One year ago today I launched ARTicles of Clothing Blog. I can’t believe it.
A successful one-woman business is a myth. If I’ve learned one vital thing over the past year, it’s that you can’t do anything alone. As a blogger and freelancer, most days it’s just you and your computer. It can feel lonely and isolating, but it doesn’t have to be. It shouldn’t be. The minute I started connecting with others, particularly fellow artists, entrepreneurs, and creative spirits, my work improved drastically. I could not have pressed forward day after day and continued to compose this blog without the support and contribution of many, and to those invaluable people, I want to say THANK YOU and CHEERS TO YOU!
Thank you to…
I met Jessica at a seminar at AmericasMart in January 2013. She was the first style blogger I connected with, and over coffee she told me one of the most important things an aspiring blogger can hear – you just need to sit down, and do it!
Angie Webb, Suburbanite Photography
Angie started a blog in college, and through it, I grew to know and love her. In the spring of 2013, Angie and I sat down over dinner to catch up and discuss my desire to establish my own blog. She gave me a great deal of advice and encouragement and, most importantly, a branding questionnaire that was vital to my creation of AOC. Since then, she has contributed to AOC as my primary photographer and an avid supporter.
Over the years Denise has had many roles in my life – dance teacher, Pilates instructor, mentor, friend. Since venturing out as a freelancer and blogger, she has taught me about being an entrepreneur, helped me make meaningful connections in my industry, and always been there at the right time with a piece of advice, encouraging word, or relevant music video.
Erica Bryan, Singer/Songwriter
When Erica reached out to me about working with her as a stylist, I could never have imagined what an impact she would have on me and my career. From the moment we partnered together, Erica became my advocate. I truly believe Erica and I are kindred spirits, placed in each others’ lives at this point in time for a specific purpose. Erica’s passion is contagious, and I’m continually inspired by her enthusiasm and commitment to her artistry.
Catie has been my hair stylist for the past five years and over that time has become a close friend. Earlier this year, Catie connected me to her longtime friend, Nikki, owner of an upscale boutique, Encore. I partnered with Encore for the first time for a feature on their spring 2014 look book, and since then, Nikki has continued to be a dedicated supporter of AOC.
Tova Gelfond and the Eide Team, Eide Magazine
For years I’ve admired Eide for their dedication to narrative voice and carefully curated aesthetic. In June, they reached out to me about reviewing their summer issue, and I had the opportunity to interview the magazine’s founder, CEO, and Editor-in-Chief, Tova Gelfond. Speaking with and learning from Tova and working with Eide is an undeniable milestone in my career and highlight of year one of AOC.
Jocelyn Negron, Must Love Sparkle
Jocelyn is the founder of Must Love Sparkle, a jewelry destination characterized by a unique aesthetic, exceptional quality, and attainable prices. She has a keen eye for buying and her own collection has a stunning design. Jocelyn has contributed jewelry for a personal photo shoot and for styling singer/songwriter Erica Bryan. Throughout our partnerships, Jocelyn has been a meaningful advocate AOC.
GaBrielle Pedriani, Look Sharp, Sconnie
GaBrielle was the first blogger I connected with in the Midwest. After visiting her blog, my perception of personal style bloggers completely shifted. Gabby defies the typical personal style blogger aesthetic ,and she’s a skilled writer. Although I only got to know her for a short time before she relocated to NYC, Gabby made a profound impact on me as a blogger and my Midwestern fashion experience.
Pamela Wilson, Iona
Pamela has been key influence in my Midwestern fashion journey. Upon meeting Pamela at a fashion event, she immediately welcomed me into the local fashion community. I’ve learned a great deal from her approach to fashion and entrepreneurship, and I’ve made some invaluable connections through events hosted at her boutique.
Amsterdam Station, Alternative Rock Band
Amsterdam Station approached me this summer while in the process of re-branding. As part of creating their new look, they enlisted me as a stylist. The band has an invigorating energy that translated into our work together. Amsterdam Station not only furthered my styling career but also broke me into the world of styling men.
Sonali Prabhu, So Narly
I connected with Sonali through mutual friends and was immediately impressed by her social media presence and following. Sonali is wise beyond her years and, in my opinion, represents the future of social media. She’s innovative, committed to her brand, and confident yet humble. While composing my first YouTube video, Sonali was a take charge director and brought a fun energy to the shoot.
Ryan Pernice and Micki Kimberly, Osteria Mattone
Ryan and I went to high school together, and he’s now the owner of two successful restaurants in our hometown. I had the opportunity to do a photo shoot on location at his Italian restaurant, Osteria Mattone. A portion of the shoot was dedicated to today’s celebration, AOC’s one year birthday. Pastry chef and personal friend, Micki, composed a special dessert for the occasion: Budino Caramellato with Fior di Latte Gelato (yes, we ate it after the shoot, and yes, it was as good as it looks and sounds).
Midwest Style Bloggers, Community
I’ve connected with a number of the founders and members of the Midwest Style Bloggers at various events. They have welcomed me into the Midwest fashion community and have been invaluable to the growth of AOC.
My friends, family, and the AOC Blog Focus Group
Despite the fact that most of my friends and family are far more traditional and practical than I am, they have offered me unlimited love and support over the past year. I could not have launched this blog and continued to grow and improve it without the feedback of my Focus Group. I want to express my particular appreciation for the following people: My boyfriend, who has no interest in fashion whatsoever but has never failed to listen, lend a hand, or provide a second opinion; My mom, who has fueled my creativity from a young age by enrolling me in my first dance classes, buying me countless notebooks, and exposing me to art in various forms; My Kitty Kat, for serving as my co-stylist on my first photo shoot; and My Boo, for setting the foundation for my reader spotlight series.
YOU, My Readers
I only make up 50% of this blog, the other 50% is YOU, my readers. Without your loyal readership, this blog would just be words and images floating around cyberspace. ARTicles of Clothing blog is both by you and for you.
CHEERS TO YOU ALL!
As part of celebrating ARTicles of Clothing Blog’s first birthday, I wanted to reflect and share the top five posts from year one.
Year one on AOC Blog was a bit of a roller coaster and a lot of learning what not to do. As much as I tried to research and plan before launching AOC, it evolved in ways I never expected and ultimately lacked some direction and focus.
There’s definitely more pressure for year two. So, I’m in the process of implementing some changes to make AOC even better. One of the most meaningful sources of information is YOU, the readers, which is why reflecting on the top five posts of year one is so important.
These posts indicate the type of content you like to read on AOC. If you missed any of these top five, be sure to check them out!
5. BLACK AND WHITE
You know those days where you go to your closet and think, I have nothing to wear? We’ve all had them. In my years of building a wardrobe I have come to realize there is one way to avoid the I-have-nothing-to-wear clothing dilemma for good. The answer is black and white.
4. REAL BLOGGER BEAUTY
In January, I urged you to set a goal to FEEL GOOD and LOOK GOOD in 2014 by making small changes to your everyday life to produce big results. Shifting the trajectory of social media is a lofty goal, so today, I’m starting with one small step by participating in and promoting the #RealBloggerBeauty campaign. My #RealBloggerBeauty moment is illustrated above through these images of myself over the past eight years.
3. 3 UNSUSPECTINGLY STYLISH INSTAGRAM ACCOUNTS
You can find plenty of lists floating around of the most stylish Instagram accounts you need to follow now. These mainly consist of bloggers, models, editors, designers, and the like. But what about the awesome Instagrammers who are flying under the radar? Well, I think I’ve found three of them.
2. MY COMPLETE BATHING SUIT GUIDE
Three years ago I decided I could no longer squeeze my tatas into size large bathing suit tops that were ultimately ill fitting elsewhere. I had to take the plunge and invest in some bathing suits that fit my body. So, I bid farewell to my days of stocking up on multiple suits every season from the glorious Target swim section and found some brands that would suit me and my body better and stand the test of time.
And the #1 post of year one of AOC is…
1. A FUSION OF MUSIC AND FASHION
Erica’s debut single has a beautiful balance of light and dark, which instantly became the inspiration for her look. When you first hear the title of single, the word “haunted” elicits that feeling of darkness and possibly a place that is plagued by something or someone. As you listen to the verses, a lightness trickles in revealing a sense of nostalgia and fondness. While it is evident that the speaker is in fact haunted by a person or memory, there is clearly a warmth and deep connection, possibly even love, with the “ghost.” It is this sensation that is truly “haunting” the speaker, which ultimately illustrates the dichotomy between light and dark in the song.
Full disclosure: I’m now on month two of my writing slump. While my lack of posts can somewhat be contributed to an incredibly busy July, it’s August now, and writer’s block is still plaguing me. The one year birthday of this blog is near – 21 days and counting – and I’m anticipating this day with both excitement and fear. What’s next for year two? And how will I discover that in the midst of what might be the second most severe case of writer’s block I’ve ever experienced? But I’m trying to stay strong and meditate on the words of the brilliant writer Junot Diaz:
You may not see it on here, but I still write every day. Yes, I’m a blogger, a fashion lover, a budding stylist, an amateur photographer, developer, marketing professional, editor, digital strategist… I’m many things, but first and foremost I’m a writer. I have been as long as I could put a pen to paper. Writing is a part of me as much toes, which is why writer’s block feels like a debilitating illness – like if my lungs weren’t working properly. But what’s the cure? Keep writing anyway.
So, here I am today. Finally bringing my words to this blog. When I first sat down to write this post, all of this was going to be a brief introduction, and I was going to write a post I’ve had in mind for quite a while: The Little Black Dress. You’d probably prefer to be reading the LBD post right now! But first, I felt compelled to come to you honestly.
The Little Black Dress post to follow…
Hello Readers and Happy July!
To put it mildly, this month has been particularly busy with work projects, events, travel, a dear friend’s wedding back in my hometown, and some very exciting opportunities for ARTicles of Clothing Blog. Over the past several weeks, my digital presence has been somewhat diminished. Fortunately, the brunt of the busyness has passed, and I’m on the home stretch. So please continue to bear with me through the end of the month as I continue to come to you with slightly limited posts. In the mean time, I encourage you to explore past posts – there might be something fabulous you may have missed! Also, here are a five things to look forward to in the coming months:
1. The reveal of the FAN FAVORITE look for singer/songwriter Erica Bryan.
2. A feature on styling the men of Amsterdam Station for their NEW album “Stories from the Subtext” and their exclusive Album Release Party.
3. A fusion of storytelling and fashion celebrating Madison-based designer women’s boutique, Iona.
4. A spotlight on Jocelyn Negron, the designer behind my new favorite jewelry destination, Must Love Sparkle.
5. The ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of ARTicles of Clothing Blog!
Several weeks ago I was chatting with fellow blogger GaBrielle Pedriani of Look Sharp, Sconnie about contests. It seems that a number of fashion outlets from magazines to social media are constantly presenting contests to their communities to boost engagement. We both admitted to being skeptics of such competitions for a long time. Surely there are hundreds upon thousands of eager followers entering these contests depending on the particular outlet hosting the competition and the prize. Then Gabby had a life changing experience that shifted her view of contests forever: she won. No, no, she won BIG.
Last fall, Marie Claire magazine partnered with Twitter and Yoplait yogurt for a contest that appealed to every fashion lover’s dream. The grand prize: an exclusive behind the scenes trip to New York Fashion Week, a meet and greet with Fashion Director Nina Garcia, and a feature in a Yoplait ad in the magazine’s November issue. The contest required participants to tweet a photo of an original look inspired by one of Yoplait’s 40 flavors. Gabby’s mixed berry inspired ensemble scored her the ultimate NYFW experience.
While Gabby’s win certainly gives me faith that real girls actually have a shot in hell at winning these contests, I would still venture to say that her victory was once in a lifetime. My contest story isn’t nearly as special, glamorous, or life-changing, but my small win is just another piece of encouraging evidence that contests are actually worth your while. If two regular gals can win, so can you!
My win was also for a contest involving social media. Last fall, one of my favorite denim lines, Level 99, hosted a series of Freebie Friday contests on Facebook. Each Freebie Friday contest had a theme that related to the particular denim style being given away. To win, followers had to answer the theme-inspired question in the comments. Instead of entering each week with a generic and ultimately underwhelming response, I waited for weeks when the theme spoke to me and tried to give an honest and personal reply, and it paid off. I won a pair of jeans!
Like I said, my win is not nearly as awe inspiring as Gabby’s, but hey, who doesn’t want a free pair of denim? The takeaway here is if you’ve ever thought of entering a contest but never actually done it because you thought, I’m never going to win, maybe next time you’ll think again. I believe Gabby would agree that an important factor to winning these contests is being genuine and true to yourself. So, keep that in mind and roll the dice. The next success story could be you!