Since last year, The Well Dressed Life has grown beyond my expectations. Our readership is up an astonishing 400% (403% to be exact) since last March.
Many of you have followed along on our journey since the beginning. Maybe you’re an old client of our personal shopping services, or we met at an event when I was first starting the business.
No matter how you initially found us, I’m so grateful you’ve been along for this journey since the early years – and stuck around as I figured out how to do this.
Since we also have so many new readers I thought I would say, “hi!” and introduce myself. This year you’ll be seeing more of me here. At 39 I’m old for a “blogger.” While I’m reluctant to share more real life photos, I think if you know there is a person behind each post it will put our content into better context.
Most successful bloggers are in their twenties, or early thirties, and look like supermodels. I hope by sharing what I look like in the clothes we recommend on occasion you’ll benefit from seeing it on a normal, non-modely almost 40-year-old woman.
Plus, it will add some personality, and warm up the site, so it doesn’t seem so one dimensional.
Today, we’re sharing a quick round-up of the questions we get asked most frequently. To tell you a little bit of our story, and explain our mission, so you know what to expect.
So, this is me. The first thing you need to know is that the idea of putting my picture on the internet for all to see is terrifying, but this year is all about stepping outside my comfort zone.
Here goes …
First, family life …
My family is my everything and the fuel that keeps me going.
I met my husband, Brian, in college, and we’ve been together for 20 years, married for 16. He is the best guy I know and the love of my life.
We have three kids, Maddie who is almost 12, Ava who just turned 9 and Vivian who is three months old – you read that right. I don’t post pictures of them on the site because I think they deserve their privacy.
We live right outside of Philadelphia, and Bri and I both travel quite a bit for work.
I started my first business when I was pregnant with Maddie with the intent to create a career that would allow me the opportunity to be the kind of mother I wanted to be, and also have a fulfilling professional life.
It’s been a tremendous amount of work, with a long list of failures along the way. Even though it hasn’t always been easy, there’s not a day that goes by that I’m not grateful for the opportunities and life I have.
Being a working mom is a big part of who I am, which means our content comes from that perspective. That said, our readers are remarkably diverse, and range from stay at home moms to recently retired women and grandmothers, I’m always thrilled to hear that our content resonates with women in all seasons of life.
What I want you to know …
I pour my heart and soul into this site every day and think, deeply, about how we can create content that helps, inspires, or simply gives you a little break amid your busy day.
Posts can take anywhere from 4 – 6 hours to produce, and we post content five days a week. There’s so much that goes into a site like this that you don’t see.
I so appreciate it when you comment and share our work. It’s the lifeline of our business.
And here are the actual questions I regularly receive …
How did you get started?
I majored in marketing in college and worked in high-end retail while I was still in school. After graduating, I spent many years as a women clothing buyer for a small boutique and also a major retailer. Before starting my business, I was a buyer for QVC, procuring products and developing programs in their Home Decor, Candle and Christmas department.
In 2006 I started my first company, Kristel Closets, Inc. (KCI), a full service personal shopping and styling firm. I wanted to take my experience and love of style and help women navigate the often overwhelming world of retail.
I ran that company for ten years. At our peak, I had an incredible team of personal stylist who worked with our clients in Northern New Jersey, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. and all their surrounding areas.
This blog was originally designed to be a marketing tool, a way to connect with potential clients. But quickly, I realized I could expand our audience and work with women all over the country and now the world.
After a decade, I officially closed KCI to focus all of my energy on building The Well Dressed Life. Thankfully, the gamble is starting to work out.
Do you have a team? (and) Are you hiring?
Lauren creates all of our graphics, and designs and maintains the backend of our site. Which means when I break the backend she fixes it.
She also has a real job outside of helping me. Luckily she’s one of my best friends, so it makes doing this not so lonely and isolating. You’ll see Lauren’s name pop up on posts as well since she’s creating some content for us this year. I love her voice and style.
I also work with a wonderful local photographer, Ashley Griffin. She’s made all the difference in the look of the site and my marriage, since trying to force my husband to take suitable pictures of me was a losing battle.
We won’t add on to the team this year, but I by 2020 we’ll need more support to accomplish some of our loftier goals.
Are your posts sponsored?
No, they are not. A significant portion of most bloggers revenue comes from sponsored posts. While I’m not totally against them, there has not been an opportunity that feels congruent to my brand.
It took me years to build a loyal following, I’m not going to chip away at that by filling your news feed and emails with ads disguised as content.
It’s important for you to know that when I recommend something, it’s an actual, true recommendation.
How do you make money?
Our blog revenue comes from ads and affiliate links.
Affiliate links mean when you click one of our product links, we make a very small (very, very, very small, like cents) commission.
I am also part of the Mediavine Ad Network. Mediavine works as a liaison and sells space on my site to advertisers. These ads do not influence the content in any way.
Some Personal …
How tall are you?
I’m 5’10 in bare feet. I use to hate it, now I don’t mind it so much.
How would you describe your style?
Casual, modern, classic and feminine. Our style posts are heavily influenced by what I like, but I also appreciate all kinds of styles.
Do you follow a budget when you shop?
Not in the sense that I sit down and figure out a number I can spend each season or year. But that doesn’t mean I have an unlimited budget. I know what I can afford and try my best to be prudent with my purchases, remember, I still have three kids to put through school.
What is your workout routine?
A great week is three 50 minute cycling classes and two 50 minute strength based classes. These days a normal week is two cycling classes and one strength class. Committing to a fitness routine has done wonders for my stress and anxiety so I organize my day so I can fit something in.
Do you really buy what you say you do?
Absolutely. If I say I bought it, then I bought it, but, I don’t buy everything we feature. Often, our outfit posts are inspired by either questions you post, or my experience dressing clients.
Is that really your skincare routine? (and) Why do you spend so much on skincare products?
Yes, that’s what I use every night. As I said in the post, my skin was a problem for a long time and crushed my confidence so I will spend time and money to keep it clear and healthy. One of the reasons I didn’t initially post pictures of myself on this site was because I was dealing with terrible skin.
That said, there are lots of areas where I don’t spend, so it all works out in my book. Many of the products I featured are expensive, but they last a long time. The main point to that post was to talk about what order to apply your products to get the best results.
And Blog Related …
Can you please feature petite and plus sizes?
I think people skim through the posts and assume we are only featuring “regular” or “missy” sizes. We include petite and plus sizes in almost every single outfit post if there is an option. We also prioritize retailers that are size inclusive and call out their size offerings in the text.
By the time I read your post items are sold out, can you check inventory before posting?
Unfortunately, I do not have access to the retailers’ inventory levels. I do make every effort to make sure sizing isn’t limited or already sold out before posting. When something does sell out before a post goes live we quickly change out the item.
Why don’t you feature more discount retailers?
I’m not a great sale shopper. I don’t make good decisions in discount stores and what I buy almost always turns into closet clutter. That doesn’t mean I don’t love a good deal, but I don’t go looking for them.
Additionally, inventory levels at discounters are notoriously low. There is usually not an inclusive size scale, which limits me in terms of giving plus and petite options.
My focus is to help you build a wardrobe, share inspiration, and most important; I want you to understand why certain pieces go together so you can dress confidently.
Of course, when something great goes on sale, I’m the first to share it.
Can you feature UK based retailers?
I’m shocked at how international our reach is since I don’t think my next door neighbor knows what I do for a living. I wish I knew more UK based retailers. I’m trying to figure out how to make recommendations to readers outside the US, so please stay tuned.
Keep sending in your questions! I’m excited to continue to grow and build our community with all of you this year!