Thursday, March 14, 2013

behind the blog: hems for her

This week's Behind the Blog is about Katie from Hems for Her. Katie has a closet full of clothes that I wish were in my own closet - colorful statement pieces, pretty neutrals, and a huge dress selection. She's all about dressing for the body you have, and I've learned a lot from her on how to dress my own curves. I'm really glad she's here today!

Tell us what motivate you to start blogging. Were you following a lot of personal style/fashion blogs before you started blogging?

I discovered fashion blogging right around the time I discovered Pinterest. I honestly didn’t realize that there were women posting about their clothes every day.  When I finally clicked on one of my “Fashion Inspiration” pins and was redirected to a blog, I was immediately hooked. I read regularly for a couple of months, always looking for a quality fashion blog for the plus size crowd, and found myself discouraged more and more. So I decided to create my own blog.

Which blogs do you read every day? 

Thank heavens for Bloglovin’ for keeping me organized! Every day I read: Feathers and Freckles, Wardrobe Oxygen, Crazy Style Love, Little Chief Honeybee, and Putting Me Together. They are a few of my favorites, but seriously I follow like 100 blogs. I love reading blogs. I may not always comment, because I only comment when I feel like I have something of value to say, but I read so many!

Who takes your pictures? What camera and lens do you use? Have you ever been caught in the act of taking these?

I have been blessed with wonderful family and friends who are talented (and willing) photographers. The majority of my photos are taken by my husband, who swears he doesn’t mind doing it, and I think he does a great job. We love scouting out cool locations and experimenting with composition and lighting and angles. We use the Canon T3 Rebel and a 50mm/f 1.8 lens. We are constantly “caught in the act” but I find it less awkward when someone is with me.

Do people in real life know about your blog? What were their reactions when they found out about your blog?

I didn’t do a very good job of keeping the blog a secret in the early days because I was so excited about it- something I regret now! Most of my friends and family do know about it and read it regularly. Although I come across many people I know IRL who have no idea what a blog is, so that’s kinda nice! I’m not embarrassed that I blog, but it’s always awkward trying to explain what I do and why I do it. And I find myself censoring my thoughts a lot because I never know who might be reading!!

Your blog involves talking about plus-sized fashion. What are some of your favorite online and in store retailers?

Plus-sized retailers have come a long way, but there is still SOOOO much they could be doing better. However, companies that are doing it right include ASOS, Dorothy Perkins, Simply Be, and Kiyonna. I do the vast majority of my shopping online, and I am always impressed with the selections that companies like Old Navy, Gap, Target, and Eloquii (The Limited’s plus-size line) offers as far as affordable pricing. 

Many fashion bloggers hop from one trend to the next. How do you manage to stay on trend without breaking the bank and just blindly following each trend?

One thing really helps me from becoming a total trend train wreck, and that is my job! I am a high school teacher, so that means 1. I have a certain unspoken “dress code” I must follow and 2. I am always broke! Certain trends just aren’t appropriate for me as a teacher. I am supposed to set an example, so I never want to dress inappropriately or like a teenager. Because the majority of my time is spent in the classroom, the majority of my money is spent on classic pieces. On the weekends, you may find me in skinny jeans and “trendier” pieces, but because I don’t wear those things all the time, I am sure to get them as cheaply as I can.

Putting yourself on the internet comes with the expectation that not everyone will always love what you are wearing and writing. Have you encountered any of these criticisms, and if so, how do you handle it?

I am very thankful that the majority of my comments and readers are kind and sweet. I mean I don’t want people just “blowing smoke up my skirt” and telling me I look cute if I don’t, but I’d be lying if I said criticism doesn’t hurt (even when it’s supposed to be constructive). I try to take things with a grain of salt because really you can’t tell intent and tone from a comment, and if it’s something that is critical or constructive I step away from myself as read it as objectively as possible. If they were saying it to a different blogger would I be offended? Is there truth in the comment? Plus, I teach teenagers, so I’m used to daily critique and criticism!

What has been the best thing to come out of blogging? 

I have always loved writing (my BA is in Journalism), but it never panned out as a career for me, but through blogging I have revitalized that passion for writing. Even in the short amount of time I’ve been blogging (1 ½ years), I have been given so many opportunities to share my stories and my passions and my life. It is beyond rewarding to receive emails from women telling me how much confidence they’ve gained through reading my blog and following my fashions. It is one of the most humbling things I have ever experienced in my life. I think I am filling a niche within the blogging community that is often overlooked and that makes me genuinely happy and fulfilled. For years, I just felt like something was missing from my life, and I really feel that blogging was that something. I feel whole!

When it comes to promotion of your blog, what methods do you use? Do you spend a lot of time commenting on other blogs, pinning your looks, doing link ups?

I’m pretty low-key about self-promoting. I hate big huge giveaways to get followers. I don’t comment on 10,000 blogs every day begging for follow backs. I feel like many link-ups require you to jump through a millions hoops (follow these 10 people, add these three buttons, etc, etc.). I think pinning my own outfits is kinda lame (I tried it a few times but I just never felt comfortable pinning my own images like they were something special). I think those things will build up your numbers, but it definitely doesn’t build up your community.

I talk to my readers. I comment on blogs I truly like and enjoy. I do have a Facebook and Twitter for the blog which is great for reaching out to readers and building relationships with other bloggers. I may not ever reach 1,000 followers, or quit my job and blog full-time, but I will know I was true to myself and I never did anything that made me feel weird.

What tips or suggestions do you have for your fellow bloggers? 

Shakespeare said it best (hey, I’m an English teacher!): “To thine own self be true.” It’s clichéd advice, but it’s true. Do what YOU want with your blog. If you are blogging for money or fame or free stuff, then you probably aren’t being true to yourself. Don’t try to fit into a mold or be like everybody else because you will end up burning out.

Thank you so much Katie. I loved hearing what you had to say about your own experiences with blogging. Please go visit Hems for Her, and then come back next week to read about Chioma's Evolution of Style!