Lucky 13 with Red Soles & Red Wine
This issue we are getting to know Jennifer Worman – the Chicago style blogger behind Red Soles and Red Wine. What started as a hobby and way to meet people when she moved to the Windy City has grown into a well-known and well-read blog that has elevated Jennifer to social influencer status. Four years ago, she also launched t+j Designs with her sister and fellow blogger, Tiffany. Follow along as she answers our questions about what it is like to be an influencer and how retailers (like you!) can increase their reach by placing products behind bloggers’ lenses.
1. Describe your business/blog in one sentence.
Luxe Looks for Every Budget Designed by Two Sisters.
2. What do you wish you had known when you got started that you know now?
It is hard to have work life balance while owning a successful business. Being an entrepreneur is a way of life and work becomes part of you. It is hard to let go! I live and breathe my business and it interferes with my personal family time. I’m still trying to figure out how to balance 4 years later. 🙂 It’s a daily struggle.
3. What’s your favorite thing about being a blogger?
THE PEOPLE! From readers, followers to fellow bloggers, it is a wonderful community that shares the same passions. I love meeting new people and it has introduced me to so many wonderful friends as well.
4. How do you work with brands you feature as an influencer?
How should retailers approach influencers? As a blogger I’m super detailed with my partnerships in fulfilling what they need and also using my own voice and photography. I know what my followers like so I always make sure the brand is on the same page and likes what I’ve shown. And I only work with brands that I do love or has the same style as mine. Since I own my own business, I go above what is expected as I want to make sure they are getting what they need. I am proud to say most of my partnerships result in further projects. Since I own a retail/wholesale business too, I see blogger partnerships as a business. I’ve worked with bloggers throughout the 4 years in business and I can tell you those that are nice and definitely ‘get it’ are those that succeed in the long run. It’s not just about getting free stuff and posting a quick photo. Taking gifted items should be taken seriously from any business, small or big and the partnership should be beneficial for both the blogger and the brand.
5. What SHOULD a retailer do when approaching a blogger?
Know something about the blogger and don’t send generic emails. In addition, always link back to your brand (you’d be surprised how many don’t add any info about their company and expect you to write back) and if possible showcase what they might be interested in with photos. Keep it short and sweet. And don’t be afraid to email more than once. I know lately my inbox has been packed and sometimes I just forget. Now that I have two kids and work so much, sometimes I just forget even when I love a brand!
6. What SHOULDN’T a retailer do when approaching a blogger?
Write someone else’s name, a generic email or expect things for free. Both of these happen to me on a daily basis. 🙂 I love helping small and big businesses and of course I do a lot of unpaid blogger work as I own a small business (and bloggers have done that for me). When I love something I’m not going to not share because I’m not paid. I am true to myself and share what I love.
7. How did you become an influencer? How did you grow your following?
Hard work, loving what I do, reading other blogs/instagrams to see what I love and networking.
8. Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next 5 years?
My business has grown due to my entire family and team’s hard work. I do set monthly goals but as for next year, five years – we know we want to grow but we don’t limit ourselves to what we may not know. We’ve done incredible things without knowing they would happen so we try to take it day by day and adjust to the retail climate as well as what happens in our personal family life. We are open to any possibilities and that’s what makes us special. We have goals but are flexible to new things.
9. What is your background? Work experience? Education?
I graduated with a degree in Business and Accounting and went straight into a big accounting firm as an auditor. Three years into it I hated it and quit my job. I went back to fashion school learning everything from design, to sewing to merchandising to planning. Merchandising was the field I loved so I started over as an assistant at a newly developed elevated kids brand. Within three years I was promoted to a director and loved my job and career. My love of fashion and business has been the best combination in running my business now.
10. How long have you had your blog?
Wow I think I’m coming up on 5 years. I moved to Chicago knowing 2 other women. I started it to share what I loved and in hopes of meeting like-minded friends and it’s been the best thing ever. I’ve met so many people and it’s also a large source of traffic to my retail/wholesale business.
11. Whom do you seek advice from for your business? Do you have a mentor?
My sister is definitely my sounding board. We support each other in all we do and it’s so nice to share ownership of t+j Designs with her. We both have the same work ethic and have the same goals in mind.
12. Describe the Red Soles and Red Wine reader/follower.
Gosh I’ve met a lot and it’s varied. Some are moms looking for inspiration to be motivated to dress up and go out. Others love shoes and how I will mix designer shoes and bags with style steal clothes. And others stop by to see my new designs and what I am up to in my business.
13. What social media channels are you active on for the blog? Which is your favorite and why?
I am most active on instagram, I love the social aspect and how visual it is and with limited time you can catch up with friends/bloggers/brands all at one sitting. And if you choose to you can flow over to people’s businesses and blogs easily. I post 2-3 times a day on it and find my followers and customers are active on it as well.
This article originally appeared in the April issue of WORK//BOOK™, our monthly e-magazine for WORK//SHOP™ members. WORK//SHOPAHOLICS™ can read the entire edition in the members’ area of www.retailerworkshop.com.
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