I introduced a new daily section on my site this year, Notepad. It’s a place for me to answer reader questions and hopefully allows you to get to know me a bit better. Now that we are half way through the year, and having completed 100+ Notepads posts, I though I would round up the most asked questions – all answered below!
Question: How would you describe your personal style in a few sentences?
Answer: The way to think of yourself or describe yourself is not always the most accurate ?, but I’ll try my best. I would describe my personal style as quirky, yet elegant, and almost always colorful! Even in a minimalist cycle I still believe more is more and always encourage layering and risk taking.
Question: Do you mind me asking how tall you are and what sizes you typically wear in your favorite brands?
Answer: I am 5’7″ and wear the following: XS/0 J.Crew, size 4 ASOS (sometimes a size 6), size 25 in almost all denim, Madewell included, size 0 in tibi, size S/2 in Zara and size 8 or 10 in almost all UK brands (self portrait).
Question: Do you really wear all of the outfits you post?
Answer: Yes! My fashion career, with very few work wardrobe rules, has always allowed me to dress as I please. I have also been so fortunate over the years to be invited to some amazing events that afford me the right to wear some of my kookier/more over the top looks. I do walk A LOT living in NYC, so while I may wear some crazy heels at an event or in the office, I typically always have a pair of flats with me! And, with some of the outfits I post during the winter months, you may not see the second bulkier coat I am wearing over my look, chunky scarf, or gloves as oftentimes I ditch them for the photos (but not always)!
Question: What hair tools do you use, specifically your curling iron and blow dryer?
Answer: For a curling iron, I use the T3 interchangeable styling wand with the 1.5” curling barrel. I love this wand because it heats quickly and has auto turn off, which saves me a lot of worry! And for a blow dryer, I use the GHD Air Professional blow dryer. It delivers high heat and enough air pressure to dry my hair in about 3-5 minutes, which save me a lot of time!
Question: What are your views on trends and when to embrace or not embrace a new one?
Answer: Fast fashion, the internet, and ‘wear now, buy now’ marketing tactics have all dramatically accelerated the trend cycle. I believe the amount of trend you choose to embrace largely depends on how adventurous you are with your wardrobe, practicality, and, of course, your clothing budget. When I was in my 20’s I was more willing to try new trends each season as I was continuing to search for what worked for me. As I have gotten older, I’ve shaped and defined my personal style largely by increasing my confidence and providing a more edited point of view. With that being said, I still have what I would describe as a wide range of fashion interests, and do embrace trends more so than say the super chic minimalist woman who may be known for a killer ‘uniform’. Embracing trends is simply a personal take on what is right for you. Fashion is about being and feeling creative through expression! So, if there is something about a trend you find intriguing, I say go for it. You may look back and regret a trend or two that you tried out (I certainly have), but oftentimes the road to finding your fashion voice is more shaped through discovering what doesn’t work for you versus already knowing what does.
Question: What type of camera do you use and any tips on how to take better photos?
Answer: I currently use a Canon 5D mark iv camera with 50mm f/1.2 and 35 mm f/1.4 lenses. I have always used Canon and have been very happy with the results. I typically only buy Canon lenses but have also used Sigma in the past. I am no photography expert, but my advice is to learn as much as you can by watching and reading the many high quality, free tutorials available online. Anytime I can’t quite figure something out I describe the problem or the shot I want and 9 times out of 10 I find what I am looking for on the web. It’s really that simple. When learning, it is also crucial t to practice, practice, practice – both the technical side and the creative side on photography. Try and do this during the best lighting, which is normally in the mornings or a few hours before sunset. Also, recognize that a lot of the amazing shots you may see on IG or on your favorite sites have either been altered, or a filter has been used. Post editing is really important when trying to create amazing photos – but I will save that for another day!
Question: Do you think it is too late to start a fashion blog or fashion instagram handle? I feel like the market is oversaturated and there isn’t room for new talent.
Answer: While I wouldn’t disagree the market is a very crowded place right now, I don’t think it is ever too late to start something you are truly passionate about. You’ll also need to ask yourself why you are starting it in the first place. Is it because you truly enjoy it and want to share your passion with the world? Is it for monetary gain and popularity? Starting a blog or instagram handle for monetary gain is very difficult and I wouldn’t recommend starting a creative endeavor with money being your end goal. With that being said, I don’t think the influencers who are popular now, or have amazing content and engaged audiences, are going to be the last influencers to exist. There will always be an influx of new talent. I think there is room for everyone and in two or three years from now there will be influencers owning niches within the market who just got started with their accounts this year!
Question: When starting your blog and instagram account what types of goals did you set? What advice do you have around goal setting for people starting now?
Answer: When I first started my site I did set a number of goals. All of my goals were around consistency in posting, differentiated content, and learning news skills. At the time, I was trying to tackle how to set up and code a website template, learn more about photography, and simply just get in the habit of posting regularly while still working 55+ hours a week! While I think it is great to set goals that may be tied to traffic, followers, or monetary gain, those are all hard to predict and difficult to control. I believe the most productive and actionable goals when starting out should be about you, your content, and your learning – pushing yourself to think differently and try new things.
Question: How do you choose who to partner with on Atlantic-Pacific?
Answer: I typically filter partnerships through the following criteria – the brand, the creative, the timing, and the message. Is this a brand that I love and admire? It may be a brand I have worn or used again and again, but sometimes it can be a new-to-me product that I have fallen for. Will the brand allow me putting my own creative spin on the product and/or message to make the creative more unique to my style and aesthetic? Does the timing make sense? Does it work within my schedule with travel commitments and the existing partnerships I have committed to? I always want to strike a balance on Atlantic-Pacific between thoughtful sponsored content and my own point of view. How many other influencers will be pushing this product or message at the same time? I want to feel as though you do not come to my site and see ‘all the same things’ that you may see elsewhere on the web or your social channels. While I do take on a very select number of thoughtfully considered lifestyle, beauty, and spirit sponsors, the message of fashion and style always needs resonate first and foremost. That is the cornerstone of Atlantic-Pacific and always has been. I have been so unbelievably fortunate to establish lasting and trusting relationships with many of my incredible brand partners and cherish the collaborative effort to continue creating content together. I hope that gives you a little insight!
Question: How do you deal with negative comments?
Answer: I have been very fortunate that most of my readers and followers are incredibly kind, thoughtful people. Here and there I may get a negative comment. I have always tried to spend time responding to and thanking those who leave positive comments. I feel responding only to a negative comment when there are a disproportionate number of positive ones sends a bad message. I typically never delete comments (I have deleted a handful that have either been threatening, or so far off base that they are extremely offensive not only to me, but to my family, friends or fellow readers). As I mentioned, with a very bland negative comment such as ‘I hate that outfit’, I simply scroll on by. If a comment is being critical, yet thoughtful, I do spend time responding as I do think I can grow from feedback that is constructive and do enjoy dialogue with readers even when the conversation is tough. A negative or critical comment can sting – badly – but over time, and as I have matured, I take very few things personally and rather try to see where the reader is coming and how I can grow from the feedback. I try to be extremely mindful when approaching my response to negative comments to respond, not to react (the two are very, very different). Everyone will not like everything that I say or do, so I set realistic expectations for myself. If I need to take a step back, or feel myself getting worked up, I just walk around the block and cool off. I recognize that in putting myself out there I will be exposed to both positive and negative comments (I wish it could all be rainbows and butterflies). While I don’t think anyone on the internet should be subject to cyber bullying or hate speech, negative feedback comes with the territory.
Question: What did you do working at Tory Burch? What did you study in school?
Answer: I attended the University of Florida (Go Gators!) and studied Political Science and Business. I’ve always had an interest in fashion and retail, but at the time, was not quite sure of how to make a career out of it. During my senior year of college, on a hunch, I applied to Gap Inc.’s Retail Management Program. After a very long interview process I was awarded a spot and soon after moved to San Francisco. I spent a year rotating through the program, doing hands on training to learn product development/production, inventory management/planning, and merchandising. Upon completion of the program, I went on to hold various positions within Old Navy HQ in merchandising. In 2012, I move to NYC and took a similar role at Tory Burch working in ready-to-wear. I ultimately became the Director of Merchandising for Accessories at Tory Burch and also later consulted with the Digital teams.
Question: What made you make the leap and leave corporate fashion and merchandising?
Answer: There were a lot of different factors in play when it came to making the difficult decision to leave the corporate world. For over the ten years, I had built up my career in merchandising, and I felt that there would be a place for me if I wanted to go back. That was certainly reassuring. On the other hand, doing my own thing felt like something that was an opportunity right now, but may not necessarily be in the future. I had reached a point where I was no longer able to focus on both to the degree that I wanted to, and due to that, I was only disappointing myself in both merchandising and blogging. I needed to focus and make a choice. I saw blogging, and building opportunities around and outside of that, as something new and independent, but knew it may not last forever. After thinking seriously about my long term goals, I made the leap and left the corporate world!
Question: Is there are reason you do not share much about your personal life? Or don’t share more lifestyle/everyday content? I feel like I have followed you for years and know so little about you!
Answer: I started Atlantic-Pacific with the very clear vision of it being a fashion destination. Sure, there have been many moments along the way where I felt compelled to do the next ‘big thing’ in content, be it beauty, home, lifestyle etc., but I simply did not want to become everything to everyone (I have talked about this in the past on Notepad). When it comes to opening up on social media I am quite hesitant. I feel that next to time, privacy is one of the most precious things we have. I hold my personal relationships very near and dear, and would never inadvertently subject anyone to any social media criticism or unwanted commentary. Those relationships will always come before my content. With that being said, I do recognize that within this space, nearly every platform content creators use seem to be moving in the opposite direction that I am. The emphasis appears to be on more overt sharing, with a preference for grittier ‘of-the-moment’ iphone photos and more realtime video, over well curated and crafted stories. People are now looking to connect online with an influencer by getting to know their family life, their struggles, and their thoughts on current events, versus simply looking at pretty photos for inspiration or styling cues. While the format is changing and evolving, I still believe there is a space for everyone, particularly those with a clear point of view, and hopefully that means Atlantic-Pacific is still relevant to those who love fashion and style!
Question: I know you started Atlantic-Pacific in San Francisco (where I live!). Do you ever miss it or do you think you will move back west at some point?
Answer: I did start Atlantic-Pacific in San Francisco – hence the coast to coast reference! I lived in SF for nearly five years from 2007-2012. There were so many things that I loved about the city – the incredible views, the architecture, how forward thinking the people are, and all the dear friends that I made. I also fell in love, perhaps more so, with the areas surrounding the city – Napa and Sonoma Valley, Point Reyes, Monterey Bay, Lake Tahoe – there was always endless activity. I still love and admire SF, a city where I have so many found memories. It is where I met my fiancé, made lifelong friends, and had my first corporate job! I actually made a point to pass by my first apartment (in Nob Hill) during a visit last spring and couldn’t help but get emotional remembering how equally scared and excited I was to move 3,000 miles away despite not knowing a single person. The city will always have a special place in my heart. All of that being said, despite how many things I enjoyed about being out west, it never truly felt like home. Originally being from Virginia, going to school in Florida, and having all my family on the east coast, moving back felt more like a homecoming. Plus, NYC is really hard to beat. Will I ever move back west? Never say never, but I believe that I am an east coaster from here on out!
Question: What did you find to be the hardest thing about moving to NYC?
Answer: I had already lived in San Francisco for about five years so I was pretty accustom to ‘city life’. Making new friends, seasons (read winter), and the amount of visitors, were all overwhelming. At 28, I wasn’t going out as much, and didn’t have a network in NYC when I arrived, so meeting new people was, well, work. I needed to put in a lot more effort to make and foster connections to create real, meaning relationships. I loved my first few months in NYC, heading into summer and experiencing the fall bliss! When winter came I wasn’t prepared for how annoying it was to get around at times (an 8 block walk to the subway felt life threatening) and the overall lack of activity. Lastly, living in San Francisco, I rarely got visitors, but being back on the east coast, I was shocked (SHOCKED) at how many people I knew who were coming in and out of NYC for business trips, quick weekends, and weddings/events. The first year I felt excited, yet obligated, each time an old friend reached out to say they would be in town for 2 days. ‘Let’s grab drink!’, or ‘Do you have time for a quick lunch?’ became almost daily requests. Of course I wanted to, but when it was happening so often, I started to get burnt out! I was so happy to have the opportunity to see more friends who did not live in the city, but I needed to completely recharge after those first few months!
Question: What is some of the best advice you have ever received?
Answer: I have been so fortunate in my life to have incredible bosses, amazing friends, supportive family members, and so many more humans who have challenged me, guided me, and also given me much needed reality checks from time to time. I think one of the most important pieces of advice I have ever received is quite simple: until you believe in yourself, no one else will. I have a tricky relationship with confidence, and at times I don’t believe I am worthy, good enough, or am simply afraid of overselling myself. I think humility is an extremely important trait, but I also know that if you truly believe in yourself, and there is something specific that you want to do, you absolutely need to believe it. If you don’t, no one else will.
Question: How do you stay motivated being self-employed?
Answer: At times, it can be difficult to stay motivated. Coming from a corporate background, I knew that becoming self-employed would be a huge change. I structure my weekdays as if I am in an office, complete with a Monday morning meeting to set goals, and a Friday check-in on the status of all projects. Having structure and a schedule certainly allows me to focus, but I also carve out breaks in each day to walk and get coffee and step away from the computer and re-set. I also take time to celebrate hitting milestones or completing big projects. These serve as moments in time when I can reflect on what has been accomplished – I think that is so important in any work environment. I also find a lot of motivation in the meetings I keep with likeminded friends. It helps a lot to get outside yourself and connect with others to discuss work challenges and opportunities. I think the biggest shock to my new way of working was how isolated I felt, so allowing myself to connect with people throughout the week has been crucial to my success.
There are absolutely times I don’t feel motivated or am downright discouraged (getting passed over for a big partnership, feeling like I am not progressing, being misunderstood), but it’s critical for me to remember that it isn’t all about me and my individual accomplishments- there is a bigger picture. If an annoying email or tech issue puts me in a tough mood (and I can get put in a MOOD), I try to re-focus and put out the energy that I would want to get back. So if someone or something gets me down, I try to do the opposite for someone else: being super friendly to a waiter or waitress, writing a nice review for someone who helped me in a store, complimenting a stranger, or finding time to volunteer in the community. In the end you have good days and bad days, but remembering that you can create someone’s good day or bad day is huge. Stepping outside myself and finding the bigger picture always helps me to re-focus and gain the confidence and motivation that I need to move forward.