it’s been 15 years…
that sentence makes me think of the “old Rose” in Titanic when she’s looking back on her time aboard the ship. but here we are, 15 years since i hit publish on my very first blog post.
looking back, y’all i had no idea what i was doing. all i knew was that i was super bored in my corporate marketing career, working 8-5, and needed a creative outlet to help fulfill a void i had in my life. it’s funny because growing up, i always kept journals and diaries and that should’ve told me right then and there i would enjoy authoring a blog, but to be honest, i had no idea what the life of a “blogger” looked like. i just knew i wanted to share certain aspects of my life on this little slice of the internet and hoped it would be a fun hobby to occupy some of my free time as well.
if you’ve been here since the beginning, you witnessed heartbreak over boyfriend breakups, saw me give my life to God, you’ve been there to watch me fall in love with one of my very best friends, helped me plan my dream wedding, and then start a family of our own shortly thereafter. i’ve witnessed what it’s like to start my very own children’s clothing boutique from the ground up, then shift to a full-time career as a content creator. and then there is also when we took you behind-the-scenes as we renovated our dream home, traveled to some pretty amazing cities and countries to highlight some wonderful destinations, showed the process of renovating rental beach properties along 30a in Florida, and all the mundane moments in between.
last week, i took to Instagram to give you all a chance to ask some questions about this wild ride and what it’s been like or heck, just anything you’ve been itching to ask… so here we go:
I was in corporate marketing for a large engineering and consulting firm that I worked at for six years after I graduated from college. I planned national industry tradeshow events and conferences, created external marketing collateral for our engineers, drafted proposals for our sales teams and oversaw the creation and ordering of our promotional items. I loved the fact that it was your normal Monday through Friday, 8am to 5pm career, but I definitely felt like it just wasn’t the right fit for me and what I wanted to do with my career.
That is something that is totally up to you. There are a number of types of business structures, depending on what you’re looking for and/or need. The best reason to create a limited liability company is that it protects your personal assets. You also receive tax benefits which can help as well! It definitely helped in that my husband has an accounting and finance background when I started my business as he was able to help guide me in the right direction on what made the most sense for us.
As easy as it sounds, you’ve gotta start somewhere so my best advice it to start with a simple business plan. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, heck you could write down your short and long-term goals on a scrap piece of paper, but you will want to be able to access this plan in the future, which is why mine is housed on Google Docs for safe keeping [and so I can update often]. I truly believe this is the make-it-or-break-it component of business.
Everyone needs a business plan, no matter how small or large their company is. You’ll want to craft a company description [bascially who you are/what your brand is all about/your WHY], your target market [audience segments like age, demographics, location, gender, etc], products and/or services you plan to offer, financial and marketing plans [cost of running your business], and of cource goals on how you plan to get there.
A few questions to ask yourself and things to note:
- How am I different from what everyone else is offering/selling and how can I stand out from competition? What makes me unique?
- What are some of your favorite brands/social media accounts to follow/shop and how do they add value to keep you coming back?
- Determine your IT factor… this helps you find your audience aka your “tribe”
And remember, this is different for everyone so define what YOU want to get out of creating your own social media content.
I love these random questions… this is the fun stuff to answer that many don’t ask. Honestly, I don’t get a lot of “hate mail” or negativity that comes my way. Over the past 15 years, I have definitely found my voice and my self confidence has grown and I know I am not for everyone. If you’re extremely pessimistic and/or negative, my social media probably isn’t for you and that’s totally OK!
I might get a keyboard warrior comment every now and then, but it’s definitely a rare occasion. I think a lot of this social media space is knowing the types of people who ARE your tribe and staying true to yourself no matter what. With age comes wisdom and this space has been such a huge blessing that I realize sometimes you have to take the good AND the bad. And trust me, over time you develop much thicker skin and you let less outside perspectives impact your opinion of yourself.
This sweet question came from my friend and fellow creative Gina Julian [whom I ADORE] and I thought it was SUCH a great question… thought provoking as well. For me, the hardest lesson has been learning about the balance betwen what I choose to share on social media and what I keep private. I am definitely an open book, but also have to realize that I made that choice… not my friends and/or family. When I was just started out, I worked nonstop and still struggle with finding the happy medium since this is not your normal Monday through Friday career and I was always wrapped up in the numbers and wanted more more more. Well, now at almost 40… I care more about balance and taking time away to be with my daughters and Jeff. I don’t have to share every single thing in my life and sometimes the things I hold most dear to me are the things that we keep to ourselves. Knowing when to say “no”, when to walk away from partnerships that don’t serve me well and staying away from negative people = all valuable life lessons I’ve learned while being an influencer that truly help in all areas of my life, too.
Can you believe it… the old fashioned way?? Lots of blood, sweat and tears. No, I’m only half way kidding but in the industry where people think it’s ALL about numbers, it’s truly not. It’s about engagement and finding your tribe and connecting with your folllowers to build relationships. I cannot tell you the amount of DMs I get weekly telling me I am one of the only influencers who answers their messages and it drives me bonkers. Why even have messages turned on when you won’t reply??
You train your audience on how often to expect a post from you… for instance, everyone knows I hop on every morning to have a little coffee chat and talk through what I’m doing at any given time, etc. Another instance is that I have weekly Target Thursday link-ups and I know get just as excited to share as you are to see the newness.
I definitely think it’s great to netwowrk with other influencers, especially in your city. I’ve met some pretty incredible ladies here in Nashville through social media and connect with them on multiple levels, which can be refreshing since this career has a tendency to feel isolating at times.
Closet staples… ohhhhh questions like this make it tricky because I can only select a few favorite things and that is problematic for me because well, more is more ;). Although, if you were shipping me off somewhere and I could only take 5 things, my go-to’s would include:
- ABLE Denim Jacket | they go with anything and everything, are an all-year wardrobe staple and they just get better with wear. I’ve had this one for more than 5 years now and it’s always the one I reach for first [use NATASHA15 for 15% off, too].
- JCrew Demi Bootcut Denim | There is a reason I have them in 10+ washes and styles… they are just that good. Just enough stretch to maintain their shape all day + night, but the perfect high rise inseam and figure flattering silhouette, they are hands down my most worn denim year after year.
- Spanx Air Essentials | A newer obsession that I’ve falled in love with, it’s like putting on your most comfortable pajamas, but these are acceptable to wear in public. Buttery soft fabric meets cute sepaates to style season after season. Use code NATASHAXSPANX for 10% off + free shipping
- Cotton Midi Dress | Don’t ask me how many colorways I have in this adorable tiered midi dress. The perfect smocked bodice with flutter sleeves, I truly can’t get enough. I sport it on the daily with casual sneakers and a denim jacket and then dress it up with wedges, too.
- Naghedi Large Tote Bag | It’s no secret I’m obsessed with this entire brand, but I have to admit that my fav bag that truly does it all is this larget tote. I’ve been using it as a daily carryall AND it doubles as the best travel bag as well… even better, you can wash it [I do it on gentle in a lingerie bag] and also comes with an interior small zippered bag. So many colorways and a great gift to give, too!
OK now you’ve gotten me puzzled because that’s like telling me to pick a favorite child… goodness gracious, looking back on the past 15 years, it’s safe to say I’ve had the opportunity to work with some pretty incredible brands including Lilly Pulitzer, Nordstrom, Anthropologie, eBay, Toyota, Walmart and more, but still to this day it has to be Disney that tops them all.
You know we are absolutely obsessed with Disney and I have been since I was a child. Getting to work with them on two separate trips and have the ability to bring my girls AND Mimi along for the ride was icing on the cake… experiences that none of us will ever forget and to see all the behind-the-scenes action and learn more about their brand was truly incredible.
Y’all are getting personal… don’t worry though, I think you know by now I am an open book. First and foremost, I want to mention that plastic surgery/cosmetic treatments should absolutely be done for YOURSELF and no one else. For me, I don’t regret the plastic surgery I had –breast augmentation back in 2016– I just wish I had done it sooner, especially for restoring my self confidence post babies.
In terms of other treatments I’ve had done, I’ve had Botox/Dysport done for years and I am ALL for doing what makes you feel your best. I also love going to the ladies at SkinPharm because they use a less is more type of model and want to enhance, not overdo. I will admit one time I did cheek filler and I have a tendency to get a little bit puffy post-treatment = in pictures it looked like I had gained weight in my face and I haven’t done it again since.
It’s a combination… most of the time, brands reach out to me directly via IG or email. Other times, I get “matched” with different retailers through agencies like LTK/Open Influence/Mavely/etc which acts as a liaison between brands and influencers to streamline the process. And then also just as often, I reach out to brands on my own for partnership opportunities to see what collaborations they currently have going on, etc. Don’t ever be afraid to pitch yourself… sure, you’ll hear NO a lot, but the YES makes it all worthwhile.
100% YES. First of all, the blogging industry was VERY new and no one knew what it was. When I told people I had a website of my own where I published content, they looked at me like I was crazy, but I persisted and I am super thankful I didn’t quit. It was fulfilling in so many ways and really helped me personally and professionally and I can’t imagine not having this little space of my own.
That’s a great question… in our family we like to call him the incredible disappearing man. And everyone that follows me on IG knows him as conference call guy because you can ALWAYS hear him. I’ll be honest, I never thought Jeff and I would both work at home full-time and when COVID hit, it was a BIG adjustment for everyone, most of all me and Tucker. But to answer your question, he is a Sales Director for the Global Enterprise Division of an international eDiscovery corporation. Basically, he sells + manages legal services for a number of clients all around the world, which is why he travels so much.
Honestly… trying to keep up with the constantly changing algorithms and how to get people to actually see my content. I definitely think social media has become more notable in the past 3-5 years in terms of audiences seeing it as a profession, but I definitely think that it’s going to keep growing, which is a good thing! It’s difficult to always have the bandwidth to change at a moment’s notice when reels are prioritized, then photos are back on top, etc. I think you have to be well equipped for change, for pivoting when necessary and you’ve got to have a good amount of business acumen because it can be overwhelming at times [quarerly taxes, payroll for staff, creative writing + editing skills, graphic design, etc].
Heavens NO! I think one thing that helps me in this industry is that I am NOT into having excess “stuff” everywhere and I am constantly purging… as in weekly. Our closet is fairly small so I can’t take over too much space in there since Jeff and I share our master closet so that also helps me contain the chaos.
Most of the time, I give a lot of free items + clothes I no longer wear to my friends and family and then donate the rest to other local charities and non-profits. It’s a win-win for everyone and definitely love to helo pay it forward to others.
I saved the best one for last… no surprise there! Obviously this is a very personally objective question so I can only answer it from my perspective, but I’ll start with the hardest hard and that is separating myself from everyone else out there. Like I said above, it’s definitely a saturated market, but I try my best to always show up every single day [even during the really hard times], and remind myself to not compare myself to anyone else = there are always going to be critics and I need to remember why I started this blog in the first place and that was for me to have a creative outlet. It’s supposed to be fun and exciting and if ever there were a time when I didn’t enjoy this space anymore, that’s when I would know it was time to say goodbye.
And of course, the biggest high = as simple as this may sound, it’s interacting with so many of you on a daily basis and helping you enjoy life just a little bit more than you may have otherwise. It’s not some groundbreaking idea, but for me it’s bringing positive into this world and spreading some happy. Sure, the fun collaborations are amazing and they fuel me so very much, but the community is way more important to me. It’s sharing my family with you, taking you on trips right alongside us, helping you bring some more color + fun into your wardrobe, giving you tips on workouts to living healthier, or showing you different ways to decorate your home to make it more inviting… it’s all these things rolled into one and I it’s the big WHY for me, day in and day out.
I’ll never be able to repay my gratitude for so many of you sticking by me through the last 15 years, but I hope you know how grateful I am and how much more I hope to share in the years that follow. The best is yet to come…