Smak Parlour Galentines Day Blogger Panel

Happy Monday, babes! How we doing?! Over the weekend, I had the absolute pleasure to join a couple Philly boss babes, and speak on a blogger panel at Smak Parlour’s Galentines Day Event. First off, can I just say how empowering it is to be surrounded by such motivated, intelligent, and creative women!? Second of all, sitting on the panel and getting to offer insight to other like-minded women was so exciting! I love sharing simply e l l’s story, as well as sharing lessons I’ve learning over this past year of blogging.

With that said, so many awesome questions were asked to us ladies on the panel, and just because you weren’t able to attend the event, doesn’t mean your have to miss out on the fun and knowledge-sharing! That’s why I rounded up the questions I was asked, and shared my answers! Also, don’t forget to check out the other blogger babes that spoke on the panel!

Happy 1 Year! — What advice would you give someone who wants to start a blog?

Be comfortable with being uncomfortable. I’ve actually been approached by a number of girls who have been considering starting a blog, and it always goes something like “I love ______, and I want to share with everyone how I do _____, but I’m so nervous/scared/overwhelmed.” GIRL, I hear ya. If it makes you feel any better, those were the exact hesitancies I faced when I got started, and actually, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts about simply e l l, I backed out on my first attempt to start the blog. I let that uncomfortable, knot in your throat, feeling get it my head, and it led to me holding off on something that I SO passionately wanted to pursue. When I finally muscled up the courage to launch simply e l l, I really had to just shut my eyes, take a deep breath, and dive head first (…after having a mini heart attack and spending countless hours ranting and raving to Shane, friends, and family!) To this day, I’m kind of like Jim Carey in “Yes, Man”, because I really try to say yes to every opportunity that comes my way – no matter how awkward I feel. Going to my first event on my own was sooooo nerve wracking, and Lord knows I was so uncomfortable walking into a room where everyone looked like they just belonged there. However, even though I walked in feeling like the word “newbie” was on my forehead, I quickly picked up a conversation with a girl that was also standing in line for a drink, and the next thing I knew, I was being introduced to her entire group!

Looking back over this past year since simply e l l’s inception, I can say that if I passed up on the opportunities where I was nervous or uncomfortable, I wouldn’t be much of anything at this point! Being uncomfortable is, well, uncomfortable! But some of the best things come out of those opportunities where you break out of your comfort zone.

What made you want to become a blogger? 

I decided to start the blog for a number of reasons, but at its core, simply e l l came about from my love for fashion. Actually, I kind of have an odd come-to-Jesus moment with fashion! Going to be throwing it back to the 90’s here, but who remembers the show Sister, Sister? Well, Lisa was the mom of the two twins, and she had her own clothing line. So, one night 8-year-old Erica is watching Sister, Sister, and I think to myself “Hey, drawing and making clothes sounds fun?” And that was it! I went upstairs, grabbed a loose leaf pad, and started sketching my own clothes that very night. To this day, I’ll pick up a pencil and paper from time to time to sketch out a new piece. With that said, my absolute passion is styling looks, which is really where simply e l l came about. I love sharing tips of putting together looks, and I pride myself on being able to find a sale. Put that all together, and you have the makings of a fashion blog!

How do you get collaborations?

So, in the spirit of being honest and #real, I will admit that collaboration are probably my weaker point with blogging (I’ll explain why in a sec). When I do book collaborations, it is typically the result of me reaching out to a brand, and pithing some fun ideas I have for their products or services. In some instances, a brand reaches out to me, but hey… that would just be TOO easy if all you had to do was sit back and wait for them to come to you?! Honestly, pitch emails can have a blog post of their own, because a lot of work goes into pithing yourself to a brand. Without getting too far into the rabbit hole, a HUGE tip about pitching is being consistent and being genuine. I tend to slack in the consistency department, because a successful and lucrative blogger should be pitching herself weekly, if not more. I tend to pitch about once a month, which is something I am working on in 2019! In addition, and most importantly, is being genuine in your pitches. Having a pitch email template is a great tool to work with, but I firmly believe that pithing is like a job interview. When you interview for a job, you make sure your answers are catered to the job your applying for, right? Pithing is the same way! Taking the time to really address a brand, explain what you have to offer to them that’s unique, and explaining how their brand fits well with yours are great speaking points to show the brand that you really care to work with them.

Is blogging your full-time job? 

No, but blogging/influencing/styling full-time is certainly my end goal. As some of you may already know, I currently work full time at a medical insurance brokerage firm, where I assist in client management. I am VERY fortunate to have the employers/coworkers I do, because they have been so supportive of me having my side hustle!

How do you get involved/ attend NYFW? 

Guys, I have to admit something. NYFW is a dream. For as long as I can remember, I have always envisioned NYFW as Carey Bradshaw, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte, walking arm-in-am, dripping in designer everything, and surrounded by the who’s who in fashion. I am happy to report… its event better! However, one thing that I NEVER thought was possibly, which later on became a reality, was the idea of me ever attending Fashion Week. Today, we are so fortunate to be in an industry where influencers and bloggers have a huge voice in the fashion word. That being said, designers really appreciate the coverage they get from influencer/bloggers, and are making it so attainable to attend shows!

With that said, the way I got involved in NYFW, and how I maintain my relationship with NYFW are a bit different. I was given the most amazing opportunity to attend Spring New York Fashion Week 2018 as a plus one with a fellow blogger friend, @bellebylaurelle. Laurelle is a Philly-based blogger who has the most stunning, elegant, and chic feed. GO CHECK HER OUT!

After attending Fashion Week with Laurelle, I was officially hooked! To return to Fashion Week, there were a number of things I needed to do:

  1. Research Shows and Dates: No surprise here, but you want to research when NYFW falls, and mark it on your calendar. Take a look at the Schedule, and note which shows interest you (um.. all of them?!)
  2. Find the right contacts: Honestly, they make this step too easy. By going to the NYFW website, in conjunction with websites that provide agency contact info, you can then start inquiring on shows!
  3. Emails… Lots and Lots of emails. At this point, you are going to want to create a pitch email for the shows you want to attend. In this email, be sure to introduce yourself, include the dates of when you will be in town, and the coverage you plan to do while at fashion week.

There is SO much I could type for NYFW, so I will be creating a number of blog posts to supplement this! If you have any questions concerning pitching, shows, or anything, just reach out to me directly ๐Ÿ™‚

What is or was your biggest struggle being a blogger/influencer?

Staying on-task, for sure. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but my boyfriend and I live in a multi-generational home with my mom, and my grandmother (Oma- yes, we are German.) With that many people in the house, you can imagine that things come up, and it’s easy to get-off task. For example:

My schedule for Wednesday night is supposed to consist of:

  1.  4:30pm: Post an OOTD video
  2. 5pm to 6:30pm: Go to the gym
  3. 6:30pm to 7:30pm: Drive home and make dinner
  4. 7:30 to 8ish: Catch up with Shane and Eat Dinner together
  5. 8:45 pm: Shower
  6. 9pm: Post to Insta and interact on simply e l l’s platforms
  7. 10pm: Try to start winding down.

OK, how good does the above sound #gettingS***done #proactivebabe. Wellllllll, what do you think happens when I walk through the door at 4:30pm, and mom asks me if I want to go to Marshall’s with her? *Planner thrown to the wind* Finding ways to bob and weave with these calendar curve balls is a huge challenge for me!

How do you find balance with blogging, career, social life, and you time? 

So, this is another one where I could dedicate an entire blog post to this (which, I plan to, lol!) I have two words for you: Google Calendars. When I first got into the industry, I simply ran on the motto “when I want to, I will”. Ok, this is much easier to say when you’re just getting started, have no idea how much work goes into a blog/micro-business. I very quickly realized that its easy to come home from a long day of work and not WANT to write out a caption for insta. I might not WANT to get on my gym clothes and get to the gym. I may not WANT to go grocery shopping for the up-coming week. In short, even though I don’t WANT to do something, I do my best to plan everything out in my google calendar, and what’s on it, happens. It really helps me from procrastinating, and feeling like I’m not knocking things off of my to-do list. It also allows for me to easily see where I have breaks so I can make time for self-care and me-time!

In addition to my more systematic technique of google calendars, I also cannot forget to mention one of my biggest grounding factors: Shane. My boyfriend, Shane, is truly so supportive of my blog, that he actually urges me to do MORE #loveyouboo. However, Shane also has a way of grounding me when I need it most. Sometimes I can get so consumed by the number of followers I have or by a collaboration opportunity that fell through. In those times, Shane will take me to get dinner (Chick-fil-a is our go-to) to get my mind off things, or will just sit and let me rant for an hour. Having a partner that lets you be who you need to be is a HUGE help when it comes to keep my life balanced.

What is the most beneficial advice you received during your career as a blogger/influencer? 

Stay authentic! If I could have a mega phone, whilst standing on a mountain, and a choir backing me up… STAY. AUTHENTIC. This seems super obvious and so many girls will say “omg, duh. I’m so true to myself. *hair flip*” Butttttttttt, I also call BS on this sometimes, at least for myself. Ok, #truetalk, I have for sure thrown on a little more makeup to do an insta story. I have FOR SURE done a “bubbly” OOTD video, and then quickly crawled into my bed with Mac-n-cheese, in my jammies, and not moved for the rest of the night because I had cramps and was miserable. Sure, there is totally such things as TMI, but at the same time, your followers are loyal to you, and they might actually might appreciate you admitting to just being normal. No filters, not editing. Just you!

Secondly, there is so much comparison in our industry, that it is so easy to wake up one morning, and honestly not recognize yourself (or your feed). Sure, you want to keep up with the trends, but you also need to pursue and be honest to what you love?! In addition to that, it is completely ok to admire or find inspiration in fellow bloggers. However, I listened to an amazing episode from Julia Solomon’s, The Influencer Podcast” where they dive deep in the idea of comparison. In short, what I learned is that you NEED boundaries in this industry. As soon as I feel like I am comparing myself to someone else, and it’s to the point where I am not drawing inspiration, but rather am feeling insufficient…. I unfollow them. Yep, harsh, I know. But it works!

I have to saw another HUGE thank you to Smak Parlour for hosting us, and giving me the opportunity to share more about myself and simply e l l! I love the way this industry is driving us all to support one another, encourage one another, and assisting one another grow as women and entrepreneurs.

simply,

e l l

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Happy Birthday simply e l l! 4 of the Biggest Lessons I’ve Learned Over the First Year of Blogging

HAPPY 1st BIRTHDAY SIMPLY E L L!!

Guys, I canโ€™t believe itโ€™s been exactly one year today that I made my very FIRST post on simply e l lโ€™s insta feed…. doesnโ€™t time fly!?๐Ÿ–ค

In honor of simply e l lโ€™s bday, I wanted to round up some of the biggest lessons Iโ€™ve learned over the past year:

1. Give what you get… and even better, give what you want. You know that bible scripture โ€œtreat your neighbor as thy selfโ€? Keeping this concept in mind is key in this industry. I still cannot believe (in the best way possible) how much love and support I have gotten from not only followers, but FELLOW BLOGGERS…. aka girls that are working torwards the same exact goals as you. I have learned that giving all that I have to those around me results is having it returned ten-fold.

2. Comparison will be the end of you. Morbid, but so true. I have seen/heard of so many girls fall off from their blogs and goals because they look around, compare themselves to other bloggers/celebrities/etc. and feel inadequate. I have learned that whenever I find that Iโ€™m comparing myself to another blogger or influencer, itโ€™s time for me to step back, unfollow them, and recenter myself. There is nothing wrong with being inspired by someone, but when that person starts to take a tole on the way you feel about yourself, there NEEDS to be boundaries.

3. The worst days are simply the light in the tunnel. Yes, omg yes. This one was one of the hardest for me to learn (and still learning), and I think itโ€™s an industry wide stress. Youโ€™re having one of those weeks where a ton of your followers dropped off, none of the brands you want to work with are noticing you, and you got a big, fat NO from the collab you were trying to book. Yea…. these weeks suck. But I have found that if I donโ€™t let myself get discouraged in thoseย rainy days days, I find that shortly after, there is something so rewarding waiting. It may just be a mental thing, but overcoming a disappointing week and trudging forward is so empowering. Even in the worst weeks- KEEP GOING!ย 

4. Do not do this alone. Community is family. I saved the best for last, because I 10000% believe that if I didnโ€™t have the support system I did, I would have quit months ago. Blogging/instagramming/putting yourself out there like we do is…..well, horrifying! I was so nervous and self conscious to launch this blog, in fear that I would fail, and everyone would know about it. Each and everyday, I have external sources of motivation to keep this blog going. Whether itโ€™s Shane giving me a pep talk, one of my friends promoting the blog to another friend, getting DMโ€™s from you guys asking where I bought my look, THE LIST GOES ON. These little reminders that I can really do something with this platform is exactly what makes me type away each night on my phone/laptop! Also, like I mentioned above, the community of bloggers I have come across since starting simply e l l have been so incredibly welcoming, accepting, and freaking AMAZING! Moral of the story: do not try to do this alone. Keep your friends close and accept their help, and engulf yourself with others who are working towards the same goals!

Simply e l l, thank you for being my outlet and passion for the last year, and I cannot wait to see where we go from here!ย 

Also, just so you know, even after a year, most of us still don’t have our S*** together…. Peep the picture below. #perfectionisoverrated

Simply,

e l l

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Fit410 Wellness Kick-Off; Getting Over My All-or-Nothing Mentality

Happy First Day of my Fit 410 Journey! I thought it would be fun to some-what chronicle these next 28 days, because obviously there are quite a few ebbs and flows with any diet/healthy eating goal/workout.. etc.ย 


Ok, sooooo, I am off to a crappy start. LOL, yes, it’s day one and I am already behind. How? Well, like any new diet or fitness plan I start, I try to get all my ducks in a row, make sure everything is 100% perfect- down to the final crossed “t”. In my head, I was going to go meal prep shopping with Shane on Saturday, and get a bunch of the prep cooking done right after. Shane and I knew that we were going to be traveling to see family on Sunday, so Saturday was a done deal. Of course life took its tole, and I spent 3 hours of what was supposed to be shopping/cooking time on a long phone call with a friend, and completely effed up the schedule (meanwhile, Shane played Fortnite, so I can’t say he was all that bothered, lol). By the time I got my shopping list together, we only had an hour to get shopping done, and I just felt defeated (example #1 of my all-or-nothing mindset). I also set the goal to get a number of pictures taken on Saturday; like my “before” pictures, some workout gear Inspo, a meal prep pic or two…. well, that went out the door because I was bummed my shopping/cooking idea didn’t go to plan (example #2 of my all-or-nothing mindset).


Flash forward to this morning, I haven’t gone grocery shopping. I haven’t meal prepped anything for this week. I haven’t taken my “before” pics…
So, why am I telling you this. Well, as a kick-off and ode to 2019, I am R E A L L Y trying to work on my all-or-nothing mindset (please see examples above and Appendix B-lol,jk). In the past, this entire scenario of not being prepared would have made me want to skip on kicking off the fitness plan today, and waiting until the next Monday. Can anyone relate to this? One more week of eating junk and not exercising- heck yea! But, please also don’t forget the inevitable crappy feeling we all get when we’ve had one too many trips to Chick-fil-a (a.k.a my “It’s my last week of eating what I want” place) and the feeling from procrastinating yet another goal.ย 


Yep, so my first challenge to kick off this fitness plan is to start it completely unprepared (cue the hyperventilating and awkward adjustment in my seat.). I can’t lie, I am so uncomfortable, but sometimes its good to let yourself get uncomfortable. After my freak out on Saturday about not being on schedule (sorry, Shane) I looked at my schedule this week, and am just going to make do. My point – the stars don’t have to be perfectly in line to start a new goal or resolution. Let’s be real, nothing is ever going to be the “p” word. Perfection is SO overrated, and that is what I am going to be telling myself every time I forget to do something in my planner, or I decided to indulge in a few waffle fries or two (oh, baby). I am actually so excited to kick off this fitness and wellness journey, because I think there are going to be quite a few lessons in store for me.ย 

With that said, I am super pumped to be partnering up with @fitforten and about kick my for the next 28 days. Clean eating, working hard, and truly working on betting myself – inside and out!

Want to join the fitness movement?!

Click the link and use my code ERICL55 ! JOIN HERE: http://fit410health.com?p=HkyN7P9WE

EEK! Ok, time to get ready for work and hit the Monday grind. Stay tuned for the 410 chronicles to come, and cheers to a new year and new mindsets!

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My $20/20 Minute/Go-To Potluck Recipe

Ok, who has ever been in this scenario: You are invited to a holiday pot-luck party, and supposed to bring some form of side-dish, entre, or dessert. It’s an hour before the event, and you completely forgot about making your dish…. Ok, well let’s be honest. If you are anything like me, this doesn’t happen. As soon as you get the invite, you would have put the invite into your I-calendar, would have gone food shopping the morning of the event, and would have a lovely little pingย go off on your phone when your are approx. 2 hours out from the event.

More realistic scenario: It’s the night before your boyfriend’s holiday party, and he asks you what you are planning to bring?… Um, what?ย Right, all the girlfriends/wives are bringing dishes for the party… what are you bringing…. *it’s 11:30pm, you have no idea, queue the freakout ….* SHIIIII-…..-RRRLYYYY I am bringing something AWESOME?! *AKA remembers this handy dandy recipe I am about to share*.

Girls, don’t worry and don’t stress! I have just the recipe for you when you are in one of those omg-i-am-going-to-murder-you-i-am-not-betty-crocker kind of situations.

Let’s Get Cookin’!ย 

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Thanksgiving Style Inspo

Hey Babes!ย 

Where my outfit procrastinators at?! I don’t know about you, but I haven’t given much thought on what I’ll be wearing for Thanksgiving dinner this year. Not only that, but Shane and I are lucky enough to have multiple dinners to attend over the course of the holiday weekend, meaning I need to prep MULTIPLE looks. So, I thought I’d round up some adorable dinner looks for you guys that you’ll just want to GOBBLE up… get it? Gobble? … ok, yes, pun intended.ย 

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