Struggling single mum making £10,000 a month after part-time hobby takes off

A single mum, living in Manchester and working as a psychiatric nurse, Antonella Brollini never imagined that just by being herself she’d achieve overnight fame.

But when poor health made it difficult for her to do her job, she decided it was time for a change.

‘I loved the job, but I was finding it harder to restrain and control the patients, so sadly I had to retire from it at the age of 37,’ says Antonella, known as Nelly to her friends.

‘I got a job in a GP surgery as a receptionist, which was far more relaxed, but a casual conversation with my best friend ended up changing my life.’

In 2017, a new trend hit the big time on Facebook.

Nelly noticed a lot of her friends selling and reviewing products to make some extra money.

‘They were like online Avon ladies. Juice Plus, Botox in a bottle – you name it, one of my Facebook friends was trying to flog it.

‘But I’d watch these videos and get bored.

‘If someone was trying a face mask, they’d sit there and wait for it to set, and I thought, “Why aren’t they telling a story or something?”

‘I was so bored out of my brains, I forgot what they were selling in the first place!’

With a big personality and a no-nonsense attitude, Nelly thought she could do a better job.

The ‘hot’ product at the time was a lip gloss that gave your lips a plumped effect, so she bought herself one and gave it a go.

‘I said to my friend, “Let’s buy one each, try it, film it on our phones, stick it on Facebook, and whoever gets the most likes gets 50p.”

‘Well, she still owes me 50p – people seemed to really enjoy it.

‘They said I was funny and asked me to do another.

‘I was only working part-time at the GP surgery and my daughter Olivia [now 23] was off to university, so I thought, “Why not?”’

It was then that things escalated in an unexpected way.

‘I decided to buy and try a celebrity exercise DVD, because it’s one of those things we all buy and never, ever use.

‘Well, this particular one was a total wind-up, it was impossible.

‘It was the most honest exercise review I think anyone has probably ever done.

‘It got shared amongst my friends and within days I had 98 million views.

‘It went viral, I had more viewers than the BAFTAs that year, and was the most watched person on the internet in February 2017.’

Instant stardom

Shocked, Nelly realised she was on to something.

With just her iPhone to record on and little internet knowledge, she bought a small tripod and started buying and reviewing anything, from sponges, foot-long sausage rolls, porridge as shampoo and even a Shewee (a device that enables women to wee standing up. Nelly didn’t have much luck with that and ruined her carpet!).

Within six weeks, Facebook had verified her as an official ‘brand’ and she gained millions of fans worldwide.

‘I call everyone Flower anyway, so I’ve officially named my fans The Flowerpots,’ says Nelly.

‘They send me messages online, asking me to review things for them because they know I’ll be honest.

‘If I don’t like it, I’ll say so, and I’m happy to buy and try, so no one wastes their money.

‘My only rule is that it has to be affordable.

‘A lot of people have asked me to review the Dyson hairdryer, but I haven’t got 500 quid to spend on a bl**dy hairdryer.

‘That’s my rent and council tax!

‘But that’s why I can always be honest and non-biased, because I’ve bought everything myself.’

Now, two years on, Nelly’s personality has opened many doors.

Fans took to her warm, approachable nature and began to ask for advice on relationships and personal issues, so she started filming a ‘Sunday Service’, where she gives her honest advice.

Off the back of that she’s been hired as an agony aunt for two magazines, and when her salary reached six figures, she started her own Curvy Couture boutique.

‘It is mad to think how I’ve been able to make such life-changing money,’ she says.

‘If people want to buy what I’ve reviewed, they follow the link to Amazon and if they purchase, I get some commission from the seller.

‘Some months I’ll make £500, others it might be £5,000, but often when I post a review, it becomes Amazon’s best-selling product that day,’ she says proudly.

‘Weirdly, the items I say are rubbish always do well.’

A perfect example of that was when Nelly decided to try the Aurora Band, a sleep-in head band which promises to give you amazing curls in the morning, and had recently been featured on Dragons Den.

‘I have very long hair and it didn’t work for me at all,’ she explains.

‘It got so tangled, when I took it off I looked like Hagrid.

‘It went huge in America because they all love Harry Potter, and even celebrities like Cardi B, 50 Cent and Charlie Sheen shared my video!

‘Sales went through the roof because people wanted to see for themselves how rubbish it was.

‘When I tell people not to bother clicking the link to buy, they always sell out.

‘People are just daft,’ she laughs.

But having such an honest online reputation isn’t going to please everyone, and Nelly often receives feedback from businesses that want a scathing review taken down.

‘The woman who designed the Aurora Band called me and said it hadn’t worked because my hair was too long.

‘I said that needed to be on the box, then. It was good feedback for her.

‘She should have thanked me because the sales went up so much.

‘I was asked to try the Ta-Ta Towel [a handy device to help women with larger busts avoid the dreaded under breast sweat], but it was £39.99.

‘I found one on Amazon for two quid so I tested that instead, even though the inventor wanted it taken down.

‘I told her to stay in her lane and stay out of mine.’

Still doing reviews (the most expensive product being some £60 CBD gummies and the cheapest a £1 foundation), she now gets recognised everywhere she goes and has fans contacting her from all around the world.

‘Leigh Francis recognised me at a charity event – I nearly wet my knickers!

‘I had a little girl come and see me in my shop, saying she liked my videos, so I told her not to swear like I do.

‘And recently I had an 86-year-old lady tell me I made her laugh every day and had brought light to her life since her husband died. That melted my heart.

‘Not to mention the amount of date offers I get, but I’m still single.

‘These men wouldn’t look twice at me in the street, so I have to be careful.’

Down to earth

She might be living life in the public eye, but Nelly makes sure she stays grounded.

Still shopping at the local market, she insists she hasn’t changed her lifestyle.

‘As a single mum in a council house, I’ve always gone without so my daughter had everything she needed. I’ve had nothing.

‘But now it’s lovely to be able to take her shopping and know that no matter what the bill is, I can afford it.

‘Knowing I can help Olivia if she ever needs it is priceless.

‘Money doesn’t bring you happiness, but it makes things easier.’

With hundreds of requests rolling in daily and endless offers to spread joy and humour at various events, it seems Nelly’s here to stay.

‘Opportunities don’t come up for average women like me at my age, so I had to grab the bull by the horns.

‘Plenty of people don’t like me and I just think, “Don’t waste what could be your last day on God’s Earth watching me, then. Do something you like!”

‘It’s an abundance of fun and I’ve had a ball. So as long as people want me around, I’ll be here.’

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