People Are Calling This Instagram Influencer’s Failed Creativity Workshop ‘Fyre Fest 2’

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YOU GUYS. I’m fully aware we’re only a couple weeks into 2019, but I am calling it now – this is the best, the juiciest, the most schadenfreude-ariffic story of the year. I know that’s a big claim, but trust me on this one. I hope your drama llamas are hungry because I am about to serve them up a feast the likes of which they have not experienced since, I don’t know, Logan Paul? Something involving a Kardashian? The Ariana Grande/Pete Davidson fiasco? You know, something big and dramatic and Internet-y.

Today’s story is all about a young woman named Caroline Calloway. She’s a writer (kind of), an Instagram influencer (I guess?), and a scam artist extraordinaire (definitely). She’s also a huge fan of salads and flower crowns. This will all make more sense in a second. But for now, please sit back, relax, and let the drama consume you.

This is Caroline Calloway. I’ll give you a minute to read this mile-long caption on her Instagram post.

Whew. Got all that? OK, moving on. Calloway is an Instagram influencer — a vague, nebulous “job” title that basically boils down to “person who, for whatever reason, gets paid to post pictures and say words on the Internet.” She has 830k followers on Instagram and every single post has a caption as long as the one you see here. It’s her thing.

In fact, she invented long captions on Instagram.

I mean, she literally didn’t, but she thinks she did, as evidenced by this Instagram Story. (By the way, while her regular Instagram posts are focused on sharing her “short stories,” Instagram Stories is her apparent favorite way to communicate with her many followers. You’ll see a lot of her text-heavy Stories in this gallery. Just a heads up.)

Oh, and that book deal she mentioned?

It was real, but she ended up having to withdraw from the contract because she just couldn’t work on it, apparently. In an interview with Broadly, Calloway admitted that she “procrastinated on the proposal so much that [her literary agent] had to designate specific hours during which she would come into his office and work, monitored.” In July of 2017, she announced on her Instagram Story that she was pulling out of the book deal — and going into $100,000 debt as a result of her failure to keep up her side of the agreement. But let’s set aside the (failed) book deal for a moment because what’s been happening over the past few weeks is actually way juicier. Thanks to a now-viral Twitter thread by pop culture writer Kayleigh Donaldson, we can start from the very beginning.

Back in December, Calloway decided to host a seminar all about creativity and being yourself.

On the one hand, you can’t really blame her. She has more than 800,000 people hanging on her every word. (And there are a lot of words. So many of them.) Why not leverage that “fame” into a way to make money? ($165 per attendee, to be exact.) In addition to whatever lessons Calloway decided to teach about creativity, there was going to be salad. Yes, the salad was actually an advertised promise of this seminar. There were also going to be flower crowns, and Calloway promised to handwrite a personal letter to every attendee. If it had gone off without a hitch, there would hardly be a story here. Instagram influencers make more money for less work all the dang time. But it did not go off without a hitch, friends.

First of all, she decided that this seminar should actually be a global tour.

This is about the point where alarm bells should be ringing in your head. Get used to the sound because those same alarm bells are going to be going bonkers for the next few minutes.

The seminar was going to be 4 hours long…

…And she wasn’t even going to be there for one of those hours! She claimed it was because she didn’t want to “steal focus” from attendees’ time to make friends. Now, to me, it seems like she wanted to make $165 for three hours of “work,” but maybe I’m the delusional one. (Note: I am not the delusional one.)

Donaldson — the pop culture writer who gathered all the crazy into one Twitter thread — admits that her fixation on Calloway is perhaps a bit frivolous.

But she has such a great point here. We all know that the Instagram feeds we see every day are not representative of people’s actual lives. And yet, when it comes to influencers like Calloway, we seem all too ready to believe everything. That’s dangerous! Anyway, back to the disaster and a half of these creativity workshops.

As the date of the first workshop approached, Calloway decided she wanted to hire a photographer and a videographer.

But she didn’t want to pay them. Not in money, anyway. She did offer trade her creative labor as a teacher, though. What does that mean, you ask? Literally nothing.

Calloway was eventually guilted into *gasp* actually paying people for their work.

This Instagram Story is actually a mostly OK apology/acknowledgment of her mistake in trying to get people to work for free. But pay special attention to the fact that her having to pay artists means that her budget has been thrown out of whack. Obviously, that couldn’t have been helped. How was she supposed to know it is customary to pay people for their services? As you’ll soon come to realize, nothing that happens is ever, ever Caroline Calloway’s fault.

This Instagram Story update might actually be my favorite one:

All she wanted to do was give her fans “inventive and playful and sweet” DIY wildflower gardens! As far as I can tell, that means she wanted to give people a mason jar full of dirt and some seeds. But it was just too hard — but not her fault — but still really hard!

Here’s the actual delivery of those whimsical, magical, absolutely perfect mason jars:

As you can imagine, 1,200 mason jars take up quite a bit of space.

I mean, like, A LOT of space:

I’ll admit it. When I came across this part of the story, I legit started cackling at my desk.

Calloway then started saying that she wasn’t charging enough for the workshops.

“Next tour, ticket prices are going up. Way up,” she wrote. LOL. Next tour.

As the day of the first seminar approached, Calloway shared something rather alarming:

She still didn’t have a venue. For her seminar that people were paying $165 to attend. (I also love her additional request for a cheap photographer here. Oh, Caroline. Bless your heart.) Eventually, she did find a venue. More on that in a sec.

Day one of the global tour and Calloway quickly realized that making salads for 50 people takes time and is not fun.

Then she had the SHEER AUDACITY to ask people whether they’d be cool with bringing their own lunch. To a seminar where one of the main perks is literally eating a salad made by her! I mean, HONESTLY.

Apparently, some people pointed out that they actually DID want that salad. Calloway had the perfect response to those people:

I don’t think anyone was expecting corporate-level planning for this seminar. I think they were expecting some planning, though. And they were expecting salad.

Then she complained about the salad some more.

There is just zero acknowledgment of her own faults here, yet again. And she’s still trying to float the idea of a “potluck” or “BYO salad” as an acceptable solution to her complete and utter lack of planning. I just cannot.

OK, so after the salad fiasco, the first seminar apparently went pretty well.

And she obviously managed to find a great venue. In fact, the venue was so great that Calloway randomly had the marvelous idea of simply hosting every single seminar at that venue. In her hometown. Rather than traveling across the country to go to the other cities on the tour. According to her, “everything just felt so [expletive] RIGHT [t]here.” I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that she still had no other venues booked and was already realizing that this entire thing was a horrible mistake. Here you can see the Instagram poll she posted to ask whether people would be totally cool with her abandoning the other cities on tour. Note how both possible responses are, basically, “Yes!”

And wouldn’t you know it?

The response to the poll that only allowed for positive answers was overwhelmingly positive!  

However, some people did request that she actually come to the cities she had planned to come to.

And like, where do these people get off? Do they really think that paying a lot of money for a ticket entitles them to that event actually happening? Ha! That’s not how tickets work! Oh. I am just now hearing from my crew that that is in fact exactly how tickets work. Interesting.

But no matter! On with the horror show!

Despite protests, Calloway decided to cancel stops in several cities and move those events to New York instead. You know, because people are totally willing to just FLY TO NEW YORK to eat some salad. Or to bring their own salad.

After day one of the tour, Calloway decided to hire some staff.

Yep. After day one. Should she have hired people well before this? Absolutely. But she didn’t.

Calloway then headed to DC, where she complained about having to pay extra for her luggage.

Imagine having to pay more than $100 for something that didn’t seem worth it in the slightest! Can you imagine how that must feel?

This is an actual picture of one of the seminars:

Where are their chairs? Where is their DIGNITY?

Also, this:

I mean, come on. We all knew the room was going to be filled with a bunch of basic white girls, right? Surely this is not a surprise.

Throughout the fiasco, Calloway offered up refunds to whomever wanted one.

That’s something she actually did correctly, I guess. But it’s also the bare minimum.

Oh, and she sent these bizarre apology emails:

“Maybe we are meant to meet in the city I call home and the magical space we found. But, maybe not. Only you and your heart really know.” No, Caroline! That’s not how this works! Just give the people their dang money, you swindler!

Ultimately, the entire tour was canceled.

I’m sure this comes as a huge surprise to you. After all, the entire thing was so well thought out and definitely not a cash grab made by someone with little to no experience or work ethic.  

There’s also this:

Remember how nothing is Calloway’s fault? She even manages to somehow shift the blame for the canceled tour onto Donaldson, who was doing nothing more than documenting the fiasco. Funny how that works.

And with that, the story of Caroline Calloway’s utter failure of a world tour comes to an end.

And so does Donaldson’s access to Calloway’s social media profiles. (But don’t worry. In addition to the viral Twitter thread, Donaldson also wrote a killer piece about this whole debacle for Pajiba. Whew! That was a lot, huh? I hope your drama meter is full. Share this with someone who loves a dramatic story!