Something you should know about me is that I have a really hard time relinquishing control. Hiring an assistant is something that I knew I needed after having Charlie but I had a really hard time deciding what areas of my business I could back away from and hand off to someone else. I think I had promoted hiring an assistant for two years prior to it ever happening. Either the candidates didn’t totally line up with what I was looking for or I didn’t 100% feel ready.
At the end of last year, with Jack’s arrival around Thanksgiving and a busy holiday season, I knew I needed help. I promoted the position on my blog and on instagram and was blown away by the applications. Seriously, whoa! Not only are my readers supportive but you guys are ROCKSTARS with some serious impressive resumes. One of those that stood out was Carolyn. Not only did she have an incredibly impressive career path but she seemed like a happy, independent, proactive, organized and just cool young woman. I knew I had to meet her! It didn’t take long for me to say “you’re hired!” and I’m so grateful that I did.
Carolyn has been helping me with graphics and posts (especially around the holidays – fan favorites here and here) along with a lot of the graphics on insta stories. She has helped to keep this crazed mom of two a little more organized and it has been so nice to bounce ideas for the blog off another creative. We have some really fun stuff in-store this year (for example, Carolyn is going to test out a new workout class every month and report back with her honest reviews!) and we can’t wait to share what’s to come!
In all honesty, Carolyn has kind of saved the day around here over the past few months and I’m so grateful for her.
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Well, to go back to the beginning, I was born in Chicago—Oak Park, to be exact. My dad actually grew up just a few streets over from where Liz lives now! Though my mom is from the West Coast, she went to Northwestern for college and ended up sticking around after school. My parents eventually met at a party in the city, when she was working as a journalist and my dad was in his residency for surgery. My family moved when I was really little (more on that below), but we still visited Chicago for at least two weeks every summer—I have the best memories of exploring all the museums downtown during the day and running around the Western suburbs catching fireflies at night!
Like I said, my family moved away from Chicago when I was three, and my younger brother was a month old. We lived in Salt Lake City for a year while my dad finished up a fellowship and then landed in southwest Washington, just outside of Portland, Oregon. My sister came along shortly after, thus completing our sibling trifecta. (Shout-out to Andrew and Julia!) I’m so grateful to have grown up where we did—Portland is such a fun city, full of good food and good vibes, and surrounded by incredible natural beauty. Living in the Pacific Northwest really shows you how to appreciate the outdoors and turn staying active into a lifestyle. My family also has a cabin in Central Oregon, where we spend pretty much all of our free weekends hiking, biking, rafting, and skiing—it will always be my favorite place in the world.
I made my way back to the Midwest for college, heading to the great state of Indiana and the University of Notre Dame. Go Irish! I studied graphic design and visual communications, and I spent the rest of my time pretending to understand football and having a blast at tailgates. I also studied abroad in London for a semester! I never ran into Will and Kate, but I did visit several other European countries and totally got into the tradition of afternoon tea time. After my senior year, I lived in Kathmandu, Nepal, for the summer working as a designer for a fair-trade artisan collective—we designed textiles, bedding and other products that you can find at stores like J.Crew and Anthropologie in the US!
I moved to Chicago in August 2014, and I’ve been here ever since. I currently live with three girlfriends in Lincoln Park—I can’t get enough of our neighborhood. I love being so close to the lake, surrounded by infinite coffee shops, and having the ability to easily walk to Wicker Park, downtown, etc. I have quite a few college friends living nearby, and I feel very lucky to have formed lots of other connections through work and various extra-curricular activities—having so many of my people around really helps this city to feel like home. I was a copywriter at a branding and marketing agency for three years, and I recently switched to freelance for greater flexibility and to explore some new projects on my own…like working for Sequins & Stripes!
2. What are your true feelings about the blog world? Were you familiar with it before working with Sequins & Stripes?
Oh yes—I would say I was fairly familiar with the blog world before joining Sequins & Stripes. I worked at Nordstrom in high school, and I’ve always been into following fashion (even if my own style is pretty casual and classic). I always joke that Pinterest is a platform I willed into existence. It is pretty crazy how quickly the blog world, social media, and the general “Internet of Things” blew up…I mean, I didn’t even have a smartphone until six years ago, and now I have friends I’ve never even met in real life. The amount of content out there has honestly become overwhelming, but I think I’ve always been able to cut through the noise and identify blogs that keep things close to real life and tell a good story. There are a few that I really connected with and would read every day, including Sequins & Stripes.
With that said, there were a couple things that surprised me after peeking behind the curtain of a big-name blog. For starters, maintaining a blog is a ton of work. I think people assume it’s an easy way out of a nine to five, but there’s so much prep work, weekend/after-hours time, and creative pressure involved—often all on the shoulders of a single person! And, of course, whenever social media is involved, you can never really turn completely ‘off.’ I don’t want to be too down on social media, though—sure, I think we could all stand to leave our phones at home a little more often, but I do think our newfound ability to connect, get inspired, and create conversation is truly awesome. I’ll touch more on this in the next question, but Liz’s blog has formed the most incredible community, all thanks to online platforms.
3. What’s your favorite part about contributing to Sequins & Stripes?
I’m not just saying this because I know Liz is going to read this, but she is an amazing human being. So easy to get along with, so creative and driven, all on top of being a fabulous blogger, inspiring female entrepreneur and fantastic mom. My friends and I have read Sequins & Stripes for so long, I think, because Liz just seems like someone you want to be your friend. It was amazing to meet her and find out she’s exactly the same in real life! Then, as I mentioned above, Sequins & Stripes has a wonderful community of followers…I love seeing which posts resonate with readers, looking at their comments on the blog and on Instagram, and knowing that we are creating content that they value. In terms of day-to-day work, I can’t get enough of making collages for the blog—it’s so therapeutic.
4. What’s your favorite food?
5. What’s your favorite movie?
Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Family-friendly answer: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
6. If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Oh man, just one place? I think I would have to say Patagonia, Chile.
7. Beer or wine? Or both? 😉
Controversial topic for a girl from the Northwest! I wish I could sound chic and say wine, but my palette is best defined as unrefined. More often than not, I’ll go with a beer (preferably a local option!).
8. Avocado toast or acai bowl?
Avocado toast—the fancier, the better.
9. Summer or fall?
Fall, all the way. I love a good crisp afternoon, and I’ll take any excuse to grow my sweater collection.
10. What are some of your hobbies?
Besides collecting sweaters and watching Netflix, you mean? This question is making me realize I need some more consistent hobbies. Let’s see—I love to run, and I’ve done the Chicago marathon three times. 2017 was the first year since high school I hadn’t run some kind of race, and I really missed it. I’m still looking for a half marathon to run this year—maybe in a fun destination?! Also, this isn’t an everyday hobby, but my boyfriend and I have a goal of visiting all the national parks in the US—we’ve explored nine out of the 59, so far! I realize that makes us sound like an old retired couple with an RV, but it’s led us to some super cool parts of the country we may not have visited, otherwise. We recently went to Channel Islands National Park off the coast of Ventura, California, where we rang in the new year hiking all across the islands, sea kayaking, and whale-watching.
11. What’s your favorite thing about living in Chicago?
I really do love how easy it is to walk everywhere in Chicago—when I first moved here, my roommate and I used to go for five-hour walks, just checking out one neighborhood after another. Sure, we got lost a lot and had to uber home once or twice, but it really helped me to get to know the city. I am also very into the comedy scene here…I completed the writing program at Second City and helped to write and produce a show that debuted last spring (easily one of the coolest things I’ve ever done). There are an insane amount of talented people living in this city, and supporting them and laughing at their jokes is an ideal Friday night for me.
12. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Good question! I’m exploring a few different things through this new freelance life, but I love working with and for individuals, especially women. I’d also like to write a book one day—even a children’s book! Five years from now, I’ll hopefully be starting on something along those lines, surrounded by family and friends, and planning my next adventure. Oh, and I will most definitely have a golden retriever (or two).
THANK YOU, CAROLYN!
Honestly, Carolyn’s answers are just a clear reminder of why I hired her! Isn’t she cool? Don’t you just want to be her friend? I wouldn’t let you guys down. I knew it was meant to be after learning she was a beer girl (samesies) and her favorite movie is Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Maybe we need to start a hashtag #carolynandliz 🙂 I can’t wait for you to see and hear more from her in 2018!