It's a story of — 'from having nothing to something' — that not even Sophie Tea expected to happen, let alone so rapidly.

But the 26-year-old managed to go from barely a cent to her name to creating a multi-million brand all through the power of social media.

The Manchester-born artist ditched traditional avenues of the industry to get her art commissioned and instead used her growing Instagram status to showcase her work.

In two days alone she can make a cool $28,000 with each of her colourful abstracts selling anywhere between $740 and $4200.


"I have always been a non-conformist in whatever I have thrown myself into. I have never followed a step-by-step formula to becoming a famous artist. It was never on my agenda to do things a standard way," Tea told

Not to confuse this woman with the New Zealand known glitter boob girl, Madeline Anello-Kitzmiller, who was groped at New Year's Eve at Rhythm & Vines when she was topless with glitter art painted on her chest.

The 20-year-old American visitor says she was yelled at by fellow revellers at the Gisborne festival before being grabbed in an incident caught on camera at the end of 2017.

Katie Ashworth, 18 (left), and Madeline Anello-Kitzmiller had their chests painted at a stall at Rhythm & Vines. Photo / Supplied
Katie Ashworth, 18 (left), and Madeline Anello-Kitzmiller had their chests painted at a stall at Rhythm & Vines. Photo / Supplied

The footage, posted by a woman unknown to Anello-Kitzmiller and soon went viral, showed her walking through the crowd topless, with her friend Kiri-Ann Hatfield as the man came up behind her.

He grabbed her before running off and sitting down with his friends on the grass.

Anello-Kitzmiller then spun around, raced after the man and slapped him in the head four times.

Hatfield then poured a drink on him.

How Sophie Tea went viral

Tea shot to fame in 2017 — a year after she graduated with a business management degree at Birmingham Aston University — after photos of her posing at Coachella with glitter, gems and jewels stuck across her bare chest went viral.


At the time she was being commissioned to paint animals.

But after having started a now famous festival trend, it saw her social media following shoot through the roof — which does so every year around festival season — while also helping boost her now multimillion-dollar art business.

"The picture just blew up, it started Jenna's (friend) body jewellery business and really helped my career," Tea said.

Before her festival fame and huge burst of art-loving social media followers, Tea was a business grad who had a job lined up in her industry two months after finishing uni in July 2016.

But a trip to India when she was 22 changed all that.

"Before I started adult life I wanted to let lose a bit and decided to head to India for a holiday."

"I was running out of money at the time while on my trip and so I came across a hostel with loads of graffiti on it and asked if I could paint a mural over it in exchange for free accommodation."

It was her method of payment for a long time.

Despite having not painted in six years, she managed to convince the hostel to allow her to draw a multi-coloured cow, which is considered a scared animal in India.

"Honestly it was in that moment when I was like 'wow'. I felt so happy and surprised by how good it was," Tea said.

And it was also that moment she kickstarted her creative journey to the point of quitting her job, before it even started, to pursue a life of an artist.

"As soon as I got home I emailed my graduate scheme and said I didn't want to start the job."

"But then I was like 'crap', all my friends are now moving to London with high flying jobs and I've got nothing."

So she emailed her mum and dad asking them if she could move back in with them.

"I never wanted to do it," she said, but she had little choice, after having spent her savings in India.

"I told them I'd try my hardest to get out soon."

She said at first her parents were a bit shocked she decided to become an artist, "but they were so supportive".

Within weeks of moving back home Tea uploaded a photo of the colourful cow mural onto Facebook which prompted friends and family into asking her to paint their pets.

But she wasn't convinced she could make money as an artist.

This was when her business degree came in handy — she set up an app, like a Tinder, but for artists that would connect buyers directly with artists.

In early 2017 she flew to New York for a meeting with a potential investor but they encouraged her to pursue art herself.

"I thought being an artist wasn't good enough because I had a business degree, but the investor told me to stop thinking like that."

He told her that if she failed as an artist to come back and they would invest in her app, but she needed to try being an artist first.

"I never needed to go back to him," Tea said.

The 26-year-old went on to forge a successful career as an artist by building her business through social media.

"I'm able to self promote more than a gallery could through social media. I'm always gradually increasing my prices and working to capacity."

Because Tea doesn't work with galleries — who can take a 50 per cent commission and often represent multiple artists — she was able to keep 100 per cent of money made from her paintings and reinvest it into her business.

But by mid-2017, she was struggling, and jumping at every opportunity to grow her business.

It was then she was approached by Jenna Meek, a friend-of-a-friend who was then setting up her body jewellery brand Gypsy Shrine, now a global business with a string of A-list fans, and wanted another artist to help apply body jewels at festivals.

"While at Coachella, we had the glitter boobs idea."

A little embarrassed by it now, Tea said they just took off their tops and put loads of glitter on their boobs and in turn boosting her Instagram following which is close to 60,000.

The Glitter Boobs picture went viral, even capturing the attention of Ellen DeGeneres.

Feeling restrained by animal paintings, Tea found she was more interested in abstract art and started the #100DayAbstractChallenge, which saw her post one piece of original art every day at 8pm for 100 days.

The first person to comment "buy" would be able to buy it.

But during a recent trip to Sydney, where Tea's boyfriend lives, she decided to create a link putting the prices up and offering the painting for 100 hours — it was due to the demand of her paintings.

She made $39,000 in half an hour from it.

"I still get so surprised by it all," she said on the power of social media.

The talented artist is also trying to attract customers around her own age by offering payment plans that allow buyers to pay in monthly instalments.

She said it has helped her business grow from roughly $1 million in turnover last year, to double that figure.

Tea said she has been warned by industry people not to go ahead with the plan, but explained that she has never had anyone not pay her.

"People can pay for five pieces of art over 12 months with no interest and I send it to them straight away even though they can cancel their subscription at any time."

"I really believe in karma, and in the three years I've been doing this, nobody has done anything bad to me," she said.

She said cash flow wise at first it wasn't good, but now with so many people using the payment option, she is sorted for the next year.

Tea works 15 hour days 7 days a week in order to keep her business growing.

She travels in between Manchester and Manly where she has studios in both locations.

She is planning on moving to Australia to be with her boyfriend and add to her unique, creative adventure.