Storied: Behind the Scenes of a Successful Blogger

Olivia Rink is a successful blogger and University of Kentucky Alum. Her recent Blog Post resonated with me after spending the day with the junior and senior class at Sacred Heart Academy during the Briefcases and Backpacks event.  It’s been over 30 years since I interviewed for my first position out of college. It’s been a long time but some advice never changes.

Think: Career Day advice.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

‘You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.'” – Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ Stanford commencement speech in 2005

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  This summer our intern actually launched … What is a blogger anyway.

Where would any of us be without sound advice and a sounding board.

I always believed networking and having a plan should be first on the list.  I still do to this day… We are all fearful of “looking stupid”.  Think about it. Along with do not be afraid to ask for help! We all have fears. A lot of people think independence is a sign of success, but no one in a position of power got there without the support and help of others, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice and help as needed.

Have a plan. Make that resume a part of the plan. Use it or lose it … Make that resume your blueprint. Alter it as necessary. This simple advice continues to resonate, because it forces you to think critically and strategically before embarking on something.

Let it support your passions.

“To figure out my passion, and then find a way to make a living from it!” —Jen Abrams, Celebrity Stylist

Read on …

Don’t waste your energy on telling people how smart or capable you are, show them. Olivia has provided us with a great look inside of Blogging and just might help a couple of those I recently met with …

Below is from

“Sooo.. what exactly is your job?”

I get that question a lot. And I kind of love the fact that I don’t necessarily have one job title. But, to answer the question – I’m a blogger and that’s what I do 70+ hours a week. I’m a freelancer in the creative industry and I dabble in different projects on a daily basis. When you freelance, every day is different and exciting – but it is far from a typical, stable 8-5 corporate job.

In addition to blogging, I’m a brand ambassador, social media manager, creative director, stylist, project manger, creative director, trend forecaster for my own brand, and the fashion editor for American Cheerleader Magazine. I also work on various freelance interior decorating projects and I’ve even started coaching some of my friends on how to grow and maintain an online presence. I chose to take the blogging route because I didn’t have to focus on just one thing. I knew I wanted to dabble in a bunch of different areas, so with blogging it’s kind of free range – I’m able to wake up each day, meet and work with creative women, write about my passions, and produce creative content I’m interested in that I think my readers will also be interested in. Since majoring in Fashion Merchandising in college, I’ve worked as a cheerleading coach, bridal consultant, and interior design stylist. I’ve learned important things from each of these along the way that have lead me to my current career.

I love being a part of the creative industry in Chicago. Living in the city has helped my career so much.  So many of my friends have pretty awesome jobs that I want to tell you a little bit about, because I’m always getting emails from you girls about not knowing what to do with your future! Don’t worry – none of us did either – but here’s a little inspiration to point you in the right direction:

Personal Assistant / Intern – Ali Stone is one of my good friends here in Chicago who’s both a fashion photographer & blogger. Ali told me that being an assistant to a fashion blogger and working as an intern in New York for a summer is what’s given her the most knowledge and guidance to develop her own name in the industry. She said she was able to learn the ins and outs of the business of blogging by being a well-known blogger’s right-hand-girl.  She also gained valuable experience as an intern at Harpers Bazaar and realized how fast paced, cut-throat, and competitive the fashion world can be. So, all of you just starting out or still in college – take Ali’s advice and find yourself an internship/assistant position! @alialistone

Boutique Manager – My first job out of college was working as a bridal consultant and manager selling wedding dresses and outfitting bridal parties (yes, like Say Yes to the Dress). There I gained experience in everything from sales, to buying, to visual merchandising, to marketing. I even had the chance to attend Bridal Fashion Week in NYC, which was so cool my first year out of college. Ty McBrayer and Liz Cox run the show at Twirl Boutique – two very impressive women! I learned so much working for Ty and loved every minute of it! These girls make all kinds of magic happen inside those pale yellow walls of Twirl – if boutique management or opening your own store is the route you’re interested in, follow along for inspiration to see all the cool things these girls get to experience on a daily basis: @twirllex.

Senior Vice President at a PR Firm: Jenn Lake was one of the first friends I made in the blogging industry in Chicago. She reached out to me about doing an Instagram giveaway, and ever since then I’ve marveled at her ability to kill it as VP at one of the best boutique PR firms here in Chicago. Jenn leads numerous high-profile campaigns for global brands, handles strategic planning and operations, leads new business development and is in charge of several key accounts. Oh and there’s more. She runs an incredibly creative and successful fashion blog (that’s reached almost 130K followers in just 2 years), all while traveling the world, uploading one colorful Instagram creation at a time. Anyone who knows Jenn Lake understands this when I say it.. “HOW??”. Not only is she PR queen of America, Jenn is also one of the most genuine and humble people I’ve ever met, and that goes a long way in my book. @jenniferlake

Marketing Manager for CS Magazine – My sweet friend Megan Patterson is a blogger and sells the cutest aprons here, but her full time job is Senior Marketing Manager at CS Magazine where she handles a little bit of everything: sales, public relations, social media, event planning, and marketing. She’s pretty much a networking genius and I’m so impressed with her career background at age 25! Read more about her journey and everyday career here@meganpatty_

Celebrity Party & Event Designer – Debi Lilly is one talented lady making waves in the creative industry. You might have seen some of my shoots in her gorgeous event space in Lincoln Park, DL Loft. Debi’s client list is pretty impressive and includes Oprah Winfrey, Dom Perignon, Moet Hennessy, Bentley, Lamborghini, Harry Winston, Cartier, Bulgari, Leo Burnett.  All aspects of her events – from her own custom stationery, invitations and floral design to tabletops and gifting – are stunning. She’s been featured in O The Oprah Magazine, Martha Stewart Weddings, InStyle Magazine, Real Simple, and more. See her work here: @debililly.

Vintage Furniture Boutique Owner, Hunter, Designer – The second I met Beth I knew we were going to be good friends. We instantly connected with our passion for decorating and I fell in love with her store the second I walked in – SouthLoopLoft. The loft is beautifully designed each week with different room displays and vignettes styled with vintage furniture, home decor, and accessories from different time periods and cultures. Beth travels the world for inspiration and to find pieces to bring back to the shop.  Eye catching items found in her store include English leather chesterfield sofas, french marble end tables, plush rose velvet chairs, vibrant over-dyed turkish rugs, brass etageres, abstract art, and italian chandeliers. Her shop is one of my ‘must see’ boutiques in Chicago – I promise you’ll will want to move in! Her items have found their homes on movie sets and celebrity estates. @southlooploft

Celebrity Stylist + Creative Director – Let me just take a minute to brag a little bit about my friend Helen Berkun. This woman is a fashion photographer, stylist, creative director, blogger, and mother. She has been the eye behind some of the most gorgeous editorial advertising content I’ve ever seen and has done work for brands like Express & Dove. One of her favorite projects was working with John Malkovich on the “Malovich” project by Sandro Miller – see it here. The first time I heard Helen speak at a conference I was attending I thought she was so cool – just her whole vibe. She was born in Ukraine and has been in the fashion industry for almost 20 years.  She’s one of my faves to follow: @helen_berkun

Fashion Copywriter at Ann Taylor – Olivia Bitetti and I met via Instagram when I was working on a recent post with Ann Taylor. She’s a fashion copywriter at Ann Taylor based in NYC – how cool!? She writes all the social content for the brand, all the email copy for special store events, and even names the colors you see when you’re shopping online (ex: Periwinkle Sky, Tangerine Tango). “I love my job because it challenges me every single day to write fun and engaging copy. Ann Taylor is filled with incredibly talented women – both at the corporate level and in stores; the inspiration is limitless”. So if you’re an insta caption queen and really punny, maybe this is the direction you should take? @oliviabitetti

Online Magazine Founder & Editor – The Everygirl is the first blog (or online magazine) I ever read. The articles are so relatable, it’s Chicago based, and the two founders – Alaina & Danielle – are killing it here in the city. It’s an online resource that’s helping the creative, career-driven woman shape, live and experience life to the fullest.  The Everygirl manifesto: “Whether she is searching for her dream job or a new city to call home; is saving up for a down payment or a trip to Europe; is learning to cook or speak another language, she wants a little guidance. She wants to be inspired. She is the Everygirl. This is for her.” They also post new job opportunities here on their website and update it regularly! @TheEverygirl.

Fashion Model – OH JOHN, one of my best friends. We met a year ago when we were sent on a Chicago influencer trip to Finland and became instant friends.  We also recently went on a blogger trip to Mexico together which was amaziiing. John’s main gig is photography – he’s extremely talented and I love shooting with him, he’s so creative! Some of his photography clients are Veuve Clicquot, American Express, and Pizza Hut. But, he’s also a signed model and has recently done work for Land’s End, Sears and GQ (nbd). So, if you’re looking to go the modeling route – you can follow along with him to see what his journey is like! Oh and he has a really cool blog, check him out here:

Digital PR Specialist at Express – I met Lauren Foster in New York a couple months ago when I was working on a project with Express Petites. Lauren handles the influencer outreach and digital PR for Express. What a cool position – and she’s so young! For all my fashion merchandising/retail girls out there – don’t be afraid to go after corporate positions in the fashion industry.

Pop-up Dinner Host – You know that instant click that happens when you meet certain people? That happened when I met Miss Lauren Kelp. Lauren is the founder of Tablemakers. She brings people together by throwing happy hours, lunches, brunches or dinner parties. No agenda, no fuss, just good food, great wine, and even better conversation. Pretty great right!? She started Tablemakers with the idea that entertaining is supposed to be a celebration of friendships and community. And yep, you guessed it. She’s an awesome blogger too – check her out, @laurenkelp_com.

Fashion Buyer at American Eagle – Tiffany Thomas and I both went to the University of Kentucky and had a bunch of fashion merchandising classes together. She’s now working in NYC as a fashion buyer for American Eagle – what a dream! As a buyer, she’s responsible for forecasting consumer trends, meeting sales and budgetary goals, managing inventory and lots more… but read all about that in this article@tiffanythomas36

Fashion & Lifestyle PR Girl – I’ll never forget the first time I walked into the Alison Brod PR office in NYC – a space covered in pink, racy Barbie prints, countless jars of candy, lucite tables, velvet couches with walls covered in thousands of the latest beauty products, and an army of publicists and interns working away to meet deadlines, pitch clients, answer e-mails, attend meetings, manage projects and the millions of other things PR girls do. My friend, Brittany Hapner, is living the NYC PR girl-dream at the best PR firm in the city – her position: Senior Account Executive. (Oh and you have to see the office for yourself, here). @behap325 / @alisonbrodmc

Visual Display Team at Anthropogie – (I don’t actually have a friend that does this at Anthropologie, but I wish I did.. so if you are on the visual display team at Anthro, let’s be friends haha). I always thought this would be such a cool job, so I did some research on it. Each Anthropologie store has its own visual display team that follows creative direction from corporate. Every season, a team at Anthro HQ develops a concept that then trickles down to the store level. Local store display teams can interpret the concept however they choose, so long as they get the final stamp of approval from HQ. Read more about it in this article.

My best career advice?

Decide what you want to do and go for it. Don’t look for a short cut, because you won’t find one. Confidence, drive, passion, and hard work will lead the way. BE GENUINE – develop meaningful relationships and network, network, network. Stay humble and never stop learning from other people, mistakes, and experiences. Also – did you notice how 90% of the people mentioned above don’t just do ONE thing?  Don’t limit yourself – you don’t have to have ONE  job title! 

Olivia we agree! Heart and Hustle! Add to the RISE and GRIND!



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