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Going through a bad breakup may be the most relatable experience practically everybody has been through. What sets us apart is the way we grow coming out of those toxic entanglements. While mired in an abusive relationship, Salice Rose turned to social media as an escape. Nothing more.

“I was in a super abusive relationship and I didn’t have a way out,” Rose explains. “I was scared for my life. It’s hard to leave. So I went on social media—I had no following whatsoever—and started posting funny stuff. Things that would distract me and help me make more friends, I never did it for fame.”

What started as a mere respite from a dark situation ended up igniting a conflagration within Rose. She had always been a boisterous individual, a born entertainer, but she never imagined those skills would take her anywhere.

“In my mind I was thinking, I wasn’t born into money, I don’t know any people in the industry, I can’t make it on my own, even though I feel like I can,” she says. “What was my hobby ended up being my career, and that’s why it comes so naturally to me. Because it was a hobby, it’s fun to me, it lights my soul on fire. It goes to show that when you’re passionate about something you need to put your all into it because if you do, you’re going to make something great out of it.”

photos by troy conrad

photos by troy conrad

Rose started posting around 2013, when Instagram was king. Through a combination of photos and short skits, she steadily built her following on the platform. She saw that if she remained consistent in her posting, she might not need to go out and get a day job. She was ready to hustle and take things to the next level, but those around her weren’t so sure.

All her family could see from Rose’s social media was that she was making skits and having a good time. They didn’t see the potential, but Rose wasn’t going to relent. “The hard part was trying to convince my family that what I’m doing was gonna work,” she says. “I eventually got tired of explaining myself and just put in the work. At the end of the day the results speak for themselves.”

Today, after years of dedicated work and diversification across platforms, Rose has tens of millions of followers. Her success can be attributed to two major factors—a deep understanding of each platform and consistency.

One of the many pitfalls made by folks hoping to build internet notoriety is the belief that every platform is the same. Rose recognized early on that each platform catered to a certain type of content. For example, the skits that were working on Instagram would never fit with her vlog-craving YouTube audience. She would need to be creative in order to build a following across many different platforms, but it’s not as simple as creating a different persona for each audience. Authenticity is key, no matter the platform.

“Naturally, I like to be an entertainer,” she says. “My personality is super big and super loud, so it’s never really an issue for me. The way it would be hard is if I was pretending to be something that I’m not just for views. Being someone you’re not gets exhausting.”

photos by troy conrad

photos by troy conrad

On each platform, Rose shares a different aspect of her robust personality with her followers. And this sometimes means dwelling on issues that don’t fit the cookie-cutter perfection we’ve come to expect from social media. Rose makes a point of sharing her downfalls, showing that life can get rough for everybody.

“I’m proud of who I am, I love who I am, and I love everything I’ve been through,” she says. “I want to share my story because not everything is black and white or perfect. There are some downfalls. But I feel comfortable sharing because my followers make it a safe place to do so. I’m super grateful for them.”

Opening up so candidly allows Rose to create a bond with her followers that makes each one feel as if they are actually friends. But this wouldn’t be the case if she didn’t post so consistently. It’s easy for a creator to get dismayed after seeing a video they poured their hearts into tank on social media. Rose has learned that it pays to have a short memory in these situations. Despite the frustration, one can’t dwell on failures, especially when there’s always a chance to get back to form.

“It’s super frustrating, but it’s all about who’s more consistent,” she explains. “Who’s going to keep posting and who’s going to get discouraged and fall off. I don’t want to be like everybody else and just stop posting. I want to keep doing me and post as much as I can because I know my worth. Running away is not going to help the issue at all, just keep on posting. Whether there’s one view or a million views, keep doing it. You never know who’s watching.”

Keeping up this sort of drive requires a level of sacrifice. Rose isn’t able to keep strict 9-to-5 hours or make sure she has every weekend off if she intends on staying at her current level. Sometimes there’s still a lot of work to do when the weekend rolls around, but she’s never minded putting in the extra hours.

“If you genuinely love what you’re doing—you love your fans and you love creating content—you’ll actually mean it when you say you don’t want to take a day off,” Rose says. “You have to really be a hustler at heart to want more and not settle for what everybody else is settling for.”

photos by troy conrad

photos by troy conrad

While they may have been skeptical when she first started pursuing her career, Rose’s family have been incredibly supportive. Some families might be hesitant to become role players for an audience of millions on social media, but not Rose’s. Her mother loves to add her two cents, often egging her on and suggesting jokes and topics.

Rose may be poking fun at Hispanic moms in some of her videos, but her adoration for the woman who raised her is immense. Every morning when Rose looks into the mirror she sees that love reflected back in the form of the script tattooed on her neck. “She wrote that she loved me on a piece of paper,” Rose says, “and when I told her I was going to get it tatted she got so mad at me.”

When Rose first started collecting tattoos, her mom, like most moms, was not exactly thrilled. But let’s be honest, a little flattery can go a long way, so as her mother saw herself in multiple tattoos, including a beautiful portrait, she couldn’t help but love them. Her mom may not ever be enthralled with the idea of her daughter getting inked, but she’s made peace with it.

All of Rose’s tattoos have meaning behind them—she isn’t the type to run into a shop on a whim and pick flash off the wall—and none are more meaningful than the ones dedicated to her mother.

“My mom is my world, she is my rock, she is my everything,” Rose says. “She made me into the woman I am today. She was both my mom and my dad at once, so of course I want to represent my mom in the best way I can. Not only am I going to be a good woman to the world, but I’ve got to get a few tattoos for her.”

It’s been years since Salice Rose turned to social media as a means to escape from a toxic relationship. In doing so she found so much more than a hobby—she found her true calling.

“It all started as just pure fun,” she says. “And then I blinked my eyes and ended up building an empire. Now I’m just doing what I can and taking care of a lot of people in my family. I never thought I could do this, so I’m super blessed and grateful that the universe and God have given me this experience.” 

photos by troy conrad

photos by troy conrad