Alexa Curtis Invented D.A.R.E. for Social Media Addiction

Social media can be simultaneously the best and worst thing.

It can help you build a business where you basically get paid to be yourself. But it can also make you feel like shit.

Well, one teen is trying to change that. Alexa Curtis has created a new program called M.I.N.T. that’s basically like D.A.R.E., but for avoiding the pitfalls associated with Instagram and Twitter rather than drugs.

She first started a fashion blog at 12 called Life in the Fashion Lane, and has been basically stayed in that lane ever since. She started modeling when she was 14, and created her own platform to become an influencer. She was even a panelist at only 18 for mental health and social media.

We talked to now 19-year-old Alexa about what she’s been up to.

What is MINT?

So I started MINT after I spoke at a conference in May. The whole thing was directed towards the impact of social media on mental health. I quickly realized there was no relatable teenage figure that is able to tell other kids about social media and their body image, and how it’s affecting their mental health. The program hosts panels in schools on social media. It was officially launched on Sept. 1st, and we’ve already been in 6 schools. 

That’s incredible. Why is MINT important to you?

So when I wanted to get into fashion, I started a fashion blog when I was 12. I thought that the only way to get into the fashion world was through modeling. I got signed when I was 14. My blog was taking off when I was 16, and I wrote a piece that went viral about what it’s like modeling, and that was really relatable and raw. I got such great feedback from it that I thought that this should what I should talk about about. 

What should everyone know about MINT?

My goal is making it an official non profit. That would be awesome, and then I can get a grant and I can then my initial goal with it be its own program that’s introduced to many other schools. 

It would almost replace the D.A.R.E. system that’s mandatory in schools. You know, I wish I was taught those things about my body and being confident, and how social media can give you a warped perception of what’s real.

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How’d you get into style blogging?

I’m from a really small town, and I had a very average upbringing. I always kind of knew knew I was different, so I started that fashion blog and called Life in the Fashion Lane. It was just something that I thought maybe I could find friends through. And the small town sheltered life made that kind of hard.

So when this starting taking off, I started pitching things to other sites. Then over the past four years, made it into a company for inspiring young adults to follow.

What’s your secret to gaining followers without paying for them?

I would say that it’s helpful if you don’t have this mindset of wanting to become famous overnight. It’s all about having a lot of followers nowadays, and then eventually you know it’s going to pay off. Network as much as possible, you can make your own business cards. I would go to coffee shops and just leave them everywhere. 

Depending on what your goal is, just emailing editors to see if they have a fit for whatever you can offer. You need to be the first one. In other ways, use hashtags, following people back helps, but having fake followers is really bad in the long run because that will hurt your brand.

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Describe your style aesthetic.

I would say it’s depending on what I’m doing, if I could ideally dress, it would be black combat boots, black jeans, and black leather jacket with a chambray top underneath. I like vintage and classic pieces paired with flats. I only really shop at really affordable places. I really like that model street style with classical aesthetic. 

Who’s been the biggest inspiration to you during this process?

I think the minute I published the blog, and I had all of these kids telling me their stories, and talking at the conference, there were 2 major things that I knew. I had a voice, that wasn’t born in to celebrity or industry, that I could use to relate to other kids growing up. All of these things, even if it empowers just one person, makes me want to inspire people.

Like this movement towards more body postitivity is great. Like models like Ashley Graham and things are great, but it goes deeper than that. They are still beautiful. I think the program should be opening up the perception of beauty, that kids in that crucial time period that no one is telling them. There’s a new standard of beautiful, that it doesn’t have to be just like that.

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What can you not leave the house without?

Other than my cell phone, Burt’s Bees Lip Balm. 

Who are some of your favorite fashion designers ever?

I really like Rebecca Minkoff, I like Coach, but they’re trying to reinvent it, and I kind of like their new vibe. I’m really into vintage and thrift. There’s this place in Houston called Crossroads that’s a consignment shop and I love it. I really like J. Crew and Banana Republic. 

What’s the most valuable advice someone has given you?

I would say when I get to go in front of the superintendents of the schools I’m trying to bring MINT to, sometimes they say no. But even if they say no when I pitch it to them, normally they will say its needed, and they appreciate what I am doing. Even if people are saying that it’s needed. Especially having people saying that is so encouraging to me. 

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Where do you hope to be in a year?

In a year, I definitely want to grow this platform, and officially make it a non-profit. It has grown to be everything that a young adult, regardless of where they are from, can see and feel empowered and inspired by my story. I’m hoping to work on writing a book about being a young entrepreneur because people are going to always be inspired.

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