Hard Summer and various Coachella activations. After making my rounds in the circuit, I ventured into sponsorship opportunities by collaborating with brands to integrate their products into the festival experience. With the rise of paywall subscriptions such as Twitch and Patreon starting to gain more traction, we identified it as the perfect method for influencers to monetize through connecting with their fans on a deeper level, thereupon, Unruly Agency was born.
What attracted you into social media so early on?
- I have always been fascinated by the internet, even back when Myspace was a thing. I realized one day after accepting that I’m addicted to social media (like a lot of people) that if I’m going to allow myself to be on my phone this much, then I better make a career doing what I love. That is when a light went off and I started to dig into ways to monetize on the internet.
Was there a key moment that you noticed an influencer could capitalize off their social platform?
- I’ve always had a hunch that social media would be on the rise and an important contributing factor within our industry. I believe Unruly was years of “preparation meeting opportunity” to quote Oprah “I believe luck is preparation meeting opportunity.”
How did the Unruly Agency come to be? How do you differentiate yourselves from other modeling and influencer groups?
- When the idea of a “social media influencer” first became popular I realized that is where I could really shine. I’m great at networking and making relationships so I realized in order to capitalize on my network and make money through various social media apps. The bridge I was trying to connect is to figure out what it is that talent needs to do to make money partnering with brands. As social platforms head into the future, the way to monetize on social media will continually evolve with an unlimited number of ways to profit off social media. My prediction is it will continue to grow and gain more notoriety and respect.
As a businesswoman, starting new ventures must be nerve wrecking especially when you are a pioneer in the space and don’t have any business model to base your company off of. Was there a significant moment when you knew you were on to something, and business just took off?
- The building of this business was gradual. After trying so many different businesses over time, what made me realize this business would work is when it started making money right away. That was the lightning bolt moment for me. There was no format, it was more me taking pieces from all these other businesses I had tried and putting them into one. Then we realized we were the only ones in the social media space doing what we were doing, so we didn’t really have competition. That’s when we realized we had something.
Tell us about your role within the agency and the importance of having a predominantly female staff and talent roster?
- My role as a CEO is very different than you would think it should look like, traditionally. I’m very big on changing the way people look at things and the traditional route to success in life. I show up to work most days in sweats. I don’t hire employees based on their resumes or if they went to college but by their true passion and drive to be their best. I decided to stay the person I was all along and show that’s okay. I work with over 100 influencers on our roster, most of whom are my friends that I’ve worked with throughout my career. I like to say we have a deeper bond and trust with our clients, and they know we have their backs in this industry. Building a team that you can trust is the most important thing in life to get to the next level in your career.
Unruly has helped catapult the careers of a handful of influencers by expanding their reach to broaden their audiences, how did you gain trust with influencers and models?
- I’ve been working with talent for so long now that my experience helps others feel comfortable. Also, a lot of the talent we work with are my friends, so that personal connection helps me understand the way they think and their struggles. By hearing common things that they go through, I’m able to connect with them quickly and understand their pain points and relate with them and help them tackle their problems.
Who is currently on your roster of talent? And can we expect any type of division expansions in the future?
- Top clients on Unruly’s roster include Tana Mongeau(5.7M), Harry Jowsey(4M), Charly Jordan (4.8M), Kelsey Calemine (2.8M), Gabby Epstein (2.7M) and Abby Rao (2.3M), just to name a few.
You’re a female boss and wear many hats outside of the agency. You recently launched a new app called Roll, can you tell us more about that?
- Roll is a new creator focused platform for Celebrities, Musicians, Influencers, TikTok Stars, Artists, Comedians and more. It shows the authentic and unedited version of your favorite content creators’ everyday life. It’s the studio sessions of your favorite artist showing their creative process in creating their song, it’s the journal entries of your favorite celebrities’ stories, and it’s the training sessions of your favorite athletes. Roll was designed as a safe place for your favorite creator to open up and show what really goes on in their life. Roll is a place where creators can build a community with their audience that’s special and dedicated to the user who has access to be inside
Do you predict what the next big social platform is or which one will soon become obsolete?
- It sucks that there’s no platform that really allows influencers to freely grow their following without limiting their reach, so I would like to see a platform come around that allows talent to freely grow their audience. TikTok was like that at the beginning. But like every other platform, the bigger they get, the quicker they lower your reach, and the harder it is to grow. A lot of the time that’s because the platforms then want people to spend money to get the views. So, they want brands to pay to get those views rather than pay the talent to get the views. I have heard Snapchat is still converting very well. I think they’ve kind of been undercover for some time, but their conversion is particularly good. I feel like they haven’t limited people’s reach since it’s not used as much and that’s helped them. Paywalls are something to look for in the future since it allows talent to make money. I think people will be more active with those.
What would be your 3 tips to an up-and-coming influencer trying to break into the market?
- I don’t want to sit here and say that if you’re consistent and put in the work that it’ll all work out, because working in this field is really hard. There’s no perfect recipe. But I will say this:
- 1. Figure out what you want to do in the social media space – find a niche area that makes you excited and that you really love. Follow people in that space and really study what they do and start getting content ideas from them with your own creative and personal twist.
- 2. If a platform has a new feature they’ve launched, utilize that feature and be consistent. Because the platform really cares about that feature being used, they’ll put you on the top of the algorithm because you are using that feature.
- Use third party platforms that are not attached to a specific social media app, for example link-in-bio spaces. I use hoo.be. These add-ons to your social media pages can help you reach a broader audience and send out alerts about brand promotions or latest content through text blasts or email blasts that are not reliant on algorithms. That is super valuable for talent.
What can we expect next for you?
- I will continue to build the next generation of social media opportunities for talent. I am constantly building a community through my businesses that give talent the resources to be successful and grow their career. I am also putting together a podcast where I bring you inside the real lives of the entertainment industry, the struggles for talent and give listeners the inside world of how they monetize in each one of their niches. I hope this podcast can be a place for so many people that are fascinated by the direction social media is going, as well as what today’s biggest creators are doing next.
Where can readers follow you and stay up-to-date on Unruly?