Be authentic and transparent. I’ve been transparent throughout my journey on Shop My Porch. From my humble beginnings on my porch to getting my first round of funding, I’ve kept my followers in the loop every step of the way.

We often use the term “Influencers” to describe people with significant social media followings on platforms like Instagram, Twitter TikTok, Youtube, Linkedin and Facebook. Influencers have become today’s media titans, sought after for everything from product placements to timely trends. What’s the difference between influence and impact? Fans and followers? Sizzle versus staying power?

In this interview series, called, “How To Cultivate Community In A Click to Connect World” we are talking to influencers about how they define success and what we all need to discover about the true nature of influence. As a part of this series I had the pleasure of interviewing Phyllis Hong.

Phyllis Hong is the founder/CEO of Shop My Porch — a hyperlocal shopping platform that connects makers with shoppers in their local communities. She started Shop My Porch as a Facebook group that quickly grew to nearly 120,000 followers in just a few months that were fully transacting within the group. She has since raised a round of funding and launched the Shop My Porch iOS & Android app that is the first social commerce discovery engine for local artisans.

Thank you for making time to visit with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. How did you discover your career path and what got you to where you are today?

I have over 15 years of experience developing tech solutions for the retail industry. Back when Pinterest was launching, Ben Silbermann personally reached out to me via email and asked me to join his new platform. He said that if I became one of their early adopters, he would help me grow my following. I did so and grew my following quickly to over 300,000 followers that reached nearly 20 Million followers during the holidays. It was a fascinating study in influencer strategy, relationships with brands, and how to get followers to interact with you.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned along the way that influences how you operate now?

I’ve learned that you need to be authentic and transparent. When your followers look up to you for the latest trends, you cannot lead them astray by promoting brands that don’t fit into your lifestyle.

We’re all searching for some good news. How are you using your platform to make a positive social impact?

Shop My Porch started out as an activity that kept myself busy during COVID. I sold my laser engraved ornaments on my porch because there were no craft fairs that were open. I quickly thought — if I’m in the same boat and I’m only doing this for fun to pass the time, there must be thousands upon thousands of makers that are literally trying to survive. I quickly created a Facebook group, teaching makers how to connect with local neighbors and teaching neighbors the importance of supporting local artisans. By shopping local on our app, makers and neighbors are building community, they’re learning how to value collaboration over competition and in doing so, they are building their community of support networks up. I am seeing makers tag one another and saying, “Kristin — this buyer lives closer to you and you can turn it around faster than I can” Not only does this have a positive social impact, it generates several more cycles of local sales tax which improves schools, roads, and parks.

Many of our readers are influencers as well. Others have tried and have yet to succeed. What words of advice would you offer to aspiring influencers, knowing what you know now?

Be authentic and transparent. I’ve been transparent throughout my journey on Shop My Porch. From my humble beginnings on my porch to getting my first round of funding, I’ve kept my followers in the loop every step of the way.

Success is often a matter of perspective. I’ve always resonated with Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” How do you see success — or define success — for yourself now?

I define success by the stories I hear from my followers. Because of Shop My Porch, I was able to put dinner on the table, pay my rent, stay home with my children. Because of Shop My Porch, I was able to quit my job and pursue my dreams of being an artisan. We’ve connected hundreds of thousands of people together nationwide — reaching the most rural of cities in America where corporations have completely overlooked.

What are your strategies to make room for who and what matters most?

Every one of my makers and shoppers matter. I firmly believe in hyperlocal shopping — by shopping local and shopping small, we are supporting the smallest of businesses. There is room at the table for everyone on Shop My Porch — from home based artisans that are Grandmothers looking to make some pocket money to artisans who have the ability to sell to a nationwide audience. We have different levels of support for each type of artisan from teaching them how to start their business to fostering partnership opportunities with brands and retailers for the larger ones.

How do you reduce or mitigate stress?

Retail therapy! I’ve been in retail influencing for so long that it’s just fun to mindlessly browse but now I do it all on the Shop My Porch app — there are SO many talented artisans on the app — from charcuterie artists to furniture makers.

I’m going to try a few of your tips, and I’m hopeful our readers will, too. Now it’s time for the big reveal — the moment our readers have been anticipating. What are your “five strategies to cultivate a large & engaged social media community?’ Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Be authentic. I am who I am on Shop My Porch — a little bit feisty and a lot of personality but they know that I have their best interests at heart.
  2. Be transparent. As Shop My Porch grew — it was only me running the whole show. After 5 months of working nearly 20 hour days, I knew I had to switch gears. I explained to my community that I needed help to continue growing the group and decided to go for funding.
  3. Be engaging. I personally answer nearly everyone that tags me on social media.
  4. Be accessible. My community can find me on all platforms — Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and of course, the Shop My Porch app.
  5. Provide value. I teach my community best practices, how to sell, how to market their products, and how to run their business.

What do you do to create a greater sense of connection and community among your fans?

The Shop My Porch app does exactly that. By being able to search their local communities for makers, they’re now supporting local when it is ever so important. Makers appreciate that they have local shoppers. Shoppers appreciate not having to pay for shipping (which has slowed down and increased in cost). Increased purchasing power because they don’t have to pay for shipping. And my favorite feature on the app has to be the “From the Heart” posts. When a shopper receives a purchase, they take a photo and thanks the maker for creating it for them. These gratitude posts enable makers to generate more business in the form of referrals and the community grows closer with each post.

The Shop My Porch app is a social commerce discovery engine that hasn’t been done before. The community loves it — they love discovering artisans and what they make in their local community. They love being able to share with their friends what they find by easily tagging them in comments. The shopper’s favorite feature is our “On the Hunt” feature. This is essentially a concierge service. The shopper simply states what they’re looking for, along with their budget, timeline, and location. They upload an inspiration photo

As an influencer, you are, by definition, a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

My dream and vision is to create a movement of hyperlocal shopping that connects makers to shoppers in their local communities. Our motto is to knit communities together one purchase at a time. Just like the butterfly effect — each purchase affects positive change in a community. It may not seem like much but every dollar in a maker’s pocket counts. A $20 purchase may not mean anything to Amazon, but it could mean dinner on the table for a family. Every dollar makes a difference.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He, she or they might just see this. 🙂

I would love to have lunch with Ben Silbermann, the CEO of Pinterest. I would love to thank him in person one day for giving me my start in the world of influencing. I believed in his product and was one of his earliest adopters.

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

They can download the Shop My Porch app in either the iTunes or Google Play Store — they can also shop at

Thank you for these thought provoking insights. Here’s to your continued success!

Thank you for the opportunity to allow me to share Shop My Porch with your readers!