HOUSTON - In 2022, Fortune Magazine has listed a Houstonian on their Creator 25 list of people "charting unique territory in the world of social media."
"I’m a normal person from Houston, Texas that shares my life on the Internet," says Dede Raad, better known by many as @DressUpButtercup, a young mom from the Houston suburbs with more than a million Instagram followers.
"I started this seriously back in 2015, and I had maybe about 100 followers," says Dede. "It was my friends."
Dede came from Houston's oil and gas industry, explaining that, "2015 was when the crash happened, so they laid me off. I went to my husband and I said, 'I don’t know how these people make money, but this is something I’m so passionate about.'"
By these people, she meant influencers. By passion, she's referring to the mission behind her posts: helping women feel less alone. Dede explains she came to know loneliness when she lost her mother to cancer.
"I felt so lonely; life was going on, yet I was dealing with a sick mom in the hospital. She was a single mom. She was a flight attendant, and she worked her butt off day-in and day-out. She loved it. She loved people. She loved connections. We always used to have people over. I think that’s where my busybody comes from," Dede says.
"I use a restaurant analogy: When you go to your favorite restaurant you know they’re going to be open from 9 to 9 or something like that; they have set hours. They are reliable when you want to get a meal. For me, I always took that advice for my Instagram," says Dede.
Dede warns there is a dark side.
"You will get so many opinions," she says, giving the example of when she posted about a bottle of spoiled milk being found in her diaper bag at the airport. She shared the experience in hopes of normalizing the odd moments of parenthood. While some people expressed disgust and accused her of over-sharing, Dede says she never regrets being candid. "I want other moms to be like, 'that’s OK if that happens.'"
From posting about her postpartum journey in the hospital to sharing discount codes on her website, Dede found success by picking a specific audience—in her case, young mothers—and investing in learning them well.
"There’s a certain niche on Instagram for everyone," Dede notes. "Moms are just putting legging and tennis shoes and trying to be the best people they can every single day."
In her early success, Dede says an agency in Los Angeles reached out to represent her. Yet, she says, it was clear they were not the right match. She recalled one time when they sent her a shaving cream for men, asking her to post about it somehow. The problem was: Dede didn't care what shaving cream her husband used, and didn't think her fellow moms would either.
Dede left the agency and had her husband begin representing her. Now, he runs Trend Management, a full-fledge management company for social media personalities. Dede says her husband, who's a regular on her social media page, focuses on crafting endorsements and partnerships which match the specialized interest of each client's audience. According to their website, Trend has taken on more than two dozen clients since its launch in 2019.
For Dede, her audience is like family.
"Postpartum for instance," says Dede. "Going through that and being in diapers right after you have a child; no one tells you about it! Those are things no one prepped me for life, so I said I can use my social media to connect with women around the world who are also going to go through these things, or have been through these things, and I don’t mind being a sister to other people."
Want to explore Dede's world? Visit her website here.
Know an interesting Houstonian setting the bar for others around the country? Send a tip to Kaitlin Monte at firstname.lastname@example.org