In this day and age, we take everything we see on social media with a grain of salt. From photoshopped bikini posts to “what I eat in a day” videos, there’s always something missing–authenticity. Cue’ Karly Polkosnik – the real, raw, and relatable voice we wish we had growing up. Karly went viral as a plus-size, body and sex positive content creator (who started making content after she was laid off from her 9-5). As a woman of color and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community, Karly inspires others through messages preaching self-love and self-confidence. Whether it be through her podcast series “Hey Bitches,” or her blog “Your Girl Karly,” Karly makes sure to touch all the bases of fashion, lifestyle and wellness while instilling confidence in 550k followers.

Follow Karly on IG @yourgirlkarly & TikTok @yourgirlkarly

Hi Karly, please tell us a little about you?

My name is Karly, I’m a 26 year old lifestyle creator from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I’ve been a content creator for 9 years now and this is my 4th year as a full-time influencer. Before going full-time I worked in corporate social media for 3 years while finishing my business degree in marketing and law. I plan on eventually going to Law school later in life!

Describe yourself in 3 words?

Warm, witty, smart

How did you get started into social media and as an influencer?

I started off as a traditional blogger in 2014. At the time I was in my last year of high school blogging about my life. I was a professional cheerleader in the Canadian Football League at the time and was gearing up to go to Musical Theatre school after I graduated. Unfortunately, I didn’t get into the program and had to take a gap year. But, all worked out for the best because that’s when I started blogging about applying to business school, what it was like to be a pro cheerleader at 17 years old, and more. When I got into business school I kept adding platforms to my plate like Instagram and YouTube and started my podcast and my TikTok in the last year of my undergrad.

What is fun and rewarding about this? And what is not?

Being your own boss and having your own freedom is one of my favorite aspects of my job. As someone who did previously work in a corporate environment, having the autonomy to get tasks done and structure my day the way that makes sense for me without the pressures of the 9-5 grind is very rewarding. On top of that, I’m very fortunate to have a hand in helping people truly change their lives through learning to love themselves and appreciate their bodies after watching my content.

On the flip side, being a creative means, for the most part, you’re wearing all the hats. Up until recently I was working more house than I ever would have at a traditional corporate job and I suffered a lot from burnout. Additionally, not a lot of people know what it’s like to use the creative side of your brain 24/7 instead of completing sets of job related tasks. Especially when you have to keep up with the ever evolving social media landscape!

Can you name a few of the brands you are working or have worked with?

Some of my favorite brands I’ve worked with in the past and am currently working with now are McCain, Revolve, H&M, Lululemon Studio, TikTok, 7-Eleven, and so many more.

What did you learn from your biggest failure?

One of my biggest failures to date was the launch of my clothing line, Confidence Club. It originally started off as a merch line that morphed quickly into creating a whole custom line of sweatsuits. In that time I learned so many things about custom clothing creation like pattern grading, importing, running an online store, etc. but I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve taken away from the whole experience is even though things are successful at a small scale, doesn’t mean they have to be done at a large scale.

The most important thing when you are creating new content is?

Relatability and timing. Especially on TikTok! Trends move a mile a minute on that platform and timing is everything. On top of that, I really strive to be someone who is authentic and relatable on the internet and my audience receives that from me all the time.

What do you think is the secret to have a successful IG account?

Either having a great personality and relatability OR having very aesthetic, well done content. More and more I think people are drawn towards influencers who are showcasing their personalities on the internet vs just showing off the latest trend. I think you can build a strong audience who truly cares about you through showcasing your personality first. On the flip side, TONS of people (including myself) still use Instagram as a inspiration board of sorts and if you’re producing that aesthetically pleasing content, you’re probably in a great position for growth.

As a popular influencer you are followed by so many people. How do you feel about that pressure of doing always the right thing, and encourage people to follow their dreams?

I made it very clear early on in my career that I’m a human and I’m figuring it out just as much as the next person. I can’t be 100% perfect, 100% of the time but I can always try… and that’s what I do! I also think that a lot of “doing the right thing” comes pretty naturally to me being Black and gay. These groups are oftentimes the ones that are most spoken about in terms of injustice, so I’m already caring because they directly impact me.

Now talking about Instagram, can you share some tips for keeping your account interesting?

Ask your audience! I love to sit down every single quarter and ask for feedback from my audience. This comes in the form of question stickers or polls on my Instagram stories. I’ll ask questions like “what do you want to see more of” and “what do you want to see less of” and so on. I also will ask for feedback on things like long vs short captions, reels vs feed posts, and video vs photo stories. At the end of the day I’m creating 80% of my content for my audience, not for me, so it’s important to me to get th

Tell us about your podcast series “Hey Bitches?”

Hey Bitches is my sexuality and lifestyle podcast! I actually started the podcast after going through 2 back to back breakups. I wanted someone to gossip with my girlfriends on a larger scale than my immediate friend circle, but also didn’t fully want to talk about it (with my face) on Instagram stories. So I announced I was starting a podcast and literally launched it the next day! When I was 15 I worked on World FM as a German Language host (fun fact: I went to German school my entire life!) so starting the whole thing was super easy for me. Now, Hey Bitches is a 3x award nominated, top sexuality podcast in Canada and I love hosting it! As of writing this I’ve been on a hiatus from the show but am working behind the scenes for our full re-launch and re-brand in March 2023.

What’s your advice for the newer influencers?

It’s boring but… consistency is key! It’s truly the success ingredient for anything you want to do.

In more practical advice, I’d say focus on audience cultivation. This does necessarily mean focus on growth but it does mean focus on creating relationships with your audience. At the end of the day, an influencer is only as strong as their influence. So while having 1M followers may look appealing, do they all care about you? It’s way better to have 50K followers who will ride and die for you than 500k who won’t.

What would say are the greatest lessons you learned so far in this business?

Hire a great accountant, always keep your receipts, get yourself GREAT organizational tools (I like Notion), and never stop learning.

How would your best friend describe you?

I actually asked my best friend Nikki this question and here is what she had to say
She’s a powerhouse. The kind of person you want to be around because she makes you better. She’s so authentically herself and it’s infectious, you know you’ll never meet anyone else quite like her. She cares about her friends deeply and is the kind of person to bring everyone up with her and make sure everyone else is okay.
(brb crying!)

If you are a book, what would be the title of the book and why?

I’ve always said I want to title a book “All The Crazy Shit I’ve Seen” but I feel like, at 26, I haven’t seen enough crazy shit for a whole book yet. That being said, I do think that “Konfessions So Far” is also a really good one.

What advice would you give to your younger self and why?

I’d tell my younger self that anything she believes she can achieve and it’s actually not just corny, motivational, bullshit. I’d also tell her that she needs to learn how money works a little earlier and that she should have incorporated her business earlier than she thought. But besides that… I think little K did great!

What book should every entrepreneur read?

Atomic Habits for sure. While the messaging can be applied to so many areas of life, creating and building habits that help me achieve my goals in business has been really life changing for me. Not only am I just slightly better every single day, I’m getting things I need to do done and I’m finishing them SO much earlier.

Runner ups include Miss Independent by Nicole Lapin, Thursday Is The New Friday by Joe Sanok, Building A Storybrand By Donald Miller, and The Hype Handbook by Michael F. Schein

What’s next for Karly Polkosnik in 2023?

There are a TON of goals I want to hit in 2023 including breaking 1M followers on TikTok, re-launching my podcast, and making a re-appearance on YouTube.

In my personal life, I’m currently saving up to build a house with my girlfriend, have my eyes set on a 2023 Ford Bronco, and am excited to do a little apartment renovation or two to my current place.

What is your own definition of happiness?

My own definition of happiness is the feeling of accomplishment I think. I feel good and I feel happy when my work is done, my house is clean, my calendar is organized, etc. The feeling of not having my to-do list looming over my shoulder and being fully able to relax truly makes me the happiest.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

Keke Palmer for SURE! I’ve loved her for YEARS. Keke is hilarious, witty, honest, and an incredible multi-hyphenate. Something I really admire about Keke Palmer is how she’s navigated her fame. Rarely has she been involved in drama or scandal, she’s constantly supporting her fellow peers, and she acts like a real human being instead of your stereotypical celebrity. On top of that, I think she’s extremely smart and ambitious. I’m excited to see where she takes KeyTV in the future.

Do you support any charity?

Yes! I actually went to the #1 leadership high school in my city where charity and community were a massive focus. I try to donate to their yearly global initiative to not only support their charity of choice, but also to support the community that raised me. On top of that, one of my favorite charities is Kids Up Front. I recently sponsored an elementary schools tickets to the Canadian finals of the International Basketball Federation.

I actually sit on the board for the Canadian Football Cheerleaders Association Organization and love to help out at charitable events when I can.

Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?

In 5 years from now I’m hoping I’ll be living in my dream home, just getting into law school, and being a 7 figure business owner. I truly want YGK to grow past just me and into more things like books, products, social media services, mentorship, and charity.

Law is also something I’m really passionate about and I plan on completing my JD with my specialization in Intellectual Property Law.

Favorite song? Why?

As I write this it’s Healing by Fletcher. There’s something relatable about heading towards healing but not fully being there yet.

What do you think of Social Media?

It’s great! I know there are so many cons that people love to discuss, but social media is truly a gift for me. It’s helped me create and grow into a career I love, it helps me connect with people who support me, and it helps other people get the support and love they otherwise might not have access to.

Where we can follow you?

You can find me on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube @yourgirlkarly and @heybitchespodcast for my podcast 🙂

Book: Currently – Miss Independent by Nicole Lapin

Quote: No one can make you feel inferior without your consent – Eleanor Roosevelt

Movie: Hairspray… hands down

Tv Series: Currently – The L Word: Generation Q

Favorite Food: Plain ripple chips & dill pickle dip (very Canadian of me lol)

Travel Destination: Basic but, I love LA!

Sports Team: I’m gonna have to say Edmonton Elks (gotta reply my team duh!)