We are two of the last people who thought they would ever have a blog. Ellen, who is waaaaaaay more comfortable as the woman behind the curtain; a certified introvert who wanted to launch her own fashion blog for over 5 years, finally took the plunge with Jennifer, while more comfortable in the spotlight, didn’t have a clue as to the business of blogging. And neither of us could Instastory.
As middle-aged women (yes, 40s is middle-aged. As Jennifer’s dad used to say, “how many 105 year old women do you know?”), who are in a stage and phase of life where our own identities often take a backseat to our children’s busy and developing lives, our partners’ needs and/or careers, and the sandwich generation on the cusp of looking after aging parents, we defined the notion of feeling invisible. Plus, who had time for blogging?
Flash forward to the end of 2019, and we have been at this blogging/influencer thing for about 9 months; and as mothers, we could not help and draw parallels with being pregnant. Strangely enough, there are similarities between growing humans and growing followers: both are exciting and scary, both can make you feel rather uncomfortable, and both push you out of your comfort zone in rather unexpected ways. Throw in the occasional bout of nausea and there you have it.
Our goal for 2019 was to just start doing it. We had ideas, a loose and everchanging schedule, a very patient photographer, a web designer that believed in our idea and flexible payment plans, and off we went. We both operate from the position of “say yes and then figure it out,” and this venture was no different. We’ve learned as we’ve gone, and still have a ways to go; but at the end of our (almost) first year, we can honestly say it we wouldn’t change a thing. We joke that the good thing about having no followers is that we can screw up and make stupid mistakes and nobody will even notice. And yes, we learned how to Instastory. We grew individually, both personally and professionally as well.
- I look more awkward in photos than I thought
- That it’s ok to look more awkward in photos than I thought
- To remember that Bill Gates did not start out as Bill Gates and Lizzo slept in her car. The important thing is to never give up
- That being in front of the camera and taking pictures in public places where people are watching can be fun (and I learned how easy it is not to care what they think anyway)
- That new and unexpected friends show up in new and unexpected ways
- There is more to my love of fashion than I thought and taking pride in how I dress is taking pride in how I present myself to the world
- That you can teach non-digital native dogs new tricks
- That self-worth and style have nothing to do with weight and to love myself regardless of my dress size
- That as a lifelong extrovert/ENTJ/CEO/Type-A, I rather enjoy taking a back seat to someone else’s vision and just being along for the ride and moral support
- That I still have many unexpected and exciting hats to wear on my journey
Along the way we had a fun launch party at J Crew that raised money for Dress for Success, threw two more successful events at Rags Consignment that featured two fashionating women (here and here), and worked with two brands that we believe in: SUAVS and Catalaya London. We were asked to write a guest post on sustainable gifting for the holidays for a creative women’s group, as well as highlighted two of our favorite local, women owned businesses: Moss and OLIO Collection. Lastly, we did a feature with The Real Real and began a collaboration with the amazing Will of House of Owl. Not bad for two ladies figuring it out as we go!
Goals for 2020
In all honesty, we would LOVE it if this thing made money and presented opportunities to work with brands that we enjoy. We want to be strategic about our blog, but our mantra has fast become, “Focus on the community and the revenue will come.” It is almost more of an intention than a mantra. If we concentrate on our mission – helping women in their 40s feel empowered by fashion in their everyday lives. Inspiring women of all ages to take control of their personal style and use clothes as a powerful tool in the story they tell the world – and focus on building a community of diverse women who are likeminded in their support of each other as we define what it means to feel seen. We are looking to make real connections with those whose mission, goals, and story we believe in and vice versa.
We could bore you with metrics and growth, follower count and engagement rates. We could say we want to carve out more time to concentrate on SEO, engage on Pinterest more and finally figure out the whole linktr.ee thing (see Jennifer’s number 2 above), which we do, but honestly, that is neither inspirational or aspirational. Instead, we looked at the vision board we made when we first started and pulled a few items to manifest in the year ahead:
- Use this blog to develop in our personal thresholds when it comes to being comfortable promoting ourselves
- Appear on television to promote our blog, as well as pitch ourselves for articles in fashion publications (and one of those may be in the works already, so stay tuned!)
- Continue using our networks to help and connect people to look good, feel good, do good
- Become IRL besties with at least one of our OG blog crushes – Bjones Style, This Time Tomorrow, Kerrently, Karen Brit Chic, Alyson in Wonderland to name a few
- Continue to shine a light on the fashionating women and men we are lucky enough to connect with
- Write about more than just the best white button down for work at different price points. We want to open more conversations on inclusiveness, size issues, eco-fashion and confidence, as well as continue to support locally owned, women owned and/or environmentally conscious business
- And, just putting it out into the universe that by the end of 2020, we will have secured two paid partnerships
We want to continue learning to let go of our Type A, must be the best, take no prisoners, usual perfectionist way of doing things and just relax and let things be, learn as we go, embrace the mistakes. We are going to have fun doing this or we were just not going to do it.
So much of business – and life – is about defining what success looks like. Once again, things like metrics, ROI, KPI, etc. are the words de jour when tackling this topic. For us, one definition of success is getting tagged by a woman that finds vintage OTK Gucci boots and decides to rock the hell out of them even though she never thought she could. Or receive a message from another lady that the power suite she invested in a few years ago helped give her the chutzpa to finally negotiate that raise or promotion.
We want to say thank you to all the wonderful people and businesses that have supported and encouraged us along this journey. There are too many to name. We do want to give a special shout out to our families, as without them as a cheering section, we doubt this thing would have gotten off the ground. Life is fashionating because of them.
Lastly, as we look forward to new beginnings for 2020, we look forward to figuring out ways to connect with women who are ready to be seen, heard and, most importantly, valued no matter their station in life. Women in their 40’s, and beyond, have great stories and a wealth of life experiences to share and we look forward to telling them.
Images by Breezy Ritter