Goodness gracious – I know this is a lot of information, but I get asked most of these questions over and over, so please check here if there’s something about me that you’re just dying to find out, and shoot me a message if you have any other burning questions! :)
How would you describe your style? Are there any a signature trademarks/pieces that you always wear?
I like to describe my style as a smile-inducing mix of vintage treasures and modern trends. I try to keep it interesting by having an experimental outlook, and using fashion to express my mood on any given day.
What inspires you?
I find so much inspiration in the world around me, but especially love exploring new places, eating delicious food and listening to old music to find my own happy place.
How would you describe the style in your hometown?
I spent most of my growing-up-years in Scottsdale, AZ and I love incorporating little bits and pieces of the culture and history there in my day-to-day looks. Citrus-y shades, turquoise jewelry and beat-up boots (always better after years of horseback riding) can always find a home within my wardrobe. I’ve also spent much of my life near the beach in San Diego, so I’d say that several seaside sensibilities – nautical accents, bohemian accessories, sun-washed chambray, and beach-y wavy hair – tend to find their ways in there as well.
You moved across the country to the east coast — has your style changed since the move? In what ways?
I don’t know that my style has changed very much since our move, but I do notice that I shop much differently than I did before. With less “closet real estate”, I’m much choosier with what I buy and have noticed that I’m okay with spending more on items that are going to last longer while also making a big impact style-wise.
OK, so you wake up in the morning, and you’re running late. You have 20 minutes to get ready, what do you reach for in your closet and your makeup arsenal?
Really depends on the time of year, but distressed boyfriend jeans, a silk tank, and high heeled ankle booties are usually a main go-to. If it’s chilly, I’ll add a vintage blazer or sweater. Always piling on the jewelry, and reaching for several coats of my favorite mascara and a bold lipcolor when I’m short on time.
Where do you find all of your vintage clothes?
Most of my best finds are from thrift stores all over the country! Living in the Midwest for several years made vintage shopping feel more like a crazy grab-fest in the middle of a gold mine. Pure heaven. Now, I shop online if I’m looking for a specific item, but still occasionally find little treasures here and there when I least expect them.
It’s so easy to get caught up in trends and changes when it comes to fashion. How do you stay confident in your personal style instead of changing every season?
I actually think that changing things up from time to time can help with confidence because it challenges you to stay out of that comfort-zone-rut. In our Pepperologie workshops I talk a lot about finding your super hero capes, and I think that occasionally recognizing the things we rely on and switching them out for new ideas is a great way to strengthen those confidence muscles.
What are some ways to implement trends into your wardrobe without breaking the bank and straying too far from who you are?
As far as shopping on a budget, I am a HUGE fan of finding trend driven items in places like thrift stores and vintage shops. I love shopping second-hand and even get many of my higher-end classic pieces from designer consignment stores online and at a few favorites across the country. As far as staying true to yourself, I always try to pay close attention to the things I wear most and keep a running list of items that I’m looking for so that I have something to reference while I’m on the hunt.
What piece of advice would you give to girls out there looking to find and own their own personal style?
Find your truths and embrace them with your whole heart! Seek out the things and people that make you feel amazing, and use them to replace the idea that you fall short of an unrealistic image.
Celeb you wish you could swap closets with?
Tough! Not sure if she’s officially a celeb, but I love the incredibly inventive looks of a stylist named Elisa Nalin. One of my favorite people to pin! (Natalie Joos is a close second.)
Fashion trend you wish would come back?
I’m not sure if they really even went away, but I could live in caftans and platform sandals for the rest of my life and be a happy lady.
What do you love most about blogging?
I’m a 3rd-generation journalist and a long-time lover of words… I love being able to share a personal perspective of my own adventures in the fashion and lifestyle industries.
How do you manage balancing social media and real life?
I’m online quite a lot, and I’d say it has had a very (positive) significant outcome on my career, but I try to remember to take breaks and unplug every now and again. Paying close attention to making sure I’m not alienating friends or family by being “connected” is very important to me, and it’s something that I’m constantly working on being better at.
It seems you do about a millions things! Can you explain in a proverbial nutshell what it is you exactly do?
I do wear many different hats, but most people know me best for my personal style blog, here at Style & Pepper. I also love hosting video features, writing for different fashion-focused web publications, and offering creative consulting services to a variety of different lifestyle brands. (See here for more of the services I offer.)
What were you doing before you changed careers? And what gave you the courage to make the jump?
Prior to working for myself, I was a visuals/merchandising director at J. Crew, and before that I worked in traditional marketing and PR for a few different architecture/interior design firms. I’ve always had a very entrepreneurial spirit, and knew that working for myself would be the next step for Style & Pepper as a blog/brand. As far as courage goes, it was definitely (and sometimes continues to be!) a bit nerve-wracking at times, but I’ve based my business upon my Faith, and am lucky to have a loving husband and family who always quick to offer their love and encouragement.
You started out as a street style hobby-blogger in Kansas City, MO. Now you are working as a full-time blogger, creative consultant and stylist in the New York City area. How did you make such a switch?
Whether it was through my personal/editorial styling work or consulting for larger clients I’ve always known how important it is to embrace and cultivate my entrepreneurial spirit. We moved to the Northeast because of a wonderful job opportunity for Mr. Pepper, but the change of location has been extremely positive for my work, as well. I think working for myself in some capacity was inevitable, and despite it’s challenges, love putting my strong work-ethic and creativity towards running my own business!
Does your job come from some sort of personal need to help others?
Most definitely! I like to say that encouraging people to feel like the best versions of themselves possible is my favorite thing to do. Whether it’s helping people directly, or assisting brands who strive toward spreading their own message, inspiring self-confidence in others is very important to me. It’s the very heart and soul of my creative lifestyle workshop, Pepperologie!
What have been some of your favorite projects so far?
Last year, I was the spokesperson for a 6-week, 12-city media tour with Harper’s BAZAAR, and that was truly an amazing experience. I hosted on-air style segments in each market, and was able to share my favorite summer trends with viewers all over the country. I am also very proud of the hands-on creative lifestyle workshop I created, called Pepperologie, and am SO excited about it’s upcoming growth and development.
What’s the coolest/favorite parts about your job?
The coolest parts of my job are by far the incredible personal connections and friendships I’ve made along the way… Getting the chance to meet industry icons that I’ve admired for years, and see their creativity and hard-work first hand, is such an honor. It never fails to keep me feeling humble and inspired to do more.
What advice can you give to other women out there who are stuck in a career rut and want to make a change?
This could be answered so many different ways, but I always recommend that you try to make sure you are feeling fulfilled and challenged by your work. If that is not the current case, it’s definitely time to start investigating what it would look like to change careers or jobs! A scary thought for most, but why suffer through something that you spend so much time and energy on, when you could be pouring yourself into your dream job!
What convinced you to start your blog?
I started Style & Pepper as a creative outlet. I was feeling under-challenged and under-utilized in my full-time marketing job at the architecture and design firm I was working at in Kansas City. After blogging for several months, I was hired away from that position by J. Crew (thanks to my blog!), and worked in their Midwestern region as a part of their Visuals & Merchandising team.
During that time, I realized that even though fashion always felt more like a beloved hobby to me, I should seize the opportunity to turn it into my actual career. I began to take on personal and editorial styling projects along with regular on-air work on the side, and eventually had enough momentum to branch out on my own, full-time (September 2010).
What pushed you to work for yourself?
I did it in stages (see above). Having my blog for several months before leaving my full time job definitely helped. Once I started being approached with bigger opportunities, I had to make some careful decisions to ensure that I wasn’t creating any conflicts of interest while working for a large retailer. I assessed how I was going to move forward, made a business plan, said yes to nearly every opportunity, and finally quit my job. It was both exhilarating and so, SO scary at the same time.
Do you find that working for yourself can at times be more stressful than a typical 9-to-5 job? Have you had to learn to say no to certain events & jobs?
I’m a people-pleaser, so saying no is almost always very tough. I’ve definitely had to teach myself is that it’s ok to say no to certain things. My favorite projects are almost always collaborations with other creatives, and being a part of a fantastic project-based team always seems to be a great way to help find a good balance. Before taking on a new job, I typically try to run through the unofficial criteria that I’ve outlined in my head, but always try to be flexible if I need to make exceptions.
Do you have any suggestions for people who want to start a blog as a creative outlet?
My advice would be twofold. First – If you want to start a blog as a personal site or a creative journal of your inspirations, I would say that you can pretty much do whatever you want that makes you happy. Second – If you’re hoping to make the site a part of your career in some way, make sure whatever you’re posting about has your own unique spin, and include as much original content as you possibly can.
In 140 characters or less, what’s your advice to women who are trying to start their own business/passion project?
Focusing on the “WHY” behind your project will propel you far further than just reaching for the desired end-goal. Make the why count.
Confidence is a huge part of being a style blogger! How did you become comfortable sharing your style in front of the camera?
I agree! I’ve always been fairly experimental with my own personal style, and I think the temporary nature of the fashion choices we make allow me to be bold enough to use it as a way to express my mood. My own confidence comes from embracing the things about myself that I know to be true, and I know that when I feel like the best possible version of myself, I’m more likely to head out into the world and do great things! The actual sharing part originally took a bit of convincing from Mr. Pepper and a few friends, but now it is such a part of our lives that it feels second nature.
What quote or saying do you live by?
There are SO many, but a current favorite of mine comes from one of my very best friends who said, “God is in the business of writing beautiful stories, not just happy endings.” My faith is something that is very important to me, and this is something that really rings true for many different parts of my life.
What’s your typical day like?
Always different, and probably much less glamorous than one might guess. I answer a lot of emails when I’m not running around to client meetings or events. I also spend a decent amount of time on my blog, but try to treat myself by taking frequent exercise breaks, cooking tasty food and spending time with my husband and puppy.
What is the thing you reach for when you first wake up in the morning?
My Bible and devotional readings. Starting the day off by reading and praying is a practice that I feel like I could not live or operate without. The only way I was finally able to have it be a natural part of my routine was to not let myself email/social media until after I was finished – sounds crazy, but it works! :) Once I realized the impact it has on my daily mindset, it was easy to leave the other stuff for afterwards (even though it’s still always the very next thing that I do).
What is your favorite breakfast item?
I usually start my day with a variety of different healthy drinks… Flavored kombucha that I brew at home is one of my favorite things, and then I love experimenting with different variations of oatmeal made with fresh fruit/veggies, seeds, egg whites, nut butter, ginger, spices, carob powder and flax seeds. If I’m traveling or eating out? I’ll get an egg white omelet with extra veggies and lots of coffee, please. :)
You’re having an overwhelming/stressful day – how do you relax or “reset”?
Hands down, I have to sneak in some exercise. (See below.)
What is your workout routine?
Right now, my routine is very sporadic. I workout about 5-6 days a week, and love using a mix of running, dance, pilates, and strength training to keep from getting bored. Setting physical goals for myself helps keep my mind off of my to-do list, and I love listening to inspiring/business-related podcasts while I train. Before we moved to the NY area, I had a gym membership and would go very consistently about 5 days a week. I would typically stick to an equal mix of strength and cardio: pilates 2x/week + jogging 3-5 miles 2x/week + and a mix of intervals/circuit training on days I didn’t feel like doing either of the first two. I first started practicing pilates in February of 2010, and since then, have dropped almost 4 dress sizes! Obviously it didn’t happen overnight, but with the right mixture of eating healthfully, consistent strength training and an active lifestyle, this has by far, been the most effective and long-lasting body transformation I’ve ever experienced. (And I feel like I’m allowed to say that as someone who once weighed 40 pounds more than I do now!)
What is your favorite television show?
Always changing… At the moment, we’re hooked on Master Chef, The Mindy Project & Once Upon A Time. A good mix of food, funny and fantasy! :)
What is your favorite fashion magazine?
Mainstream? Marie Claire (with Harper’s BAZAAR as a close second). I love the mix of fashion/beauty content alongside the features on real-women doing notable things. There are also some FANTASTIC independent magazines out there… Verily and Emma are two different publications that I’ve had the joy of working with, and are both run by teams of women that I admire for seeking to change the way our gender creates, receives, and interacts with modern-day media.
What is your favorite thing about the city you live in?
We live in Hoboken, NJ and though I could go ON and ON about how wonderful it is, I would have to say the best part is the gorgeous glittery views of the Manhattan skyline. (We love it so much here that we’re actually filming a webisode series about it right now!)
What is your favorite cocktail?
Tequila + soda with a salted rim, grapefruit wedge and splash of mezcal.
Are you a vegetarian?
Technically, I’m a ‘pescatartian’, but it’s kind of annoying to have to give it an actual title. I have always hated eating meat, but will definitely indulge in seafood and shellfish every once in a while. Most of the time I’m also gluten/dairy-free (though cheese and frozen yogurt are two of my favorite things), and I try to avoid oil & sugar as well. I have a few chronic health issues that are MUCH more manageable when I follow these guidelines, and love discovering restaurants and creating new recipes that follow a ‘clean eating’ regimen.
At the end of the day, what makes you feel confident?
My confidence comes from the things I know to be true: The glow I get from a good sweat session, words of praise from my precious husband, how my body feels when I fill it with healthy food as fuel, the perfect swipe of my favorite bright lip color, and knowing that I was created in the perfect image of an almighty God.
Professional Mentor / Talk Show Host
What are some of your favorite beauty trends right now?
Do you have a signature make-up look — what is it?
When it comes to beauty, I would definitely say that my brows are a big part of my signature look. I tend to lean towards highlighting my naturally big features, and then try to let my mood do the rest of the talking. :)
Have you ever tried a beauty or style trend that you’ve regretted?
Massively over plucked brows (see above). Also, nude lipstick and gold eyeshadow are two trends that I love on other people, but they both look horrible on me.
If you could only use one beauty product for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Mascara! I’ve got at least a dozen tubes in a jar in my beauty cabinet, and even though I can’t quit my favorites, I always love trying new kinds.
Do you have any bad beauty habits that you’re willing to admit?
I always feel guilty when I forget to do my entire moisturizing routine before I go to sleep…
What is your favorite beauty ritual?
My favorite beauty ritual would have to be painting my nails. I would do it every day if I could (missed my calling, perhaps?), and for some reason, it is just so relaxing and satisfying to me! I rarely get manicures because of this (except for the occasional shellac), and keep all of my favorite nail polish colors at my desk for easy access.
Who are some of your beauty icons and why?
Love Kate Bosworth for her glowy skin, Camilla Belle for her brows, and Alexa Chung for her perfectly imperfect smoky eye.
How do you plan to age gracefully?
By continuing to slather on the SPF, exfoliating regularly, and embracing my smile lines as signs of a happy life.
I’ve seen you mention things about not washing your hair, what’s up with that?
I typically only wash my hair once every two weeks! You can read a full run down of how I make it work here.
Most unique beauty/style trick?
I use unfiltered apple cider vinegar about a zillion ways a day, but my favorite is diluting a little in water (1 parts to 4 parts) and using on a cotton ball as toner, morning and night!
Beauty Product you can’t live without?
Origins GinZing mascara!