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The Big Interview: Perth influencer boss Kirsten ‘couldn’t hide’ postnatal struggles in front of TV cameras

The Aquarius Creative co-founder opens up on navigating the influencer world as a new mum in the latest instalment of The Agency: Unfiltered.
Rebecca Baird
Kirsten Cameron looking picture-perfect with fiance Adam Coakley and baby Acé. Image: BBC Scotland.
Kirsten Cameron looking picture-perfect with fiance Adam Coakley and baby Acé. Image: BBC Scotland.

The set up is, naturally, perfect.

The venue is the restaurant of Glasgow’s swanky Virgin Hotel, where strings of warm white fairy lights cast a honeyed glow on Perth businesswoman Kirsten Cameron’s pristinely-curled, caramel highlights.

Sporting a stylish, stone-coloured sheepskin coat and flattering ‘natural’ make-up, Kirsten, 31, is every inch the effortlessly chic ideal.

I almost forget for a moment that she is flanked by two PR agents, sitting just out of frame on the Zoom call.

But as co-founder of influencer handling and branding agency Aquarius Creative (along with business partner Amy Moore) and one of the main faces on BBC docuseries The Agency: Unfiltered, it’s no surprise that social media savvy Kirsten knows how to curate a screen set-up where she’s in control of her image.

Kirsten Cameron strikes a pose in Perth. Image: Supplied.

Which is why it’s so refreshing that in the latest series of the show, the mum-of-one isn’t afraid to get real.

Kirsten made motherhood work online

Having closed out season one of The Agency: Unfiltered with a rush to Perth Royal Infirmary to give birth to her daughter Acé, Kirsten returns from maternity leave in season two faced with a new challenge: navigate the ever-changing world of influencers while being a first-time parent.

“It was really hard, trying to balance being a new mum and being at work,” says Kirsten candidly ahead of the season two launch.

“I realised you don’t see a lot of new mums in the influencer world, and I felt that my anxieties just kept bubbling up when I was working.

“I think there can be a perception that once you’re a mum, that’s all you can be, and I felt like that a bit at the start.”

Kirsten Cameron with her baby daughter at Gleneagles. Image: Supplied.

Indeed, baby vomit and eye bags aren’t quite what spring to mind when one thinks ‘influencer’, but Kirsten’s made it work, leaning into deals with baby product brands such as Mamas and Papas and pram manufacturers iCandy.

Often, the world of an influencer – which Kirsten explains is “essentially a modern model” who can partner with companies to reach a “niche, specific” target audience by curating a loyal social media following – is laden with glamour and freebies, and heavily contrived.

Influencers and content creators will tend to film, edit and present their lives online to fit in with their own personal brand – even “getting into trouble for setting up tripods in the streets”, according to Kirsten.

But the unpredictable nature of parenthood, changing hormones and new mental health battles meant Kirsten had no choice but to be ‘unfiltered’ in front of the TV cameras.

‘I didn’t know post-natal anxiety was a thing’

In the latest instalment of the show, we see her wrestling with post-natal anxiety at work, with worries about her daughter’s safety constantly preying on her mind.

A conversation with her sister Lauren, a midwife, sees Kirsten revealing she has struggled with intrusive thoughts late at night and a constant feeling of panic whenever she’s separated from Acé.

“Being a mum, there’s so much added pressure. I just worry all the time,” she says, overcome with tears in her sister’s garden in their hometown of Perth.

Kirsten Cameron becomes emotional at work on season 2 of The Agency: Unfiltered. Image: BBC Scotland.

“Even when I’m asleep, I feel like I’m worrying. When she’s sleeping, I’ll put my fingers under her nose or touch her belly to check she’s breathing.

“She’s nearly one and I’m still worrying so bad all the time, when I’m away from her or she’s being babysat, that something’s going to happen to her.

“I thought you could only have post-natal depression, I didn’t know post-natal anxiety was a thing. I can’t go on living my life like this.”

Fast-forward to our Zoom call and Kirsten assures me she’s “feeling much better” than she was during filming, thanks to getting help from health professionals off the back of her conversation with Lauren.

But she hopes her vulnerability on screen can signal how overwhelming post-natal anxiety can be for new mothers.

“I didn’t really have a choice but to share those moments on screen, because things kept coming up as the season was unfolding,” she admits.

“There were moments where I just couldn’t hide my emotions.”

Not that she would want to.

Aquarius influencers ‘won’t just take money’ insists agency boss Kirsten

The paradoxical nature of an influencer’s job, explains Kirsten, is that though everything is orchestrated – from co-ordinated outfits to Instagrammable backdrops and scoped-out lighting – authenticity and transparency on a personal level are key to an influencer’s success.

“We always encourage our girls to be honest,” insists Kirsten. “Trust is key.

“I think what people don’t see is that our girls do turn down so many jobs. If it doesn’t align with them, they won’t just take the money and do it anyway.

“For example, we get a lot of lingerie brands that reach out to us, but a lot of our girls will say ‘No, I’m not going to work with that brand’ because maybe it doesn’t align with their personal brand or they have a lot of young followers.”

Kirsten Cameron on season 2 of The Agency: Unfiltered. Image: BBC Scotland.

And although the nature of the job means that influencers are often gifted free products, such as beauty treatments, clothes, gadgets or even getaways, to try and test for their followers, Kirsten firmly believes that Aquarius girls cannot be bought.

“What’s important for our girls is that they only ever promote products that they would also go out and buy,” she explains.

“They might be getting it for free but they’d buy it with their own money as well. So what they’re saying to their followers is essentially that the product is worth the money.

“Everyone is being affected by the cost of living crisis, even us, so we would never want to be promoting a brand or product that wasn’t worth it for people.”

Season 2 lets audiences ‘see behind the Instagram post’

Where season one of The Agency: Unfiltered focused on portraying what exactly an influencer does, season two delves further into the personal lives and priorities of the Aquarius team and the girls on their roster.

“It’s definitely more about letting you see behind the Instagram post,” reveals Kirsten, who we see planning her wedding with her fiance, footballer Adam Coakley.

“A couple of our girls went through quite hard times this season, breakups and business challenges, and they have been on their platforms talking about that and being open.

“I think that’s good because people like being able to relate, knowing they’re not the only person going through something. And people are just nosy!”

Kirsten Cameron, left, with friend and influencer Abbie Blyth. Image: BBC Scotland.

Throughout the season, Kirsten and Amy support one of their longest-standing signings, Abby Blyth, as she navigates a breakup and her fashion label, Bly, takes a financial hit.

Kirsten even convinces partner Amy to invest in Bly, helping Abby get back on her feet.

“Abby and I have been friends for a long time, since before we even started the business,” smiles Kirsten.

“She was going through such a hard time, and it just felt like the right thing to do. It’s going really well too – the Bly blazers and hoodies are selling like hotcakes.”

Kirsten learned ‘the hard way’ about mixing work and friendship

But in an industry where lines are blurred between Instagram and reality, persona and personality, and work and friendship, Kirsten has learned her lesson when it comes to mixing business with pleasure.

“It can be quite hard in the office with all the Aquarius girls, because it’s a small office and we’re all quite close. But I think we’ve learned the hard way about that,” she says, alluding to the departure of former staff member Charlotte Reid, who left the agency in season one along with one of the business’s biggest clients.

“At the end of the day, we are friends but we’ve also got a business to run, and there needs to be that line.”

Kirsten Cameron with friends Adele Duffy and C Kay Elle at The Bothy in Perth. Image: Supplied.

Part of running a successful agency is having her finger on the pulse of new online trends, and for Kirsten, artificial intelligence is the biggest untapped resource in the influencing world.

She reckons that it won’t be long before AI-generated profiles become influencers in their own right.

“I don’t think it’s a threat [to us] because I think there’s room for everyone in this influencer sphere. But it is crazy,” she observes.

“There’s this one that I can’t stop watching on TikTok, and it’s an AI Marge Simpson, (@margiethehun) and she’s doing stuff like going to B&M and going to get her hair done. It’s so addictive!

“And it wouldn’t surprise me to see AI influencers getting brand deals and becoming brand ambassadors.”


Season 2 of The Agency: Unfiltered is available to watch on BBC iPlayer now.