Hi friends! I often receive a lot of questions about why I started the blog, how it works, what opportunities it has presented and I wanted to fill you in on a bit of that today. It has inspired me to launch a mini series all about blogging and what I have learned. I am going to be interviewing and sharing stories of other girl bosses in the industry, some of the resources I have discovered for creating an online brand, and how this site has impacted my life.
So to start telling the story of originalsamsmith.com I need to back track to way before this site was even a possibility. Ever since I was little I have been super passionate about clothes. I never felt like I fit in in elementary school and even into jr. high and high school. Clothes were an identity for me. It was a way to express myself without having to talk to others and it was a way for me to feel more confident in who I was. So as I got older, clothes became more and more of a passion for me. My style was evolving, I was feeling more confident in wearing things that were a little out of the norm or things that not everyone was going to like, and I became okay with it. It helped me to develop a sense of identity and realization that the opinion of others really didn’t matter that much. It kind of became a game, like when it came time to pick out my prom dress or an outfit for an event I would think: what will be the most different thing I can come up with that will be a conversation piece, that not everyone will understand and that will still be trendy.
As high school continued I realized that I REALLY loved clothes and that I wanted to be able to incorporate style into my whole life. In high school as I’m filling out those career surveys for the ACT, applying to colleges and envisioning a career, I kept going back to fashion. Being passionate about clothes is one of those things where when people ask what you want to do after high school, you’re not sure if you admit being involved in fashion will impress the person or if they will look at you the same way if you said you wanted to be a princess or a rock star. It’s like one of those things that every little girl wants to be but few actually make it happen in their adult life. I wanted to be one of the few, but I kind of kept it a secret and would admit it in passing but always fess up a backup plan like “oh I will probably do something in marketing somewhere but eventually I want to open a store.”
Well as I entered my junior year of high school, I was signed up for a class called CEO. To sum it up quickly, CEO is a class all about entrepreneurship, and in the end each student is required to start their own business. This class really changed my perspective on careers. We would meet each morning at different local businesses, be instructed by the owners or employees of that business, and hopefully gather enough tools to start our own business. As soon as I started I knew I wanted my business to be about fashion. I mentioned earlier a store… Well for a brief minute I was feeling very ambitious and was like I want to start my own online store now. I quickly realized that as a senior in high school getting ready to move away for college, that was not quite feasible. Well for a while I had been reading a few blogs and following some Youtubers. I had been thinking about doing one, but the idea of putting myself out there on the Internet was SUPER intimidating (and still is a little bit). There is so much opportunity online, but with that comes a lot of opportunity to receive hate and negativity. Because of the fear, I never really considered launching my own site until I was in CEO, January was rolling around and I needed a business idea FAST! That is when I started considering the blog more seriously.
Quickly the question I kept receiving from my teacher, my classmates, and any one else involved was “how is blogging a business?” Over and over I kept explaining the amount of opportunity that there is online to create a personal brand and that it was about more than just blogging, it would give me the opportunity to generate a following that I could hopefully turn into customers in the future (going back to the store here), and that it would help me to build a network of connections in the fashion industry. Plus with blogging, there are sponsorship opportunities (Rendlemann Orchards), collaborations, product reviews (Tobi), and so much more. So with some convincing, I got the go ahead that this would be my business for the class.
Now it seems a little strange that all of this started as a school project, but it did. I developed the idea in January 2016, and pretty much as soon as I thought of it I got to work. From January to March I spent at least 1-2 hours a day researching what it takes to start a blog. From website design, social media following, trends, and everything in between I was constantly brainstorming and coming up with ideas for what I liked and didn’t like and how I would make it happen. In March, I approached my dad (who has experience in web design) about helping me design the actual site. He agreed to help me, and together we spent the entire month of March purchasing a domain, designing a site, and navigating WordPress.
Also in March, I was faced with a huge decision. How I was going to feature clothes on my site? I knew I wanted pictures of myself in clothes but I didn’t have a nice camera and I couldn’t afford to hire a photographer. This is where Emma comes into play. We had been eating lunch together all year and I thought of her as a good friend. She was a couple years younger then I and she had mentioned a couple times that she was interested in photography. I didn’t really know to what extent she was or how good she was but at this point I was desperate and I didn’t really have anything to lose. I approached her about being the photographer for my site and she agreed. I literally had no idea if she had a good camera and I had never seen any of her other pictures but she agreed to work with me and that was all I needed. The first day we were scheduled to take pictures I was pretty nervous, not for her but for me. I didn’t have any experience modeling and I didn’t want to look unprofessional or dumb. She pulls out her camera, and I don’t know much about photography but I immediately recognized the name Canon on the strap and I was shocked! How did a freshman in high school have this high quality of a camera and actually know how to use it? Sure enough she did… And the longer our photoshoot continued the more comfortable I became and the more I realized that she is good, like really good! I actually refer to Emma as the glue holding this site together because without her it wouldn’t be possible. For any of you that have been following the blog and are interested in having Emma take pictures of you, like her Facebook page EGS Photography and reach out to her, she is awesome!
April 1, 2016 I launched the site! That was such an exciting day and I was overwhelmed by the positive response. Since then I have met so many people and this blog has opened so many doors for me… As this series continues I will share some of those opportunities with you. If you have any specific questions please leave them below!
This was my very first blog post and taken during my first photoshoot with Emma!
Thanks so much for reading!