Introducing Allured By Design Home & Lifestyle
It's been quite the emotional journey leading up to this day. The day that I knew I'd have to share with you all what's happened, how I've felt about what's happened, how I've been feeling, how I still feel and what my plans are moving forward since what's happened, HAPPENED!
On Sunday - February 16, 2020 at approximately 7:23P CST my beloved Instagram account for my brand and business - @alluredbydesign was hacked into, stolen and deleted. In a blink of an eye all three years of building, growing, developing, evolving and curating my feed and the page I've poured so much time and hard work into...all taken away from me, including all 25.5K followers who grew to love and appreciate my work, my design aesthetic and my personality through the squares, written captions and posts they'd come to know me by. And, through the visual content I delivered to them regularly. All Gone!!
When I realized the severity of the situation, or moreso that it was real and not a joke...I tried hard not to panic. But after receiving several emails from the actual hacker that hacked into my account, basically bargaining for money in order for my account to be returned back to me. I realized then this was very serious and my instagram account was the casualty of cyber theft. And, in short, this was a ransom type of situation.
I can't even begin to describe the range of emotions I went through from Sunday night to Monday morning and just overall these last two weeks. But I will try my best to share what this experience has been like. Writing this blogpost is especially hard because I have to relive the emotions. But it's so important for me to do this and share this experience with you, so that I may allow myself to feel what I feel and then move on. And, that hopefully I can help someone take precaution or prevention from ever being in my position.
Most and all Influencers regardless of the genre of influence (design, food, beauty, health, fashion, lifestyle, art, photography, dance, music, film, etc...) are consistently invited to participate in collaborations and partnerships with other brands. For many of us, our social media platforms are no longer about posting just for fun or for the love of it. It's now business and marketing. Once you step into the Influencer world, securing brand partnerships to both grow your visibility and the reach of your influence becomes a necessary part of the success of your brand and how marketable other brands will see you.
Yet, it is CRUCIAL to best determine what brands will align and work best with your brand. Do you have similar principles and philosophies? Will their aesthetic work with yours? Is the partnership worth your time and skill? Will the workload required and deliverables be comparable or equal to the payout terms...be it money, free products and/or a feature across a larger platform. And, once again and oftentimes most importantly...Will partnering with this brand increase your visibility and grow your following and influence?
These are all things to be considered whenever a potential partnership is presented to you. And, as I mentioned above so often Influencers, including myself (although I hate to refer to myself as an Influencer - that's a story for another day) are frequently contacted by other brands desiring to work with us and tap into our influence to market and sell their products. It's standard Business 101.
I'm usually very good at weaving out emails that come my way that I know almost immediately isn't the right fit for my brand. And, even deleting emails where the tone itself sound sketchy or unsettling.
Unfortunately, in this particular case...even with the email sounding not particularly legit at all, I mistakingly clicked on what's called a "phishing" link that opened up Instagram in Safari asking for me to sign in. For clarity to those who may not be familiar with the term...
Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.
I NEVER log into Instagram via an online browser. I always, always go through the app itself. However, this one time I did...it was costly and ultimately cost me my entire design business account, giving the hacker access into my page. And, as I said...in a blink of an eye, it was gone.
The hacker sent me several emails, all with the tone of ransom. I won't share every single email but I will share a few and they all came from an email address belonging to Any Hirl - email@example.com. See his first few emails to me below...
"Good day! We apologize for the inconvenience. Your account has been temporarily blocked!
It's perfectly safe and we haven't touched it. We are waiting for your reply 2 hours! If you do not respond, we will start to clear your account (delete photos) and sell your account! We are waiting for your reply!"
"We apologize for the inconvenience! Waiting for the answer for another 1 hour, if not, clear your account (delete photos) and sell your account"
"We see that you read our messages, but do not respond to us. We didn't want to delete your photos. You do not respond, so you do not need an account. Unfortunately, we start to clear the account (delete photos) and sell the account. I'm sorry, goodbye"
I refused to reply to one single email and put me, my business, my life or my Husband at any further risk, harm or danger. Instead I reached out immediately to Instagram to notify them of what had taken place with hopes they'd be able to take hold of the situation and recover my account.
Sadly, no recovery of my account came Sunday night and I quickly learned that this would be a process...Quite possibly a marathon and most definitely not a race. My Husband and I barely slept that night and by the time Monday morning rolled around, the reality and shock of it all affected me in a physical way. I suffer with anxiety and indeed my body went into an attack, which then evolved into vomiting for at least a good 45minutes or so.
My eyes were bloodshot from the tears I'd shed Sunday night into Monday morning. My beautiful brown skin pale, my body physically drained and exhausted, my appetite lost, my spirit beaten and shaken and faith on recovering my account extremely low. The thought of having to start all over and rebuilding anew frightened me and I wasn't ready to accept that it just may be what I'd have to do in the interim until recovering my account could become a solid reality. I thought about all of the big projects I'm working on and things I had plans on sharing with my followers later this year. And, now with them all gone, the success of my future projects from their support was now on extremely shaky grounds. How do I recover from this? Can I recover from this? Where do I even begin? Do I build anew and start from the very beginning? Or, do I pick-up where I left off with my last post the day my account was stolen from me?
The questions, the worries, the fears, the stress of it all took me through an emotional journey these past two weeks. While I was going through a crisis, and literally grieving what I'd lost and trying to figure things out...my city was at the height of celebrating the season of Mardi Gras. But my spirit was in no celebratory mood. And, on top of everything, I still had to get up and go to work every day and put what I was going through to the side and coordinate a TV Show. If your brand new to my blog, I'm both a professional Filmmaker and a Designer...working hard in two creative industries. To visit my about page and read more on my journey from film to design, click here.
Ironically, going to work helped a LOT! More than I ever thought it would, as it gave me an escape to not consume my mind with my reality...but instead day by day regain my faith and not wallow in sorrow. And, most importantly develop a plan of action with how I would move forward.
Each day I grew a little bit stronger and a bit more confident that all would be well amidst this storm. Speaking of storm, I'm from New Orleans born and raised. I survived Hurricane Katrina. Being resilient is in the DNA and bloodline of every New Orleanian. If we know how to do one thing in life, it's most certainly rebuilding and starting anew.
So today on Sunday - March 1st at the beginning of a new month and a fresh start...I'm starting brand new and turning lemons into lemonade with the announcement of my new Instagram page - @alluredbydesignhomelifestyle. I chose this name because I realized my brand is more than just home decor and interior design. Allured By Design is ALL about lifestyle and a way of living a life of beauty, peace and calm. A way of giving our very best in any and every situation. A way of being resilient in the face of adversity. A way of shining amidst any and every storm. A way of figuring out a way to make it through the storm. A way of living life in the best way possible on our own terms. And, a way of being surrounded by things and people we love.
I only shared with a very small circle, a select few of friends, designers and influencers what happened. Each of them lending me their words of support, their prayers and encouragement. Each of them being faithful for me when I wasn't able to be. And, each of them strongly believing this set-back was nothing more than a set-up for a major comeback getting ready to take place in my life. Of everyone, my Husband said something that I've carried with me daily and continue to do so. He said...
"Allured By Design is not just a brand of followers. YOU ARE YOUR BRAND! You're the creator, designer and author of it, and your creative talent is behind it all. Every single photoshoot, every design, every project you create and produce all comes from your mind and your vision. And, absolutely NO ONE can or will ever take that away from you. People will follow your brand because they love you, your work, your personality and what you represent. So if we have to start anew, let's start fresh and rebuild. And, all that love you and your brand...will lend their support and follow along the new journey as well."
Sources + Creative Credits:
Interior Design & Styling: Allured By Design
Creative Direction: Tachic Hickman-Piazza
Design Photography: Stacy Marks
Make-Up: Javetta White
Location: House Piazza
Those words meant and still mean absolutely everything to me. And, I most certainly believe my Husband couldn't be any more right. He also pretty much gave ya'll the official marching orders. So please make sure you follow my new account on Instagram @alluredbydesignhomelifestyle and share it with others, as I will need the support of everyone in my rebuilding efforts.
I'd like to personally say thank you to all who've lent me their support and love during this difficult time. Thank you to the small select few that I felt comfortable sharing with. Thank you to my friends who called or text daily to check on me. Thank you to the community of Designers, Bloggers and Influencers who all understood and will understand my plight and have empathized with what I've been going through...Because we all know far too well, we're all at risk in the cyber space of our digital platforms. As any of us can be subject to this kind of cyber theft in these digital streets. To all of my followers and email subscribers who've been in the dark these last two weeks wondering what's going on with me. Am I ok? Why is my account not pulling up? Am I sick? Am I alive? If you said a prayer for me, amidst and even without knowledge of my storm...Thank you for your prayers. I needed them and still need them. I believe God heard your prayers and will continue to hear them. So please keep praying for me.
The rebuilding efforts will be a daily process. As I said before, more of a marathon than a race. And, while I'm still being diligent working with Instagram to recover my former account...I'm actually excited about all of the great things to come. All of the new things yet to discover. All of the journey yet to be traveled. All of the territory yet to be explored. All of the new content yet to be produced. But most importantly, reconnecting with each and everyone of you and welcoming newcomers along the way. Together we will build this thing anew and like Drake start from the bottom, until we can say...Now we here!!
Also, while my account was stolen and hacked into and my original curated feed gone, I need you all to know that all of my photos I still personally have, as I keep every single shot from each of my photoshoots stored on hard drives. So that's a blessing and definitely a silver lining to the story.
And, to the hacker who hacked into my account...If you're out there and just so happen to be reading this. Know that I prayed for you and asked God to forgive you. I even asked God to settle my anger and hurt and allow me to forgive you because ultimately in the end, No Weapon Formed Against Me Shall Prosper! The set-back may have been unfortunate and cost me some tears, headache and grief. But the bounce back and the come-up is about to be all the way REAL! As me and my best friend always say...The glow-up will be televised. So sit back and watch. 😉
I love you all 3000!
"I believe a person's home should be a true reflection and extension of their personal taste and style...with beautiful collected pieces that compliment who they are, what their interests are, and what makes them feel good."
Founder & Principal Designer
Tachic Hickman-Piazza is a creative in every sense of the word. A professional Filmmaker with an Associate of Science in Film & Video from Full Sail University with a career spanning the course of seventeen years of experience in the Entertainment Industry. Blogging is a personal and beloved extension of her years spent studying creative writing for television and film.
Yet, Interior Design and all things Home Decor are two of her greatest passions, outside of Filmmaking. To learn more about Tachic and her journey into the world of Design, please visit her ABOUT page by clicking here.
To view one of her most ambitious design projects to date where Tachic merged both creative worlds of Filmmaking and Interior Design, all while proudly wearing the mantle of both Designer & Executive Producer, with the release of her House Piazza Home Tour video, click here.