Community, and Some Random Things.

Could you tell that I was having a hard time figuring out what to call this post? A state of the union? A life update? No, no, no… “Some Random Things” just felt right. I have such a magical way with words you guys!

But seriously. For realz. There are a few things I wanted to share/would love to get your thoughts on… and I’ve listed them below.

Community // The word that has been on my mind the most lately has been community. If you missed it, earlier this Fall, I wrote a post about being single. I got such an overwhelming response from you guys but it wasn’t the response I had thought I would get. You guys aren’t having a hard time being single, you’re not looking for dating advice or how to meet a guy (if you are, for the record, this book is really incredible). What you are having a hard time with is community, and finding like minded friends in your cities. It was astonishing to me and it wasn’t just the single girls. I heard from all of you – single, married, everyone was feeling it.

I wanted to help, so I set up these little email groups. I asked you guys to email me with your city, and decided to set up little friend groups. Once again, I was not prepared – I completely, utterly blown away by your response . I received well over 400 emails and responding to emails + setting up the groups took up the bulk of my week. (If I do this again, I’ll set up a google form!!!) But then, long after the deadline, I kept getting emails. So I set up a “community page” on Facebook. As I write this, the page now has over 860 members. You guys are coordinating brunches, book clubs, girls night out and I could not be more thrilled. Every week I get DMs with photos from your meet-ups which makes me so, so happy. (If you are interested in joining, just request an invite here.)

This whole thing got me really thinking about how I can add more “community” to the site. I’d be really curious to hear your thoughts. You guys are already doing this… with the Facebook group and even replying to each other’s comments in my posts. But I’d love to get your thoughts on this. I have thought about adding a forum to the site where you can chat with each other, but I’m not really sure what else. Let me know if you have any brilliant ideas.

Sponsored Posts // I know. They aren’t always your favorite. I hear you. I have said this before but I say no a LOT and only work with brands I really believe in and use myself. This time of year there are more requests for sponsored posts, from brands I really want to work with, so by nature, there are more sponsored posts on the blog. Taking on more sponsored content during the holidays allows me to continue to be discerning the rest of the year as things will slow down. For example, I have 9 sponsored blog posts in December. I have only one in January. I wouldn’t be able to live on just one post (let alone cover the expenses of running this blog – I spend thousands of dollars every month on site hosting, photography, and keeping my designer/developer on retainer so that we can add fun elements to the site like the Book Club Page and Holiday Shop). I really rely on November and December for revenue.

I really appreciate you guys, and I appreciate you supporting my sponsors and clicking on my affiliate links. I’m sorry that there are a lot this month. I go out of my way to give you two blog posts a day if I have a sponsored post, which has meant working wayyyyy overtime. For bloggers, this is a very high-stakes/high-pressure time of year and I really do try to balance working with my advertisers and their goals, while also creating meaningful and thoughtful content that you guys want to look at and read.

Gift Guides // Did you guys like them? These were actually an insane amount of work. Image mapping (the click-to-shop feature) requires coding them in the backend – something I am not particularly great at. I put a lot of thought into them, and all in (finding the items, making the graphics, setting up the posts, writing, linking, and coding them) probably takes me about 6-8 hours per guide, so I want to make sure you guys like them. There were 16 guides this year and I am pretty sure I am going to cut that number in half next year. Which guides were your favorite? Which could you have lived without? Be honest!

Wellness + Health // I really let things slip this year. When I moved, I stopped seeing my trainer as my rent was a lot more expensive and it felt silly to trek into the city just for a workout. But guys. I am built for comfort and leisureliness. If someone is not actively kicking my butt/I am not accountable to someone, I will not go to the gym. It’s hard to look at yourself in the mirror and realize that you’re not your best self. My clothes still fit fine but where there was muscle, there is flab. My face is puffier than usual, my muscles are tight and and achey from sitting at a chair all day (please do not suggest that I get a standing desk, that is my worst nightmare!!!) and I just don’t feel awesome about that. I am blaming the gift guides (Ha, but seriously!) but last week I finished with those and took “drastic” measures. I’ve been cooking all healthy things, I got to the gym 4 days, and I cut back on the booze. Things are dire and drastic action is needed.

I have been brainstorming a wellness challenge that will likely launch and replace the holiday shop sometime in January. It will include guest posts from people who actually know what they are talking about, my personal journey as I whip my butt back into shape, healthy ways to reward yourself, and lots of other things. It won’t just be about physical wellness but also mental wellness. I stress a lot and realized this month that so much of it is self-imposed. Given the lighter work load I want January + February over here to be really focused on that. I’ll still have all my other stuff (outfits, beauty, reading lists) but this will likely take over my afternoon posting slot. What do you think? Are you into this? If so, what do you want to see??

Podcasts // I have been having a lot of fun with Instagram stories (I feel like I finally have a place where I can let my sense of humor out a bit?) and have been toying with the idea of starting a Podcast in 2018. Would you listen to it? If so, what would you want to hear about? I really don’t see the point in starting something if someone else is already doing it well, so that’s where I struggle. I have thought about a series where I interview my single male friends to get inside their head… I’ve thought about interviewing my badass girlfriends on their careers… but I always come up short – it feels like everything’s already been done before. Know what I mean? If you have ideas/suggestions/things you want to hear about, I’m all ears!

Leave a Comment

Comments

  1. Brianna says 12.18.17

    LOVE this post. Very open and real – you’re one of the few actually doing things like this and the community Facebook page is just amazing, we can tell your commitment to readers!

    I won’t lie, I don’t love gift guides. I think they’re very thought out and I am SURE they take a ton of time but I have never found a ground breaking gift for someone and they almost seem more like a way to just click affiliated links. I know it’s how you make money, so not at ALL a jab, but for me, they don’t really do it! I’d love a post of what you’re getting people and maybe a few (though the gossip girl ones were GOLD), it just isn’t my favorite content so 16 is a lot when I really just love your regular content or housing everything in the holiday shop, not a full post. I could be the only one so who knows!!

    Happy holidays, I hope you have some well deserved days off planned!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.18.17

      Thank you so much Brianna! I know giving constructive feedback is a little tricky but I appreciate it. I actually don’t make that much money off of my gift guides. From a revenue perspective, cutting out gift guides all together and running regular content + maybe one or two additional sponsored things would more than cover the revenue I earn from my gift guides.

      But they get a LOT of traffic – I pull my top twenty posts every month and gift guides always rank very high up – so I just assumed you guys really love them!) This is really interesting feedback. I know for sure (just for my sanity) I’m cutting the number in half next year but I’m looking forward to seeing what others say… I may cut that number back even more.

      Really appreciate the thoughtful feedback – happy holidays to you!

  2. Quinn says 12.18.17

    I LOVE the idea of some sort of wellness challenge for January. I definitely feel like I’ve gotten so off track in terms of eating right/working out this holiday season and I know my body is desperate for a change! Would be cool to incorporate the community so we can all hold each other accountable and encourage each other!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.18.17

      YES! Trying to figure out what that would look like -maybe something in the comments section!!!

      • Stephanie says 12.18.17

        That was my initial thought as well upon reading this post – combining the wellness and community would be great! I’ve done Apartment Therapy’s “January Cure” where basically each day of the month they give readers a small decluttering/cleaning/home related challenge (there’s a calendar that helps keep up) and then readers use the comments section to talk about how it went. I think a mental/body/eating health challenge would be awesome. Would love to hear how others dealt with the challenge and what’s worked for you and other readers.

        • Kate says 12.19.17

          That’s exactly what I was thinking of! I love me my January Cure. Might as well clean up my self as I’m cleaning up my house!

    • Lauren says 12.18.17

      I really like this idea too!

  3. Lauren says 12.18.17

    Hey girl! I love, love, love the gift guides! I found them so useful this year! I must have missed the post about the community Facebook page but I defiantly just sent an invite to it! I have lived where I live for almost six years and it is so hard to find tight knit girlfriends! Thank you for having that idea!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Hi Lauren,
      Thank you so much for the kind words! I hope that you enjoy the Facebook group! 🙂 xx

  4. Christina says 12.18.17

    I looked forward to every gift guide you had and really loved them! I love them every year. Thank you for taking the time to do them. P.S. the sponsored posts don’t bother me at all, I still click, still read, still enjoy. I didn’t even know this month had more than usual until you pointed it out — that’s how much it doesn’t bother me! Happy Holidays!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Thank you so much Christina – relieved/happy to see that you didn’t see a huge uptick! x

  5. Lauren says 12.18.17

    PRO Wellness posts.
    PRO Sponsored posts. This is your business, no justification needed!

    Gift Guides – I probably only looked at the first half before I was done shopping, so think less is more with those. Your taste is superb, obviously.

    Also, was very impressed by your West Elm giveaway. Entering a million giveaways (12 days of Christmas, etc) can feel excessive, so one big awesome one was fun!

    Not as PRO podcasts. Sounds like a lot of work and the podcast market is SO saturated.

  6. Lisa says 12.18.17

    Hi Grace, Happy Holidays! My two cents below:

    Gift Guides – I personally don’t really find these useful, as they are all over the internet and I simply don’t read these types of posts anymore. I had no idea how much work was involved in creating them!

    Podcasts – I agree, there is pretty much every topic imaginable covered in multiple ways out there in the podcast world. However, your VOICE is what makes it unique. I love watching your videos, so I just know I would love listening your podcasts. Here’s an interesting idea that I think you would tackle really well. It’s a little bit out there, but here goes. I love how you branch out with your blog topics and occasionally touch on other areas: culture, books, the importance of science, activism, feminism, brands doing amazing things, etc. Like you, I’m trying to become more informed on the issues affecting our generation today, but it can be difficult, and very overwhelming. Unless you’re involved in these issues on a day to day basis, it can be hard to understand/relate to. Yes, there are many websites, news sites, apps out there, but something is definitely missing. This is where I think you can come in. Interview/talk to professionals in the field on the major issues and have an open, honest dialogue with them (why the average person should care, what it all means, how to get involved, why it is important, resources to go to for more information, etc). You would be great at it, I think! Just an idea….

    BTW, I don’t mind the sponsored posts at all. You do such a good job of being thoughtful about how you weave the sponsored posts in your normal content/day to day life. Appreciate it!

    Happy December,

    Lisa
    http://www.theeverydayelevated.com

    • Katie says 12.18.17

      Agree with this idea about the podcast! What I was trying to say!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Hi Lisa,
      Thank you so much for the thoughtful response! I really need to give the podcast thing a lot more thought. I think Wellness will be my focus for Q1 and then maybe we’ll give a podcast a go in the Spring, if I’ve been able to nail down a concept. I really love your suggestions – thank you!!!

  7. Alyssa says 12.18.17

    I love the idea of a postcast, but I agree, it needs to have a focus. I actually love the idea of interviewing interesting people in your life. I think we’re all trying to figure out our careers, friendships, etc, and I think it helps to listen to other people talk about what they’re dealing with.

    I LOVE the community page. I’m in one right now for the Fat Mascara podcast, and absolutely love the way I can collaborate and get advice from other listeners. It’s so fun. Just requested access to your page. I think you’ll find it’s a great way to build community.

    I was reading a reader comment below about gift guides. I agree that I loved the themed ones! I totally agree that you can cut the number down next year. Us blog readers see SO many and often see the same stuff on “For her”, “For Him”… When the gift guide has a fun theme, like, “For the beauty guru,” “For your dad, who has everything…” I’m much more likely to dive in and see what it’s all about. The Gossip Girl one’s were totally a win in my opinion!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      I didn’t know Fat Mascara had a community page! I will have to check it out.

      So glad you liked the themed gift guides!!!

  8. Katherine says 12.18.17

    Hi Grace! I loved your gift guides and I think if you cut back, you should definitely continue doing character ones (like Blair/Serena!) rather than just generic family member kinds. They were so cute and different than what you see on other blogs–very unique! Your personality and unique-ness are why I read so much. You didn’t mention this in your post, but I know some people don’t like when politics come up on blogs. However, I respect you so much for standing with your beliefs and I love how open and honest you are about them on your blog. Why be quiet when you know you have something to say?! 🙂

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      I totally agree. I don’t bring up politics thaaaaat much but – like, when things are so bad and I have a platform, and oftentimes it’s ALL I’m thinking about, I need to say something!!! Thanks for your feedback!

  9. Taylor says 12.18.17

    Loooooooove this post. Your gift guides are my absolute favorite so I very much appreciate all of the effort you put in!!! Love love all of the wellness talk, and LOVE the idea of a podcast! I’d love to hear about just life stuff— maybe something along the lines of the LadyLovin podcast??? I always love listening to Lo, Jilly and Greta kind of answer questions, talk about their lives (women, entrepreneurship, life in the city, and just other random bullshitting!) I’d be so excited if you did a podcast!!!!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      I need to check out the LadyLovin podcast for inspiration! Thank you for the idea!! xx

  10. Katherine says 12.18.17

    also YES start a podcast!!!

  11. Barb says 12.18.17

    Hi Grace,

    What a great and honest post. I think so many of us appreciate that you’re just real with us and don’t pretend behind a facade of “my perfect life is all that”. Not that your life isn’t pretty great by the looks of it LOL, but hopefully you get what I mean.

    Sponsored posts, I totally get why they’re necessary and honestly they’re fine. It’s not like they are for completely random products, as you said they’re thoughtfully considered and you only do them if they actually reflect you and your tastes. Since you have great taste, I don’t mind them at all!

    The Gift Guides are good, but like someone else said, the usual ones “For Her”, “For Him” types are frequently seen this time of year. But the more unique ones you did, like the Gossip Girl themed ones, and the Homebody and Person Who Hated 2017 ones are genius.

    Wellness, I think after the year that’s been a LOT of people I know at least, have fallen off the wellness wagon but desperately want to get back on it. The struggle is real for many of us to find the time and motivation to get back into healthy eating and living. Some honest inspiration and sharing of the same struggles on your blog would definitely help at least me!

    Lastly, I’m not a podcast lover only because I fall so far down the rabbit hole with reading my blogs and watching IG stories that I constantly am out of time (don’t worry it’s not addiction level or anything but I know I could be putting the time to better use, if that make sense?). So, I might pass but I would definitely check yours out since everything else you do is so fun and relatable.

    Thanks for all you do for us Grace, and the Happiest of Holidays to you and yours!

    Barb

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Thank you for such a thoughtful comment, Barb!!!

      I think there has been a definite consensus on gift guides – start them earlier, do fewer of them, and keep the funny/creative ones.

      happy, happy holidays!!! xoxo

  12. Kaitlyn says 12.18.17

    Yesss!! A podcast, please!!

  13. Briana says 12.18.17

    On community: The Stripe community groups were such a brilliant idea. I had so much fun meeting the girls (and you, of course!) at Aria and getting to develop new friendships. So, big thank you for that.

    Here are my thoughts on gift guides: there are way too many of them across the blogging world. I feel like the majority of posts I’ve seen in my Bloglovin feed for the past two months have been gift guides and, honestly, I’ve never bought a thing I’ve seen in a gift guide. However, of all the guides I did see, yours and the ones on Cup of Jo were the best. I loved that you got specific (Blair, Serena, Cat Lady, etc.) and didn’t just suggest gifts for vague boyfriends and sisters. However, if it takes you a ton of time and struggle to put together the guides, I think we’d all be happy with just a few next year.

    As for podcast, I vote yes no matter the premise!

    Happy holidays!
    briana | youngsophisticate.com

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Thank you so much for all of this feedback Briana!

      And it was so great to meet you at Aria! I loved meeting you guys!!!!

  14. Rachael says 12.18.17

    Hey! I rarely comment on blog posts anymore but I just love this so much I felt like I had to. I don’t usually shop gift guides but on yours I did! However, I often price checked on Amazon just because I am a teacher and money is tight for me. (I’m sorry, I know that’s bad to admit but I’m being totally honest.)
    I didn’t know you had a facebook group and I just joined it, I’m excited!
    I would totally listen to a podcast!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Thank you for taking the time to comment! 🙂

      I love the idea of price checking on Amazon – i’ve never thought of doing that actually, (I use Shopstyle sale alerts) – maybe I can incorporate that into a future post, next year!
      xx

  15. Kristi says 12.18.17

    Love the wellness idea and I’m pretty sure I read ALL your gift guides, ha. The sponsored posts I hardly notice and don’t mind them at all. Podcasts…eh, I have a hard time with these and anything video since I can’t view/listen to video at work and the podcasts are just too long for me to commit that kind of time to listening to them.
    I did have one idea, but it’s totally off-topic… I’ve really enjoyed seeing how you’ve decorated your apartment and would love to see more posts on this. (The wallpaper you just put up looked fantastic!) So anything that’s where to buy, DIY, what to do with small spaces, etc. Heck, I would even love to see readers send in “before” shots of their apartments and you reply with suggestions and then we get to see the “after”. Just a thought, but I really like what you’ve done with your apartment and I’m always looking for good ideas. Particularly with artwork.
    Looking forward to seeing The Stripe in 2018!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      A lot of people say that about video/podcasts! I am so lucky that I can just blast anything as I work from home.

      I love the home idea. I am going to do a home tour as soon as everything is finished (hoping by Jan/Feb!!!) Once it’s done I can start thinking more about that – and I love the idea of reader before/afters but you may be giving me too much credit!!!!

      xx G

  16. Jess Zimilch says 12.18.17

    PLEASE interview your single male friends! I would watch/listen/read/whatever or however you decided to share it. I got out of a 6 year relationship at the very end of 2016 and 2017 has been….fun, interesting, frustrating, confusing, and really left me saying WTF am I doing when it comes to dating. Things have changed, so say the least. And oddly enough, I feel like they might be changing again? I’ve got crickets on my dating apps (lol or maybe it’s just me). Anyway, so excited to keep following along in 2018!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Okay so good to know you’d be into that!!!

      Dating is so frustrating and confusing. Have you read any of Matthew Hussey’s stuff? I like his book because it gives practical advice for talking to guys in real life (as opposed to all of the apps which are the WORST). I’m a big fan!!!!

  17. LYNN-HOLLY says 12.18.17

    I love the open-ness of this post! I can see how gift guides would be hard work. I think cutting down is a good idea. They’re only semi-useful (imo) so maybe not worth all of the time and effort. A health and wellness challenge sounds great! Maybe you can integrate instagram too? Like people send you pics to document with a certain # and you repost them on your stories..? Just a thought. Also, when it comes to podcasts, maybe you could do one about successfully living life in the city? There are so many ways you could go with it- career, finding an apt., making friends as an adult… and you could interview your guy and girl friends. I’d listen to it!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Thank you so much, Lynn-Holly!

      LOVE the idea of using Instagram here.. thinking I will make a hashtag, and then post my favs to stories – so so fun!!! And I love the idea for a podcast too. So much to think about!!!!

  18. sharon says 12.18.17

    I love your blog but have to admit that I skipped the gift guides… as someone else mentioned, I felt like all my blog feeds were gift guides daily and it was just too much. I don’t mind sponsored content as long as it makes sense which in your case, it does. I have stopped reading other blogs that feel like one long commercial.
    I love the community idea!

  19. Beth says 12.18.17

    Great post! For the gift guides, any guides for men (younger like brothers and boyfriends/SOs and older for dads and uncles, etc.) are really helpful! I do think some of the more niche guides (like for Blair and Serena, and the irreverent one) aren’t really my personal jam. I also liked your more catch-all guide and the ones for gifts under $25 which are helpful for secret santa.

  20. Briana says 12.18.17

    What a good discovery about being more in need of community. I think that is so much more relatable, another great post!

    Briana
    https://beyoutifulbrunette.com/

  21. Maggie says 12.18.17

    I got my laptop out in order to comment on this post since I knew I was going to have more than a sentence or two to say, and after 7 years having an iPhone I still can’t type on the darn thing.

    Re: community – I think that the reader community that you set up on FB is great. I’m fortunate to have lived in the same city that I went to college in, which means I’ve been here since ’99 and have an established group of friends plus my book club gals, but I think it’s an awesome idea for people looking to build or broaden their community.

    Re: sponsored posts – they honestly don’t bother me. You do what you need to do to keep the business running year round.

    Re: gift guides – my favorites this year were Gifts For The Person Who Hated 2017 (particularly the RESIST shirt), Gifts For The Homebody and/or Bookworm and Gifts For The Cat Lady. I thought the Gossip Girl Gift Guides were fun also. I have VERY few people in my life that I purchase gifts for and I’m not sure if I’ve ever purchased a gift for someone based off a gift guide (I’ve pinned several items to my “Want” Pinterest board, but most are out of my price range or the cost of shipping would make it so) and I completely understand needing to scale back next year based on how much time each one takes. My two cents is that keeping the quirky gift guides is more fun for your readers than the standard gift guides that most blogger do (gifts under $50, great gifts for guys & gifts for the traveler).

    Re: heath/wellness – I LOVED your Fit Files series that you did a few years back! I’m a very inactive person, so although I’m probably the target market for a wellness challenge I’m not sure how quick I’d be to get on board, but I certainly wouldn’t mind the content.

    Re: postcast – YES (’nuff said).

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Hi Maggie!

      Thank you for getting on your laptop to respond 🙂 Really appreciate all of the feedback – so helpful!!!
      I’m really excited for a more active 2018 and the wellness challenge!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      (For the record, I can’t type on the iphone either – that’s why I always whine about DM’s on Instagram – ha!)

  22. Lauren says 12.18.17

    Thank you for this post, Grace! I really appreciate the care you take to engage with your readers and be honest and transparent. It’s what sets you apart from the rest!

    Re: gift guides, I have to echo what many have already said – I don’t love them, even though yours are clearly well thought out and creative. There are just so many out there that I will often just skim through or skip them. I’m always a bit disappointed whenever I open a blog and see yet another gift guide, so I agree with those who suggested cutting these back next year.

    YES to a wellness challenge! I think this goes to the sense of community that you mentioned. It’s so hard to be healthy, cutting back booze, cooking and regularly going to the gym, without having at least one other person in your community doing it too. Making a space here where we can all take on the challenge together sounds like a great idea! I’d love to see healthy recipe posts, interviews with your trainer, etc.

    As for a podcast, I feel like there are just so many out there. I don’t doubt that you could make something wonderful, but I do think you’d need to find a niche.

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Lauren!
      Sounds like we are on the same page – really appreciate your feedback.

  23. Nicole Walker says 12.18.17

    I love the idea of a podcast with your single male friends! Would totally be down for that. Hope you have an amazing holiday Grace 🙂

    Xoxo Nicole

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Thank you Nicole!! So glad to hear that! You have an amazing holiday as well! xx

  24. Neely Moldovan says 12.18.17

    I would love to see more life/health/wellness. As a blogger in her 30’s you write about a lot of the same stuff I like to read. Also, don’t worry about the gift guides and sponsored posts we all have them and deal with it too.

    Podcast: YES! I think just maybe a weekly podcast about health, wellness, beauty, etc.

  25. Christina says 12.18.17

    I love the idea of a Wellness Challenge! My goal for 2017 was to work on making my health a priority, which I did by finally, FINALLY creating a gym habit that I stuck to and cutting all processed sugar for 30 days in January, but I really didn’t do my mental health any favors. My new and revised goal for 2018 is to hold onto all of this, but to really focus on mental health and self care with those things still intact, so any and all health related posts would be awesome. One of the things that consistently plagues me is how to I get to bed early enough so I can get to the gym in the morning and still have time for self care and life between work and bed. I find that my mental health suffers when M-F feels like Groundhog Day just to check off each item on the to-do list. When I’m constantly living for the weekend just for a break, I feel like I’m losing out on the enjoyment of exercise, cooking, etc. Is this a thing for anyone else?
    On another note, your gift guides are incredible and the time and effort really, really shows. I love the themes you chose, but I find myself looking for more budget-friendly or sentimental finds more often than not when I turned to a gift guide if that helps at all. And sponsored posts…you have to make a living! That is just a plain fact. You do an amazing job with every single thing you post on here, so please don’t feel like you have to explain away the sponsored content when it comes up!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      I love this – and commend you on everything you’ve accomplished. I do think it is SO SO important to strike a balance between mental + physical health which is something I will probably have to work on for the rest of my life.

      I can’t tell you how much I agree with this paragraph – I find myself so drained from the work day that I wind up in front of the computer/TV/with a book until late, and then I don’t get up early to start my day off right. Oof. You’ve definitely given me a lot of inspiration here, especially the part about losing the enjoyment of exercise, cooking, etc.!!!

  26. Jess says 12.18.17

    I actually like your sponsored content. I appreciate that they are very upfront and most importantly that I feel like I can trust you when you post them. My boyfriend always makes fun of me because I think I buy 75% of what you post haha (whenever I tell him “oh i read about this great product/idea/trend” he always teases me that it must’ve been from your blog), but it’s because you seem to have so much background (especially on beauty stuff!) and have tested so many things out that I trust what you recommend. And you clearly don’t just put on an Olay cream one night and then write about it, you actually take the time to test it out so you’re not promoting fake stuff. So I find it pretty useful because your sponsored content opens up some different price ranges of products (since for yourself you usually buy more expensive than I’d buy for myself) which is helpful, like Olay/burt bees etc. So honestly I’m all for sponsored content. Especially since it keeps running the blog that we love so much!

    I literally walk into work and before I check my email i type the stripe on my browser (i LOVE that it’s up so early). feels like i start my day with a best friend.

    anyways, im gushing, but keep on doing you 🙂 i love it.

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Oh my gosh that is so cute. I love hearing that, it makes my day as I really take every product review (sponsored or not) so, so seriously! Thank you for the nicest comment ever 🙂 xx

  27. Arlie says 12.18.17

    I will admit that you are one of the few bloggers whose sponsored posts don’t bother me. I think it’s because you are truly picking things you care about so I can value them so much more than other bloggers.

    I’m excited to see where the community idea goes. This spring I’m moving and hope that the FB page will help me connect with some new friends 🙂

    When it comes to the gift guides I loved them but agree you can cut back. I enjoyed the personality you gave them all (especially the cat lady guide). The Gossip Girl guides were fun but totally impractical to my shopping given the price points. The only other thing I ca say about guides is I try to do the bulk of my shopping pre Thanksgiving (yes I’m THAT person) so once they were published it was more just a fun post to read.

    When it comes to podcasts I just don’t get them. I also have to admit I dislike watching YouTube unless it’s crazy cat videos or something silly so I’m a true written word person. Instastories is fun but I think I like them because they are short spurts. That’s just me.

    At the end of day you have put together a quality blog and I appreciate all the hard work you have done. I think it shows compared to others and am excited to see what you come up with for the new year!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment Arlie. I’m totally with you on the written word person, but have been trying to be better about expanding into other mediums for the sake of growing my blog + business. It’s been intimidating and I will always prefer writing!!

      And also, yessss to cat videos!!!

  28. Allyson says 12.18.17

    The gift guides are a little ubiquitous by now, but I did really like the fun themed ones! The other suggestion I’d make is maybe start sharing them a little earlier, because at this point I’m done with my shopping and once December hit I started seeing 4-5 a day from the blogs that I follow. I like to start my shopping early too so my budget doesn’t get totally destroyed in December. I don’t really mind sponsored posts at all when they are well-written and not just fluff with a link at the end.

    Definitely interested in health + wellness kinds of posts because I basically had the same 2017 as you did in that arena! I am not much of a podcast listener, I prefer audiobooks during my commutes!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      So many of you suggested that! Next year I will start much earlier and do far less. Really appreciate the feedback, thank you!

  29. Katie says 12.18.17

    Thanks for caring so much about your readers, it’s something I really love about The Stripe!

    The Gift Guides – I don’t personally love. I like to look at them, but I’ve never purchased anything from one. While the items are eye catching, I’d prefer to just shop for the people I know and love myself. A lot of the prices are over the top too, in my opinion. In other words, I enjoy browsing them but won’t buy anything.

    Wellness stuff – Please! I love this! Would definitely read.

    Podcasts – I kind of agree with you, all the good stuff has already been taken! Kind of like how you got on the blogging bandwagon early and now it’s harder for other bloggers, you’re kind of in the reverse seat for podcasts. I definitely support you if you want to do it though, I would certainly listen! But I’m always annoyed when people start podcasts then it just kind of peters out because they inevitably don’t have enough content or stamina to keep it going.

    Another idea – Could you incorporate the news somehow into your blog? I know you probably don’t want to get political, but some kind of little recap of stuff that is interesting to YOU. I think things in the news are super important, but sometimes I feel like no one is as enrages as I am (net neutrality anyone??) so I just assume people don’t know what’s going on, to quell my own anxiety! I would love it if you are super passionate about something, even if it’s something a little controversial, so write about it. The comment section would be fun, and I think the more people know, the more we will see positive change. You know a lot of people visit your site each day, so if you could spread awareness about important issues, that would be great

    Okay, I’m done now 🙂 Thanks for everything, can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2018!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Katie!

      Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment and all of the terrific feedback here. I love the idea of somehow incorporating the news here. I’m hesitant because it always brings out a few Trump crazies but I think it’s important. Are you on twitter? I tweet a lot about the news over there.

      xoxo Grace

  30. Hilary says 12.18.17

    To be honest I’m not the biggest fan of gift guides. I find most of them to be pretty repetitive and a lot of bloggers tend to link to the same things and they all kind of blur together by the end of December. The ones I actually read and enjoyed were the Gossip Girl ones and the one for the person who hated 2017.

    I’d definitely be interested in following along with a Wellness challenge…I fell off the fitness wagon pretty hard in November so it would be great to follow along with someone who also has a full-time job and is trying to balance wellness with work, a social life…etc.

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Thank you so much Hilary, I really appreciate the honesty!
      I’m getting so excited for the wellness challenge, I hope you like what I pull together!

  31. Betsie says 12.18.17

    I loved your F@*# gift guide best. Hilarious. The gossip girl inspired ones were fun too.

    Would love a wellness series with practical tips. For me, finding a gym buddy made the difference. Someone who was as committed, shared similar goals and was at a comparable fitness level. But it so hard bouncing back when you’ve gone off track. I’ve been sick and unable to workout these past two weeks. Understand what you mean by the flabby feeling and puffy face. Always looking for inspiration and advice to feel and be the best me.

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      That one is always my favorite to do! I think next year I’ll probably do a few price point ones, and then just stick to the funny ones. Really excited for what’s ahead in 2018.. and the wellness challenge!

  32. Allison says 12.18.17

    Love the gift guides! I don’t mind the sponsored posts at all – it’s your business and expected and I think you do it with a lot of discretion.

    One recommendation would be to add some sort of better search logic for your site. I notice that you’re constantly having to post links – wondering if there is a better way to allow users to search for things (so rather than you having to post the link you can just say “search for bookcase” instead?). Unsure of the technology limitations here but I do know that I have searched for things on your site and sometimes can’t find exactly the thing that I remember you posting a while back. Just a thought! You have so many cool things to buy 🙂

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Hi Allison,

      I’d be really curious to better understand what is going on here! I have a search bar on the site – does that not work?? If so… ughhhh, I’m so sorry – that’s so annoying!

      The one thing I did do last week was implement my FAQ page – when I notice a lot of people are asking about something on instagram DM’s, I will add a link to it there. So now rather than sending people to my blog I just send them to thestripe.com/FAQ. Is this helpful? Feel free to send me an email with more detail if you’d like – I can work with my developers on a better search tool (if that’s possible, I’m an idiot with this stuff!)

      xx
      Grace

  33. kate says 12.18.17

    community – i’d leave it off the blog, and maybe post something within the FB group every week – a question or story that people can weigh in on. Although i read your blog through a reader – i typically wouldn’t go back to a post or remember to check out a special page to continue conversations.

    sponsored posts – you keep it as authentic as you can… it’s your job, and i wish you didn’t have to justify it. keep doing what you need to do – if people aren’t into it, they won’t click the links.

    gift guides – keep the funny stuff… i loved the fuck it one, and gossip girl – but really, slim it down, especially if you’re feeling bogged down with them. I’d rather see another couple sponsored posts rather 27 gift guides. i’m already excited about the guide for the people that hated 2018. 🙂

    wellness challenge – i’d love to see something about balance… how to really enjoy a glass of wine and some cheese, as well as meditate and get to yoga often. January is typically a time where everyone is super strict, and then come one “cheat day” everything flies out the window. Also – how to indulge and not regret it, say having a spa night and getting an extra hour of sleep by turning in early instead of indulging on greasy delivery?

    Thanks for the opportunity to weigh in – you are doing a great job… i especially love that you saw a theme in your single post, and found a solution – then when people wanted to join those email lists, you created an even better (self-sustaining) solution!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Kate! Thank you so much for all of the suggestions and feedback. The wellness challenge is DEFINITELY going to be about balance. Anytime I try to go cold turkey on the wine and cheese I fail. 🙂 I hate super strict plans as they have immediate results but then… I always inevitably end up cheating!

  34. Kelly says 12.18.17

    Regarding a wellness challenge, I think this is an idea that a lot of bloggers have and nobody seems to execute well because they are too ambitious and can’t keep up a weekly post. Perhaps focusing on one “challenge” a month – whether it’s trying a new workout and all of us reporting back, or all of us downloading a meditation app together – something that keeps it at the forefront but doesn’t become overwhelming. I also think the comment section can breed a sense of community, particularly when people are swapping stories or reporting back on something.

    Also, I like the gift guides but really only right after thanksgiving when I’m doing the bulk of my shopping. The best ones were your uniquely-themed ones!

    Keep up the great work!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Thank you for the suggestions Kelly! I am definitely going to start my gift guides early next year!!!

      (And I love the idea of using the comments suggestion for community – It makes me happy when you guys start swapping stories!)

  35. Kyle says 12.18.17

    Hi Grace!

    Love the wellness idea! My only request – it is gloriously the beginning of a New Year on a Monday (am I the only one who loves that?) Would love to have the series posts or community prepare ahead of time so that we can start on the first day!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Hi Kyle! I will absolutely do my best. I think I can make Jan 1 happen!!! 😉

  36. Meghan says 12.18.17

    Re: wellness: Yaaaasssss I’ve fallen off the wagon hard and would love to follow along in January (she says as she sips her giant glass of wine…).

    Re: Gift guides: I click through all of them but honestly evvvvvvvveryone posts them and I’ve yet to buy a gift from one (same as annual Nordstrom sale posts–I just don’t find them that interesting). On the other hand, I thought Emily Henderson’s DIY gift guide was a fun take on the idea, as well as Mackenzie Horan’s post on giving back, so maybe developing guides that aren’t product-based but thought-, activity-, or action-based instead next year? I’d also be interested in a post on building holiday traditions–in a similar vein to the struggle to build community as you get older, I’ve found it hard to establish holiday traditions with my husband now that I live far from my family.

    Re: podcasts–it sounds like you have a really busy life, so I wouldn’t add podcasting to your plate unless you feel a really strong draw to it or think you’re filling a niche! Self-care, baby 🙂

    • Meghan says 12.18.17

      Oh except the Serena/Blair guides. #GOSSIPGIRLFORLIFE

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      HAHA yes… you sound like me writing this.

      Ooh – maybe next year I will do a DIY gift guide – I have to check out Emily’s! (And I loved Mackenzie’s post about giving back).

      Thank you for the suggestions, Meghan! xoxo

  37. Sherri D says 12.18.17

    I’m a little shocked to see that some people don’t like the gift guides. I’ve been through each of them multiple (note: MULTIPLE) times in the last week. Even if I don’t buy something, they definitely provide a thought starter for a gift that might make sense. Since they are time consuming, go ahead and cut back. But, your taste is too good not to share!! (I use them because carving out time to shop is tough!)

    Sponsored posts don’t bother me at all. How else would you run your business?

    Also, total side note… I think you have the best site design I’ve seen. Kudos on that!… Creating and maintaining so much content that is both aesthetically pleasing and easy to navigate is a TON of work. It’s a gorgeous site!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Aw I am really, really glad that you enjoyed them. I am probably going to do less of them next year but they will still be here!!!

      And THANK YOU for the kind words on my site design – totally passing this along to my designer + developer – they are amazing and the three of us work REALLY hard to create a good experience here so it’s nice to see that is being noticed!

      XOXO

  38. Kate says 12.18.17

    I love that what you did about the community situation- I haven’t joined the Facebook group and I’m not even sure that there are people in my city involved but it made me smile to think other women were finding friends and community but that struggle is real!

    I am a gift guide fan, but I know first hand the work that goes into something like that! (I own a store in little store in Newport RI and let’s just say I always underestimate the amount of time for any web roll out) Didn’t even realize you did that many this season… going to look shortly. Someone else made a comment about a post of what you’re personally buying/gifting/wishing for and I love that idea!

    I find that I seek out your instastories because it’s like a one sided phone conversation with a friend. Your candor in that space is so relaxed and REAL! I find that some bloggers instastories get a little repetitive or annoying but I rarely skip past any of yours. I think it’s the honesty- which brings me to the sponsored content. I always feel like I can trust you because it always seems like the sponsored posts are things you claim to actually use and enjoy regularly, like the other 3 times per year (other than the sponsored time) you needed that item you had to go out and spend your hard earned cash on it. Much appreciated!

    I would listen to a podcast that was similar to your blog in that there were different aspects- fashion, reading, etc. Interviewing different people in different areas? Just went back and read what Lisa said below- would absolutely listen to that type of podcast from you!

    Lastly, yes please on the January accountability of all around wellness!!!

    Whew, super long comment. Thanks! <3 your blog. Happy New Year!!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Thank you so much for the thoughtful comment, Kate!!! I really appreciate it. Happy New Year!
      Also, if you are in Newport I think there are some readers there… just FYI! xoxo

    • Barb says 12.19.17

      Oh my gosh – that’s exactly it Kate “like a one-sided phone conversation with a friend” regarding Grace’s instastories!

  39. Ariella says 12.18.17

    A podcast is a great idea. I think the best are ‘gab’ session-style podcasts with some loose structure. Career, love, style advice are things I’d love to hear about (because I love reading about them!) on your site.

    And thanks for the community groups! The DC group is great!

  40. Please do a wellness challenge! I think a lot of us could use with one to guide us for the new year. 😀 It’d also interesting for you to start a podcast project! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  41. Sonja says 12.19.17

    I have been reading your blog for a while now and your site has quickly become the one I look forward to visiting the most. As another single and successful girl in her early 30s, I really appreciate your take on life, hearing your struggles, reading about your adventures, getting tips on fun new things, etc. Thank you for being real and wanting to involve your readers! I didn’t know about the FB group and just signed up 🙂

    As far as sponsored posts are concerned, I enjoy seeing the products you believe in, sponsored or not. I understand the need and think you do a great job balancing and and being sincere in your reviews.

    Love the wellness idea…I think we can all use a reset after the holidays!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Aw thank you Sonja, I am so happy you enjoy coming here! (And I hope the FB group is beneficial!!!) xx Grace

  42. Dana says 12.19.17

    Grace, this post is fantastic – as the age of endlessly shilling bloggers grows tiresome, your transparency and frank acknowledgment of the business side of this bizarre industry is so refreshing and valuable. Thank you for caring about your readers, in addition to your own brand!

    For what it’s worth – I am SUPER pumped about your wellness challenge idea. The gift guides were cute, but I definitely wouldn’t miss them if you cut them in half (or more) next year. Even one or two big posts about your personal favorites for a collective gift guide, rather than specific themes for other people, would be great in that vein. The sponsored posts certainly aren’t my favorite, but I know they are a necessary part of the business and I usually just skim them and call it a day – although sometimes they seem more persuasive (usually for less “mass-market” products that I wouldn’t have known of otherwise) and I end up buying something! And finally, I’d definitely listen to your podcast – you’re the only blogger that I follow on YouTube, and it’s surprised me how much I enjoy listening to the videos where you just chat about products, destinations, and life updates.

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Thank you so much Dana. Really appreciate the thoughtful comment! And so excited that you are as excited as I am about the wellness challenge. I think it’s going to be really fun – both for me to work on, and for us all to participate in together!

  43. Tracy says 12.19.17

    To be completely honest, I read your blog via Feedly and the Gift Guide font was TINY and impossible to read there. I had already done most of my holiday shopping anyway, so I skipped over them. To echo what other people have said, I read a number of blogs and all gift guides feel very similar. I would prefer regular content (like this honest post, I love these! These kinds of posts are why I fell in love with blogs.)

    Also, with sponsored posts, I know that they are a huge part of blogging, and I respect that’s how you make money. I certainly wouldn’t expect you to stop doing them. However, as soon as I know a blogger is being paid to post about something, I just skip over it. I don’t trust that any opinions are honest when I know someone is getting paid to say it. Even when bloggers swear up and down they love this product, the fact that they so often they post about something sponsored and then never again gives me trust issues when it comes to sponsored posts.

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Thank you for this, Tracy! I really appreciate all of your honestly.

      This is such a bummer to hear as the reason the fonts were tiny is that I invested in a special template and format for my gift guides this year (if you looked at them on the blog they were really big and beautiful, but if you read in Feedly that all got crunched down and looked tiny!)

      Totally hear you on sponsored posts. This makes me a little sad as I genuinely do only write about things I love but I think at this point, it can’t really be helped – the market is so saturated and it’s hard to trust someone especially when you don’t know them (for example, my best friends often buy things from my sponsored posts as they see me every week and know i actually use them!) I don’t really know what can be done to establish better trust!

    • Wendy says 12.20.17

      I agree with what Tracy said about the sponsored posts-I skip right over those. It doesn’t feel genuine, but I get that you have to do them. I liked the themed gift guides better, as the items are more unique. Every blogger does gift guides and it often feels like the same items over and over, and let’s be honest, i’m not spending $25 on sugarfina gummy bears for my office mate. If I spend $25, it’s not going to be on something so easily used up!

      Much of reading blogging is aspirational-I can’t afford a $400 self portrait dress for brunching, and after awhile, blogs (generalizing beyond yours) feels so much like buy this, buy that and it feels icky. That said, I do like the opportunity to discover new brands. I love the posts that feel the most “real” -the dating, politics, community, and wellness ones. I read blogs to find a “connection” with others who are in a similar life stage (i.e. i’m not reading “mommy” blogs. ever.)

  44. Nicole says 12.19.17

    Hi Grace! I think your sponsored content is just as interesting as the rest. I honestly hadn’t even noticed an uptick. And I’ve discovered some great stuff that way – I thought the NYE dress you wrote about yesterday was beautiful (and priced perfectly)!

    As for the gift guides, I agree with the commenters who can take them or leave them because there are so many this time of year. I loved the Serena/Blair posts and the one for the ‘hard-to-shop-for’ person, though – so fun!

    Thanks for setting up the Facebook group – I’m looking forward to an NYC meetup some of us have planned!!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Hi Nicole! Thank you so much for the kind words and thoughtful comment… and have fun at the NYC meetup- so fun!!! xx

  45. Caitlin says 12.19.17

    Hi!

    I love the personal posts and I really don’t mind the sponsored content. I understand why it is there, and it always feels very genuine on here, which I appreciate. I did not care for the gift guides. I did like your unique take on them, but there is SO much of that on the internet. It is like overload. Everyone suggesting so many products and “shopping shopping shopping” is just too much, and a lot of times seems so wasteful to collect so many things. (just in my opinion). They have the opposite affect on me, I don’t want to buy anything after seeing so many. I hope I don’t come off as negative saying that 🙂

    I love the wellness posts, and design posts! I love the idea of community, too 🙂

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      I totally hear you. I feel bad pushing constant consumerism but genuinely thought you guys LOVED gift guides so wanted to go over and above this year. The funny part is that I was killing myself to get them all done when it wasn’t even what you all wanted to see! Lesson learned! 😉

      You don’t sound negative at all – I really appreciate thoughtful/constructive criticism – it’s the only way I can keep learning and making my blog better!

  46. Cory says 12.19.17

    Hi Grace,
    Your gift guides are my absolute favorite ones out there. The ones you put together this year were pure gold. The only thing I would suggest is to start releasing them a bit earlier in the season. And, as others have said, definitely keep the quirky ones (bookworm, Gossip Girl, f@%^, etc) next year.
    I would love to see a new wellness series. I am the same age as you and the struggle is so freaking real. I do enjoy exercising, but I still want to eat like I did when I was 22 and the metabolism is sooooo not what it used to be. It would be fun to have some kind of Stripe Fit Files community/support/motivation group.
    Also, do what you need to do with the sponsored posts. They don’t bother me because you are incredibly transparent about them and you are so thoughtful about the brands you work with. You have to pay the bills somehow, right?
    Hope you have an amazing Christmas!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Thank you so much, Cory!

      I am definitely going to keep the quirkier gift guides for next year – think those are the most fun!

      And totally with you on wanting to eat like I did when I was 22 – womp… why doesn’t that work anymore!!! 😉

      Merry Christmas!

  47. Olivia says 12.19.17

    Hi Grace,
    I really love your voice and the great sense of community your blog fosters. I’m meeting up with some of your readers in Charleston next week! I like gift guides a lot and I found great gifts in the past using them, but I did stop looking at them after a while because there were just sooo many (not just on your site–but will so many other bloggers posting them too, it was overwhelming). I don’t love sponsored posts and rarely read them, but I get why you have to do them and I’m not bothered when I see you’ve posted one. I’m all for a wellness challenge–now that it gets dark so early, I feel like I need to go to bed right when I get home from work and have no desire to exercise.

    Thank you again for all of your hard work and I hope you have a restful and happy holiday!

    Olivia

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Hi Olivia,

      First of all – hooray! I am so happy there’s a Charleston meetup! I absolutely love that city, you are so lucky to live there.

      Thank you for the honesty regarding gift guides, etc!!!

      Happy holidays! xx

  48. Clare says 12.19.17

    I would say the quirkier gift guides are a great niche and to run with that. The more general ones I definitely tune out.

    Would love a wellness challenge. I might suggest some guest posts or ideas gleaned from non-bloggers about making time, motivation, etc. I feel like those issues are the hardest to surmount for a lot of people, and it’s hard to relate to a fitness/wellness post by a blogger who, even though they work hard, have the advantage of a flexible schedule that most people don’t.

    You mentioned making yoga a priority and I personally would love to hear more about how that works out for you!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Hi Clare,
      Thank you so much for these ideas. I’ve actually had a bunch of people reach out to me about guest posts and none of them are bloggers, so I think you will enjoy what we pull together there! xx

  49. Brooke Butler says 12.19.17

    I would love more posts like this – I love hearing people’s thoughts, especially on blogging & such. My favorite gift guides were the Gossip Girl inspired ones. I thought they were so unique!

    xo, brooke
    http://www.livethepreplife.com

  50. raq says 12.19.17

    I love podcasts, but I think for the amount of work, I would just stick to what you are doing here + on instastories (which I always watch)- maybe with an occasional Instagram live?

    I really like your gift guides, I find them to be better and more original than most other blogs. However, I tend to shop early (around thanksgiving and early Dec) so a lot of the guides came out after I was already done shopping. I would say for your own sanity def cut down on the amount, I had no idea they took so long! any that you aren’t crazy about (like for men, etc), your readers won’t miss!

    I am also really into any fitness/personal/health posts for Jan! I am *attempting* Whole 30 and Dry Jan… we’ll see how I do!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Thank you so much for that feedback.

      SO many people told me I need to start the gift guides earlier – noted for next year! Will be doing fewer… and starting them earlier!

      GOOD LUCK with Whole 30 – I’ve always wanted to try it but am scared!!!

  51. Krystal Wilkerson says 12.19.17

    Hi Grace! This is my first time on your blog. I found you byway of GOMI (ha!) and I just love your blog. I absolutely love this post. It was thoughtful and real. I liked hearing your reasoning for the sponsored posts. I believe some bloggers take it to the inth degree and do not create sponsored content that goes with their brand or things they actually use. I feel yours is authentic. I also have to note that the blog itself– the graphics, the photography, the layout– is stunning.

    The community of like-minded women is fabulous. I live in a city of 4 million and even still, it is HARD finding like-minded, career-driven, NICE women.

    The gift guides are great (and just gorgeously put together)! Um, hello solar powered charger!

    Keep up the good work! I shall return!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Oh my gosh that is hilarious that you found me from there!

      Welcome – and thank you so much for the kind words, I truly appreciate it! I hope you’ll come back! xx

  52. Shannon says 12.19.17

    I literally bought half of my gifts based on great ideas from your gift guides – I think a smaller number would still work as long it covers all the good stuff (I am mostly shopping for spouse, sisters, parents). So please do not get rid of those based on the other comments! I agree with the early – I think gift guides are most helpful up until early December. I try to do any online ordering by the first or second week in December so I am not worried about shipping deadlines.

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Aw that is so good to hear!!!!

      Plan for next year: Start ’em early, and do less!!! Thank you for the feedback – it is os appreciated.

  53. Alexandra says 12.19.17

    Thank you for putting it all out there. It’s always very helpful as a reader to get context to the content posted and to see some humanity behind it.

    For the record, you’re doing an amazing job. I usually follow more on social, but have been popping in on the blog more frequently to see the gift guides and other posts. I thought the gift guides were genius – the themes were so relateable and helped me think of gifts for a few acquaintances (and myself, of course).

    And I’m right there with you on the wellness front. After starting a new job that requires a long commute, I’ve basically given up my entire workout routine. Where I was hitting the gym four days a week, it’s now been four weeks since I’ve stepped in one. Definitely ready for a reset (though I hate feeling like a resolutioner in January – that never sticks). I think we all need to give ourselves credit for working hard and doing the best we can every day. Sometimes that means letting things slide for a bit, but knowing when we need to give ourselves a kick in the pants, too.

    Thanks again for sharing. Happy New Year!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Thank you so much for the encouragement, Alexandra!!! I really appreciate it.

      I’m excited for the wellness challenge – and for all of us to get our butts back into shape!

  54. Melissa says 12.19.17

    Hey Grace!

    First off, I think your blog is delightful. I find that you have the right blend of things I am looking for in a blog, and I appreciate that you are not hiding in a blog bubble from current events. I love your weekend reads posts. I also enjoy your YouTube videos.

    Community – On of my favorite blogs is Cup of Joe, and a big part of my love for the site is the community and comment section. I feel that your blog attracts similar folks, and I think it would be a wonderful addition to your space. I moved from BK to CT a year ago, and find it difficult to meet folks and make new friends. Sadly, I get a lot of engagement from digital communities.

    Gift Guides – I think your gift guides are lovely. I am a little over the blogger gift guide thing though. It’s becoming like Nordstrom Anniversary Sale and Fashion Week posts, just a little overboard in my option.

    Wellness – I would love to see a challenge or more wellness/health posts. I’m finally trying to get my life together after having my son two years ago. My husband and I invested in a Peloton 2 weeks ago and I plan to do Whole30 in January.

    Podcast- Since I drive to/from work everyday, I am obsess with podcasts. I would definitely tune in to listen.

    Good luck! Can’t wait to see what 2018 brings you!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Thank you so much Melissa! I really appreciate all of the suggestions and feedback. I love Cup of Jo too – she’s done such a wonderful job building an amazing community on her site.

      happy holidays!!!

  55. Amber says 12.19.17

    Firstly, I love that you check in with your readers. I love the openness and honesty you project on your site and with your readers. Its very very refreshing. And the sponsored content/affiliate posts don’t bother me. I work in media and I get it! Gotta get PAID, ya hear?

    I LOVE the community posts. My sister lives in rural Virginia and is having a really rough go of it with making friends. Unfortunately I don’t think many of your readers live in her area (she was one of the firsts to email when you posted about it!) but I’m all for community.

    I love what you were trying to do with the gift guides. Loved the themes, loved the ideas but if i’m being totally honest, I think they were too expensive. Very rarely do I buy expensive gifts for most people in my life around the holidays. Finding gifts in the $25-$50 range for friends/coworkers/distant family is the sweet spot and not many people are providing ideas in this range. Its tough. I’ve checked not only your gift guide, but others and felt the same frustration. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE everything on your guides and want to buy everything for myself (in an ideal world where I have Blairs bank account access), but when it comes to gifting, I just don’t have the funds to really splurge like that.

    I 100% hear you on the fitness/heath situation. I have completely fallen off the bandwagon lately. I typically register for half marathons with my sister 2x a year to ensure I am actually working out regularly, but in the times when I’m not training, I just lose it. And I want to be sure I’m mixing it strength training too, which is hard when you only focus on running for months on end. But i’d be down for a fitness challenge of some sort in the new year! My eating habits are embarrassing and I just feel like shit ll around when I let myself go. In the wise words of Kirsten Dunst, “bring it on!”

    Also, I would absolutely listen to a podcast. I think you’re right, most “niches” have been done before, but I think you provide an interesting perspective on life in 2017 as a working women. You read, you craft, you decorate, you are up on current events, you know skincare, you know fashion. You are an endless source of well researched inspiration for all topics. I think you can find something to talk about, even if its just interviewing people in each of those areas. All I gotta say is, I listen to 98% of your Instagram stories so clearly, if your name is on it, I’ll listen to it 🙂

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      That is such helpful feedback! I did do an under $25 and under $50 gift guide and am going to do those again next year. God I wish I had Blair’s bank account access!!!

      So glad you’re into the wellness challenge – I really can’t wait! xx

  56. Sarah says 12.19.17

    I enjoy the gift guides but I don’t think you need to be doing so many of them. Definitely less than 8 (heck, even like 4-5) would be satisfactory. I typically use them more as a reference for ideas for gifts for myself or for future birthday and occasion gifts, so they are more useful beyond the holiday season.

    With regard to sponsored posts, I know that we as readers know that they are part of the business model. And we obviously support you trying to make a business off the blog–but I think one of the reasons we keep coming back to The Stripe is because it feels more authentic than other blogs out there. It seems to me that so many blogs I once loved devolved into advertising 24/7. I think if you 1) note that sponsored posts are sponsored clearly and 2) continue to be SUPER honest in your non-sponsored posts, that’s a good balance. We just want to feel that we can trust you and your recommendations, so that we feel that we’re getting the most authentic you.

    I love podcasts, but I feel like there is SO MUCH content out there. I like the videos and would prefer that you do more of those than trying yet another medium.

    I’m also super supportive of a wellness challenge. Someone else in the comments referred to Apartment Therapy’s January Cure (which I love!!!) and I think that could be a good model. Something that keeps readers coming back every day and keeps us accountable in the comments section.

    THANK YOU for all of the work, enthusiasm, and honesty you put into the blog. We know it’s impossibly hard work but you’re killing it!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.19.17

      Thank you sooooo much for all of this honest, thoughtful, and incredibly kind feedback! It is so appreciated. I am off to check out Apartment Therapy’s January Cure!!!

  57. Erin says 12.19.17

    Hello! I love how open you are about everything. I very much appreciate how selective you are about your sponsored posts – compared to many of the other bloggers I read, yours always seem aligned with your personality and vibe. I LOVE you gift guides but echo some others that the last few were posted long after I finished shopping. So the first half would be plenty for me!

    The community stuff was awesome! I am still trying to connect but can’t wait!

    Thank you for everything and being so awesome!!! And loved the West Elm giveaway!

  58. Kate says 12.19.17

    Definitely connect with Robyn downs at real food, while life. I am pretty sure you will LOVE her take on wellness. Also, keep it real. We love your honest feedback! ❤️

  59. Sarah says 12.19.17

    Hi Grace! First, I love this post and appreciate that you’re always open to feedback and ideas from your readers. So, thanks!

    Community: Unfortunately, I’m not on FB (quit as a new year’s resolution 4-5 years ago and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made), so I can’t be part of your FB group. I wish I could be, as I’d love to be able to meet some new like-minded people in my area! I have my core group of friends that I love, but I’m one of the last single girls in my group and it’s unfortunately gotten hard to get people to do stuff anymore and it is SO hard to meet new friends without coming across like a weirdo!

    Sponsored posts: Honestly, half the time I don’t even realize they’re sponsored. And when I do, it’s stuff I’m interested in, so they don’t bug me!

    Gift guides: I actually really like gift guides, although I agree that they could be started earlier since I’m usually trying to space out my gift buying so that I’m not completely broke the month of December. They’re great for inspiration (especially your quirky themes), and even if I don’t buy exactly what you’ve posted, I usually can get some good ideas. The only issue I had is this year the font was tiny, even reading on my iPad in the normal blog mode, not through feedly or anything like that. It wasn’t prohibitive (I can zoom!) but just a note for next time.

    Wellness challenge: I certainly need one! I’ve gained weight since starting to work from home and it’s hard to be inspired to work out, especially in the winter when it’s cold and all I want is to snuggle up and read with a glass of wine.

    Podcast: I’ve been BIG on podcasts this year, mostly the Pod Save America boys and My Favorite Murder (varied interests, I know). I was trying to think of ideas that would be in line with your blog but different enough that it wasn’t your blog in audio form, if that makes sense. What about a kind-of book club theme? I always love your book round ups. You could even pair up with another blogger (maybe Meg Biram, another of my faves) and do a mini book club pod. OR I saw one time on another blog the idea of an article club instead of a book club and thought it was so interesting, and a way to get your thoughts about current affairs, etc., out there without aggravating the crazies (hopefully!).

    I think this is the longest comment I’ve ever left anywhere. Anyway, keep on doing what your doing!

  60. Cy says 12.19.17

    I’m in the minority as I don’t read a ton of blogs ( down the too much of the social media rabbit hole wastes a lot of time!)and I’m an older reader. I have been reading your blog , I think since you started it and I know this much about you. You are a straight shooter and a trustworthy person. I know you really believe in what you are posting and showcasing here. The fitness post is a great idea, I also do the yearly January cure and love it. I do enjoy your gift guides, maybe because ( not to be vain ) but I happen to be really good at choosing gifts for people. I really enjoy it and I think very hard about that person, not what I would want , but what they would want or use. And I agree, that you need to do whatever you need to do to support yourself ( which is always going to be using integrity because that’s who you are) I’m a big fan of all you ” lady bosses” or whatever phrase you prefer. You work hard! I think your intuition has served you well. I truly believe, if you listen, it will never guide you wrong. Does it feel right to do a podcast? Then do it. I know how you feel is a personal thing, but honestly you are as beautiful as ever and your face is not pufffy. I tell all my younger friends enjoy your youth and beauty. Age brings other gifts, but the physical decline is a tougher fight. Also have some great gay boyfriends, statistics show women with gay guy friends have better self esteem than women who don’t. True story!

  61. Linah says 12.20.17

    I read lots of blogs,Grace.BUT,your gift guides were HARDWORK! I’d visit the blog and be amazed by the content. You outdid yourself. The variety and diversity. Ain’t nobody did it like THE STRIPE!

  62. Lauren Shaber says 12.20.17

    Totally unrelated, but you seriously are one of the most committed bloggers I’ve seen. So many these days don’t even respond to comments, but I just read through this entire thread and you’ve responded to almost every one. Impressive!

    I’m an on-and-off reader (to be honest, I come mostly for the book club/recommendations, so I hope you continue those in 2018!), but do want to echo what people are saying about the gift guide. I always thought they were for the affiliate clicks, so I never thought much about it. They’re everywhere this time of year, so I tend to tune them out. As a former blogger and full-time marketer, I totally get the time and consideration that goes into each one, though. Maybe next year, you can think about having all of your recommendations on one page and make it a little more interactive. Not that you asked, but I have a ton of ideas if you want to chat through them!

    Also – props to you for getting on your wellness goals. I, too, have plans to get back on track as soon as the holidays are over and personally can’t wait to feel a little lighter and more “me” again. The holidays — and the end of the year in general — tend to be quite hectic. I hope you’re able to find some time to relax over the holidays!

    • Lauren Shaber says 12.20.17

      Side note — I’d love to see a way to follow comments where, if you comment, I’m notified via an email to my inbox. Have you looked into Disqus or another software like that? It might help with your community thoughts above so it’s easier to have back-and-forth conversations. (Though I absolutely LOVE the look/feel of your comment thread!! Not sure if you can keep that or not!)

  63. Mary says 12.21.17

    Okay, I love everything about this. This is exactly why you’re one of my favorite bloggers out there– truly! You are creating friendships, which is SO NICE! I love that you are going out of your way to make others feel included. Reason #20390 why you rock! Also, I totally think you should unplug and not worry about Insta over your holiday. Just enjoy it! We will all be busy anyway, so we won’t be checking as much- haha!! 🙂 You definitely cannot tell if you aren’t working out as much or with a trainer. You always look amazing to me! My suggestion is Pure Barre!! If there is one near you. I am not even kidding you– it is the best *community* of people, ever. I have met my closest friends there (I was new to the burbs of Chicago), my realtor, the lawyer who closed on our house, I got my dogs from an amazing woman there, someone at Pure Barre lent me all her maternity clothes, another two friends at PB gave me their older leggings that were too big on them so I had workout clothes for my growing belly. Everyone is so kind, and it totally is the best community ever. I highly recommend it, and I bet there is one near you! Keeping doing you– we love your blog. I would totally listen to your podcast on my way to teaching every morning! I would love to hear anything you have to say!!
    xxoo
    Mary
    http://www.BelleOnTrend.com

    • grace at the stripe says 12.28.17

      Thank you so so much Mary! You are so kind. I love barre class! I have not tried Pure Barre yet but was a big fan of Fly Barre and Exhale before I joined Equinox. Now I am a member there and try to take barre a couple days a week (took it this morning and already – owwww!) I don’t have the budget to do very many classes outside of Equinox (and they have so many good ones), so I try to stick to doing all my classes there, but maybe I will give Pure Barre a try as a treat!

      Hope you had a great holiday week – happy New Year! xo

  64. Maggie Olson says 12.22.17

    Grace- my favorite content of your has been your “real talk” and wellness posts. Thank you for sharing with us your thoughts and struggles with falling out of shape. I have struggled with the exact same thing and putting wayyy too much time into sitting at my desk. I would absolutely love seeing more wellness and fitness content- I can’t wait to see more!

    • grace at the stripe says 12.28.17

      Thanks Maggie!!!

      My wellness challenge is going to launch on January 1st – can’t wait! xoxo

  65. Kendall says 12.22.17

    I would love, love, love it if you started a podcast! I think interviewing your girl boss friends would be pretty interesting but I agree, coming up with a podcast idea is hard. But I’d still love it if you start one!

  66. Noemi says 12.24.17

    I’m seriously envy of the group you created because I live in Italy and I can’t join it.
    I don’t know why but none of the friends that live in my city are interested in what I love…

    I don’t like gift guides, I admit I’m fed up of seeing them everywhere. I know it’s a lot of work but really, I think a couple of guides are enough (one for women and one for men).

    I spend a to of hours sit at a desk/table, too. Two years ago I bought a cyclette, about 20 minutes before having dinner makes me feel better 🙂

    • grace at the stripe says 12.28.17

      Aw, I’m sorry!!! You can still join the group and maybe see if anyone else is in Italy… you never know???

      Thank you so much for the feedback on gift guides 🙂 I will probably do more than 2 next year, but definitely not 16 again!!!

      Happy New Year! xox

  67. Chloe says 12.30.17

    Love all of this, just requested to be in the Facebook group! I’d be interested in a wellness challenge, or honestly more interested in your personal journey. I’ve been on my own personal journey that’s fluctuated over the past two years and am always excited, inspired, and motivated to hear others’. Happy New Year, Grace!

  68. Nicole Wren says 1.2.18

    I’ve started reading your blog this year, and this post was really awesome to get an idea of what you have been doing all year. I love reading your book list, I’ve gotten so many great recommendations from you and have increased my goodreads acount with that. Do you have a goodreads account that you use?
    As far as podcasts go, I love them! I listen to them frequently, and if you have a specific type that you’re looking for I have lots of recommendations! With you starting a podcast, I’d love to listen. You can make it a lot of different things, just like your blog. You can interview authors of books you enjoy, your male friends and getting in their head sounded interesting, interview other podcasters on what they do on their shows, or talk to other fashion bloggers. With some podcasts that I listen to, I’ve found that the longer the podcast goes on, the more it changes. The podcast gains its own character as it goes 🙂

    • I am so glad to hear all of that!

      I had a Goodreads account but prefer to keep all my book recommendations here on the blog. Everything I read gets uploaded to thestripe.com/reads!

      And I love the idea of a podcast gaining character as it goes. Thank you for that.. and for reading! xx