Weekend Reading | 9.14.19.

happy weekend! I had one of those weeks where I’m having a hard time seeing straight. It has been go go go since getting back from LA early Saturday morning and I’m really looking forward to the most low key weekend ever (at least I hope – I ended up working really late last night to get caught up!) We are now in the thick of live show planning (COME TO ONE, if you are in town – we are lining up some amazing guests!) So I’m going to sleep in today, go to yoga, and just take a nice easy chill approach to the weekend. Becca is having a housewarming party today (her place looks BEAUTIFUL) but that’s literally the only thing I have planned all weekend! Whatever you’re up to, I hope it’s fab. xoxo (PS – if you need a good weekend read, make it American Royals!)

Really enjoyed learning more about the founder of Soho House.

Have a feeling that I am going to buy this cozy turtleneck in every color.

I really loved Carly’s post about how she uses Siri. I learned a lot and thought it was really interesting!

Creative ways to store your books!

A reader emailed me this exfoliating glove and it is my new obsession. It’s really effective and makes such a good lather.

So excited about Rebecca Minkoff’s new inclusive collection with Stitch Fix. The pieces are fab!!!

Oooh I LOVE this email tip!

A pretty yellow wrap dress. Comes in plus sizes as well.

Great skincare… on a college budget.

An interesting look at which presidential candidate women are donating to this year.

Such a sweet wrap sweater (and it’s on sale).

What success looks like according to your zodiac sign!

The perfect hoodie.

Really enjoyed Blair’s little accessory roundup (THAT evening bag!)

Jacey’s fashion week coverage is always so fun and glamorous: part one and part two!

If you’ve ever wanted to work in publishing, read this!

Love this tiger stripe pullover.

I’m fascinated by the Caroline Calloway drama – it feels very Social Creature?

Such a cute structured mini bag, for only $25!

V v excited about the upcoming new Ralph Lauren documentary.

A podcast that roasts Hallmark movies? I’m in.

Very into these acupressure slides. (I wear them around the house!)

Three words: pet portrait mode.

I love the sleeves (and the colors!) of this pretty little turtleneck.

I LOVE that Jess used her platform to get people educated about the debate.

The 100 best note books and note pads: this is the kind of content I want to see more of.

There should be more animal print vintage tees.

I had grated tomato last week and can agree that it is wonderful.

Love a good chunky cardigan and this one is pretty perfect.

The importance of emotional intelligence.

Ok I am really into these ombre manicures!

A rainbow fair isle sweater? YES PLEASE!

How to tell if the book you’re reading is really great.

I probably don’t need this indoor herb garden but it is certainly very tempting!

The best street style from NYFW.

photography by Carter Fish.

Rebecca Minkoff’s First Size Inclusive Collection.

Thank you to Stitch Fix for sponsoring this post!

You GUYS! Rebecca Minkoff has teamed up with Stitch Fix to launch her first-ever size-inclusive capsule collection!

The collection launched this past Saturday and I had the honor of getting to attend the launch – it was a part of Rebecca Minkoff’s fall presentation during New York fashion week.

One of the things I became acutely aware of while doing my inclusivity challenge last Spring was that creating plus size clothing is different; you need a certain level of expertise – you can’t just make everything bigger across all dimensions. There’s definitely a science to it and a lot of brands are realizing that they need a partner to help them expand their size range. In this case, Rebecca Minkoff teamed up with Stitch Fix to leverage Stitch Fix’s expertise in data science and fit! The new collection is beautiful, and the pieces come in size XXS – 3X (or 00-24W!) Everything is priced between $138-$248.

The pieces are BEAUTIFUL. My favorite of everything is the faux fur jacket that I’m wearing. I had worried that it would be too boxy or not cute on me but I LOVE it. But I also really love the blue print. A lot of the girls at the event were wearing the blue patterned bias cut skirt and I really liked that. And the stripe sweater!

So how do you get your hands on them? Similar to with Katie Sturino’s collection it can feel a little confusing as you can’t just order the pieces. But it’s actually pretty simple and I tell you this as a blogger who is working with Stitch Fix this go round but ALSO as a paying customer; when Katie launched her line I ordered a fix and went through the process myself so have done it from ordering a fix to returning what didn’t work.

  1. Peruse the collection here and schedule a fix.
  2. In the notes section,  tell your stylist which pieces you’d like (you could even say, I want the burgundy faux fur jacket Grace Atwood was wearing and the blue print midi skirt, for example). Make sure that you also have your style profile up to date (noting that price preferences are $150-200 or higher and that you’ve opted into receiving Premium brand styles).
  3. Your fix will arrive on your scheduled date. In it, there’s also an (pre-paid) return bag so that you can easily return whatever doesn’t work.
  4. You won’t be charged until you tell Stitch Fix what you are keeping and what you are returning. This part is important, and something I really liked about the system.

I loved seeing the other influencers in attendance’s looks! We all styled our looks so differently!

Meeting Rebecca Minkoff was pretty cool, too. I’ve been a long time fan of the brand (hers was the first NYFW show I ever attended, maybe seven years ago!?). They’ve always been a forward thinking, empowering brand so it is really nice to see them take this next step!

// Photography by Carter Fish.

What Goes Into Running a Blog!

I have been sitting on this post for almost a year now. I’ve talked about what my typical work day looks like, but until more recently never actually sat and really broke things down with real numbers.

Today on the podcast we are talking about time management (really, the episode is about how I am a failure at time management!) which inspired me to FINALLY post this. To be honest, I was a little nervous to write this. I never would want to come across as whiney or negative, but I do think there are a lot of misconceptions out there about what bloggers actually do all day, and whether it’s actually a “hard” job. Spoiler alert: I wouldn’t say it’s hard, but it can be v v time consuming, if you want to do a good job with it.

I LOVE my job – I think that’s pretty evident. I wake up every day energized excited to make this site the best it can be. And we all have hard jobs. Over in the Facebook group we talk about work a lot and many of you are doctors and lawyers, political lobbyists, etc. Meanwhile I’m writing about face serums and fluffy thrillers. So yeah. Is it hard work? Not really. Is it a lot of work? Absolutely. There’s a big difference, I think. It definitely isn’t rocket science but it can be a total grind. At the end of the day, running a successful blog is a total hustle and if you want to be good at it you have to be really, really disciplined and self motivated. Sure, it isn’t saving any lives, but work is work! What you see is just the finished product.

The biggest challenge for me is that I haven’t really figured out how to step away. Even if I’m traveling, I make sure I have a new post up for you every day Monday through Saturday. And I’m always on email. When I did my yoga retreat in Costa Rica this March, even though I’d scheduled most of my blog content in advance, I spent at least 4-5 hours a day working in between class and meals, etc. Of course that is still NOT a full day of work, but leading up to the trip I pulled a few 16 hour days to make sure everything was perfect before I left.

It’s the communication (the back and forth between both readers and brands) that adds up. I have two groups I need to cater to: my readers (which is are always top priority) and the brands I work with. When you step away, you risk pissing off a reader because you didn’t respond quickly enough (this has actually happened, someone went ballistic in my comments section when I was traveling once as she thought I was screening her comments – I just hadn’t had a chance to approve them!), or being perceived as rude. Or, you could miss out on a campaign with a brand you love because you didn’t write back in time and the brand chose someone else because you didn’t reply quickly enough. I have a policy of responding to all emails + comments (blog, instagram, other social media channels) within 24 hours and that itself could be a full time job. There are some amazing perks of doing what I do and being able to it from anywhere is at the very top of that list. But there are definitely days where I miss leaving the office at 6 or 7 and not thinking about work! Or the days where I had four weeks of paid vacation and holidays. But if I have any say in the matter, I won’t go back to the corporate world. I like having a more flexible lifestyle.

The way I give myself a break is to take Instagram off of my phone or (sorry) disabling DM’s for a few days. My DMs have been off for a week now and it’s because right now the podcast has been taking up a lot more time and I can’t be attached to my phone replying to DMs. I like sitting at my desk and working but I don’t love being on the phone all the time. Being constantly on your phone just can’t be good for you. Besides, I figure if someone has a really pressing question they can always send me an email. I also try to take one weekend day completely off. One full day off from social media and the Internet can be really restorative.

How Long Do Bloggers Spend Actually Working?

I think what surprises people most is that the time spent creating content (the best part!) actually takes up the least amount of time.

I added up all of the different things (breakdown below!) that I spend time on and actual content creation takes up less than 50% of my time. The biggest areas I spend my day on are the administrative stuff (I’m at my desk a lot, just like all of you probably are), and community management (all of the responding, which I mentioned above!) Every blogger is different though. A lot of my friends have their significant other shoot their images and spend hours and hours editing their own images.

  • Contracts + Emails + Admin stuff: I spend about 3-4 hours every day doing the administrative stuff – there is a LOT of it with blogging – any full time blogger who is running their blog like a business will tell you that they are actually at a desk quite a bit. There are countless PR emails + pitches, reader emails, contracts, back and forth with my manager + brands (from negotiating to sending performance recaps), accounting stuff in Quickbooks, invoicing, tracking down late payments and blah blah blah. I have a good (at least I hope!) reputation in the industry as I am easy to work with and return all emails within 24 hours and want it to keep it that way! I tend to do a little of this on weekends too as I like to be at inbox zero-ish, but we will call this 15 hours per week.
  • Community Management: This is just responding to comments + DM’s across Instagram, the blog, my Facebook page + group, and Twitter. I would say I spend 2 hours a day doing this, and 1 hour a day on the weekends so we will call it 12 hours per week. 
  • Social Media: I’m only counting content creation here – every blog post I put on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ (I never schedule in advance except Facebook) as well as posting to Instagram (stories + feed posts). If I do a Q&A it’s much higher; I try to only do those when I’m traveling or have a big chunk of time to kill. Since we’re not counting responding (that’s above!) I would say I spend about an hour total per day here. We will leave off weekends and call this 5 hours per week.
  • Writing: this is my favorite part! It really varies but I would say I spend about 30 minutes per blog post, and then maybe 2 or 3 hours writing a longer more thoughtful post. So we will guesstimate here and call it 5 hours per week.
  • Meetings and phone calls: About 5 hours per week. This doesn’t count commuting into the city though, which is why I try to make most meetings phone calls!
  • Creating Images: This includes shooting with a professional photographer once or twice a week, shooting flat lay images at home for beauty posts, reading lists etc, and snapping my daily looks for Instagram, etc.. 4 hours per week.
  • Post Setup + Creating Graphics: This is the boring stuff: cropping and sizing images and creating collage graphics (for product roundups and collages) in Photoshop. 3 hours a week.
  • Product Sourcing + Research: I wish I spent more time here as I feel like there is so much more I could be doing. I love having The Stripe be a place you can come to to discover cool new stuff and new to me brands but there isn’t always enough time. 4 hours per week.
  • Weekend Reading Post: my Saturday post actually takes me the longest to write as it requires finding really good stuff to share with you guys. It’s become one of my most popular I try to spend at least 30 minutes every day finding good things to link to. 3 hours per week.
  • Email Newsletter: I send out a Friday newsletter. Putting this together (sizing + uploading emails, linking products and posts, and writing) takes about 2 hours per week.
  • Pulling Links + Creating shopping widgets: This is pretty self explanatory. Once I write a post find links to all of the products. I then add those into the post and make a shopping widget in ShopStyle. I try to batch this and do 3-4 posts at a time. 1 hour per week.

This totals 58 hours a week.

What about the podcast?

It’s funny bc I’ve had this post in my drafts since March and laughed because back then my estimate had been four hours a week. Oh how things can change in a few short months! We used to spend about 90 min recording and then switch back and forth between who edited it. So it was around 4 hours a week. In the past 6 months as really taken off which has been amazing. I wouldn’t have it any other way BUT I still have all my other work!

  • Podcast Creation: Generally speaking we spend about an hour prepping for each episode (we create an outline ahead of time for every episode). If it’s just us it’s usually about 90 minutes. If we have a guest we typically spend 2 hours with them and then another 30-40 minutes recording the intro/outro + ads. So we will call this three hours. It’s a lot higher some of the time (this week we have 6 hours of recording booked but next week we only have one).
  • Guesting on other podcasts: My goal is to try to be on at least one other podcast a week. Doesn’t always happen BUT the best way to grow your podcast is by going on other podcasts. So let’s call this 2 hours; but it doesn’t factor in getting there/commuting, which is usually another hour at least as most recording studios are in the city.
  • Admin stuff + emails.  Like with everything, once you bring on advertisers and start working with brands, you get a lot more emails and have a lot more work. I don’t work on admin stuff for the podcast for that long every day but I would say it’s at least a half an hour a day (probably low) going back and forth with advertisers, lining up guests, working on live show stuff writing ad scripts. So we will call this 3 hours a week.
  • Live show planningThis is spent working on lining up guests, lining up accommodations (I try to do a trade in every city for our hotels to make the shows more profitable), working with venues, working on the show outlines + games etc. 1 hour per week (it should be more; we are behind!!)
  • Touring. When we go on tour that’s a few days away from work every week. I’m not counting this as it’s fun and exciting and hard to measure (we’re also usually on our laptops in the greenroom getting through emails!) but it’s definitely still work!

This totals 9 hours a week. That feels low but it really depends on the week!

Where does that net out?

That adds up to about 67 hours a week. It’s higher than I thought but makes sense. Of COURSE there are busy and less busy weeks. This week was busier as it was fashion week and we also hosted an event for the podcast. This summer I worked a little less and this holiday season I will work more, especially when there are gift guides + demand for sponsored content. It also doesn’t include going to evening events (I a few every week).

Work and life blend together so oftentimes I will be doing work and not really thinking about it. I just hired an assistant and she will be helping me for 20 hours a week which is really nice. I have to remember that 20 hours of an assistant’s time is not the same as 20 hours of my time though. I can do things much more quickly; but I need to remember that even if those 20 hours take 10 hours off of my plate I will be a little more sane!

How much does it cost to run a blog?!

Running a blog is actually pretty expensive – the costs add up! If you are just starting out or blogging just for fun, of course it doesn’t have to be like this (it shouldn’t! I barely spent anything on my blog when I first started, besides my site design), but as a more established blogger with decently high traffic, the costs add up.

  • Website Development: A good site can cost anywhere from $5k to $20k to develop (this includes branding/logo work as well as the actual coding). A friend of mine was just quoted $65k by an agency (YIKES – she’s obviously not working with them – that’s literally insane), but that blew my mind. I spent $6k to buy my domain name and $5k to redesign it. My designer is a lot more expensive now I think). To maintain my site, I keep my developer on retainer; the fee for this is $400 per month. It’s expensive but worth it and allows me to be more nimble + make bigger changes to the site a few times a year.
  • A good camera. I actually just have my Sony Alpha (for video) and my Fuji X-T10. Both are great beginner cameras and not absurdly expensive. I don’t use a DLSR anymore because I shoot most of my content with a professional photographer and my iPhone is fine for traveling etc. I hate lugging around a heavy camera.
  • Professional Photography: I typically work with a professional photographer for an hour a week – more if I have a lot of sponsored content; less if I am traveling and am just relying on friends to take my photo. The photographers I work with charge between $150-$250 per hour.
  • SEO Specialist: This year I invested in SEO. I use Influencer SEO and Jordan is the BEST. She helps me optimize my site and gives me ideas each week for things that are getting a lot of traction on google. She also gives me to-do’s: posts with broken links to fix, posts that need extra love on social media, and overall site guidance. I pay her $500 a month but the best money I spend.
  • Mailchimp: Mailchimp is my email host. I have a pretty big email list (just under 40k subscribers) so my plan is on the more expensive side – $260 per month.
  • Manager: I am not with a big agency but have a person helping me with some of my partnerships. I pay her a monthly retainer fee + 10% of the paid projects thats she helps with. I have a lot of relationships in the industry and really enjoy having those relationships, so she manages the bigger things that require more negotiation, with larger exclusivity clauses, etc etc.
  • Web Hosting: Hosting can cost anywhere between $30-$500 per month depending on your traffic. It can be even more if you run a huge huge site! My plan is around $150 a month.

What about the podcast? Podcast expenses are pretty low. It’s about $20/month for hosting and we pay an editor around $150/episode to edit. We just hired a publicist for three months which is extremely expensive but we made the decision to invest in that to see what happens and not pay ourselves.

What are the best parts of running a blog?

The best part to me, hands down, is the flexibility and the ability to work from home. I really love working from home. And I like being able to do things during off hours, i.e. commute into the city during off hours, take yoga at noon when it’s less crowded, go to the grocery store in the middle of the day when there are no lines.

The other best part is the community. Community was my big focus for 2018 and I feel really proud of the group of women here. I say this all the time but I have the best readers. I feel like I know so many of you IRL just based off of commenting back and forth here on the blog and on Instagram.

What are the worst parts?

The hardest part of all is the inconsistency. There are months where I have a ton of paid partnerships and months and have to turn things down and then there are slower months where I will only have one or two. It can be tempting to take on a sponsor that isn’t quite as on brand during the slower months. I try to remember how cyclical it all is. One bad sponsored post can cost you a chunk of your readership… it isn’t worth it!

The mail and the amount of waste generated by PR mailings is also frustrating. A lot of brands don’t check before sending once they have your address. And worse yet, there are companies that will get your address and sell or share it with other companies. Stuff I don’t want (last week I got two huge boxes of hair color) arrives and there’s nothing I can really do about it. (Trust me, I send emails asking brands very nicely to please not do this!) I spend a silly amount of time breaking down boxes and figuring out where to donate things I don’t want.  (And finding places to store it which drives me bonkers as I’m a neat freak). I think brands are still learning; many of them are used to working with beauty editors who have huge beauty closets to store everything in. They don’t know what to do with us!

It’s also hard when people making assumptions about you. I’ve read quite a few things about myself online over the years that aren’t true.

Lastly, it’s especially hard with men. Dating is super weird when you have over a hundred thousand instagram followers and your life is pretty publicly out there. That’s why I don’t talk about dating specifics here – I wouldn’t want anyone I meet to worry about becoming fodder for the blog. I’ve had a lot of really awkward situations over the years – one guy did some stuff that was actually insane.. like, I want to tell you guys the whole story but I can’t, it would break code.

But in all honestly, I think I have the best job in the world. I feel really, really lucky to have been able to carve out this path for myself. And that’s mostly all because of you! I am grateful every day and I really mean that.

I hope this was interesting!!! If you want more on this, listen to today’s episode on time management!

How to Use Weleda Skin Food.

How to Use Weleda Skin Food. as seen by its green product

Whenever I get asked for suggestions for more affordable skin care options, Weleda is at the top of my list. I LOVE this brand.

Their products are clean, they smell amazing and feel incredible on the skin, and you can even get them at Target!

It can be really hard to find luxurious products (Into the Gloss called Skin Food a natural La Mer and I really agree with this sentiment) that are a) clean and b) affordable – for me, Weleda is IT.

Skin Food is a holy grail beauty product in my skin care lineup and I wanted to give it it’s own post today as there are tons of different ways to use it! Think of it kind of like a high-tech, more emollient rich coconut oil.. there are a million different ways to use it.. literally from head to toe!

How To Use Weleda Skin Food

One of the reasons that Weleda Skin Food is so good for skin is that it’s packed with rich, good for you ingredients. One of those is sunflower seed oil. Sunflower seed oil is packed with essential fatty acids to soften skin and keep it moisturized all day/night. Sunflower seed oil is also high in Vitamin E! It also contains hydrolyzed beeswax. When something is hydrolyzed, water is used to change it and simplify it. So in layman’s terms, hydrolyzed beeswax is beeswax without the texture issues. It’s also packed with sweet almond oil (gentle and smells amazing) and pansy extract (to soothe irritation). Plus extracts of gentle viola tricolorcalendula and chamomile.

It’s a wonder product. The only thing I don’t use it for is as an eye cream. You probably could, but I have sensitive eyes and find it to be irritating there.

Use it like you’d use La Mer.

I have dry skin so this is how I use it ESPECIALLY after a lot of travel, in the winter, or when I am hungover and my skin is really dehydrated. Warm up a few drops in your hands – it’s really rich so similar to La Mer goes on easier when you warm it up first! It makes a great night cream especially during the winter.

Use it For Travel.

Similar to how I use Summer Fridays’ Jet Lag Mask (another holy grail) I love this on a long flight. Do not wear makeup if you do this. Once we’re in the air I’ll usually pat down my face with toner or a face mist and then add a nice thick layer of skin food. Not so thick that it’s opaque, just thick enough to make you pretty shiny. Your skin will be glowing and hydrated upon landing. (For bonus points, also apply to your cuticles, elbows, and hands.

Dilute it if it’s too rich!

If Skin Food is too rich for your liking, dilute it by adding a drop to your favorite day/night cream. Note: another good option is to use Skin Food Light which is one of my fav products – it’s a less rich version (I’d use light during the day and the original at night but if your skin isn’t dry, you could even use day AND night!)

Use it for those really dry spots!

This is how the brand intended it to be used (for those really bad dry spots… elbows, hands, feet. Apply before bedtime to smooth rough skin overnight.

Apply wherever you want to add a little sheen!

This is a fun makeup artist trick… apply just a little bit over makeup to leave a sheen just where you want it. For me, that’s my brow bone and the tops of my cheekbones.

How to Use Weleda Skin Food with their products all out on a patterened background

PS – There’s a full product range now. In addition to the original and light formulas, there is also an amazing body butter and a lip balm!

photography by Lydia Hudgens.

What I Actually Wore: 8.31 – 9.6

a black pant and red shirt in What I Actually Wore

happy Monday!

I hope you had a good weekend. So, I survived my crazy 3 days (36 hour trip to LA + brand events on Saturday!!). It wasn’t nearly as exhausting as I had thought it would be. I handled this one well… overpreparing myself for events overload and exhaustion. Then, I holed up Wednesday in preparation for my early flight. Afterward, I cleared my calendar Saturday night to get to bed early. This is a bit of a crazy week and then my calendar is smooth sailing as of Friday. Becca and I are hosting a tea party in honor of American Royals, we are recording with some really big guests (CINDY!) and I have all my regular work + a bunch of events (most excitingly, a party for my sister’s new book on Thursday).

It’s exciting, though! When there is a lot going on with work I have to make sure I take better care of myself. I will remember to a) get a good 8 hours of sleep every night b) take even just 30 minutes to work out, and c) avoid alcohol.  It is tempting when you have to socialize and are tired BUT man, it really messes with my sleep!

PS – what I wore last week!

What I Actually Wore:

Sunday:

the occasion: birthday brunch for Becca!

what I wore: gifted Who What Wear Dress (such a good price and in plus sizes here!) // Topshop Sandals (sold out but in white here) //  Palmgrens Tote (this is a cute knockoff and it’s currently on sale) // Katie Kime iPhone Case

Monday Day:

the occasion: brunch with my sister!

what I wore: Replica Los Angeles Sweater (originally rented on Rent the Runway but I liked it so much I tracked it down on the designer’s site for half off!) // MM La Fleur pants // gifted Cocktail Sneakers (SO comfortable)// Katie Kime iPhone Case

Monday Night:

the occasion: dinner at Lemon’s in the Wythe Hotel

what I wore: Madewell Dress (remember it from this post? Still a massive fav. This and this are similar) //  Palmgrens Tote (this is a cute knockoff and it’s currently on sale) // Talbots Heels (sold out in red, these are cute too!) // Katie Kime iPhone Case

Tuesday:

the occasion: Chloe Gosselin dinner with Daily Front Row

what I wore: Topshop Dress (from this post – everyone always thinks it’s Gucci – lol!) // Amazon Purse // Amazon Pearl Hoop Earrings // gifted Tamara Melon Heels // Katie Kime iPhone Case

Friday:

the occasion: Sephoria kickoff party (Sephoria is Sephora’s big beauty conference in LA!)

what I wore: gifted Figue Dress (also here, last seen here!) // Loeffler Randall Heels // Amazon Pearl Hoops // Katie Kime iPhone Case