The Inspired Unemployed, a satirical Instagram account, helps two ex-works find each other
Before Inspired Unemployed launched on Instagram two years ago, Jack Steele worked in his father’s plastering business and Matt Ford dabbled in tools.
Both had spent many years on construction sites, and both wondered if this was their true calling.
The idea of locking themselves into a job with the same routine was not so appealing to the two guys (aged 26 and 27) from the south coast of New South Wales. In fact, the thought scared them.
So while they were traveling abroad, they started doing skits.
Today, they have over a million social media followers and are role models for some of the world’s biggest brands.
Sending lock life or traditional lingo
Essentially, the “battlers,” as they call themselves, create short clips that depict Australian culture and stereotypes among Millennials and Gen Z.
They laugh at anyone, including themselves.
With their experience in construction, Matt and Jack never hesitate to present life as a tradition and its unique jargon.
They also ridicule lockdown habits and beauty and fitness routines and incorporate dancing where possible.
Matt says most of the videos come from personal experiences and admits that they often deliberately put themselves in sticky situations.
“I’m walking down the street and I see something happening, or I’ll have a meeting – a clumsy handshake or something – and I’ll think, ‘This is great.’
“[I will] Bring the idea to Jack, and he’ll say whether he likes it or not.
“Then I’m going to write 80% script, then we’ll film it and it will go up.
The fashion world covets their “authenticity”
The best pals at Kiama High School have a global audience, including those in the fashion industry.
Their portrayal of Australian dudes, dressed in high visibility or jerseys and thongs, is at odds with what you would expect from brands like Camilla and Marc, Fendi and Louis Vuitton.
But these labels have adopted the “authenticity” of the pair for their recent campaigns.
Even on the podium or when modeling for GQ Magazine, they gave the situation an original twist, pushing their hips out with the confidence of a professional dancer.
They also collaborated with The Iconic for the brand’s Virtual Summer Show – a short film “designed to entertain and inspire self-expression anywhere and everywhere”.
The pair took center stage for this video, appearing in a range of brightly colored outfits in the library, at the beach and on the bus.
With millions of followers on Instagram, Tik Tok and YouTube, the couple have also interviewed celebrities at events such as the ARIA and GQ Men of the Year Awards.
“It’s about chasing something we love to do and having fun while doing it,” says Jack.
“It kind of became a career.
“We’re working a lot harder now than we were doing on the job site.
“And there is pressure, sure, but it’s good pressure… You want to do better because you want to be successful on your own.”
‘You should get a grip on yourself, man’
Before becoming comedians on social networks, boys lacked direction.
“I felt very lost,” Matt says.
“I was working in the surf shop and didn’t know what to do.”
Matt and Jack say they are lucky to have supportive parents. While they don’t always understand their social media work, their parents never forced them down a particular path.
“My mom was really supportive, saying, ‘Do whatever you want and live your best life,’” Matt said.
Jack says, “Dad was initially thinking who was going to run his business, but when he saw how happy I was, he was pretty happy.”
When it comes to their friends, the excitement for the couple is overwhelming. Friends appear in videos as members of the local pub’s group or guy group.
In February, Vogue did a four page broadcast on the “Boys of the South Coast” where they stand by the waist in turtlenecks and smugglers parakeets.
No longer in care – or unemployed
In 2020, Matt and Jack took the leap and turned the inspired unemployed into their full-time jobs.
Their self-deprecating humor makes them relatable. Each post is inundated with friends tagging friends and commenting on things like “that reminds me of you” or “it’s us in the car”.
They have now expanded their platform and entered the podcast world. Marketed as “honest, real and always funny” guys dive a little deeper to explore some of their own insecurities.
“I was really bad at being vulnerable,” Matt says. “Now I’m improving a lot.”
There is power in vulnerability, he says.
“You’re less affected, you’ve put your insecurities there, and no one can really hurt you.”
In the first episode, the boys candidly relate how “awkward and bad” they felt interviewing musicians and radio presenters at ARIA.
After this experience, they gradually let go of the “wing” mentality.
In the third episode, and in light of Mental Health Month, Jack shares his struggles with anxiety and Matt talks about not feeling well enough. They both encourage others to express themselves and explain how good it feels when they do.
“Now we have an audience, it’s kind of a responsibility and something I want to express, to let others know it’s OK to be vulnerable,” Matt says.
“If we can be, I hope other people will feel like they can be too.”
The couple have found the power of honesty and the many doors it opens.
Soy milk, singing and yoga lessons, uncommon subjects on their sites, are now openly discussed.
“Whenever I had normal milk, my guts would skit,” Matt said in the podcast’s first episode.
“But when everyone was ordering coffee on the job site, I couldn’t say I wanted soy milk.
“I used to go to the bathroom a lot.
“When I started talking about singing lessons, I had a friend of my own – [a] tall soccer player covered in tattoos – send me a message telling me he’s also thinking about taking singing lessons. “
While Matt and Jack are no longer unemployed, they are busy inspiring a lot to follow a path that brings authenticity and fulfillment.
“There is a big change in the tide for our generation these days and we want to be at the forefront,” said Jack.
“When we stopped worrying about what other people thought, that’s really when life got amazing and we exploded and found a passion.”