A DIY fanatic has become a viral sensation posting clips of herself renovating her home while dressed as a superhero.
Emma Downer, 35, a former business consultant, dons fancy-dress costumes to become characters such as Spiderman, Wonder Woman and Superwoman to paint and revamp her house.
Having gained more than 300,000 followers and millions of views on TikTok, Emma, who lives in Bristol, was able to quit her job in March 2021 – just a year after she first downloaded the app and began posting videos of her handywork – to become a full-time internet star.
Remembering how she got started on TikTok during the first Covid lockdown, Emma said: “With everyone at home and not allowed to hire people for work around the house, suddenly people were having to figure out DIY hacks themselves.
“It’s been really empowering to see other people taking control and learning skills they didn’t think they could do.
“To be part of that and help others is very rewarding.”
After buying her mid-terrace, two-bedroom house in January 2019, Emma started uploading DIY videos on Instagram around three years ago.
While there were no structural changes that needed to be made, Emma was keen to get to work painting the rooms and replacing the kitchen flooring.
“I wanted to share my DIY and house renovation experience because I thought it was quite interesting,” she said.
She added: “I had bought my house in January 2019 and was using Instagram to document my renovations. Like many people, when the pandemic hit, TikTok became a good distraction.
“I had two years’ worth of footage from Instagram about my house so I started using them to make videos for TikTok and it took off from there.”
Posting before and after montages as well as DIY tips and tricks, Emma began to gain thousands of views.
She added: “There were some videos that reached 15,000 views and I would think it had gone viral but after a few months, in May 2020, one of my videos hit one million views.
“It was a video that I hadn’t expected to go viral when I posted it.
“It was a clip of me trying to move my heavy fridge in my kitchen with the Benny Hill theme tune playing in the background and people loved it.”
She added: “Comments were saying, ‘pivot!’ referencing the Friends quote – where Ross is trying to move a couch up some stairs and screams that.
“After that, my videos started to get more views and interest.
“People were asking me all kinds of questions about DIY and I shared any hacks I had for people to make renovation projects cheaper or easier.”
She added: “Some videos were educational, others were more fun.”
Emma said she loves hearing from her followers.
“Getting feedback from the audience where they tell you which tips have been helpful is great because I want to be helpful and that feels good,” she said.
Emma now has 500,000 followers across her social media platforms and a recurring theme in her videos is her dressing up as a superhero while tackling DIY tasks at home.
“I was renovating my basement in June 2021, when I hit 50,000 followers on TikTok and, to celebrate, I decided to dress up as Wonder Woman for a video,” she explained.
“It’s kind of stuck and I’ll often wear my various costumes, most recently being a video of me painting the outside of my house dressed as Spiderman.”
Emma has completed other DIY projects in costume, including uncovering an old fireplace dressed as Superwoman and retiling her hallway floor as Spiderman.
For Emma, DIY has always been an interest.
She said: “I’ve always loved houses. I used to be the kind of kid that would come home from school and instead of watching Home and Away, I’d switch over to DIY SOS or Changing Rooms.”
She added: “I liked the idea of having a house to make my own. That was my only life goal until I bought my home aged 25, every penny was put towards that dream.”
Since March 2021, DIY advice has been Emma’s full-time job.
“It’s quite a scary decision to quit your job to do this full-time. It was quite the leap of faith,” she said.
She added: “But I have never felt happier than doing what I do now.
“Helping people with their DIY queries and advising them on how to make projects cheaper feels very rewarding.”
Emma noted that her advice is now more relevant than ever.
“With the cost-of-living crisis, people can’t afford big, expensive renovations, so they’re looking for ways to improve their space without a big budget,” she said.
“Knowing that they’re turning to me for help really makes me feel good and I want to be as much help as I can.
“My advice to anyone who wants to start DIY is just to DIY. You won’t have all the answers at first, that’s part of the fun. It’s a learning curve and it doesn’t need to be perfect.”
She added: “In a way, my videos are about DIY and nothing about DIY at the same time, because I think the skills and confidence you gain through DIY work are transferable into other parts of life.
“Whether it’s finally making that scary phone call you’ve been avoiding or taking your own personal leap of faith in something you’ve wanted to achieve, DIY can build your confidence towards that.”
To watch Emma’s videos, visit: www.tiktok.com/@diywithemma