Grace Atwood, of the uber fabulous blog Stripes And Sequins, is one of the most talented and hardworking women I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. I met Grace a while back at a Rebecca Minkoff Girls' Night Out event, and we quickly became besties. From the outside, her life seems perfect, she juggles work (she holds the position of Director of Social Media at Bauble Bar), her blog, and her personal life like a pro, and still seems finds time to have some fun. She brilliantly comes up with DIY projects that her readers devour, and brands line up to work with the maven. I sat down with the influencer to discuss her career path, her favorite NYC spots, and her must have beauty products.
The above top is a DIY, see the original post here.
You've been so busy lately, how do you make time for your full time job, blogging, traveling, and your handsome boyfriend?
It isn't always easy! Lately I've just accepted that I'm not going to get a whole lot of sleep. My first priority is my boyfriend. I am very career focused and driven with both my job and my blog, but he's my rock... quality time with him comes first. Our evenings together (usually just eating dinner + watching Jeopardy) are precious to me so I do my best to leave work by 7pm so that we can eat dinner together. I don't go to very many blogger events + networking things for that reason. After dinner is when I'll finish up work and take care of blog stuff. We try to have a life, too - If we have plans during the week, I plan around them and make sure I have blog posts written in advance. Ideally, I work 1-2 weeks out with my blog (this is crucial and really helps minimize stress) but that doesn't always happen. We both love to travel, so I get a lot of blog work done while we're on the plane (thank goodness for gogo inflight!) I shoot my DIY projects on the weekends, and lately, I've taken to shooting outfit photos in the morning before work - I'm already dressed up and it makes life much easier vs. trying to escape work during lunch to do it or to do it on the weekends! I really believe that you can do everything... you just have to be really organized, plan, and prioritize. I am pretty efficient and don't like wasting time... unless it is spent with close friends/family over a big bottle of wine... (and in that case, it isn't wasting time!)
How has your blog affected your career?
Blogging has definitely helped my career, as I have made so many amazing connections and met so many interesting people through Stripes & Sequins. I'll get pitched by a brand to do a project for my blog, and the next thing I know, we'll be collaborating with them at BaubleBar, too. And it's easy for me to pitch bloggers for different partnerships and collaborations, as they are my friends! And I read so many blogs that I can easily give our buying team tips on what the blog world is loving... oftentimes, those pieces end up becoming best-sellers. That said, the downside is that I'll never be that person who can stay at the office til 10 or 11pm at night. Evenings are when I work on posts or take care of all that not so fun business stuff - contracts, emails, accounting... which means I have to be extremely focused at work or bring work home with me at night.
I got involved with BaubleBar through my blog. At the time I was working for Coty (a beauty company) and blogging on the side. I was working in brand management at the time but had gotten really into social media through blogging. I remember emailing back and forth with Amy + Daniella (the cofounders) nerding out and giving them ideas I had for bloggers to work with, things to do on social, etc. They invited me out for a drink, which I presumed was to say thanks... but they told me about a job opening they had in social media. I was just about to start suggesting people for the job when I realized they wanted me. I put together a proposal for them and ended up being their sixth hire. Now, we've really expanded. I oversee our social media channels and work on blogger partnerships + social media strategy. I am fortunate enough to have been able to start building a team so I am no longer the person doing all the tweeting and the blog posts, but I"m still very close to it.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years, personally and professionally?
That is really hard to say! Although I absolutely LOVE working in social media + having a blog, my big dream has always been having my own jewelry line. 5 years from now I will be 36, so I'd like to be married with a baby or two. I figure everything else will figure itself out. I'll always be making things, so I'll always have a blog, but I also would like to have some sort of other career as well... be that at BaubleBar, designing my own jewelry, or both! I'd really like to have written a book by then, and who knows what else. The internet is constantly changing so it's hard to say what will come next for S&S. It's funny to think that 1.5 years ago, Pinterest + Instagram were just starting out - now they are at the ore of every good social media strategy. If there is one thing I've learned, it's that you just don't know where life will take you. I started my career in retail buying for a department store, then moved to brand management, and now I work in social media... it's been a fun and exciting ride so far.
We've been following your blog for so long, and have seen your blog evolve from just DIY related content to lifestyle, why the change?
There are two reasons. The first one is a practical one. To put it simply, I find it really hard to come with more than one, maybe two really great DIY project per week. I don't know if people realize quite how long it takes to put together a quality DIY post, but it is a lot of work vs. an outfit or collage post. To brainstorm, source materials, photograph, and edit a quality DIY, I need a solid 6-8 hours... and that's just one post. (Typically I post 6-12x per week.) So, I need to rely on other content!
The other reason is just that I have a lot of other interests. I love clothes. I love designer labels, finding an amazing deal, a life changing beauty product, traveling, food, etc. I want to be able to showcase all of those things on my site. In November, I redesigned the site to give it a more editorial/magazine-like feel. Now, the site focuses on fashion, beauty, style, and DIY. DIY posts will always remain at the core of my content... (those are my post popular posts, far and away...) but it's fun to write about other things, too. In early 2013 I will be bringing on several incredibly talented contributors. Each will write a column for the site 1-2x a month. This is something I am really excited about... something I've planned on doing for a long time but finally feel ready for. It will allow me to showcase some fantastically talented bloggers... and also really round out my content by adding recipes, entertaining, interiors, and a fresh new perspective on fashion, beauty, and DIY into the mix.
What are your fave brands? Who would you love to collaborate with?
Oh boy. So many favorites... I'm sure I'll leave somebody off. Off of the top of my head, Alice & Olivia, J.Crew, Suno, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Bing Bang, Lulu Frost, Catbird, Matt Bernson, and YSL (like I said - dreaming big is a good thing!) I really like working with smaller/niche brands as there is usually such an interesting story to tell. I've been fortunate enough to have collaborated with a few favorite brands already but there are so many other amazing and interesting brands out there.
Tell us about your beauty routine, what products do you use on your face and in your hair?
Do you really want to go there? I could talk about beauty for days. First and foremost, this year I have been trying to make the switch to a green/mostly natural routine. I've read horrifying things about parabens and other chemicals, so I have been trying to eliminate that stuff as best as possible. I still have a few "dirty" habits, especially in my makeup bag but I'm almost there!
We'll start with hair. I love, love love Rahua's shampoos + conditioners - luxurious and hydrating but without any of the nasties. I wash my hair only a few times per week. On days that I do wash it, I tame it with a leave in treatment from Klorane and Arrojo's styling whip (not all natural but THE BEST styling product I've ever used... it cuts out frizz and leaves my waves soft + manageable but never stiff or crunchy.) I'll freshen up / add shine with Klorane's mango oil. I finally bought a good curling iron this year (a T3) and it has been a game changer in terms of getting rid of frizz and adding a bit more polish to my hair.
On my face, I'm obsessed with oils. I wash my face with a gentle wash, apply Caudalie's Vinotherapy Serum, and then moisturize with oil. Right now I am using either a homemade blend (gift from a talented friend) or Rodin, or Josie Maran's argan oil. A few times a week I exfoliate with my Clarisonic and I am loving these amazing exfoliating pads from ZELENS.
I don't wear a ton of makeup, but if I have a big meeting or a photo shoot I will apply concealer and a little bit of foundation (right now I am loving Bare Essentials.) I have been using Benefit Hoola since it came out years and years ago and have yet to find a bronzer I like as much as that one. I highlight with RMS Beauty's Living Luminizer - this product is fantastic, + all natural. On my lips I'll usually stick to gloss (NARS Slow Lover or Bobbi Brown Petal) or a bright lip (NARS Heat Wave, Carthage, or Shiseido Disco.) I use eyeshadow here and there (the Urban Decay Naked Palette) eyeliner (Tarte!) and I no longer wear mascara because I get eyelash extensions (life changing - I'm addicted!) I'm also obsessed with this amazing lilac salve from Isa Restoratives (sold at Catbird) - it gives you the perfect berry stain for lips + cheeks.
For body/skin, I am obsessed with coconut oil! This summer at BaubleBar we had this really gorgeous intern - she swore by coconut oil so I started using it too. So good - and smells amazing! You can buy it at the grocery store or go a bit fancier. Earth tu Face (an organic line developed by two LA herbalists) makes a delicious smelling coconut oil body butter. And my signature fragrance is Creed Love in White. So clean + fresh... but unique - I've never smelled anything like it!
And last but not least, name 5 spots in NYC that you frequently visit or can't live without? 1. Otte - addicted to the amazing, tightly edited selection of merchandise. I have to stay away or I'd spend my entire pay check! 2. Joe - my favorite coffee shop. 3. The Highline - my favorite place to relax with an iced coffee and a good book. 4. Townhouse Spa - best massage in the city 5. Tamarind - favorite way to indulge... I'm obsessed with Indian cuisine!
Photos by Lydia Hudgens