By Chelsea Young and Gabby Richman
Photos by Mark Morgan
Shot at Hotel Valley Ho, 6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale; 480.376.2600; www.hotelvalleyho.com.
It’s been a decade since the fashion blogging phenomenon began, and today, fashion bloggers are so much more than pretty faces snapping enviable photos. They’re now an accepted part of the fashion world, partnering with major brands, landing ad campaigns, and starring on magazine covers. And, many of them happen to have another role: Mom. From babies to Balenciaga, five local women are balancing motherhood with the life of a fashion blogger. Whether it’s shopping on a budget, ultra-feminine finds or boho influences, each style maven lends savvy inspiration to her fashionable fan base.
of Live Love Blank
With a background in retail buying and interior design, fashion blogging was a natural fit for Kimberly Blank. As a newer blogger, hitting the blogosphere less than a year ago, and a very new mom – her daughters are 22 months and just over a month old – Blank has transferred her passion and stylish know-how to her blog, Live Love Blank. It’s through blogging that Blank has found a way to share her creativity and expertise in the worlds of fashion, design, beauty and motherhood, with a goal of inspiring other moms. The fashionista’s saving grace? Online shopping, where she says she gets almost all of her goodies, including the Marc Fisher wedges, big sunnies and floral dresses she says are summer must-haves.
What inspires you and your day-to-day fashion? I love clothing that fits well, makes me feel my best, and energizes me for the day. It’s amazing how a well put-together look can uplift and motivate you.
When did your love of fashion begin? By first grade, I was obsessed with Punky Brewster, and I, too, had to wear jelly bracelets covering my arms and a necklace loaded with charms. I’m still accessory obsessed! I think it’s just something you are born with.
How has becoming a mother changed your wardrobe? Gone is the complicated clothing, meaning anything that requires you to watch what you eat or fashion tape. Fashion will always be extremely important to me, but now I also have to be comfortable running around with my babies or scooping them up, and not worrying about my clothing shifting. However, I will forever love getting dressed up, and my favorite thing to wear will always be a dress.
What do you think the key has been to having a successful blog and social media following? Authenticity, transparency and being inspirational. It’s so important to be your authentic self, and to share, discuss and promote things that you actually love, wear and stand behind. If you blog about what you are most passionate about, people will feel your energy, appreciate the authenticity, and look to you for your honesty and expertise. You must also be willing to be an open book and share a large portion of your life.
How do you do it all – blogging and being a mom? I’ve always had a strong work ethic and take great pride in being able to tackle a lot in a day. That same mentality carries over into motherhood and blogging. I don’t take naps, I work when my babies are asleep, and my power hours are that 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. sweet zone.
of The Sensible Shopaholic
2015 was a big year for Jenny Donnell. She gave birth to her second child (she already had a two-year-old at home), quit her office job at a Big Four accounting firm, and (even though she didn’t know it yet) started a new career as a blogger. What initially began as a baby blog – intended to keep her family across the country up to date on her newborn son’s milestones – opened Donnell’s eyes to the world of blogging. Soon after, with her own sensible shopper mom as inspiration, Donnell launched The Sensible Shopaholic. The self-proclaimed “full-time, stay-at-home mom and part-time blogger” focuses on fashion, lifestyle and beauty, using her online platform to express her creativity, share her favorite shopping finds with the world, and connect with others.
What inspires you and your day-to-day fashion? I’m always looking for versatile pieces that can easily be dressed up or down. I’ve always been a bit of a shopaholic, but even my husband agrees I spend my money wisely. I like to splurge on classic pieces that will last and spend less on trendy pieces that will be out of style next year.
What advice would you offer someone who wants to blog professionally? Start with a free Wordpress account (it’s easy to upgrade when you get bigger) and build a social media following. Especially as a fashion blogger, having a presence on Instagram has been essential.
Top three summer must-haves: Off-the-shoulder or cold-shoulder tops and dresses, anything with tassels or pompoms, and an amazing pair of comfortable sandals or wedges.
How has becoming a mother changed your wardrobe? I now gravitate toward comfortable and easy-to-wash items that work with my day-to-day lifestyle. Instead of spending my weekends at trendy hot spots with friends, I now spend my time at the park, birthday parties and doing other family events. Heels and fancy dresses rarely happen these days.
What’s the best parenting advice you’ve been given? Traveling with kids is possible. My husband and I love to travel and have taken our kids to five continents before the age of five. Yes, there are difficult moments, but it is possible to continue exploring the world, even with kids in tow.
Top three fashion influences: 1) My mom. She’s always had amazing style and has taught me to shop sensibly, hence the name of my blog. 2) Tory Burch. I love her brand, story and entrepreneurial spirit. 3) Other fashion bloggers. These are real people who have a good eye and love fashion as much as I do.
of We The Classy
More than two years ago, Venessa Kaufman traded in her 10-year career as a financial advisor to lend a full-time focus on her blog and her kiddos (Zara, 5 ½ and Blake, 4). What began as a hobby and creative outlet for Kaufman, is now a mecca full of style and design inspo where she shares her self-described “ultra-modern-boho” look. Kaufman, who recalls her love for fashion bloomed during high school when she produced two fashion shows, calls her growing blog honest, fun and visually appealing, and, for her, it serves as a source of self-expression and connection to people all over the world. Evidence of her fashion influences – the 70s, Kate Moss and Saint Laurent – are apparent, as is her love for wearable whites and resort-inspired ensembles.
What advice would you offer someone who wants to blog professionally?
Take one small step at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself with being an overnight sensation. Take yourself seriously; it sets boundaries and shows people how you expect to be treated. We all have something to offer, in blogging especially.
Where do you love to shop? I’m a big www.revolve.com and www.shopbop.com fan. Online shopping is a godsend for mommies like me.
How has becoming a mother changed your wardrobe? I don’t wear heels as much, and I don’t take as long to get ready. But overall, I try to stay true to the looks that make me feel good. We are better mamas if we’re happy with ourselves.
Where do you see yourself and your blog in five years? Ultimately, I would love to hire a few bloggers who embody strong values and a unique fashion sense. I see We The Classy as a brand more than just me. Another goal is to design a line under We The Classy. That may take more than five years, but it’s an idea that excites me.
What has been the key to having a successful blog and social media following? What you give is what you receive. Being truthful in who you are is important because people connect to you on a real level. The other part is remembering social media is very similar to being at a social gathering. Remember kindness and manners. If you want to make connections with people, ask them questions. Really, we can’t forget the rules of humanity just because we are using a keyboard to talk.
How do you do it all – blogging and being a mom? I strive for balance, meaning I set realistic expectations for myself. I wish I had a magic trick for it, but everyone is different, so the best advice I have is don’t do what’s good for me and my family, do what’s good for you and your family.
of Classic & Bubbly
During childhood, Stesha Puckett recalls dressing herself in a rainbow of mix-matched everything. Though now her style is thoughtfully curated, her knack for creativity still rings true. So much so that early in her career, Puckett transitioned from a corporate sales job and MBA program to focus on Classic & Bubbly, which began as a blog to help launch her photography career. That was five years ago. Today, the mom of seven-year-old Sofia is not only pursuing life behind the lens, she’s also sharing her feminine style with an eager audience. In fact, it’s fun, feminine pieces that inspire her most as well as colors and textures. In addition to her outfits – which she notes take influence from fashion icons Lauren Conrad and Sex and the City’s Carrie Bradshaw – you’ll also find beauty and travel in the Classic & Bubbly mix.
What do you love about blogging? One thing I love about blogging that I had no idea existed is the large community of bloggers who support one another! I love meeting other ladies who understand what it is like to be a blogger and can relate to some of the struggles a blogger can go through.
What advice would you offer someone who wants to blog professionally? I would say to be authentic, be patient, and stay true to yourself. Also, you need to be dedicated – blogging takes a lot of time!
When did your love of fashion begin? My love for fashion stated at a young age! I would dress myself in all different colors, patterns, multicolored hair ties, mix-and-match socks, etc. It was a unique style, and now, as an adult, I ask my mom how she let me out of the house like that!
Where do you love to shop? I love Nordstrom – their Lush, Socialite, BP. and Free People brands are my favorite. I also love ASOS, Target, Loft, H&M and SheIn.
Where do you see yourself and your blog in five years? I hope to still be a fashionable mom who inspires other moms. As our family grows, I know there will be different challenges presented so I may involve my children and family more on the blog. I love choosing my daughter’s clothes (hers are so much cuter!), so it may be fun to add a child’s section!
How do you do it all – blogging and being a mom? Early mornings and late nights! I tend to always multitask. For example, while waiting in the parent pick-up line for the bell to ring, I am engaging on Instagram or answering emails. I also love to involve my family in my work when it is acceptable. We will make a night out for dinner but go somewhere fun and take a few photos, or take a work trip and turn it into a family vacation.
of With Love & Style
Although a blogger for only one year, Rachel White was born an influencer. As a teenager, White spent her babysitting money on clothes and Vogue. Her passion led to designing and sewing her own clothes and an internship in an apparel showroom. Although she followed a different career path, White couldn’t stay away from her first love. The full-time marketing consultant combined her professional background with her fashionable sensibilities to create With Love & Style, a destination for feminine-chic fashion, beauty and lifestyle inspiration. The mom to three-year-old William channels her inner style icons (Audrey Hepburn, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis) to create looks that focus on comfort and versatility using a mixture of affordable pieces and must-have investment items.
What do you love about blogging? Blogging allows me to combine my love for fashion, styling, writing, photography and social media into one creative outlet. Being able to write about and share what inspires me with others is very fulfilling.
What inspires you and your day-to-day fashion? I gather inspiration from nature, art, fashion magazines and, of course, Instagram. My day-to-day fashion choices are inspired by a mixture of current trends and classic staple wardrobe pieces.
What advice would you offer someone who wants to blog professionally? Follow your dreams and go for it! Just know that it’s a labor of love, so ensure that you are truly passionate about your blog topic, otherwise you will burn out quickly.
How has becoming a mother changed your wardrobe? I spend a lot of time chasing after a toddler, so I tend to wear things that are comfortable. I do wear a lot less white and save my off-the-shoulder tops for date night. However, I think it’s important to wear the clothes that you buy and not save them for a special occasion. It’s better to wear them and ruin them than to never wear them at all!
What’s the best parenting advice you’ve been given? “Prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child.” My husband and I simply hope to teach our son self-confidence, good values and to fearlessly pursue his dreams. We want him to be prepared to stand up for himself, his beliefs and become whoever he wants to be. He will know that Mom and Dad will be there to support him, no matter what.
How do you do it all – blogging and being a mom? Late nights and a lot of coffee! I also couldn’t do it without my wonderful husband and mom, who have been incredibly supportive. Receiving positive feedback from my lovely followers is very motivating.