what is fifiandmo?
So MAYBEEEEE you found our account because of a video you saw somewhere, perhaps you came across Finley’s SDR story in your google searches, or possibly you saw our story on TV?
Whether its mommy and me outfit inspiration, Finley, cerebral palsy, adoption, my business or hairstyle tutorials- one way or another YOU FOUND US! Hooray! LOL- I want to give you a warm welcome. But, I must warn you, I’m a bit of a kook. “How is that possible?” you say? Well, for starters… I use words like “kook”. So there’s that.
I like to think I started as a so called ‘blogger’ by choice, but that would be a lie. I actually started with posting to my little Instagram as my first “blog” - my online diary. Now, that little account is what you know today as FIFIANDMO with over 135k followers.
How did you start fifiandmo?
A few months after Finley was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy I was in a dark place, feeling lost. I needed a safe place to share my heart. For 15 months I struggled silently as an overnight mama to a preemie and completely lost my identity. I was out of work and never left my house (because, germs). So, I started fifiandmo as a secret instagram account with the hopes of getting to connect with other Warrior Mamas- perhaps there was a world out there that could help me- Google sure wasn't of much help. Also, I didn’t want to annoy our friends with our “model search” reposts for brand repping entries. I remember not wanting to tell ANYONE I knew about this new little Instagram, for fear of judgment. Truthfully, looking back I think I was just striving for a sense of normalcy - grasping at anything I could cling to for hope
The community that surrounds us is incredible! I’m forever grateful for the endless stream of support! I owe a major chunk of my sanity to it. Seriously. There’s a handful of Small-shop Mamas that will forever have my heart because they believed in us from Day 1! They would pick us for their searches, send us clothes, and then repost each of our pics! It brought me so much comfort. Like I was trying to prove to myself, see we’re normal?
As the account grew, so did the opportunities.
I had NO CLUE what I was doing, but I knew I was doing something. I made it my goal for every day to do a post. A post including something we were actually doing that day. Activity, outfit, emotion, whatever- I committed. I committed to this first, and it eventually became a true passion. I treated it like a job- one I loved. I was determined to put REAL RAW TRUTH in my posts. This was to be the best content for other mama’s who are in the journey behind me. I never concentrated on the amount of followers- I was looking for ONE TYPE of connection- this was the fuel to the fire.
Seems like every post I made amounted to something good. From putting a smile on my face, learning a new CP related Tip, or making a true connection with another mama and chatting for hours upon hours. I met several moms who were ahead of us in our CP Journey - that were so forthcoming with their knowledge. This changed my life. They changed my life. I also met Brand Repping Mama’s that showed me tips & tricks along the way. Kind souls. Thank you Lord for ALLLLLLL of them, you know who you are.
FIFIANDMO EVOLVed INTO AN ADVOCATE ACCOUNT
and I had ZERO CLUE what was happening.
Back in the real world, my life got extremely demanding and busy. I began working full time again and felt like I was losing any sort of commitment or balance we had. I began to receive lots of emails from others who were in that same LOST space I was in. I tried my best to help by offering advice. Truth was, I wasn’t an expert- I was just open about sharing our experiences. I thrived on true connections & I hated to hear of anyone in pain. I knew the pain. I know the pain.
The Dare to Dance Challenge was an overnight success. I was shocked at all the people DANCING for our girl! The fifiandmo account SHOT to 80k followers. It was shocking to Josh and I. I remember feeling very overwhelmed, but in the best way. Larger brands began to reach out, offering not only to send us free items- but to also pay us for our posts. Small-shops that had dismissed us in the beginning, now suddenly wanted to send us items and feature us on their pages. It was slightly offensive, yet flattering and honestly a great distraction on the difficult days.
Finley’s story becoming NEWSWORTHY gave me plenty of anxiety attacks. After all, I had always strived to have this platform where my heart could be exposed but our identity would stay hidden. I did my best. Our bio literally said that we were “Fifi & Moniqe from SoCal” for awhile. LOL. Then the Dare to Dance Challenge happened and well, we became “Finley & Christina Smallwood of Eastvale, CA.” So much for atonimy. I had several anxiety attacks that first week, staring out my window knowing the boogiemen were going to come and get us! yes, PLURAL- all the boogiemen would surely be after us!
CUE THE INTEREST
I began to receive permission requests from news and media stations all over the world, asking to share Finley’s story and make their own videos with our footage: Ashton Kutcher, Disney, Upworthy, Lil’ Jon, Yahoo, to name a few. We were featured in October 2017 Good Housekeeping Magazine! LIKE, WHAT?!!
The BBC reached out to come to our home and film us for a mini-series called, “Born this way.” (Honestly, I didn’t love how the whole thing was centered around Instagram- because it wasn’t a huge focal point. Obviously.)
Then the emails from casting producers started rolling in. We interviewed with Steve Harvey’s Little Big Shots, The Ellen Degenerous Show, and several different reality TV shows - one was actually going to be our own show - which I thought was NUTS! Finley is very shy, and froze up when the camera’s were around. She hates the spotlight and doesn’t do well with pressure. So we just began turning down all the other interview requests that came in. Josh and I had countless conversations debating if that would have even been good for Fin, you know the whole “child actor” stigma. I trusted God with that one, and looks like it wasn’t meant to be.
Over the last 5 years we’ve pursued every avenue possible to give Finley the best life possible. That will never change.
We are committed to sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly cries with our online platform- and in real life lol. We legit celebrate EVERY SINGLE TRIUMPH no matter how small it seems. Finley is happy and healthy and on the road to independence! I don’t post as often on fifiandmo as I would like- because i’m still trying to find that pesky thing called BALANCE. I’ve been working really hard on also branding myself. I view fifiandmo as Finley’s account, because it is. I remember posting a few selfies in a row and someone saying, “Why are you posting without Finley, where is Finley?” It felt weird to post about myself there.
In shielding Finley from sharing too much about her personal life, and also respecting the fact that she is shy… I have found that I can be 100% myself through my Instagram. I document every single day and try to give a realistic glimpse into our day.
We are in the process of getting foster approved, which hasn’t been too eventful - hopefully will be completed with our home study soon. I keep setting deadlines and then they keep passing by, so now I am just going to say SOON.
We can’t wait to grow our family!
When I’m not styling hair for Tamra Judge on the RHOC - I run a full time business from home (well anywhere there is wifi) and we are busy busy with Finley’s schedule still! Finley just got glasses and is in therapies after school. So, needless to say- my firstname.lastname@example.org inbox with letters from other parents in that LOST part of their journey- is extremely backed up. 871 and counting. That red bubble over my email icon haunts me. I know I will get to them, I don’t want to hire an assistant because I want to share and I WANT to GENUINELY CONNECT. It seems though, that there just is not enough time in a day, week, year…..
SO I did what I could do BEST! Efficiency is always theme-saving goal, right? I created a space that other’s could connect. It’s my Facebook group. Duh, nuh-nuh nuh-nuh NUHHHHHH!WITH
Fifiandmo is where it is today because of all the love and support you all share with us! I am excited to say I have big dreams for this accidental brand of ours. I always do my best to authentic and honest- transparent is my middle name! You will see sponsored ads on Instagram and Facebook, consider it a HUGE victory for our ADVOCATION EFFORTS- it means that large brands are recognizing the beauty beyond physical limitations! Our sweet warrior girl is the face of triumph. We raise children that look at these ads- I want them to be able to see past difference. I want them to know similarities. Finley loves ice cream, purple, and Barbies- doesn’t every 5 year old? THAT is why this account will continue to evolve- our advocation efforts will lead wherever they may (in still images, because Fin still doesn’t love interviews lol.). That’s my timid girl. I am SO PROUD of her. My dream is to open a Target catalog one day and see Finley’s beautiful face in there representing every little girl that feels like she’s too different to be in a magazine. There’s so much BEAUTY in being UNIQUE! My heart is for inclusion, kindness, and rolling with the opportunities we are presented with as God continues to open doors.
If you’ve made it this far- THANK YOU for your valuable time. Feel free to brows through our blogs to learn more about us and our Journey. Just know that Fifiandmo represents: TRIUMPH OVER STRUGGLE, HONEST VULNERABILITY, TRANSPARENT EMOTIONS, FINDING YOURSELF WHILE FACING DIVERSITY, AND OVRECOMING OBSTACLES- MOST OF ALL- BEING UNAPOLOGETICALLY YOURSELF.
Christina Smallwood, of Eastvale lol