April 25, 2012, I remember it like it was yesterday, Kristin Tatem and I met at Henry Clay Estate in Lexington to shoot what would be my very first POST….and man were we C L U E L E S S. Up until this point Kristin had been a newborn/family photographer (she photographed the girls when they were babies and was the ONLY person I trusted with this gig) and I had been a medical sales rep so what in the sam hell did we know about blogging? Nothing. Not a damn thing except I loved them—Atlantic Pacific was my number one no doubt–and I LOVED FASHION….always have. And I KNEW blogging was the EXACT thing I needed. My ten year career in medical sales was one I was extremely grateful for; however, it lacked the creative outlet I craved. And so with a boatload of ideas, a measly website whose template I purchased on Etsy, and the name that payed homage to my beachy prepster hometown, Jupiter (the seersucker) coupled with my hometown at the time, the horse capital of the world, Lexington (the saddles)……s e e r s u c k e r + s a d d l e s was a go!
Fast forward six years and holy smokes, what an incredible ride!! Collaborations I never imagined, friends I would have otherwise never known, opportunities I could’ve only dreamed of…hello, Redbook and Southern Living to name a few, and a career that would allow this one time single mother to support her daughters and now allows me to stay at home with Calvin and contribute to our family…needless to say, this little slice has been a dream come true. And wouldn’t you know I love it just as much today as I did six years ago.
With a few years under my belt comes some lessons, mistakes, pearls of wisdom and the like..I’d like to think these are applicable in various avenues of our lives. I thought it only fitting to share the SIX THINGS I’VE LEARNED over the course of s + s’ tenure (truth be told there’s more than 6, but here’s some of my tops), on this Blogiversary.
6TH BLOGIVERSARY: THE LESSONS LEARNED
- Take the Leap. I started s + s at a time when blogs were common, but most certainly not as popular as they are now. I told VERY few people I was starting s + s…maybe 4 at best. It was one of those things I knew most people wouldn’t fully understand and so I just wanted to get it going before I could be convinced otherwise. It made no sense to many people in my life for quite a while actually, but I never let that deter me from knowing what my gut kept telling me. Taking that a step further, I managed both the blog and my medical sales job for two years before taking the leap and leaving corporate America. I was still married at the time and even then, it was a bit of a risky move because on paper, there was no guarantee I’d be able to match my medical sales salary, plus the company car, insurance, gas, and health insurance that my company provided at the time. Honestly a financial advisor would’ve told me I’m nuts but here was my thinking…..up until that point I was only devoting 50% of my time to my blog so how could I properly measure what it was financially capable of….the only way to ever truly know was to jump and not look back–I also wanted to set an example for the girls that it’s so important to pursue your dreams and take risks. Timing is a funny thing because three months after I started blogging full time, I was knee deep in a divorce and suddenly a single mother so you damn well better believe “HUSTLE” became my middle name quickly. I’m so thankful I leaped when I did, because I’m certain I would’ve been too scared to do so as a single mom. Just Jump….you’ll never know until you do.
- Be Kind. Compliment. And Collaborate. Sounds so cliché, but man is it true. I remember when I first started, obviously I was clueless, and Danielle Davis from Lou What Wear randomly reached out to me and it was as though a blogging angel landed right in my lap. She shared. Trade Secrets. And her clothes come to think of it (kind of ironic I’m wearing her PALMS–old habits die hard clearly). She told me what rewardStyle was (this would soon become the blog’s main revenue source). She taught me how to contact brands. And she befriended me in what seemed like an über overwhelming environment and for that, I’m forever thankful. I remember her saying something to the effect of, “there’s enough love to go around for all of us so no need to be competitive,” and I have never forgotten it, and I’ve adopted it as my blogging mantra too. I’d like to think I’ve paid it forward with fellow bloggers just like Danielle did with me. Not sure I’ve ever properly thanked you my friend, so thank you. Support, praise, be inclusive, compliment others in your field, or hell just life in general….nothing bad will EVER come of it. And the universe will take notice I’m here to tell you. Project that good good and it will bounce right back to you!
3. Be Vulnerable. This one is easier said than done but if you take only one thing away from this post….vulnerability is a beautiful thing. Scary as all get out, but beautiful. It was with THIS POST that we–meaning you all and myself–truly connected. It was THE scariest post I’ve written to date, but it was the most liberating and rewarding because it was with this post that I realized I had support. From you. So much support and it was the most humbling moment in my blogging career. I’ve often in the past viewed vulnerability as a weakness, but I stand corrected. You will feel empowered and stronger the more vulnerable you allow yourself to become.
4. It’s Just a Number. I’m talking about your ass, Instagram. Ok, so this one may not be applicable to all of us, but you may take away a little pearl. I’ve been doing this for six years. But back around 2016 or so when the algorithm changed, I quickly noticed broads that have been in the game for under two that just ZIPPED pass my ass faster than I can say “Instagram.” I mean…tripled my following. No disrespect whatsoever towards them because like I said, there’s enough blogger love to go around, and they’re clearly doing something right (except for those who buy their followers, likes, etc) but I’m only human. Was it discouraging? Hells, yes. Did it make me question what I was doing wrong? Duh. Did it leave me feeling uninspired….Y E S….case in point see this dreadful look…WTF, #boring. But the moment I stopped focusing on that damn thief we all know as COMPARISON, I got my mojo back. I stayed in my lane. I remembered that just because someone may have more readers than me, they don’t have SEERSUCKER READERS. Loyal, engaged, supportive, funny, inspiring, badass…y’all get the drift. And what do you know, the creative juices started flowing again. I had a newfound love and zest for blogging, and I promised I wouldn’t get in that damn comparing vortex again. And neither should you.
5. Stay Consistent. I’m often asked by people just getting into the blogosphere, “What’s the secret sauce?” Hate to say it, gang, but they’re ain’t one–heck I’m still trying to figure it out myself. It takes vision, planning, consistency, and persistence to name a few. It takes putting yourself out there and making contacts. It takes thick skin. I’ve had a few trolls in my day and those assholes will try to break you if you let them. Don’t. Remember they’re insecure and unhappy in their own lives and they mean nothing in yours. I’ve always found it best to take the high road. Unless you insult my fish. #tilapiagate
6. Give Thanks. I want to take #6 to thank each and everyone of YOU. If you have a moment, please watch today’s instagram stories as I hope you can feel the gratitude I have for y’all and your continued support for s + s. You’ve allowed me to do what I love every day for the past 6 years and I’m just beyond grateful. I’d also like to thank my photographers (Shelly, Meagan, Katie, Lindsey) for making me more photogenic than I actually am, knowing that my hair looks super shitty on the left, and reminding me to lift my neck so I don’t have a double chin….Kristin, you’re my OG and we started this little thing together and I truly miss our shoots and accidentally flashing you with that Kentucky wind. The boutiques and brands that took on chance on me very early on when my following was pitiful….Morton James, AJs Casuals, Omar + Elsie, Adele, Gigi New York, French Connection to name a few. And of course to my friends and family….thank you for believing in me, tolerating me being on my phone and computer more than I probably should be, and loving and supporting me all the same….you make this all the more sweeter.
Big Hugs from Indy, Gang…enjoy your evening and make this blogiversary a great one!