Truthful Wednesdays: Living In Between

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

ALL IMAGES KIMBERLY J.

It’s hard to believe that my adventure as a style influencer started nearly five years ago. Well, technically it started four years ago, because during Year One, I didn’t do a whole lot. I was basically running around New York City doing my thang and could have cared less about blogging…I got around to it when I had the “spare” time. Plus, I was planning a wedding. Year One was jam packed with stuff, and as a result the blog always took a backseat. It wasn’t until I relocated to West Virginia that I really began to invest time, energy and money in developing my influence.

As I began researching and studying what it truly meant to be an influencer, I realized that I needed to expand my network beyond Parkersburg, West Virginia. I mean, come on, let’s just be serious for a moment…West Virginia did not and does not have any true impact on the fashion industry. Additionally, I wasn’t 100% certain that anyone would really take me serious, being that I was living in WV and desired a career in fashion. I’ve always known that I wanted to be more than an “influencer” and that the development of my style blog would be a stepping stone for future pursuits. With the end result in mind, I was fully aware that I was going to have to become great at connecting with others and that I was going to have to do it fast, as the industry (more specifically blogging) was growing at warp speed.

There’s a whole lot of “in between” stuff to this story, but for the sake of brevity, I’m going to hit the high points. Roughly eight months into our marriage, Jason and I had determined that we would likely relocate to Columbus, OH at some point. We did not have an exact timeframe, but we both felt confident that Columbus was our city. Our home church had recently planted a church there and we became pretty active in helping things get off the ground. In fact, we were commuting to Columbus from Parkersburg (approx. a 1 hour and 45-minute drive) twice a week. It was a pretty crazy, yet exciting time in our lives. We both had the necessary flexibility to make the commute weekly.

In realizing that Columbus was likely to become my future homeland, I knew what I needed to do…CONNECT. Since I was a young child, my late grandfather always stressed the importance of having a network and building a creditable name for yourself. He was a business owner (he worked in concrete and was affectionately known as Dr. Concrete) and I would venture to say that most of my entrepreneurial interests were cultivated by him. With those thoughts alarming in the back of my head, I took to Instagram and began to explore the Columbus fashion scene. In doing so, I learned that Columbus was pretty much killing it. As the country’s third fashion capital. Yup, you read that write. Third. I’m sure you never thought you would hear such a thing, but Google it and you will discover that I am indeed speaking the truth. This Midwestern city with an approximate population of 850,000 is the home of some pretty major brands, including Abercrombie & Fitch, The Limited Brands, Express and DSW. In addition to being the headquarters city for those well-known brands, Columbus is also a destination location for a number of fashion distribution houses and fulfillment centers. Oh, and the City houses luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Tiffany’s and Kate Spade. Undoubtedly, these major retail brands have all attributed to boasting Columbus’ ability to be yet another fashion mecca. However, a great secret behind the Columbus fashion scene is the LOCAL FASHION. Columbus has a rather long list of emerging independent designers like Kelli Martin, a Project Runway alum, as well as an outstanding list of locally curated clothing boutiques.  Located in the heart of the city, Downtown, you will find some pretty wondtacular independently owned boutiques that nearly everyone in the City knows about.

After discovering all this information, I felt all the more confident that Columbus was my city. I truly felt a sense of peace about this future transition and that it would indeed come to pass. In that moment, I began to brand myself as a Columbus based style influencer. Again, with the industry growing as quickly as it was, I knew the market would be saturated if I waited too long, as we weren’t 100% sure when we would make the full-time transition to Columbus. Thank goodness I followed my gut, because I was pretty much right. If you take a glimpse at the influencer scene here in Columbus now, it has grown tremendously, which is great! However, it does make it a bit more challenging to be discovered!

At this point you may be wondering, “So how exactly did you brand yourself as a Columbus creative?” One word…HASHTAGS. If you’ve ever doubted hashtags, I’m here to tell you that they work! By using fashion hashtags applicable to the Columbus fashion scene, it allowed me to connect with some pretty cool people. Some of the then popular tags included #capstylemag, #cbusblogger, #columbusisfashion and #614blogger to name a few. In fact, it was specifically through the #capstylemag hashtag that I made my first Columbus friend, Belinda Frazer. Never underestimate the power of the hashtag. In addition to using hashtags, I also began to curate a decent amount of my content in Columbus. Since we were in town so frequently, it only made sense! Between these two things, I began to tell an immediate difference in the engagement of content. Furthermore, I began to receive invitations to various events and opportunities and that’s when the “living in between” two cities really began to happen! I was more and more frequently driving to Columbus for meetings, participating in events, etc. I could basically make the drive to Columbus with my eyes closed. There’s no doubt about it, this was a challenging season of my life, but it was so incredibly worth it, as when we made the full-time transition to Columbus, I did not have to navigate the waters of developing my brand, because I had already done the leg work!

I guess I wanted to share this story with you guys in hopes of inspiring someone to just take the NEXT STEP. No matter how scary it may seem, just do it. In doing that, be honest with yourself and the people you are connecting with (yes, I was transparent with brands and individuals who reached out). Good things really do come to those who passionately pursue. I’m a living testimony to that.

Here’s to doing something a little wild, but knowing that it will pay off in the long run. Now go pursue even if it means living in between two cities to make that happen for ya!

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