I'm thrilled to welcome Holly Jackson as a regular contributor to The Breast Life. You've likely read her short bio and seen several of her posts here.
I asked Holly to tell us a few things about herself, including how she got her start as a writer and blogger. She also gave me some great tips on succeeding as a solo entrepreneur, what you need to know before starting up a lingerie blog, and how to keep up with the growing world of fashion bloggers. I've even included photos of some of Holly's favorite lingerie brands!
How long have you been a copywriter and writing about lingerie and clothing? What got you started?
I've been a copywriter basically since I started working after college (I'm 30 now). I started out as a general copywriter and worked for a whole variety of clients as well as some ad agencies. I switched into lingerie and clothing copywriting fully more than 5 years ago and haven't looked back since! While my job isn't always easy or relaxing, I love that every day presents new challenges and new experiences. I'm constantly learning, which is what I really wanted out of life anyway.
How do you have room for all the bra sets and other lingerie items you review? What’s the best---and worst---part of evaluating a brand’s designs?
I do a ruthless cull every six months or so, but I still own a ton of lingerie. I actually enjoy having a ton of variety, but I do have a few sets that I return to again and again. I'm pretty picky, so samples that make it into my weekly rotation do tend to get lots of coverage since it's relatively rare. I love getting to discover new brands and find new holy grail pieces, but I've also experienced the disappointment with brands who I was ready to love but whose products didn't live up to the quality or fit that I had expected. I've had bra wires pop out of $150 bras on the first wear and other similar issues. Not all brands are built alike!
Tutti Rouge Tropical Print Janey Bra Available in Bands 28-38, Cups DD-HH via Tutti Rouge
In addition to writing for numerous websites, you also write two blogs and run a business. What have been the biggest challenges to maintaining your brand and promoting your services?
I think to run a small business you have to be someone who is able to deal with the unknown. The only way to offset the feast/famine cycle that comes with owning a small business is doing a little bit every day to market yourself. I am someone who actually hates talking about myself, but I've gotten to the point where constantly marketing the business is as much a part of the business as the services are. It's really helped things grow and created a stable lifestyle for me.
Maintaining a brand is a constant thing, but a big part of it is being able to demonstrate in a verifiable way that you are the leader in your particular industry or type of service. A lot of the marketing I do is about demonstrating both expertise and results in a way that is honest and effective, so people know what they are getting when they hire me. It's easy for marketing based businesses to make up numbers and trick customers. Of course you can get a 200% improvement on a client's social media if they're launching and you're starting from zero, but that isn't an honest number to market with as an average. Being realistic and honest about what you can and can't do for someone is really important to me.
I think the other challenge is more personal, which is getting enough time away from your business that you still have some time that is yours. I'm a fairly serious piano player, so I make time to do at least four recitals a year and give my brain a break by building in daily practice time. Finding something to obsess about other than work is essential if you're going to run your own business and not go nuts.
What’s a typical day like you? Do you have any tips for solo entrepreneurs?
I spend most of my day working with clients and having meetings and don't switch over into writing mode until the late afternoon. I like to do longer writing sessions, which is hard when you're also dealing with all of the other stuff you have to do as a small business. I'll usually try and take regular breaks to walk my dog throughout the day to make sure I keep moving as well. I cook most nights for dinner, but I do like to go out and grab lunch once or twice a week just to get out of my home office and back into the real world.
Being a solo entrepreneur requires discipline, but if your business gets big enough it can also require lots of management skills. I'm in the process of training a new assistant now as well as an intern, so I actually spend a fair amount of time each week working with other people instead of just by myself in my pajamas.
Since you don't have co-workers, it can also be nice to find a community of like-minded people in the same industry to hang out with online. There are lots of private lingerie industry groups on Facebook that I hang out in, which helps you feel like you're all in it together, to some extent.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to break into the fashion or lingerie blogging business? Is the field too crowded or is there room for new voices?
I think there's definitely room for new voices, but I feel like lingerie blogging is past the point where just starting another blog that does generic reviews is enough. I think new voices from now on will have to either represent a more diverse customer base (plus size or full figured, people of color, LGBTQIA) or focus on a very niche part of the industry like luxury lines or indie lines.
I also think professional photography is becoming a big part of which bloggers make it or not. Many of the big lingerie bloggers spend serious money on professional photography sessions, which disadvantages bloggers who don't have those kinds of financial resources or professional connections. You also have to be able to either get enough samples or buy enough lingerie to keep up with the new releases, which can be financially tough by itself. I honestly believe in the future blogging success is to some degree going to come down more to income level rather than be the equal playing field that it was when lingerie bloggers were totally new. I've done a bunch of pieces lately where I've said that I wished that lingerie bloggers would be more honest about money, because money affects so many facets of blogging. Look what's happened to fashion blogging in just a few years. I think lingerie blogs are ultimately headed that way as well.
Got any questions for Holly? Are there any full bust, full-figured, and plus size topics you'd like to see her address in future posts?