Before Sophie Liard became a folding TikTok star, she worked in retail for nearly 20 years. She got her first job at 16 years old, folding jeans in a department store. She kept going—through promotions, major birthdays, getting a degree. She had two babies while working retail; both times, she tidied the floor and folded merchandise throughout her pregnancy. On furlough from her job as a trainer for retail workers at the start of the pandemic, Liard, ignoring advice from an eye-rolling teenage relative, downloaded TikTok.

Success on TikTok seemed random and chaotic. Liard and a friend thought it would be funny to upload the most boring footage possible, their household chores appearing in between videos of backflips and DJs. One day, Liard shared a video of herself organizing her son’s drawers. It got some traction, so she added a video in which she folded T-shirts. Then leggings. Baby clothes. Sportswear. With a sock-folding tutorial, her following crossed the six-figure mark. Armed with a $13 iPhone holder, Liard, who goes by TheFoldingLady on Tiktok, worked her way up to 4.2 million followers.