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#SOCIALBOSS, Blogger, Fashion, Interview, Social Media

#SOCIALBOSS Samantha Wennerstrom of Could I Have That? Gives Us Aesthetic Envy

July 14, 2016
Samantha Wennerstrom

Creator of Could I Have That?, Samantha Wennerstrom, has one of the most beautiful blogs we’ve ever seen. Between her mimimal-cool mixed with California-beachy wardrobe and the beautiful magazine-worthy photographs, her blog is sure to give any fashion-lover some clothing envy. Read below as Samantha gives us some insight on how she does it all.

You started Could I Have That? in 2009 and then grew your brand organically, can you talk about some of the methods you used to foster that growth? 

At first it was a very organic growth for me. I was committed to creating regular content five days a week and promoted it each day on all of my social avenues. Pinterest and Instagram were fresh out of the gates at the time and both became great ways to expose my brand to new readers and generate new traffic. Now I pay close attention to analytics for my website and social channels and strategize a bit more as to when and what I am posting.

How has your social presence evolved since 2009? 
Everything in general has become more curated and visually impactful. I now treat my Instagram feed as if it were my blog (visually) and plan each post so that it works together like a quilt.
Samantha Wennerstrom
What are your top three must-dos for social media when building and maintaining a brand? 
Plan ahead; it makes a huge difference to have images waiting in the wings that you know are on-brand. Be thoughtful of your brand with what you post, if it doesn’t match your aesthetic don’t post it. Be personable, if you’re excited about it most likely you’re audience will be too.
We heard you’re really into podcasts. Can you tell us your 4 favorite not-to-miss ones?
Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin, Pardon My French with Garance Dore, The Way I Heard It with Mike Rowe and Girlboss.
What are a few things that every business owner should know/do on social media? 
Zero in on what your business/brand represents, in other words, find your voice and tell the story within those lines. Everything should fit into your big picture.
 Samantha Wennerstrom
Your Instagram is very aesthetic. What does the behind the scenes of those images look like? 
Taking more than just one photo, a bit of editing and a few eye rolls from my husband now and then. He still loves me, don’t worry!
You’re launching Could I Have That? Mini this summer, how has getting ready for launch of this new project been different from your launch of Could I Have That? in 2009? 
Way different! Since I started Could I Have That? as a creative outlet it wasn’t much of a launch. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy promoting Could I Have That? Mini and working with brands to help spread the word as well. It’s been a labor of love! And clearly lots of fun when it involves such a cute subject!
Can we expect a social presence from the Mini magazine? How will that be different? 
Yes possibly! We will see!

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Do you have any tips for women who want to start a digital magazine and get into the social media space? 
Start with a clear vision. Also, it never hurts to write out a business plan and goal. Start following others that you admire and take note of certain practices you like and don’t like. For digital magazines, I always start with an editorial line up and deadlines. It’s such a big chunk of work that it’s nice to break it up and have a road map while in the process.
Any other ventures up your sleeve? What’re you looking forward to most over the next year? 
A summer travel series in California! I’m so excited to be covering all the different elements (beach, wine country, desert, mountains and city) of one of my favorite places in the world. Everything from what I’m packing and destination guides, to travel tips and family notes.
You’ve worked with a lot of brands. Can you tell us what campaigns have been the most successful and why? 
It’s all about deciding if it’s a natural fit and having creative control. Typically, campaigns that are spread out over a series of months and when they fit the aesthetic of my brand are the ones that do the best. I’ve learned to say no if it doesn’t feel like a good fit, which is hard to do at first but ends up being the greatest strategy in the long run.
Samantha Wennerstrom
Do you have a newsletter? If so, what do you do to make it successful? 
Yes, and currently fine tuning it! I’ve tried to (mentally) put myself on the other side and think about what my readers want to see or get directly in their inbox. The last thing I want to do is bombard them with too much.
Do you have any tips and tricks to make a giveaway successful? Any rules you follow? 
I rarely do giveaways but when I do, I try to make sure it’s something that I have a personal connection to, something that I would be really excited about possibly winning. Then I try to build the excitement with some social mentions ahead of time.
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Business, Fashion, Interviews, Social Media

Stacy Igel’s Boy Meets Girl Is All About Collaborations, Sells In Colette & Nordstrom, And Is A Kendall Jenner Fave

March 16, 2016
Stacy Igel and son Dylan

Stacy Igel’s Boy Meets Girl has been around for a long time (yet managed to stay cool with the young Hollywood set) while selling at mainstream Nordstrom and simultaneously  launching in the impossibly cool Collette Paris. Stacy is one of those women always doing a million things; from her personal blog, to the brand blog, to numerous collaborations and passion projects. Stacy squeezed in this photoshoot with her son at the crack of dawn right before shooting five women who had survived breast cancer, showing us what really happens when a busy mama entrepreneur take her son to work.

 

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How did you get your start in fashion?

I wanted to be a designer for as long for as I can remember. Both of my parents were entrepreneurs with their own businesses and I inherited that “go get ‘em spirit” from them. As a child, I remember dressing my Pre-K classmates and staging fashion shows from the school cafeteria. During and following college, I was still sewing and designing for my friends. From that point forward, I started taking orders from friends of friends. I sewed, promoted, sold and shipped the line from my bed essentially.

 

How would you describe Boy Meets Girl?

Boy Meets Girl® is a contemporary brand for our girl… she’s fun and fearless, wild yet modest, strong but soft. She loves with her entire soul, and lives her life with wonder, courage, and enthusiasm. Always on the go, her style must be easy and effortless, functional and stunning. She doesn’t always have time for a morning bedroom fashion show, but she always has time for style. The aesthetic of the brand is inspired by the vibrant New York art and music scenes.

 

You’ve been ahead of the trends in social media on so many fronts.. How did you get the idea to promote through your personal FB page before anyone was doing it?

Our personal facebook was where my friends and family were all connecting with one another, so it felt natural to tell my “facebook friends” that I was doing an event at Bergdorf’s when I launched or when I wanted to showcase store photos and press. I knew the future would involve something greater than traditional advertising, so I started looking into online forums and ways to promote, the non-traditional way.

 

This season lots of designers are really selling right off the runway. You were doing that seasons ago.. can you tell us about it and how the idea has evolved for  you?

I saw that things were changing in the industry — fast fashion swooped into America and designers like myself needed to make changes to keep up. I created the first buy off the runway concept in partnership with Lockerz.com (now under new ownership) and live-streamed my show in 2011; we also had live photos shot by my friend and photographer Sophie Elgort  posted to Tumblr before anyone did this.

 

You have so many celebs wearing your line… like KENDALL JENNER?! What happened when she started wearing the collection?

Celebrities who wear Boy Meets Girl are truly amazing.  When Kendall was seen wearing the city leggings, the post on tumblr went viral and we ended up selling out.  The best part was that it came organically.  But of course, not all celebrities convert into sales.

 

What happened when she came to your fashion show last season?

It was amazing to have my show in such an intimate space, and I was so honored that Kendall came to support Justine Skye’s first NYFW performance.  The entire experience was a fashion dream that went viral.

 

We heard that it was an amazing party… can you tell us more about it?

I think that the event can be best summed up by this video 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_R2_NcP_ZxM

It features exclusive video coverage from our SS16 New York Fashion Week event on September 12, 2015. Previously having featured performances from the likes of superstars including Natasha Bedingfield, Wyclef Jean, Austin Mahone and more, for this event, I shook things up by featuring performances by R&B rising star, Justine Skye, Randy Jackson’s International music artist Wil, and non-profit Subway Talents, Extreme Kingz.

For this season, I wanted to celebrate the heartbeat of NYC by bringing the underground above ground. The new Boy Meets Girl® collection is rooted from the connections and collaborations that we experience in everyday life – rubbing shoulders on the subway or at concerts, or asking for directions while navigating through NYC.

Location was in a VIP lounge in the heart of NYC

Photography showcased during the event was taken by Sophie Elgort (Photos shot of Musician Alice Chater and Dancers Extreme Kingz in the Subway and Hair and Makeup by Valerie Star from Caravan Stylist Studio) and DJ Hesta Prynn

 

Who are a few of the other celebs who sport the line? What’s your strategy for getting celebs to wear the line?

There really is no direct strategy; it has evolved from organic relationships. The women who wear my line are unique in their own right. Whether it’s Chloe Lukasiak from Lifetime’s Dance Moms, Jeannie Mai from FOX’s The Real, to comedian Mindy Kaling, the Boy Meets Girl brand is limitless.

 

What kind of impact has social media had on your business?

I am a big advocate of social media. For me, it’s a wonderful way to connect with my customers directly. Through various outlets, including my website (http://www.boymeetsgirlusa.com/), blog (http://www.stacyigel.com/), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BoyMeetsGirlClothing and https://www.facebook.com/StacyIgelFan), Twitter  (https://twitter.com/BoyMeetsGirlusa and https://twitter.com/StacyIgel), Instagram (http://instagram.com/boymeetsgirlusa and http://instagram.com/stacyigel), YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/user/BoyMeetsGirlUSA), Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/boymeetsgirlusa/ and http://www.pinterest.com/stacyigel), Tumblr (http://boymeetsgirlusa.tumblr.com/), Polyvore (http://boymeetsgirlusa.polyvore.com/), I am able to communicate with not only my fans and customers, but also with various people in the industry.

 

Additionally, I think it’s great that I can discuss fashion and my brand with people who care about these things as much as I do. And I take my audience’s feedback very seriously. Social media is like conducting a 24/7/365 focus group. Interacting with my fans is one of the most important things to me and for my brand – I’ve been building honest, mutually-beneficial relationships in fashion for years now; it has to be organic.

 

Social media is like conducting a 24/7/365 focus group.

 

You are in Collette this season and Nordstrom. It’s rare that a brand can bridge such a large cross section in the market. How are you able to do that? Stay cool yet be a approachable?

I believe that my most recent NYFW show really showcased who and what the brand is. The brand is about collaborations and partnerships, which we have been doing since inception.

I believe that partnerships are key to my success, but they must be honest and real. I like to crush the box rather than think outside the box.  By leveraging effective strategies from other verticals it allows BMG to stand out amongst the competition.  For this reason, Colette came calling.

 

The brand is about collaborations and partnerships, which we have been doing since inception; I believe that partnerships are key to my success, but they must be honest and real.

 

What do you see as the next social platform you’re going to utilize?

Snapchat! I’m @stacyigel @boymeetsgirlnyc. I tend to test things on my personal fan pages before I have the brand dive into it. Right now, I am on it but much more via @stacyigel.

 

What do you love about what you do?

It sounds cliché, but every day I learn something new.  I am fortunate to be a female entrepreneur, where I hold many roles.  From drawing up designs to building partnerships, even the not so fun parts (like reviewing P&L documents and everything in between) are the reasons why I love what I do).  

 

You have so many creative friends. How do you see surrounding yourself with a community like this has supported your career?

My inspiration comes from the “doers” that I surround myself with.  From my best friend, who is an actor, to my working husband, who is an amazing father. Last, but not least, my friends and family who have my back through both adversity, along with my success.

 

You started blogging in 2008 when we were all using Blackberrys. (ha ha) How has that evolved? and what do you love most about it ?

I started blogging on December 12, 2008, as my personal journal to share with everyone my crazy life and the Behind the Seams™ of building my brand, Boy Meets Girl® (first using my blackberry, then my droid, now my iPhone5s and as of February 2014 dabbling with my new gorgeous Canon EOS Rebel T3i).

Over the past 8 years it has evolved into more than just journal entries. It now incorporates all facets of my life! From what I wore at events, Q and A’s with my friends (from fashionistas to musicians), Entrepreneurship 101, My Tips (from Nails to DIY to fittings and more), my Midnight Inspirations (the things that inspire me all the time aka, Kate Moss & Johnny Depp, products I adore and most recently my son Dylan Reid aka Dj Dylan Reid who was born on October 4th, 2014), My Features on Olivia Palermo, and the list goes on and on.

I love blogging because it is my creative world, where I can do what I want when I want (with no deadlines). I call the shots. I can decide if I want to do a sponsored post or just share stories.

I love educating my readers on tips and entrepreneurship. I love sharing my love of fashion from all angles. I do wish I had more time to dedicate to it but this year it is quality over quantity for the blog.

 

You’re brand has been around for a long time. You made the bags for my wedding which I can’t believe was 8 years ago… yet it’s super popular the young Hollywood crowd. How do you keep fresh and cool with the a new a audience?

Simple, by making what’s old not only new, but also relevant to an ever-changing audience.  

 

What would be your ultimate collaboration?

Putting the Chanel logo inside the BMG logo similar to my collaboration for BCA done for UO.  Someone get Karl on the phone.

 

If you could have one wish what would it be?

For life not to go by so fast…

Photo credit: Spencer Kohn

#SOCIALBOSS, Interior Design, Lifestyle, Social Media

#SOCIALBOSS: Becki Owens Has 237K Instagram Followers, Four Kids And Will Make Your House Look Like A Dream

February 8, 2016
Becki Owens holding pillows at home

1. What sets you apart from the rest of the interior designers out there?
I would say that I like to design in a variety of styles. I’ve created beachy, traditional, modern and bohemian looks for my clients. I love mixing different styles and that each space turns out unique and individual to my client.

2. You have beautiful remodels on your website, but your Instagram seems more about inspiration than your actual work. Why have you chosen to do this?
I love the comradely that comes from sharing other designers work. I like to take the competition out of it and give credit to great design as a whole. It’s fun to admire and be inspired by beautiful designs. I’ve found it brings us all together in one common creative place.

Becki Owen's living room

3. I read that it is important for you to be the first face your kids see when they come home from school. How do you manage this while running a successful business?
I have to try and be very organized and not procrastinate. My days definitely go at a fast pace. I like to be done with work when my kids get home from school because at that point I’m running to soccer, piano, guitar, making dinner and getting caught up on their day. My husband often travels so one thing we do to stay connected is a weekly tradition of family night.  Sometimes it’s just going out to the soccer field behind our house and kicking the ball around, but we always set aside that time.

4. You have 237K followers on Instagram! How did that start? Any tips for us?
Interior design is a very visual business, so I wanted an alternative place to share the portfolio of my work.  I’ve found that its a lot of hard work and requires consistency, but it’s been fun. It’s all about being a part of your social media community by staying connected on a daily basis.  If you are interested in growing your social media platforms, I’ve found using relevant hashtags to reach people searching for similar topics is very helpful in creating awareness of your brand.

If you are interested in growing your social media platforms, I’ve found using relevant hashtags to reach people searching for similar topics is very helpful in creating awareness of your brand.

Becki Owen's living room

5. How has social media changed your business?
It’s been a great way to connect with people and see what they love in design.  It’s a powerful feedback tool too. I’ve also been able to work with people all over, not just locally. Social Media has a huge reach. For example, recently when I was in Australia on vacation with my family, I discovered I had Instagram followers from the towns I was visiting and it made me realize this really is a global connection. I have a great love of the style and design in Australia so I was flattered to see I was connecting with people from there.

For example, recently when I was in Australia on vacation with my family, I discovered I had Instagram followers from the towns I was visiting and it made me realize this really is a global connection.

6. You have been inspired by your parents who remodeled homes and you followed a similar path. Are your kids as interested in design as you were when you were growing up?
My fourth child loves to come on the job with me. I can tell she is soaking it in like I did. She loves it.  I would love it if one of my children was interested in design. Maybe we would even have the chance to work together one day.

7. What are your next steps to continue expanding your brand?
I’ve just recently started a lifestyle blog in the last year and I love growing that side of my business. I have some other fun projects in the works right now I can’t share yet, but for now I’ve been expanding my team and working on fun new designs.

Becki Owen's in her kitchen

8. You also have an interest in fashion. Does this reflect on your designs?
I think so. I live in a Southern California beach town, and I love to dress in a laid back, bohemian way that reflects the culture here. I definitely see it in my designs through eclectic textiles and accessories and creating comfortable, livable spaces.

9.Would you use the same adjectives to identify your personal style and your interiors?
Yes, colorful,bohemian, global inspired, eclectic, fresh and modern.

10. What do you want to teach your kids about life?
I want to teach them they can accomplish anything they want with hard work and not to be afraid to fail. Also, it’s important to me that they learn to be kind and think of others.

11. What’s your proudest achievement?
Definitely my family. I’m so proud of my 4 four children and who they are becoming and I’m so grateful for my husband, he’s the best.

12. Is there any one thing you believe we should invest in when redoing our home? 
If you going to invest in one thing it needs to make a statement like a beautiful piece of art for your entry or above a mantel. Gorgeous art will have a big impact in a space. The good news is that there is a wide range of art for every budget so it’s a great way to accessorize for everyone.  I love the work of Jenni Prinn, you can purchase some of her pieces at Serena and Lily.  Also, Minted is a great resource to find amazing work from talented, emerging artists and its budget friendly and easy to order.

If you going to invest in one thing it needs to make a statement like a beautiful piece of art for your entry or above a mantel. Gorgeous art will have a big impact in a space.

13. What could be an easy fix when getting bored with an interior?
New pillows and fresh textiles are an excellent way to freshen up a room. There are so many great options right now to create a collected look. I love to mix in a pop of color with neutrals for an updated look.

14. I was stalking you on Instagram and noticed that you were replying to a question one of your followers had. Do you think it’s important to connect with your followers? How can you keep up?!
I really try to respond to questions because I’m really grateful for all the support I’ve received on Instagram.  It doesn’t always happen, some days just get crazy. But that is one of the fun parts of my job, connecting with people.

You can check out Becki Owens on Instagram here and her website here, and her heymama profile here.

#LADYBOSS, Business, PR, Social Media

Behind The Scenes At Munchkin With PR #LADYBOSS Katie Harrington

November 12, 2015
Katie Harrington of Munchkin

Katie Harrington gives us the dish on what it’s like to head up the PR and Social Media team for global baby brand,  Munchkin. We’re so obsessed with their products for our girls, that we needed to find out what makes this brand tick and how they are navigating the ever changing social landscape.

 

Tell us a little about your background. How did you get into PR?

It all kind of fell into place while I was working at The Land of Nod. I was working as the Marketing Administrator . At the time Land of Nod was about to jump into their re-brand. Michelle Kohanzo had just moved up to fill the CEO position, and brought new initiatives on board. Before I knew it, my role was shifting from assisting with e-mail segmentation, and catalog circulation, into more influencer outreach, sponsored campaigns, and cause marketing opportunities. During that transition, I became the PR & Social Media Strategist, and we were able to bring our digital and philanthropic voice to life. It was such a whirlwind, and such an incredible experience, as Michelle saw that my personality was better suited for PR versus analytics.

 

What do you love about what you do?

I’m a social butterfly and absolutely love connecting with people. I’ve always loved pop-culture and have been personally involved in charities; it’s really a blessing to be able to bridge together the things I’m passionate about while making a living. I studied history & political science in college and was always interested in the sociology. Sociological questions that interest me are what are the circumstances in decision-making, what is happening in their world that develops certain behaviors, and how social media/technology today instantly captures movements and moods. It’s going to be incredible to be able to look back and see how individuals and brands have joined real time conversations and made a stance during specific events that would end up in the history books.

Katie Harrington of Munchkin

What qualities do you have that makes for a successful PR person?

Personality, gusto, and curiosity.

 

What do you feel has been your major contribution to Munchkin?

Bringing the digital PR to life for Munchkin, I found ways to connect the brand to bloggers and influencers which has been a big accomplishment for me. Other accomplishments would be the development of the corporate social responsibility partnerships with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Operation Gratitude, and others. Opportunities for our brand to give back to the community through charities, causes through sponsorships, volunteering hours, and product donations are so important.

Katie Harrington of Munchkin

Can you tell us a little about the in house team at Munchkin and the work dynamic there?

We have a lot of fun and are a tight-knit group. We’re a small team of three, but have the personality of 10. I’m really proud of the team, as they’ve worked tirelessly to navigate the road of rebranding and connecting with consumers, plus influencers. It takes special talent to be able to be the voice/personality of the brand, and we’ve got a team of strong employees.

 

How do you see the digital space and social media playing a role in Munchkin’s future?

It’s the fastest avenue to connect with millennial moms. We review digital/mobile behaviors of these moms on a daily basis, and we certainly want to connect with her to showcase our personality, products, and mission.

 

How do you work with influencers?

In a variety of ways, anywhere from sponsored content, and Instagram takeovers to sponsorships of their events. There are so many opportunities to create a branding campaign as every influencer has different skills, and ideas.

 

How have you seen social media change the pr landscape?

A large part has been the transition from print to the .com, but I’ve also seen and worked so many influencers, i.e. former models, actresses, etc. that have been able to reinvent themselves via blogging and are essentially now known as “lifestyle” brands.

Katie Harrington of Munchkin at the Alt Summitt

What has been your experience working with big conferences like the Alt Summit? Would you recommend these to influencers?

I’ve had the best experiences at Alt Summit. It’s an amazing conference to connect with influencers who essentially become your brand ambassadors and to create beautiful content and photography for the brand. I always leave the conference feeling incredibly inspired with new partnerships, friendships, and learning experiences. This is a large group of women who truly understand the social media endorsement realm and help make those connections possible. I absolutely recommend it to anybody looking for inspiration or brands looking to connect with creatives in the digital space.

 

At heymama we are very much about community and supporting each other as women, how important do you think community is building a successful career?  And how important is it in your personal life?

The social/PR community that I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of is truly a major factor in maintaining a successful career. It’d be virtually impossible to go forward without their support and involvement. For example, a fellow heymama friend, Morgan Smith and I hold similar careers of PR in the infant/toddler space; yet support each other’s initiatives. We go to each other’s events, share connections, and brainstorm opportunities.  There are also entrepreneurs like Amy Richardson-Golia, and Kelly Mindell who have been active in staying connected through new careers, re-brands, etc.  You should always surround yourself with an ally, and it’s been super easy to do so within the social/PR world. We’re all in this together, and are aware of what social media can do for your brand, so being able to support each other’s respective goals is very rewarding.

 

….a fellow heymama friend, Morgan Smith and I hold similar careers of PR in the infant/toddler space; yet support each other’s initiatives. We go to each other’s events, share connections, and brainstorm opportunities.You should always surround yourself with an ally.

 

 

Is there anyone specific that has supported your goals or been mentor to you?

There are a handful of incredible women in the workplace with whom, I know I wouldn’t be where I am. My first boss at The Land of Nod, Margie Stephens, was and to this day is my #1 believer. She saw something in me and never let me settle, or take the easy road. Margie taught me so much personally, and professionally; self-confidence, remembering to laugh, and giving back to the community. The same goes for Danielle Kurtz (Creative Director at Nod) and Michelle Kohanzo. They literally always encouraged me to think outside of the box. I had an absolute blast with them, so many memories that I’m thankful for. Also, Munchkin’s General Counsel, Petty Rader has taken me under her wing and become a great friend. She’s shown me the ropes of navigating a new career, and life here out west. They have all been my guardian angels. I’d also like to add that I’ve been so fortunate to be surrounded by supportive family and a wonderful group of friends from the start. They’re very active in engaging in my career initiatives, and are great cheerleaders.

 

Where would you like see yourself in 5 years?

Still in the PR world, I’m pretty content with the scope of work, but tackling more responsibilities. I think it would be fun to also become an adjunct professor teaching PR and social media practices.

 

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever been given?

Act like an owner. If you showcase an entrepreneurial spirit, and are able to articulate goals, then there’s nothing that will stop you from achieving the desired results. You’ll have all of the tools necessary to make it happen.

 

What would you like to tell your 22-year-old self?

I was definitely having fun at 22 years old and living in the moment, but was always trying to please everyone. It might have been a lack of self-confidence, and looking back, I’d tell myself to be more secure and own who I was, and not be shy about voicing an opinion.

 

How do you balance career and family and carve out some time for yourself?

This is always a juggling act, as the truth is that I’m not very good at relaxing. My mind is always thinking about following up on emails, cleaning, or running around to get Gavin to his lessons on time. I’m constantly being reminded to “take it easy” or not worry so much, but I tend to get swept up what I’m a part of; motherhood, work, life…it’s just genuinely part of my DNA, as I think I always like to be a part of/accomplishing something, big or little. I will say, however, that I always find “me” time for a nice mani & pedi.

 

How do you plan to nurture and encourage your son to encourage his dreams?

I am Gavin’s biggest fan. I tell him everyday how proud he should be of himself, whether it’s problem solving homework, sharing, or completing his chore chart. As he grows, I’ll continue to be his #1 advocate and encourage him to be self aware, kind, and ambitious. As long as he is fulfilled and has good morals, nothing else matters. Little brother is due in April 2016, and I want nothing more for my kids to be healthy and happy.

You can learn more about Katie on her heymama profile here, the Munchkin website here,  and the Munchkin Instagram here.

Lifestyle, Mama Boss, Social Media, Travel

#TRAVEL: Courtney Adamo Takes Her Squad Around The World

November 6, 2015
Courtney Adamo and her four kids

There is a lot of talk about authenticity out there and being true to your voice and your beliefs on social media. There is also a lot of judgment going around regarding the how and why people are utilizing Instagram. Courtney Adamo is one of the most authentic voices on Instagram and has been such a supporter of smaller brands through the Babyccino Kids site she co-founded with her long time mama friends, Emilie and Esther. She gave us a peek into not only her career, but also the yearlong trip she’s currently taking with her family. The sweet photos on her feed have us counting our pennies to whisk our own families off on a life changing adventure; where we can focus on learning together, experience life, and appreciate each other. How can there be so much controversy over her beautiful pictures promoting a positive family experience? Haters gonna hate, but we can’t get enough!!   Courtney Adamo takes her squad around the world and we’re following along.

 

How did the Babyccino brand get started?

I met Esther and Emilie in London in 2005 shortly after our first babies were born, and we very quickly bonded over new motherhood and the questions/concerns/gripes/pleasures that come with it. We used to meet in cafes and talk about babies and newfound products we loved, recipes we made and enjoyed, activities we had discovered, and other interesting parenting topics, etc. Two years later, Emilie moved to Paris and Esther moved to Amsterdam. We started the Babyccino Kids blog as a way to stay in touch with each other and continue to share our discoveries as new mothers. This was back in 2007 when blogging was only beginning to become a trend – in fact most people didn’t even know what a blog was when we shared what we were doing.

Gradually, the blog started gaining interest and our blog grew and grew.

In 2010, three years after starting our blog, we launched our shopping portal — a curated directory of stylish, independent children’s shops.  We realized we were putting a lot of time into our blog and not making very much money from it, so we needed to figure out a way to turn it into a profitable business. We also wanted to provide a bigger platform for shops to advertise and grow their own businesses, and to provide a directory for our readers so they could find the smaller, independent brands that are difficult to find in bigger search engines like Google. The shopping portal met all of these different needs. We launched the shopping portal with 100 shops and now we have around 400.  It’s a curated selection so we don’t accept everyone who is interested; we only accept a few new brands here and there.

The most recent addition to our business is our ShopUp event.  Three years ago we started to host live shopping events hosted by Babyccino Kids. These ShopUp events give on-line shops a chance to set up a booth, and sell their wares in the flesh. We’ve hosted events in London and NYC, and we hope to bring the event to LA in 2016.

 

Courtney Adamo and her kids eating ice cream

 

Do you have any sort of rules for selecting brands? How do you find new brands?  With the shops, we look at them and make a combined decision. We look at the products they sell, the quality, the design, and the functionality of the website. It’s mostly a gut feeling. We don’t search for brands to work with, we really just respond to those who are reaching out to us. We have so many inquires, it’s a lot to keep up with at this point.

For me personally to work with a brand they have to be doing something I believe in and be authentic. It has to be something I would naturally buy or support without being paid to do so.

For me personally to work with a brand they have to be doing something I believe in and be authentic. It has to be something I would naturally buy or support without being paid to do so.

 

How do you utilize Instagram to support your business? 

It’s tricky because my feed is quite personal, but in the end it does benefit the Babyccino brand as a marketing tool. I myself prefer browsing Instagram to reading blogs because it is quick and visual and you can decide whether to dig further and click over to a site to read more. I also like seeing a gimpse of the people behind the brand, and I suppose our readers also like to see a personal glimpse our lives. In the beginning we hardly ever referred to our kids by their names or posted photos of our children, but people responded so well to it, so we started making it a bit more personal.

 

Have you made any life changing connections personal or professional through Instagram?

I have several really good friends and people I have met though Instagram. One family in Portugal have become really close friends of ours as a result of IG. She was a follower, we started chatting over email, and she invited us to come to Portugal to stay in her home. For a while, we thought it would be crazy to fly to Portugal to stay with a family we had never met before, but after a while we decided to do it. Because why not?! We went last April and it was really lovely, so much fun, and now we’re really good friends. That’s just one of many things that make me so thankful for this community. I’ve met so many really lovely people I would never have had contact with otherwise. And there’s so many other inspiring people I would still love to meet!

Courtney Adamo

 

How is it working with your partners? How do you divide and conquer?

Most of the workload is divided between Esther (in Amsterdam) and myself.  We spend a lot of time on Skype with each other, making decisions and plans for the weeks and months ahead. Sometimes we just keep Skype on while we’re both working and there will be long periods where we don’t even talk to each other, but we’re there just in case we have questions or need a second opinion. (This was obviously easier when I was in London and we were on a similar time zone.) We also must send about a hundred emails a day to each other! Additionally, we meet up a lot in our respective cities. It’s a pretty great job when you have to go to Amsterdam or Paris for work meetings!

I’m so thankful to have a business partner who shares a similar work ethic and devotion to our business. A lot of times when things go sour with partners, it’s because you do not have the same work ethic or want the same things, and we’re very lucky that we do have that. It’s not very often that Esther and I disagree and I never feel that one of us works more than other.  We’re like sisters. We each have 4 children; we parent in the same way, we share similar views about life and business, etc. I suppose our business is in tune, because we have the same values. It also helps that we have added a couple other women to our team to help with the shopping portal and admin of our business. We have a pretty great team and we are very proud of how far our little business has come.

Courtney Adamo and her daughter holding hands

 

How did the idea behind this year of travel come about?

I’ve always wanted to do this ever since I was a child. Growing up, there was a family living next door to my grandparents who took a year out and travelled around the world for a year. It was a bold move for a family in small town America, and I remember being so intrigued why they would do something like that. When they returned, they came back so changed, telling stories and showing us photos from their trips, friendship bracelets they’d made, etc.  They talked in way that exuded a sense of worldly understanding and adventure; they were really smart had truly seen the world. Most importantly, they were really close as a family. They seemed so enriched by the experience. It shaped them as a family and the time they got to spend together was what they really gained. It was less about traveling the world and more about pushing pause and taking a year to really enjoy each other.

It was less about traveling the world and more about pushing pause and taking a year to really enjoy each other.

What’s been the best part of your trip so far for your kids and for you? It’s been so great to spend so much time (nearly every minute!) together as a family, and to be able to be able to slow down the pace of our lives so that we are able to focus, listen and be more present with one another. Of course this has also brought challenges as well. It’s not always easy to spend every single moment of your day with your children and to try to homeschool them as well. There are moments where the kids test your patience and you wish you could send them off to school for a few hours and give yourself a bit of a break. But we are slowly finding our rhythm and learning what works and what doesn’t. I suppose this has also been a big joy, to really tune into each of our children and understand what their individual needs and interests are, and to be able to focus on these things.

Travel wise, we’ve had some amazing adventures so far. We really enjoyed our time in the small beach town of Trancoso in Brazil. It was the perfect place to slow down and discover the local traditions, foods, language, etc.

…..this has also been a big joy, to really tune into each of our children and understand what their individual needs and interests are, and to be able to focus on these things.

Courtney Adamo and her kids in the park

 

How did you prepare for homeschooling your children? How’s it going? What is the educational value you see in these really life situations/traveling?

It took a while to figure out what works and what doesn’t. I’ve always been an advocate of a loose schedule and not the type to obsess too much about education and rules.  We were already of the mind set that learning by doing is what’s important, not passing a test or getting a perfect grade, so this type of education really plays into that. We’re able to be flexible and be inspired by what’s around us and what the kids are interested in. In the desert in California we learned about the rock formations, how they were made, and the animals that lived in the environment. That’s the enormous benefit to learning while you travel, you can be flexible and not have to just follow the books. If your kids take an interest in something like lizards you can take that and use it, make it a math lesson. Where they may have been so much less engaged in the math classroom, if you can incorporate things they are interested in, you have their attention. I think anytime a child is interested, they learn so much more easily.

 

How did you plan for such a long trip with your family? 

We spent nearly 6 months planning for this trip. We started out by narrowing down the destinations and then purchasing an around-the-world ticket. It helped immensely to know where we were going and to have those decisions out of the way. We decided to spend the year in sunny, warm climates because we love the sun, but also because it would make it easier to pack for the year, without having to worry about cold weather clothes and coats, etc. Packing was pretty easy in the end. I packed shorts and tees for the boys, along with one hoodie and a waterproof outer layer. And swimsuits of course! For the girls, I just packed a lot of summery dresses, sandals and a couple cardigans for cooler weather. Each of the children has a very small suitcase, which they can wheel through airports on their own. Michael and I also have one suitcase, so it keeps all of our stuff organized. Because we sold our house and sold a lot of our furniture and general stuff, we had already narrowed down our belongings before the packing began. I suppose it all happened gradually, so that by the time we were ready to leave London and start our adventure, we were organized and ready. In terms of planning our accommodation, we spent a lot of time talking with friends who have traveled to similar places and getting personal recommendations. We’ve probably booked about 50% of the places we’ll need this year – the rest still need to be booked!! Hopefully it will all fall into place over the year.

Courtney Adamo and her kids walking on the beach

 

We love seeing your family on Instagram. What is your view on kids in social media? Does it ever feel weird that people you’ve never met feel like they know you?

When I have a real life encounter with people from social media, I actually find that really reassuring and encouraging. When I’m sitting on my couch at home, looking at my phone, it can sometimes feel strange that there are random people viewing my photos and commenting on them. But then, when you have a real life encounter with someone, and they are really lovely and like-minded, it reminds you of all the good people who are inspired by what I’m doing and who share interesting feedback and comments.

I started Instagram when I thought it was just for sharing photos with my family, and of course it has turned into something much different than that. There are moments now where I question why I do it (I’m sure lots of people feel the same), but then I’m reminded how nice it is to connect with other women and families from around the world. Being able to share photos with my family is still a bonus!

…when you have a real life encounter with someone, and they are really lovely and like-minded, it reminds you of all the good people who are inspired by what I’m doing and who share interesting feedback and comments.

 

What do you wish you knew before you started your business?

Because our business has grown gradually and organically over the last eight years, I would never have known how much work it would eventually require from me, or that it would become a full-time job for me and my business partners. I might not have jumped on board had I known, so I suppose it’s a good thing I didn’t!

 

What advice would you give to another mama looking to start a business with a friend? 

To make sure you have really good communication between you, that you can speak directly and openly with one another and that you understand from the onset what your roles and contributions will be so that expectations are always met.  Oh and it’s good to have a similar work ethic to make sure the working relationship is successful.

To make sure you have really good communication between you, that you can speak directly and openly with one another and that you understand from the onset what your roles and contributions will be so that expectations are always met.

 

+What are 3 things that have attributed to your success?

1. Hard work
2 .Business partners who have been supportive and encouraging (and who make working fun!)
3. Being innovative and receptive to change. Our company has grown because we are constantly thinking about how to differentiate from other similar businesses and how to meet the growing demands from our readers and shops.

 

You can learn more about Courtney on her heymama profile here, follow her travels on Instagram here, and Babyccino Kids here.

#LADYBOSS, Business, Kids Style, Social Media

#LADYBOSS: Freshly Picked Founder Susan Petersen’s Startup Success Story

November 2, 2015
Susan Petersen with her Freshly Picked Moccasins

 We’ve been dying to talk to Freshly Picked founder, Susan Petersen, since the day we started heymama. Her guts, determination and sheer hard work to build what’s turning into an empire put her on the top of our interview bucket list. Lucky for us, Susan’s success has only made her more willing to share her experience with other entrepreneurs. She’s worked hard her whole life, struggling to come up with a small amount of money to start her company, winning Shark Tank, building up a cult social media following, and becoming a household name sold in Nordstorm. This is one mama whose business advice you need to follow. 

 

You started you company with $200 what has this experience taught you and what can you share about starting out on a budget?

Since we were on such a tight budget starting out, we only had the necessities. We didn’t have fancy furniture, or any extras. We couldn’t just say let’s get this or that. If you don’t have money to spend, you keep your blinders on! At this point, we’re still bootstrapping and putting the money back. Even more than the money, you have to put in the work. There are so many things that are free but require your input and work. Instagram is free. Everything you need is free. You just have to be willing to put in the sweat. The most important things are free: the relationships you build and the people that are going to help you along the way. The early bloggers and the early editors who took a chance on me really helped me, and those relationships are free.

 

Even more than the money, you have to put in the work…..The most important things are free: the relationships you build and the people that are going to help you along the way.

 

How do you thank those people?

For me, that person at that point in my life made such a big difference. Whenever I have a thought to be thankful, I call and tell them how they made such a big difference in my life. Someone reached out to me recently to tell me how they appreciated me, and it felt like it made such a big difference in my day and made me feel valuable. I try to do that a lot now: verbally thanking people as soon as they do something, that’s a big deal. I try to do it as soon as I think of it.

 

Did you have any role models or mentors that help teach you this drive?

My grandmothers were very strong women who were getting their shit done. They never taught me anything specifically, but I became empowered by watching them. Encouragement is contagious, so it’s especially important when you daughters are watching you and learning by example.

 

What are you most proud of that you’ve accomplished at Freshly Picked?

It’s so awesome (and scary) to have a team that depends on the business for their livelihood. It’s amazing to feel like I’m making a big difference for someone, and they are making a big difference in my life which is so cool and makes me really proud.

One of my favorite things is when we hear customer stories about how our products have made a difference in their lives. They would say how couldn’t find any other shoes that stayed on their kids or find any that they would wear.

Our PR really gets me and is able to capture that essence so props to them. We’ve had so much great press, but our Fortune article was one of my favorites. Taking over their homepage for a good portion of the day, it was so fun to just go there and see an article about my business on Fortune– it was big moment.

 

Susan Peterson with her Freshly Picked Moccasins

 

What is intuitive business?

It really is falling ass backwards and making it work. I fail to grasp how big and crazy what’s happening is until I am many miles away from it. I was scared on Shark Tank but not as scared as I should have been. Not until afterward, when I was laying in bed thinking of how it could have gone wrong, did I recognize what had happened. I don’t think about the possibility for things to go wrong; I just jump feet first into any situation. It was later that I realized the gravity of how good or bad it could have gone. Really being in the moment and doing stuff has gone along way for me. The more you do it, the easier it is to trust your gut. For me, earlier this year, there were a couple of things (minor) that were wrong with the business, and I couldn’t figure it out. There were things keeping me up at night like how this and that didn’t add up, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I pulled in someone so that can get to the root of my problems. If I hadn’t trusted my gut and pulled someone in, it would have been a year and a half. It’s like the same way it is with your kids; you have to follow that instinct. You know most of the answers if you just listen. If you feel that something is not right, you have to explore that.

 

What were some of the difficulties when you started selling in other stores? You are now in big retailers like Nordstrom’s, how is this going for you?

The time lines are really different! You have to work so far in advance. It’s a lot different. Wrapping my head around that, I remember going into a meeting and them were asking me to see next year’s products, and I was like, “Oh yeah, I forgot to bring the those….” We were only working months out! Everything had to change. It changes the way your finance are allocated. When you’re selling directly, you can just go straight to the site. For moms thinking about whether to make the leap to wholesale, don’t do it until you have a major retailer under your belt. It’s nice to have the support of Nordstrom. Now that we have that partner and the experience, we’re adding smaller shops.

 

How has social media changed your business?

At the end of the day, we are the brand that Instagram built, quite honestly. Instagram has been such a driving force for our business. Until almost a year ago, we did not have anything except for Instagram. It was just me for a long time. For me, as a mom and social media/blogging, it all finally made sense. I knew what these women wanted from my experiences. They want people to tell them how cute their kids are and to connect with them. If you’re awake and feeding your baby, you’re on Instagram; it really lends itself to that one finger scroll. Our target market is new moms. I remember when I started, people, who were growing quickly, had that “K” next to their number. I set a goal for myself that by the end of the year I would have 10k followers. I worked my butt off that year. On Dec. 28th, we had 10k. As a personal goal, it changed things for me because it made me realize I could achieve such goals. Then we made a goal to get on Shark Tank, so I wrote that down. For moms and businesswomen: write it down. Make it intentional and something you’re going to work on. Writing things out makes it real and helps you to visualize and set a goal. I’m so excited to see what Instagram will do. They have the capability to do so much more. I think Instagram is going to be more for the younger moms. Our aunts and grandmas are still hanging out on Facebook. Facebook is a different audience altogether, so we have to create two different sets of content: one for the Facebook and one for Instagram. Social media is like sex. As soon as you know your parents are doing it, you’re off to the next.

 

For moms and businesswomen: write it down. Make it intentional and something you’re going to work on. Writing things out makes it real and helps you to visualize and set a goal.

 

Can you share some tips on growing your Instagram account and utilizing that to grow you business?

Something that has really helped us on Instagram is recognizing the community and providing them with a voice. The most important thing you can do is to acknowledge and engage with your audience. There will always be someone there to comment and engage back with you. Community engagement is so important. Everyone is waiting to see what Instagram is going to do there. As with any social media, the thing to do is to embrace the changes and incorporate them as soon as you can. Adapt as quickly as they roll out. If you can be one of the first adopters of new technology, you’re ahead of the game.

Susan Peterson at the Freshly Picked  offices

 

What is your feeling on give-aways and how helpful are they? Do they work?

Yes and no. Something that we noticed is that giveaways with other brands don’t work. If you’re a company that’s starting out, giveaways are going to help your following but they need to be specific, selective, and spread them out so people don’t get sick of it. You can’t do too many give-aways with too many partners, or it gets annoying. Partner with complementary brands that have the same demographic of customer. Make sure you’re doing the brunt of the work if you’re the small guy. This will make it easy for bigger brands with larger following to want to help you out.

 

Why do you think Freshly Picked has been so successful?

Timing, not being afraid to go for things, putting myself out there for the brand and not being afraid of failing are reasons why it has been so successful. I have failed so many times. I had made really expensive, costly, and stupid mistakes, but you have to be willing to put yourself out there for the brand and be able to go with whatever happens. It’s so important to just say yes. It ends up being so much better if you don’t try to control it. A lot of times, you think you’re going to move the needle, but it just doesn’t work out. It’s those things that you just do and don’t think about that actually make an impact. You never know what will really get the buzz and move the needle; these things are not replicable.

 

A lot of times, you think you’re going to move the needle, but it just doesn’t work out. It’s those things that you just do and don’t think about that actually make an impact. You never know what will really get the buzz and move the needle; these things are not replicable.

 

How many people do you have working for you now and do you still interview each one?

We have fourteen people working for us right now, and I am still interviewing everyone. I’m like a data miner. I’m the final interview. I like to play this game called Promadon. Sit around and tell me your life in two minutes or less. It’s about your life after your senior prom until now; then, tell me each job you’ve had from high school until now. What would your boss would say about you? You can spot red flags. I’ll dig into stuff, and you really start to see tell tale facts. I don’t seek out moms specifically, but I do have moms that work here. We have two moms that have transitioned. One of them is working part time, and the other one, we are going to wait and see. For me, as a boss, it’s important to me to let them know that they should not feel the pressure of having to hurry back to work. You want to see how you feel. We have a very flexible work environment. I think moms just work harder. Their priorities shift in a way you can’t image. The most beautiful thing to see is when a woman becomes a mother. It’s a gift. I love to have them as a part of our team. Everyone works hard; their priority shift allows them to get things done faster and that alone makes them a great asset to our team.

 

Susan Peterson Freshly Picked

 

How do you be a good boss and a good leader?

To be a good boss and a good leader is lonely. At the end of the day, I’ve learned that I can’t be friends with my employees. I respect and admire each and every one of them. I want them to have happy, long lives, but you have to have that there has to be a boundary in order to be a successful boss. I’ve also had the moment where you realize that you intimidate them. Before Freshly Picked, I never had that problem. Trying to ease that fear without crossing that line into a friendship is a tricky balance.

 

What is the best part of being an entrepreneur for you?

In my heart of hearts, this is what I was born to do. This is what I was meant to be doing. Yeah, there are frustrating times and there are hard times. The good times outweigh all the bad times. I love what I do so much, and I’m so grateful to have this opportunity. Even the challenging times have taught me so much. I regret nothing.

 

Susan Peterson at the Frehly Picked office

 

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?

My friend, Noelle, who sits on my board right now, helped me when we were getting our first huge orders. We just had so much more than we thought. We had about three months worth of work in front of us. I called her when I was crying and really sad, and she listened to me until I finished. Afterwards, she said, “Boo hoo, Susan, it’s so hard to be successful. You’re going to wake up and put your big girl panties on and get shit done.”

 

How hard is it to get a good board together, how important is that?

I have five board members. I picked them up one by one. Noelle is so integral into what I am doing; her life mimics mine, so bringing her on was such an easy decision. What I do is to try and find people that are where I want to go or have done what I want to do. I find the people I want and recruit them. The big things for my business are the same things that resides in any business, so I look for people who can advise in finance, development, and retail. We have really good board members.

 

You mention supporting women in building their dreams is a big mission of yours, and we feel the same way at heymama. What is the role of community in your life?

I have three sisters that I’m really close to. I have a couple of really good girlfriends that are super smart. I know three entrepreneurs that are at the same business growth stage that I’m at. We have a breakfast club and discuss the pain points that we’re each facing and try to help walk each other through them. From each breakfast club meeting, we’ve produced tons of good ideas. It’s such a nice thing to have all of these people to walk through it with you.

 

You can learn more about Susan on her heymama profile here, Instagram, and the Freshly Picked website.

Photography by the Emmy Lowe Photo team.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blogger, Contributors, Social Media

#SOCIALMEDIASTUFF: 6 Ways To Grow Your Instagram Following In 6 Months Or Less

October 27, 2015
Makena Beach Cafe Camel Coat Gorgeous Girl

We met Loriann @makenabeachcafe on Instagram, where all besties meet these days! From our first phone conversation we knew we wanted more from this social savvy mama and started whooing her to be a regular contributor and heymama ambassador. Mission accomplished! 

 

Instagram is the fastest growing social network in the world with the most active users. It is easy to see just why when you scroll through the visual platform. Everything you can imagine from photos of cute puppies to a peek into a day-in-the-life of your favorite celebrities is at your fingertips. For brands and businesses, it is a highly targeted advertising channel for their products and work.

I have not been using Instagram very long for @MakenaBeachCafe, a fashion and lifestyle blog. In less than 8 months, I have been able to grow my followers to 23K+. I hope the lessons I learned are useful to anyone looking for more success with their Instagram.

 

1.  Post High Quality Photos

Instagram is purely visual where the quality of your content matters most. I am a fashion blogger – not a photographer. Many of my pictures require detailed product shots of outfits, shoes and accessories. So it is important for them to be crisp and colorful. You don’t need the best camera or to hire a photographer. I take many photos with my iPhone camera and enhance them with free photo editing tools on Instagram and VSCO. It is easy to turn average photos into something standout. For example, if you love taking pictures of your morning coffee, get creative with camera angles and composition. Perhaps set your mug against a windowpane with Fall red leaves in the background. The key is to have fun.

Studies show that filtered photos are 21% more likely to be viewed and 45% more likely to be commented on than unfiltered ones. Which filter should you use to drive engagement? The most popular ones seem to be Normal (no filter), Valencia and Earlybird. Experiment and see what works for you, and stick with it. Because pictures are stacked right next to each other, being consistent with your photo style will help your gallery look cohesive.

Try to post daily and no more than 4 photos in a 24-hour period. People like seeing fresh content in their feed, but too much can come across spammy. I aim to post 1-2 quality photos each day, and seriously commend those who do 3, 4 or more. It’s hard work.

Celine bag and coffee

Celine bag and coffee

2.  Inspire Others

Now for the big question, “what photos should I post?” I have posted hundreds of photos in my Instagram gallery. You’d think I could do this in my sleep, yet I sometimes struggle with this. So you are not alone. Start by deciding on a theme that interests you – whether it is fashion, food, your children or something else – and create images around this central idea.

While the focus of @MakenaBeachCafe is on personal fashion, I love using Instagram to get personal with my audience by sharing a glimpse into my day and family life. You will see pictures like artfully crafted foamy lattes, a fun lakeside picnic with my family and snuggles with my Bernese Mountain Dog.

Ultimately, I am endlessly inspired by my little girl Adalyn and so many wonderful bloggers, brands and individuals. Don’t be afraid to seek inspiration from others. In putting out good work, I hope in turn to inspire others.

 

3.  Use Hashtags

When I first started using Instagram earlier this year, I would post a photo and sit back eagerly waiting for new followers to pour in. When this did not happen and the only new followers trickling in were my friends or co-workers, I knew I wasn’t doing something right. Does this sound familiar?

Hashtags (e.g., #fashion) are extremely important for getting your photos discovered by new people. Unless you are a Kardashian, we all could use a little help getting followers. The primary way to do this on Instagram is to use the right hashtag keywords to describe your image. Instagram organizes its enormous library of images according to hashtags, and allows a maximum of 30 tags per post.

To get started, think about what keywords someone would use to find your photo. You might also want to check out similar accounts to get ideas on what hashtags they are using. Also check out the free tool Websta to come up with related tags. For @MakenaBeachCafe, I used Websta to research #fashion and got several other good keywords to include in my list:

#fashion
217,116,943

#instafashion
29,361,501

#fashionista
16,732,658

#fashionblogger
11,641,092

For each photo, I generally use 5-10 popular hashtags that describe my brand, 5-10 tags that describe what is featured and a few geographic ones. Keep experimenting to see what works.

 

4. Engage with Your Followers and Other Instagrammers

If someone leaves a comment on my photo, I try my best to reply even if it is a simple “thanks so much!” And I almost always reciprocate by visiting their profile. I have met and become friends with some of the nicest, coolest people starting with a simple “hello”.

When I first started using Instagram, I thought liking others’ photos would help increase my followers. But I quickly learned that likes get drowned out and didn’t do much for my profile. It is way easier to double-tap to like than to spend the time to leave a nice comment, which is why photos typically get way more likes than comments. I started leaving comments on accounts that were interesting to me, and immediately saw a reciprocal interest in my profile. When you make the extra effort, it usually doesn’t go unnoticed and people are more likely to check out your Instagram and follow back.

 

5. Cross-Promote

Instagram is not the only thing I focus on. It is an important channel for awareness and traffic to my blog Makena Beach Cafe. I spend a lot of time growing my blog and other marketing channels, which in turn drives new traffic to my Instagram.

For brands and businesses, Instagram has proven its worth in terms of brand awareness and product placement. It allows people to look at pretty photos and be inspired, but it still lacks the ability to tell a full story no matter how good a photo and it’s caption are.

I also collaborate regularly with brands and other bloggers. It’s not only fun, but also helps me get exposure with new audiences and gain new followers.

 

6. Give Away Gifts

Everyone likes getting nice things for free. I gained over a thousand followers in one day by giving away a big Nordstrom gift card. While I lost a few hundred followers after the giveaway – which is to be expected since some people just enter for the prize – I was surprised to still have around a thousand new followers. You can do giveaways by yourself, or the more popular route is to participate in multi-person Loops.

These are just some of many ways to boost your Instagram followers. There are plenty of other tactics like posting photos at certain times of the day/week, sponsoring posts, etc. If you have any other suggestions or tips, please leave me a comment below.

 

You can learn more about Loriann Caldwell on her heymama profile here , makenabeachcafe.com, and  Instagram. If you liked 6 Ways To Grow Your Instagram Following, share it with your tribe beauties. xx

#LADYBOSS, Interviews, Kids Style, Social Media

#LADYBOSS: June & January Founder Amy Richardson-Golia Gets Personal On Social

October 24, 2015
AMY RICHARDSON DRINKING COFEE JUNE & JANUARY

How many mamas out there have dreamed of making something, setting up an Etsy shop, and then bam they turn into an over-night success with their own shop, 143K Instagram followers, and celeb tots wearing their clothes?? Amy Richardson-Golia started Little Hip Squeaks out of her apartment and through lots of hard work and social media savy has carved out a space as a top selling baby line with a cult following. People literally line up around the block for her sales! To grow the brand and set up to collaborate outside the kid’s space; Amy has taken the plunge to change the name to June & January.  She spoke to us about the transition and what it really takes to be a rock-star in the kid’s market through social media.

You have an incredible success story from starting out sewing things in your kitchen to selling on Etsy. Can you tell us what you think really helped you to achieve early success?

I ​spent a lot of time reading and looking at information about how the Etsy SEO worked — using tags, organic search queries and descriptions to get the most interested shoppers to my page. I studied what tags were working the best for Etsy sellers who had a huge number of sales and started implementing those into my own listings on Etsy. Pretty early on, though, I knew the value of social media and working with bloggers to help my brand get ‘found’ and discovered that the more traffic I was getting from external sources, and the more sales I got from those channels, the higher my listings would show on the Etsy search page. It was all a ton of trial and error, but by the time we transitioned to our own URL we were showing at the #1 spot for “baby headbands” on Etsy.

 Pretty early on, though, I knew the value of social media and working with bloggers to help my brand get ‘found’ and discovered that the more traffic I was getting from external sources, and the more sales I got from those channels, the higher my listings would show on the Etsy search page.

 

Did you have any business experience going into this?

Sort of.. when I was a teenager, my best friend and I would go to thrift stores and find really hilarious t-shirts that we would then sell on eBay for $20. We also briefly were sewing some really gaudy clothing that we tried to (unsuccessfully) sell to our friends.

Amy Richardson of June and January on the phone

What was the best career advice you’ve received along the way?

Oddly enough, it came from my husband — who has almost no insight or input on the business usually, but I had been so stressed out financially; for years I refused to go into debt to run the business. One day he bluntly told me that ALL successful business operate on a line or credit, or take funding or loans out to grow. If I hadn’t finally accepted that fate I would have never been able to grow the business to where it is now.

 

Instagram played a huge role in your brands growth, what do you see as the big trends happening right now when it comes to social selling?
Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest have all now implemented ways for customers to shop directly from a sponsored post — which as a brand is super super exciting for us to get our products in front of a target market quicker and easier. I’ve also seen brands like Emily Ley (@emilyley) using a plug-in for Instagram where you just leave a comment saying “sold” and registered users will get an invoice delivered straight to their inbox. It’s pretty genius.

Amy Richardson of June and January on the phone

What are some of the highlights and pinch me moments you’ve had with your career?

My FIRST pinch me moment was New Years Eve of 2012 — it was the first time I had $10,000 in revenue in a single month and I could not believe it. The sale that pushed me into that number came in at 11:51PM and I’ll never forget it. More recently, our apparel has been spotted on some celebs and that has been insane. There’s a photo of Sharon Osbourne holding her granddaughter, Andy, who is wearing one of our headbands in the latest issue of Us Weekly. Blows my mind.

 

What do you wish you know before you started your business?

How much patience and thick skin I would need. I often tell people that if I knew how much went into getting to this point, BEFORE I started I wouldn’t do it again.

 

We’ve often seen you at work with your kids, how do you integrate mama time and work time?
I am soo big on quality vs quantity. It will always be our company policy to take Fridays off — when Eli was little I was able to bust out as much work as possible on M-Th without feeling guilty (especially since I spend a lot of time on email after normal office hours) and then on Fridays we would have a day full of adventures at the sandbox, ice cream shop or even just run around at IKEA. There’s been a handful of days when I needed to go into the office on Fridays so I’d let him take out the garbage and “organize” for me.

Amy Richardson of June and January

What would you say Little Hip Squeaks and now June & January are known for?

Affordable, stylish basics.

 

What made you feel like it was time to change your name?

I really felt like Little Hip Squeaks was going to feel dated in a few years — plus I think it hindered the partnerships we were able to make because the name was corny/kitschy. More importantly I wanted our name to have the set-up to collaborate with brands outside the childrens space — or for us to launch product lines that weren’t necessarily for kids.

 

How do you feel the brand has changed?

I think it has matured the brand a bit — we’ve been working with social influencers that I think before were cringing when they saw the former name in their inbox!

 

What are you envisioning for the future with June & January?

I really want to position our brand as the go-to for well made, colorful staple items. We are preparing to launch an entirely new product line in 2016 to go along with that idea, and are super excited about it.

 

What has been the biggest hurdle with the rebranding? Did you find people had a hard time transitioning?

For the most part, our customer base was really really supportive — but those who didn’t ‘approve’ of the name were incredibly vocal about it! The biggest hurdle we faced was really just getting that message out to our social media followers and customers. We worked with both PR and SEO teams to make the transition as smooth as possible though, and overall I’m really happy we did it.

 

How has community both on-line and in person played a role in your business and life?

Our social media community has been such an integral part of our success; I think giving them access to my personal life makes them even more supportive as customers because they KNOW me and my family, and at the end of the day feel like they are buying from a friend. I love taking every opportunity I can to meet customers in real life at events and sales, to really connect on another level with the people who support us. I have become close friends with a lot of customers — like we text regularly! And some of my long-term customers are now investors in the business, which is amazing!

Our social media community has been such an integral part of our success; I think giving them access to my personal life makes them even more supportive as customers because they KNOW me and my family, and at the end of the day feel like they are buying from a friend.

 

Amy Richardson of June and January  leggings

What have been some of the most successful collabs you’ve ever done and is there anyone you’ve been dying to work with?
I loved working with Dan from Kin Ship and Kristen from Thimblepress. I think they are both amazing artists and despite being totally different from what are doing, our brands meshed really well together. My dream collaboration would be with Rifle Paper Co. Anna and her husband just had a baby so it makes perfect sense. 😉

 

We’ve seen so many celebs in June and January including Kourtney Kardashian’s little one!! How do you work with celebs and influencers? Do you see this having a big impact on your business?
This definitely goes along with our name change! We have been sending product to celebrities for years but it wasn’t until our rebrand that we actually saw something from it. Probably coincidental, but it’s been amazing nonetheless. We’ve also been fortunate enough to be contacted by a few personal assistants and PR reps asking for our product to be sent to their clients. There isn’t much of a short-term effect, but its definitely really exciting for brand awareness and elevation.

You can find Amy on the June & January site  here and Instagram here .

#LADYBOSS, Co-Founder, Mama Boss, Social Media

#LADYBOSS: DBA Co-Founder Raina Penchansky

September 8, 2015
lady with baby
Co-founder of DBA, Raina Penchansky, this super-mama #LADYBOSS is one to take notes from! She is the talented all business  mama behind this powerful agency repping some of the biggest names in social media.  We were super excited to sit down with her, and pick her brain on what’s happening in the industry.
Can you tell us a about little about DBA Management?
We started our company five years ago when no one was talking about non traditional influencers and we now have offices in NY, LA, Milan, and Hong Kong and manage a roster of insanely talented content creators and influencers in the fashion, food, shelter and lifestyle spaces.  Our focus is helping people build their brand vision offline as well as online.
And why did you start the agency? What were your objectives and goals? What was the gap you saw in the market?
DBA really came from a place of being inspired by what fashion bloggers were doing at the time. I was at Coach with Vanessa Flaherty who’s now Vice President of talent at DBA and my partner Karen Robinovitz was a consultant and we did a handbag collaboration with a few fashion bloggers which at the time was a very new idea and the entire process felt really fresh.  We saw first hand what our branding and marketing expertise coupled with their creativity could do.  Our goal then is the same now, we have to add value.  We dedicate ourselves to our clients and to making a significant impact in evolving the way people see digital talent.

DBA really came from a place of being inspired by what fashion bloggers were doing at the time. We saw first hand what our branding and marketing expertise coupled with their creativity could do.  Our goal then is the same now, we have to add value.

What has been your experience building this brand as a co-founder?
Evolution and consistency are the most important factors in the growth of our brand.  We continue to stay true to our core values because that’s what got us to this place but its also just as important to constantly evolve.
What is your role at DBA ?
My role at DBA is focused on growth and strategy, both for DBA and our clients.
I work very closely with our talent on helping develop their brand trajectory and longterm vision.  We also recently launched DBP – Digital Brand Products which focuses on product development and e-commerce businesses and that has been a really incredible extension to our business.
How has becoming a mama changed you and your prospective on life and career?
Being a parent gives you immense perspective.  Everything changes so immediately and drastically and that carries over into your decision making process in your career.  Nothing feels quite as precious once you’re a mother.
What projects get you going/inspire you the most these days?
We have a few clients right now developing product lines and that process is endlessly inspiring.   Its incredible to watch someone translate their content and relationship with their audience into a larger product conversation.
What is DBA’s biggest challenge/area for opportunity?
The biggest challenge we face is growing intelligently.  Our space changes so rapidly and being smart about where to put our resources is something we spend a lot of time determining.
 lady kissing baby
How do you see the rise of technology platforms that match brands and influencers together changing the industry, and your role within it?
I think anything that helps an influencer is great, especially if it allows them to be true to their content and audience.  I think people want authentic content and that will be the challenge with anything that isn’t customized.  We all see right through something that doesn’t feel on brand.
What advice do you have for bloggers looking to take their personal brand to the next level?
Know where you want to be in 5 years.  You can’t take anything to the next level without knowing where you want to end.  Once you can answer that question you can put the pieces in place to get you there.  That could mean building a team around you, changing your content strategy, etc. but it all starts with where you want your brand to be.

Know where you want to be in 5 years……Once you can answer that question you can put the pieces in place to get you there.

Is there anyone who has been a mentor to you?  Do you mentor others?
My parents have been amazing mentors and instilled in me the importance of humor and intelligence. Reed Krakoff was the ultimate mentor at Coach. I learned things from him I still apply almost daily.
What does DBA look for in potential clients?  
There’s no real formula to it. Each manager looks for something that resonates with them specifically. Overarchingly someone with a formed  point of view, understanding of their audience and the desire to grow and expand their brand.
Is there a certain number of followers/other key indicators you look for before taking someone on?

Size of audience is important but content is more important. Good content always rises to the top and audience builds from there.

How do you see the influencer market changing over the next year?  What’s the next big social platform you see brands gravitating to?  Is Periscope a focus?
Influencer marketing will become more targeted. With the influx of so many channels and content creators, niche will become important to cut through the clutter. Instagram will continue to be important and snapchat is becoming more and more prominent. I’ll be interested to see if Casey Neistat’s Beme catches on.

Influencer marketing will become more targeted. With the influx of so many channels and content creators, niche will become important to cut through the clutter.

Blogger, Interviews, Social Media, Writing

Me & Orla On When to Make The Leap From Day Job To Full-Time Blogger

August 10, 2015
gorgeous girl in field

Hello, my name is Sara, and I don’t go to bed until 1:30 am.

It didn’t always used to be like this: up until two weeks ago, I had a 9-5 day job, plus a 2-hour daily commute. I’m mama to 2-year-old Orla, and was running my creative business, blogging and taking photographs, in my spare time. I was lucky if I could keep my eyes open past 9pm!

Then a fortnight ago, I left that day job – a position in Pediatric speech therapy I’d had for almost ten years – and took the leap into full time ‘content creation’. I’m still ridiculously busy – the backlog in my inbox will take weeks alone – but I’m no longer frazzled, feeling myself pulled in too many different directions.

It’s the dream for a lot of us, I think; before I had my daughter, I’d never really had any interest in being self employed or working from home. Even in those early months of maternity leave, I was itching to get back to work – to surround myself with adult company and hot cups of coffee.

While I was at home with her, I began posting to Instagram for a creative outlet and to connect with other people; I’d always dabbled in photography as a hobby, but since becoming pregnant, I found there was no time to pick up my proper DSLR. I began sharing one iPhone photograph a day to my 90-something followers.

little girl in garden

Orla was born in February; by April that year, I had 35k followers, and that number has continued to grow. From there, the readership of my blog began to develop, and I started to receive offers for photography projects, blogging events, sponsored content and advertising.

Becoming a mother broke down so many of my preconceptions and prejudices, and it was really the first time in my life where anything felt possible. Orla was, and still is, demanding a lot of my time (& rightly so), so the time spent away from her became precious and important. When it came down to a choice between spending it sitting in traffic & filling in paperwork, or pouring that energy into my creative adventures online, it was really an easy decision.

“When it came down to a choice between spending it sitting in traffic & filling in paperwork, or pouring that energy into my creative adventures online, it was really an easy decision.”

cute baby

It’s still early days, but so far things look good. Apart from my foolish new nocturnal sleep-pattern, I’ve got no regrets at all, and feel more optimistic and excited for the future than ever before.

Since taking the leap, and sharing a bit about it on my Instagram and blog, I’ve been amazed by the response from so many awesome mamas with similar ambitions. Many are asking the exact same questions I had before, so I thought I’d share some of them here with what answers I can give from my personal experience.
How do you know when you’re ready?
For me, this was a financial decision; I was ready when I knew I could match my NHS wage in a good month. I’m a realist, and am prepared for quiet times – I have a head full of contingency plans and new ventures to hopefully keep myself financially stable.
What advice would you give to other mama bloggers?
To try your best to ignore what everyone else is doing, and just be you. In such an over saturated market, it can be so hard to stand out, but your one unique selling point is yourself and the way you see the world. Be totally authentic to that and stick at it.

“your one unique selling point is yourself and the way you see the world…..Be totally authentic to that and stick at it.”

country view

How do you balance your day/time?
Orla still goes to childcare for three days a week, and these are my ‘desk’ days where I do all my writing, photo editing, emailing and scheduled posting. I work from cafes for this time – partly because it’s easier than driving home and back again to collect Orla, and partly because I’m just a lot more disciplined when I’m around other people.
My actual photography happens outside of this time – in the mornings and evenings, at weekends, on our days as a family together. My style is very natural and journalistic, and I still snap all my Instagrams on my iPhone, so this mostly just happens incidentally while I’m living the rest of my life.

“My style is very natural and journalistic, and I still snap all my Instagrams on my iPhone, so this mostly just happens incidentally while I’m living the rest of my life.”

beautiful desk
Where and when do you feel your most creative?
In my kitchen, at the table – it’s featured in a lot of my photographs, because it’s where I sit down to work or think or play around. I have a desk upstairs but there’s something about the light and warmth in the kitchen that always calls me back down.
I also find my brain starts buzzing with ideas at the most inopportune times – when I’m driving at 70mph, in the shower, or cooking a meal. It’s frustrating, as there’s no way I can make notes on my thoughts, and I’ve resorted to dictating things to the audio notes on my phone before just to get it down. Now that I’ve got some more time, I’m realizing that those moments were the only times I was ever alone, and so my only opportunities to think. With a fiancee and a clingy toddler it isn’t easy to make time out alone, so I’m fortunate that I now have my work days to devote to this.
cute table
What’s your biggest challenge?
For me, it’s my inner critic – and fear of other people’s criticism. I’d probably have tried this a long time ago were it not for the voice in my head saying ‘who do you think you are?‘. There were people in my life who I knew just didn’t ‘get’ my online work, so I deleted them all from my social media channels to save myself the negativity. It’s a challenge, but it’s also an opportunity – I’ve lived all of my life afraid of what other people will think of me, and now I’m finally tackling those fears and chasing my dreams.

“I’ve lived all of my life afraid of what other people will think of me, and now I’m finally tackling those fears and chasing my dreams.”

What do you love writing about most of all?
I feel most at ease when I am writing for Orla as I imagine her in twenty-something years time – or for myself at a similar age. I remember feeling so much was missing, and looking for answers in books and magazines, which sent me spiralling down the wrong paths and making a lot of bad decisions. So I often try to write about the things I’ve learned since then – whether that’s why your leg hair doesn’t make you ugly, or just a really great recipe for bread.
sleeping family
How was the experience of ending your job and how does it feel knowing you’re taking this leap?
The best analogy I have is that it was like breaking up with your boyfriend, then sharing the house for another month. Once the terrifying line of actually resigning had been crossed, working my notice out became an awkward and painful process that I just wanted over with. My NHS team felt like a bit of a family to me, and I miss many of them dearly, but I’m no good at long goodbyes.
The hardest day was my last – my heart was seriously pounding as I walked out of the health centre for the last time. The easiest though, was the very next day – it felt like a weight had been lifted, and I immediately knew I’d made the right decision.

“The best analogy I have is that it was like breaking up with your boyfriend, then sharing the house for another month.”

Other working mamas, I’d love to hear from you. Do you have any pointers for me at the start of my ‘self employment’ journey? Any tips on how to reign in that crazy bedtime trend? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, below.
To learn more about Sara, check out her Instagram here, her blog here, and her heymama profile here
DIY, Fashion, Interviews, Mommy and Me, Social Media

Fashion by Mayhem: The Making Of A Mini Fashion Icon

August 5, 2015
FashionByMayhem_003
Fashion By Mayhem really started out of your child’s desire to express herself, almost by accidentally one afternoon. Can you tell us how it all began?
It actually started out of my desire to no longer find random pieces of MY clothing in her toybox, the far reaches of her closet, etc. 😉 Having moved on from her dress-up clothes, she was sneaking clothes out of my room while I’d shower. One day I suggested we might be able to make a dress out of paper and she was totally on board. I had zero clue what I was doing, but we sat on the floor and taped some construction paper together until it was big enough to wrap around her. She loved it. And asked for another one the very next day. The rest, as they say, is history.

It actually started out of my desire to no longer find random pieces of MY clothing in her toybox, the far reaches of her closet, etc.

little girl sewing Fashion by Mayhem

Once you saw that she was interested, how did you keep it up?  How often were you making the dresses?
It was actually pretty easy to keep it up, as it just became a new way of playing. And it was a welcome/creative change to our routine. I mean, you can only play go fish SO many times, or put together the same puzzle, or play the same counting game, before you start to feel like you’re losing your ever-loving mama mind. So working on a new dress daily (which it did turn into a daily project for many months) was actually a lot of fun. Because no two dresses are ever the same. So even though it may seem like we were just making another dress, we were exploring new ways of doing it, and learning how to craft new styles.

JCrewww1

Everything happened pretty quickly, as you described it, how did you deal and what did you tell yourself when you went to bed at night to keep from being overwhelmed?
The immediate attention was INCREDIBLY overwhelming! It’s hard to put into words how you feel when countless media outlets are not only emailing you, but calling your home, your business, and even your family to try and get you to be their exclusive story. One particular national network even somehow got my cell phone number and was repeatedly texting me. It’s a very uncomfortable situation when your small child is at the center of all that buzz and you want to make sure you’re doing everything possible to protect her. We were fortunate to have some good friends jump into to help us as soon as the story went viral though. The overwhelm continued for about ten days which was when I decided it had to stop. I was physically getting sick every day and feared I was going to end up in the hospital. Once I realized that I had the ability to be in control (ie: saying NO to people), everything changed.

“The overwhelm continued for about ten days which was when I decided it had to stop. I was physically getting sick every day and feared I was going to end up in the hospital. Once I realized that I had the ability to be in control (ie: saying NO to people), everything changed.”

paper dress fashion by mayhem
In such a public world we live in, many mamas share their lives and increasingly are bringing their kids into the mix.  Creating Instagram handles for their kids, and using that as a forum to allow people to connect to their families.  What advice do you have for mothers choosing this route?
I love Instagram so much, and I especially love the community there. It’s allowed me to connect with other mamas like me and share a lot of the ups and downs of this motherhood roller coaster we’re all on. My biggest piece of advice for sharing anything online is to choose carefully. Don’t put anything out there that you wouldn’t be comfortable with the entire world seeing. Because they very well may, some day. I did a massive clean up on my Instagram account shortly after our story went viral. I knew that my kid’s photograph was out there and hundreds of thousands of people were looking at our images daily, but I deleted all images containing anyone else (nieces, friends kids, etc.) out of respect for their privacy. Because of the size of our audience, I won’t post images with other people as the subject without having their permission.
As far as accounts specifically for the kids, I’d say the advice would be the same. Obviously, it needs to be a parent run account to meet with Instagram’s TOS, but don’t post anything that you wouldn’t be comfortable with the entire world seeing (having a private account does NOT mean that your images will remain that way). We recently started posting some of the images that Mayhem takes on a separate Instagram account (@FashionByMayhem) because she’s become really interested in taking photographs/videos and we felt like it would be a fun way to share a little more of our story. BUT, her dad and I are the ones who post the content and we certainly choose carefully.

“My biggest piece of advice for sharing anything online is to choose carefully. Don’t put anything out there that you wouldn’t be comfortable with the entire world seeing. Because they very well may, some day.”

beautiful pink dressWhat’s been the biggest challenge for you with Fashion By Mayhem as a brand and the projects you decide to work on?
I’d say the biggest challenge is time management with a five-year-old. We’ve agreed that paper dresses will never be a “job” for her, so it’s never pushed on her (meaning if a dress is going to take 4 hours to make, there’s NO chance it will get done in a single day). But we all have deadlines, so we try to make sure ours are realistic.
How do you go about your day to day work life balance with this venture and just being mom?
If someone has the magic balance serum, I’d love for them to send some my way! It’s tough, figuring it all out, but after many many MANY months of practice, we do have some things that help. For starters, we have an awesome management team based in LA that helps with the business side of things. We chat almost daily about any projects on hand, and they handle the nitty gritty so we can concentrate on just being creative.
In addition, my husband is the third member of Team Mayhem 🙂 He’s our biggest supporter, cheerleader and is there for ANYTHING we need. We’ve arranged our schedules now (we also own and operate a photography studio) so that there are two days a week that I’ll take business calls and do interviews, and he can manage the Mayhem and Moxie (our new pup!) duo.
I try to get a lot done before Mayhem gets up in the morning and then after she goes to bed, but as all the mamas out there know, balance can be pretty elusive.

little girl posing

Where do you see this heading for your daughter and what would you want to tell her now that she could look back on as advice?
Truthfully, I hope from all of this, she simply learns to embrace new experiences and gets really comfortable with getting outside her comfort zone. Or maybe I’m hoping that her comfort zone just stays really broad. Some of the experiences we’ve had in the past year were intimidating for me but I felt like it was important for her to grow up not being intimidated by those things. I have NO idea where all of this leads for her, and we’re not trying to script out her life. She gets to do her own dreaming and write her own story, but if we can help her explore new interests and embrace new experiences, then I think that’s the best “gift” we can give her.

“I have NO idea where all of this leads for her, and we’re not trying to script out her life. She gets to do her own dreaming and write her own story, but if we can help her explore new interests and embrace new experiences, then I think that’s the best “gift” we can give her.”

little girl paper dress

Is Little Mayhem going to be at NYFW this year?
We’d LOVE to go back to NYFW! IF the right opportunity arises. Our past two NYFW experiences have been a lot of fun and the chance for her to see how many different ways you CAN work in the fashion industry is invaluable. There are stylists, production people, media …. all in addition to the designers, so it’s been awesome for her to see how VERY many different people (and jobs) it takes to make something like NYFW happen.
What’s the most exciting collaboration you’ve done or have in the works?
Everything we’ve chosen to work on has truly been a blast! But if I had to pick, I’d say that working with the American Heart Association and Go Red for Women was a favorite because it gave Mayhem the chance to see that our work could be used to help people in some way. We designed some red dresses in support of women’s heart month (February), but they also brought us in to NYFW for the Red Dress Collection to help spread the message that girls and women of every age need to be healthy and take care of their hearts. And it was done in such a way, that the entire experience was totally age appropriate. It felt like a slam dunk all around and we really enjoyed the chance to support such an awesome cause.
 paper dress fashion by mayhem emily blunt
How have you changed, and how has Mayhem changed throughout this experience?
I think my biggest change is my openness to try new things. As mentioned previously, there have been a few opportunities that were a bit intimidating, but each time we’ve said yes to those things, we’ve grown in ways we couldn’t have previously imagined. As for Mayhem, there haven’t really been a lot of changes. She’s definitely influenced now by some of experiences we’ve had and she’s learned SO much along the way, but I don’t see them as changes so much as I see them as she’s just growing up differently than I did.
Can you leave us with some of the words you live by or quotes you love that keep you motivated and peaceful before the night ends and the day begins?
I’ve come to really appreciate the idea that if your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.
To learn more about Angie, check out her Instagram here, her website here, and her heymama profile here
Blogger, Fashion, Lifestyle, Social Media

Scout The City Mama Sai De Silva Dishes On Blogging, Branding & Instagram

May 24, 2015

When we first met Sai for coffee at Brooklyn Roasting Company, we were instantly pulled in by this no  BS, down to earth and energetic mama.  One thing stood out, no matter how many off the runway inspired looks her daughter wears,  Sai and London’s life is really just like yours.  After our initial coffee, we’ve seen this mama and toddler duo in action on photo shoots, playgrounds, and chasing our kids up and down the streets of Tribeca.

For those unfamiliar with her blog, Scout The City is really the first of it’s kind. She started less than a year ago, and has since been featured on The Today Show, NBC, BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post.  We wouldn’t be surprised if London’s Elmo phone is actually Moschino and has a direct dial to Karl Lagerfield.
The blog is more than just toddler fashion, it’s about that bond between a mom and her little girl, her life in New York City and their lifestyle.  What we were fascinated by is the powerhouse mama behind the brand and her spot on social media business savvy.

We wanted to shoot Sai in her hood, taking us to their favorite shoot locations and living a day in the life of the “scouts’.

AFTER SPENDING TIME WITH YOU AND LONDON WE CAN SAY THAT LONDON IS REALLY AS CUTE IN PERSON AS SHE IS IN PHOTOS! BESIDES THE FACT THAT YOUR DAUGHTER IS SO ADORABLE AND BETTER DRESSED THAN MOST NEW YORKERS, WHAT WOULD YOU ATTRIBUTE THE VIRAL SUCCESS OF SCOUT THE CITY AND @SCOUTFASHION TO?
I think one of the reasons Scout The City took off so quickly is because London dresses in clothing that adults would want. Although they are kid friendly pieces, most adults are inspired to dress in a similar way. She also looks like she
’s genuinely having a great time in her photos, which she is.

AT WHAT POINT WERE YOU ABLE TO START DOING THIS FULL TIME? WAS THERE A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF REVENUE THAT YOU STARTED MAKING OR AN AMOUNT OF FOLLOWERS THAT MADE THE DECISION FOR YOU?
I knew that there was nothing like my blog in this space, and that is huge in the blog world. I believed if I put more time into it then there was a possibility that it could really take off and it did!

WAS THERE ANYTHING SPECIFIC THAT YOU WOULD CALL YOUR BIG BREAK?
I would say, being featured on the Today show!

IS THERE ANYONE THAT YOU WOULD CALL A MENTOR THAT HELPED YOU GET STARTED? HOW DID YOU MEET THIS PERSON?
Unfortunately I never had a mentor. I taught myself everything.

IS THERE ANY SIMPLE ADVICE YOU CAN GIVE TO THOSE TRYING TO BUILD UP THEIR INSTAGRAM FOLLOWING?
My biggest word of advice is to leverage followers from like minded accounts! What I mean by this is to contact or comment on pages that you feel would relate to your aesthetic, make sure they would feel the same way about your account.  Ask them if they have any interest in doing a s4s, which is short for “share for Share” or “Shout-out for shout-out”. Giving one another shout-outs is a great opportunity to gain their followers and vice-versa. This method creates an active and healthy targeted account. Quick tip, only contact accounts that you think would realistically be willing to give you an s4s. If you’re expecting an account with over a 100K to do a s4s with you and you have 1K it’s unrealistic and most likely will discourage you from contacting others.

WHAT ARE SOME BRANDS THAT HAVE BEEN REALLY SUPPORTIVE OF YOU? HOW DID YOU START OUT WORKING WITH BRANDS? DID YOU REACH OUT TO THEM OR DID THEY START CONTACTING YOU?
To be honest, every brand that we have ever worked with from Stella kids to Guess has been extremely supportive and love what we’re doing in this space. For us, it’s a bit different since there are not many bloggers doing what we are. I didn’t reach out to brands until I had an active following of 10K which showed that we had a dedicated fan base. That means, our followers liked and commented just as much as a 50K account would. Afterwords, I created a blog and reached out to small brands who could benefit from my social stats. I worked with brands from etsy to start-ups that I found on Instagram who handmade all of their pieces. I made sure to create lasting relationships and still work with some of them today.

LONDON SEEMS LIKE A NATURAL IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA, SHE REALLY LOVES IT. DID YOU TEACH HER THIS OR HOW DID IT EVOLVE?
You’re right she’s a complete natural! She’s naturally photogenic and I just photograph her being herself.

TALK TO US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND AND SKILL SET AND HOW YOU’VE TRANSFERRED THESE TALENTS OVER TO YOUR NEW ROLE?
I owned an online accessory store, which I started from scratch with no prior experience or knowledge. I learned from Google and reading as many articles as I could get my hands on. Two years later, my company was featured in numerous publications such as People Stylewatch, Elle girl and Cosmo to name a few. I found myself being interviewed by Business News Daily for my social media efforts and expanding my small business across social media platforms on little to no budget.  I learned how to look for influencers and leverage followers as much as possible. I found the importance of pinning on Pinterest and how to get accepted into collaborative boards. I outsourced web designers and assistants and hired a herd of interns to create a functional business on a very low budget. As the demands grew, I became weary and lost my passion for e-commerce. I immediately launched a social media marketing company that took off instantaneously which needed zero capital to launch. I helped small fashion related businesses get to where they wanted to be. A few months later, I launched STC on the side as a creative outlet and digital diary dedicated to my daughter and children’s fashion. I implemented all of my past experiences and knowledge immediately and within 9 short months I landed on the front page of Buzzfeed. It wasn’t long before my days consisted of interviews by Jennifer Busch Hager from NBC today’s show and Skype Chats with Ellen Degeneres’ office.

TELL US ABOUT “SCOUT THE CITY”? WHAT IT’S ABOUT AND WHERE YOU WANT TO TAKE IT?
My blog is all about my daughter, London Scout as well as an editorial story between a curly haired mother/daughter duo who express their bond through fashion and city scouting. We create all of our own content, photograph children’s street style as well as give modern cool moms tips on being chic. With the rapid success of Scout The City we find our self expanding and creating more content in different areas. We plan to roll out our YouTube channel in the next few months which will showcase curly hair tips for adults and children, last minute make-up for moms on the go as well as simple yet healthy lunch recipes. We have also began to implement kid-friendly resorts for traveling. In the very near future we hope to create a mommy/daughter capsule collection as well as expanding to a full fledged lifestyle brand. 

“We plan to roll out our YouTube channel in the next few months which will showcase curly hair tips for adults and children, last minute make-up for moms on the go as well as simple yet healthy lunch recipes”

WE’RE IMPRESSED THAT YOU TAKE CARE OF LONDON AND DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF, CAN YOU TELL US YOUR SECRET FOR TIME MANAGEMENT AND JUGGLING YOUR PERSONAL LIFE WITH WORK? DO YOU FIND IT HARD TO SEPARATE THE TWO THINGS BEING THAT WORK AND FAMILY ARE ONE?
I think when you have a child, you just make things work because you have to. When she’s in school 3 days a week, I try and cram in my work load and I also wake up 3 hours before her every morning to tackle emails and write new posts since my mind is fresh. I think my blog is about our life so in a way I really don’t separate them as I document our life on social media.

“I think when you have a child, you just make things work because you have to”

IT’S CLEAR YOUR HUSBAND IS SUPPORTIVE OF YOUR WORK, WAS HE ALWAYS ON BOARD OR DID YOU HAVE TO SELL HIM ON IT? ANY TIPS FOR MAMAS TACKLING THIS? 
My husband has always been supportive of my work. He knew that I was very successful with my social media company and how natural the transitions has been for Scout The City. My biggest tip is to pursue something your passionate about that will naturally incorporate into your life.

SHOP THE POST

1. Zara long trenchcoat $129 2. Aldo SAOWIA sneaker $49.98 3. Theory “Zeyn” leather pleated skirt $1,125  4. Longchamp calfskin printed leather coat  5. The Cambridge Satchel Comepany 13″ zipped satchel off-white $185  6. The Cambridge Satchel Company mini satchel in off-white $195

 

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