ASHEVILLE, N.C.—While Instagram can be a great source for fostering relationships, the platform is a double-edged sword because it opens up your life to the opinions of the world. If people only know you from your page, the assumption is that your day-to-day life is exactly as it is online. While this concept can be a bit daunting, causing many to withdraw from social media or curate their content finely, for Haley Perry OD, it is the thing that motivates her. Her Instagram page, Haley A Perry OD, chronicles her very busy life as a business owner of elite Eye care in Asheville, N.C., and working mother. When it comes to the concept of “balancing it all” Perry is not shy in admitting there is no such thing. Instead, it’s about prioritizing and figuring out which task needs her attention the most.
Perry first had the urge to share her story through a blog about 10 years ago. At the time, she was pregnant with her first daughter and wanted to share her experiences as a graduating optometry student, who was about to embark on two lifetime journeys as a mother and as a practicing doctor. Unfortunately, with the hectic schedule that soon followed, Perry had to let go of her blog.
Years later however, she was inspired again and created her eponymous Instagram page last year. “For the past three years, I considered starting it up again. I couldn’t figure out how I would do that in addition to everything else that I’m already doing. I have a lot to say,” she explained.
“I love being a working mother. I love owning my own practice. I like to share what I find out in these realms so that others can learn too—like ‘life hacks’ to make my life easier. Starting an Instagram account seemed to be an easier way to relay those messages without all of the extra time.”
Her Instagram perfectly depicts her life as a mother and business owner. Often, she posts pictures with her two daughters—at amusement parks, school games or at home. At other times, she’ll post pictures of herself on-the-go—at airports, industry events or making to-do lists at her local Starbucks. Her goal is to make sure that her followers are getting an honest view of her life.
“I really crave relationships with my patients, and I wanted them to know me. So, I decided to start a ‘professional’ Instagram account that focuses on all the aspects of me: Work, home, faith, volunteer/community service, the good, the bad, the ugly. I want my patients to know the real me. I feel like it opens the door for conversations which leads to trusting relationships. This affects my treatment outcomes for my patients, and we all win.”
When it comes to striking a balance, Perry doesn’t pressure herself by trying to juggle everything at one time. She has found a way to alleviate the pressure of perfection off herself by prioritizing her duties. “First off, there is no ‘balance.’ There is only what is most important right now. My children are five years apart and I realized how much I missed out on my oldest daughter’s early years by getting to experience those early moments more with my youngest daughter,” she stated.
“These days are short. Realizing this has helped me make decisions like altering my schedule so that I can be available to do school drop offs and pick-ups more frequently. In the summer, this means more pool time with them.”
Ultimately, her daughters are her top priorities and the Instagram page has allowed her to showcase how her life as a doctor has been enriched by her being a hands-on mother. “It’s hit me hard recently: am I supporting this practice, or is this practice supporting me? So, I have begun to take steps back to lean into my children more. And somehow, it has only been more profitable for the practice. Having this Instagram account shows where my heart is, and patients resonate with that.”
While the idea of showcasing your peaks and pitfalls can be quite intimidating, for Perry, its not an issue because honesty is paramount. “I think my Instagram account is a testament to what I value as a person and that is openness and honesty. I am not in this business to make millions of dollars. I’m in it to help people,” she said.
“In the same vein, because they’re supporting me, they’re supporting these little girls that are going to dance lessons at the local studio and music lessons in the next town. This is sort of my way of opening up and letting my patients see the return on their investment when it comes to investing in their community and shopping with someone local like me.”
When it comes to updating her page, again, Perry doesn’t put pressure on herself to churn out content. While she is a planner, her schedule doesn’t really allow her to plan many of her posts, so she shares when it’s necessary.
“I just have so much going on that I don’t have the time to step back and make a plan for what is coming up. I am a planner but can’t adhere too strongly to structure or otherwise I miss out on all the fun. If we are working on a project, like my grand re-opening, I’ll post often. If I am seeing patients in my regular routine, I may post less.”
With nearly 2,000 followers, Haley Perry OD the page, has of course allowed Perry to connect with her patients. However, because of Instagram’s easy access, Perry often finds herself fielding DMs from patients. “I have learned to gently redirect them to texting my office number,” she stated.
“They don't know that I am not great at follow through in that regard—I even make my own mother call my office for appointments because I can never remember to put her on the book or check to see if her glasses are ready.”
Instagram DMs aside, Perry hopes that her followers continue to follow and relate to her on every level. “I hope my patients see that their dollars spent in my practice go back into their community via dance lessons, music lessons and community events. For other working moms: I hope they see that the struggle is real and that there is another person out there doing the ‘mom hustle’ that they can relate to.
“For my optometry business owners: I hope they see the fruits of this labor and remember what they’re working for—we get to help people see. But don’t forget that you’re working to live, not living to work,” she concluded.