Isn’t this a younger girl’s game? There it was. Our first time coming face-to-face with one of the many negative comments we were so afraid of receiving. Adding to the potential devastation was the fact that it came from someone we have a personal and professional relationship with. The worst part about it? She is one of us. A woman in her 40’s juggling a career, family, and kids while looking incredibly stylish too! This is someone we felt certain would see not just the value but the need for a blog like this. Someone who would just get it.
Let me back up – once we had this seed of an idea, we needed to figure out how to build a following. Despite both of us having an extensive background in marketing, communications, and public relations, neither of us had ever – nor were comfortable with – promoting ourselves. A client, an organization, a cause, an elected official, a company…sure. But this blog – A Fashionating Life – This. Is. Us. It’s our lives, our thoughts, our opinions, our style, our vulnerabilities. So, we decided to seek the help of a professional, and started combing our rolodexes for other PR folks we knew, who had experience building lifestyle brands.
I scheduled coffee; we met; and 10 minutes into the meeting I heard these words from her mouth: “Isn’t this a younger girl’s game?”
I’m sorry – what?
“Blogging and the influencer market – it’s really a younger demographic that’s populating it and that it reaches out to.” And proceeded to offer me a list of 20-30 somethings to follow.
Point. Missed. Completely.
Ellen has described this as the exact kind of fear that prevented her from starting a blog for so long. Well, it happened, and you know what? It didn’t kill us. It didn’t even hurt, make us cry or want to throw in the towel. You know what it did do?
Ellen: It validated me and my idea. As I said, she was one of us and by not seeing our value she didn’t see her own value – and she is 100% someone I think should start her own blog. Most importantly, it made me more determined than ever to launch this blog and build this community.
Jennifer: Hold my beer. Honestly, my whole life when someone has told me I couldn’t do something, my immediate response has been, “move out the way and let me show you how.” It’s the Type A control freak in me, but in this case, it works to my advantage. Here’s another one: don’t let perfect get in the way of good. Something is better than nothing at all. I’d rather fail trying than fail to ever know if it was possible.
This is just one of the many reasons we wholeheartedly believe in 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.
Ellen figured out how to concentrate on the community not KPIs, the mission not the consumerism. This is the fun part and makes us want to work harder. In the words of the late Kenny Rogers, don’t invite comparison:
“You either do what everyone else is doing and you do it better, or you do what no one else is doing and you don’t invite comparison…..And I chose that way because I could never be better than Johnny Cash or Willie or Waylon at what they did. So I found something that I could do that didn’t invite comparison to them.”
Despite our friend’s advice on who to follow (we did follow some just for curiosity and some we already followed), we weren’t inviting comparison to the established blogosphere that already existed. We aren’t the same person as those ladies. And we don’t want to be. We want to take a piece of communication technology that comes easy to some demographics and use it to tell a story to an entirely different group – one that looks like us in many ways, but one that is also beautifully and purposefully diverse; and one that is grossly underrepresented.
Some of our challenges:
- We aren’t digital natives – the mere task of figuring out the back end took us the better part of a year to overcome. In the end, we hired someone. Smarter not harder was a hard-learned lesson.
- While the mind reels with content, the links were stressful. We were so focused on linking and tagging, that it was the tail wagging the dog. Once we recalibrated our content to align with our mission, the rest fell into place.
- The juggling act – yes, we are working moms who are adept at wearing many hats, as our tagline states; but adding one more spinning plate to the mix proved challenging. Carving out the time and energy, getting into the creative mindset to actually translate ideas onto paper, and motivating ourselves in our free time to get out of our sweats or pjs and actually put on full hair and makeup for a photo shoot (no, we don’t always look like we do in pictures – that takes a lot of time and energy and scheduling!)
What we’ve learned:
- To lean into what scares us. We blog about our fears and insecurities which breaks down walls and levels the playing field out there. Everybody’s got something….
- How to resolve our shopaholic tendencies with our desire to live more sustainably and with purpose rather than possessions. We blog about clothes instead of buying them!
- How to Instastory, cross-post on multiple platforms, operate a WordPress site, and participate in Like to Know It, which we were accepted two sooner than our business plan estimated
- How to practice what we preach – that even on our worst day, we can feel empowered by getting dressed and find our true selves in how we choose to express ourselves through what we decide to wear. You’ve heard it said to dress for the job you want, not for the one you have? That adage can apply to life as well.
I hope our friend who told us we couldn’t has seen through all these ways, that indeed we can. At the end of the day, we really had nothing to prove to anyone but ourselves. And now, a year-plus into this little experiment, I think we’ve succeeded. So, the next time someone tells you you’re past your prime, too old for something, or that maybe this isn’t your game, we hope you’ll remember our story. And we hope you’ll put on your most bad-ass outfit and tell them to hold your beer. We’ll be standing back watching you do it.
Images by Breezy Ritter