In a few months, I will be celebrating 10 years of blogging, so I’ve been thinking a lot lately about those 10 years and how much this platform has made an incredible impact on my adult life. I’ll be writing about the highs and lows and some behind the scenes secrets on the actual anniversary, but I have been thinking a lot about the future of my career and my family lately and I wanted to share what’s been going through my head lately because it’s been top of mind for weeks and weeks and I basically just have to word vomit for a minute here 🙂
When I started (as Lemons & Loafers) in June of 2010, I never in a million years imagined that anyone would read my blog besides my friends, family, and health coaching clients at the time. I created it to share recipes and tips with the people in my life because they were always asking for wellness advice. I figured it would be easier to put it all in one place.
A friend of mine designed a logo, I bought the domain name, and a Blogspot blog was born. At the time, almost no one was writing about both food and fashion and lifestyle blogs were not a thing. Instagram didn’t even exist! The word influencer was years away. So I shared my posts online the only way I knew how… on Facebook. My friends there started sharing the posts with their friends and it started to grow.
After a few months, I began getting emails and comments from strangers, asking me questions or advice. It was surreal!
Pinterest asked me to be a Beta tester for their new social platform and to this day I get to test out new features for them before they go live (it’s still my favorite social platform). When Instagram launched in October of that year, I jumped on board and started growing a following there too. I just posted what I loved without worrying about likes or comments or my grid and, again, never even considered the fact that one day I’d make money off of it.
I met so many other women in the industry during that time, and committed to getting my face in front of as many brands as possible. I hustled hard and spent all my free time out of work at events or press previews or meeting with PR people. When I wasn’t out and about I was huddled over my trusty laptop, editing photos and writing blog posts.
Soon, PR firms started invited me into their offices to give me clothes from the brands they repped to take photos of and share on my website. I remember walking to that first meeting on my lunch break at work thinking that it was the coolest thing in the whole world. And it was!
C. Wonder (RIP) was the first major brand to partner with me and I took a day off of work to go to the Hamptons with them. Although they’re not in business anymore, at the time they were the hottest new thing in town and the fact that they wanted to work with me felt like a really big deal.
On New Years Day 2013 I quit my job to blog full time and open an online shop (that was an epic fail and a story for another day). Around that time, The Glitter Guide hired me to be their NYC correspondent and I went to my first NYFW to see shows like Carolina Herrera and Tadashi Shoji and previews with J.Crew, Kate Spade, and Club Monaco. I spent my days and nights going to every single event I got invited to. I networked like crazy and met every other blogger in town. We would take each other’s photos and work in coffee shops together.
In 2014, I decided to go back to work full time because the store crashed and burned and we had blown through much of our savings to start it. So I worked a marketing job by day and blogged on nights and weekends. I loved it. I loved being busy and following my passions while still making a paycheck.
As my following grew, I made more and more income on Lemon Stripes and toyed with the idea of trying to do it full time again. But I loved my job and was very ingrained with the start-up I was working for. I was the 4th employee and it felt like a family. So I stayed on.
Then I had my miscarriages and I knew something had to change. I had no life outside of work and blogging and I was burnt out. I remember my friend, a fertility coach, telling me that if I wanted to live my healthiest life I would have to pick between my job and my blog. Working 24/7 wasn’t sustainable and wasn’t conducive to a healthy pregnancy (for me, personally). At that point, the income for both jobs was about equal, so I bit the bullet and quit my “real” job to focus on Lemon Stripes full time.
It was terrifying! Anel and I had a deal that I would try it for six months and if it didn’t work out financially, I’d call it quits and get a regular job again. That was four years ago…
In those four years, we welcomed Boots into our lives, got pregnant, had a baby, I went through the most intense anxiety of my life, overcame that, leaned into motherhood, bought a new house and here we are today.
What I love most about Lemon Stripes is being able to talk about the tough stuff and connect with you guys on that. I still, to this day, get emails almost daily from women who read my miscarriage post and said that it helped them get through their own. Those emails keep me going on the days when I want to quit.
I talk to people every single day about their anxiety and when I hear stories that you guys were inspired to start therapy because of something I wrote, it brings real tears to my eyes. That kind of connection keeps me going. My favorite recent email was from the husband of a reader who explained how she decided to get help after I shared my story and how it changed their lives. It moved me beyond words.
Because of conversations with you, my eyes have been opened to so many new things and I am able to educate myself on topics that I hadn’t thought about before. I love that we can teach each other. I love that you’re excited about my sustainability challenges. I love hearing that my motherhood posts help you with your kiddos.
And I love the creativity of it all. Being able to express myself freely on a daily basis and share what I’m loving and living is a true gift that I don’t take for granted!
But some days it feels really hard. There are days when I’m terrified to hit publish on my posts because I don’t know how people will react. There are days when I shake with anger and sadness because someone has called me a bad mom. And there are many many days when I just want to keep my life private and not share everything that is going on because I’m feeling personally overwhelmed.
I allow myself to do that whenever I need to, but it feels like I’m letting people down. In reality, I realize that no one cares, but as someone who lives with underlying anxiety at all times, it’s often hard to separate reality and emotions. I’m working on that!
Over the summer and fall, I had more tough days than good ones when it came to my work and I knew that if I didn’t make a change soon, things would continue to get worse.
So what comes next?
I can’t imagine doing just this for 10 more years. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but I really don’t think that people will be reading blogs or using Instagram in the same way by then. Because of that and because I just love the work, I’ve been focusing more and more on my freelance digital marketing clients.
Working with those clients is so fulfilling to me, and I’m able to easily draw a line between work life and home life. With blogging, that is not often the case which is what has lead to my weird relationship with this career choice.
I want to continue sharing and connecting but I also want to invest in my future and what’s next. I want to continue to share what I learn as a mother and as someone trying to do better and make a small difference in this crazy world. But I also want to find that line.
I’ll share more and more about my marketing work as I feel comfortable doing so, but for now, I’ll say that it has me feeling all kinds of excited and energized. Similar to the way I felt when I started Lemons & Loafers almost a decade ago.
Ever since I started putting more energy into that side of my business, I feel more motivated than ever. I wake up every day excited to work and fall asleep every night feeling proud and accomplished. It feels like a really good balance now. Where I was feeling creatively stagnant and nervous a few months ago, spending more hours focusing on my marketing clients has made me feel better about my work here too.
Now that I’ve rambled on for quite some time… I’ll end this post with the point I’m trying to make which is this: Follow your passions as far as they’ll take you. Sometimes they won’t work out (like my online store), but if you dust yourself off and build yourself back up, you might just find something even better and more fulfilling.
Don’t be afraid to pivot and change when things start to feel off. Step out of your comfort zone and do whatever it takes to be happy in your career. While yours might not look anything like mine, find your version of that change. When you love what you do for work, it radiates into every other area of your life.
Photo by Julia Dags.