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Hi, nice to meet you.
I'm Hallie, a Midwest native, New York City transplant and the mind behind corals + cognacs. If you're looking for an online destination for stylish inspiration and musings on Manhattan living, you've come to the right place.
I hope you enjoy reading corals + cognacs as much as I enjoy writing it.
FAQ //LOCATION: New York, New York •BY WAY OF: The Midwest (Cleveland/Chicago) •HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR STYLE? Attainable, trendy and fun. I’m constantly wearing unexpected pairings – like statement pumps and a graphic tee. •FAVORITE ITEM IN YOUR CLOSET? The vintage Gucci clutch I thrifted for $40. •ANY OBSESSIONS? I like my coffee black, my heels high and my martinis dirty. •GUILTY PLEASURES? Complex carbohydrates and shoe shopping -- both in excess. (And SoulCycle, as a result.)
ARE YOU A FULL-TIME BLOGGER? No, I work as a Development Manager and Contributing Editor at Glam.com. •WHY DID YOU START YOUR BLOG? I've spent nearly seven years on the corporate grind, where sartorial humor and an expertly crafted color-block can get lost in the boardroom. As a result, I decided to create a blog -- a space where I’d hoped my writing, styling and excessive shoe collection would be better comprehended. •WHAT’S IT ABOUT? Living stylish and spontaneously in New York City – and beyond. I aim to inspire others to have fun with fashion and to live lightheartedly •HOW’D YOU THINK OF THE NAME? To be honest, the name just came to me. I’m a big color-blocker and a sucker for alliteration in writing. It just fit. •WHAT’S THE CORRECT WAY TO WRITE IT? corals + cognacs.
HOW DO YOU PRONOUNCE IT? corals and cone-yaks. •WHAT KIND OF CAMERA DO YOU USE? A Canon T3i with a 50mm f/1.4 lens. •DON’T YOU FEEL WEIRD TAKING PHOTOS OF YOURSELF? Absolutely. Everyone looks at me like I’m insane – especially when it’s cold. Wouldn’t you? •DO YOU WORK WITH ADVERTISERS/SPONSORS? Yep! Shoot me an e-mail and let’s talk. •HOW ELSE CAN WE KEEP IN TOUCH? On Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Today is all about the challenge of looking at your life from a unique perspective. And in order to challenge you to do so, we’ll use mine as an example.
A lot of you have been wondering about this, so I’ll just come out and say it:
I quit my full-time job three months ago.
Well, I shouldn’t say quit — I made a thoughtful, calculated decision to move on from it. Let’s start from the beginning:
WAY BACK WHEN
My very first job out of college was in sales and recruitment.
At the time, I was living in Chicago, working as a mentor to college students, matching them with internships. (The company is called Dream Careers, but was then known as University of Dreams – as you might imagine, I had a hell of a time on sales calls).
After a few years, I slowly began making my way into the agency world.
I started in quantitative market research. My client was BP, and – I shit you not – my first day on the job was April 21, 2010 (the morning that followed the infamous Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill).
Market research is a really numbers-oriented industry, so it was here that my blog was born.
I love to write, and I wanted to manifest a much-needed creative outlet and connect with other like-minded people. Though it was more like taking unflattering pictures with a self-timer on a point-and-shoot camera back then.
Two years later, I started working in digital/social media marketing.
I can say with 100% certainty that my blog and self-taught social experience got me that position – and every job thereafter – so never discount how hard you work on your hobbies and blogs, my friends. Neva eva.
LIKE BIGGIE SAYS, IT WAS ALL A DREAM
My entire life, I’d dreamt about moving back to New York City. (I spent two months interning here when I was in college.)
While in Chicago, I somehow found a way to travel to-and-from the city every few months. My heart would race a bit faster as Manhattan’s nine-mile skyline grew closer with each flight’s descent — ultimately transforming my dream into a full-blown obsession.
In February 2013 (two years ago), I flew in for Fashion Week.
Prior to that, I researched the shit out of a handful of companies that I really wanted to work for. I found someone to contact, reached out, told them I’d be in town and arranged for meetings.
I remember leaving for the airport feeling hopeful, re-energized and ready to continue the hot pursuit of my Manhattan dream. I had left half of what I’d brought with me at Jessica’s apartment, vowing that I’d be back full-time sooner rather than later.
I’d just passed through security and was making my way to the gate when my cell phone rang. It was an unknown 212 area code – I got the job.
… And they needed me to start in two weeks.
(Before we move on, I feel compelled to stop here and remind you that if you really, really want something – you can have it. Just put it out there. But be prepared to work like hell for it.)
The next day, I gave my notice at my job in Chicago. A week(ish) later, my apartment was sublet and I was boarding a plane to New York City with a big ass carry-on in one hand and a one-way ticket in the other. (I’d suggest reading that story, too – it’s one of my favorite blog posts.)
HERE & NOW
After a year at my New York-based agency, I left to pursue a full-time career in business development and blogger recruitment at Glam (now Mode) Media. Given my passions, background and the fact that I’d been a Creator within Glam’s publisher network for nearly two years, it seemed like a natural transition.
Fast forward to a few months ago (on September 30, to be exact), which was my last day as a full-time employee.
Now, you’re probably wondering (1) why and (2) what’s next.
To be completely honest, I didn’t love my job (despite having lots of respect for the company and my colleagues). But, you know, I didn’t hate it either. I was just okay with it.
And in reality, this is where a lot of us find ourselves – content. In relationships and situations that are “just okay.” In jobs that pay the bills (very important) and allow for a glass of wine on the weekend (also important).
But being content scares the shit out of me.
During the evolution of my life from Chicago to New York, I’ve grown as a person, a working professional and a brand. And sometimes, you’ve just got to peel back your layers.
As I know a lot of you can relate to, blogging and working full-time is extremely taxing. Lots of respect to all of you who continue to do the balancing act every day — whether it’s work, blogging, family or whatever else.
Over (a long) time, I came to realize that if you whole-heartedly believe in your passion and you want it to grow exponentially, you need to invest your attention, time, energy and (a lot of) money into it.
So, here I am. A full-time blogger in some sense, but not really.
Here’s the thing about being your own boss:
Yeah, it’s fun. But the hours are non-stop, the vacation time non-existent and the benefits expensive. Quite frankly, it’s a lot easier to be someone else’s employee. Working for yourself is rewarding, amazing and exhilarating, but hard. Like, really fucking hard. (Sorry, Mom — I’m cussing today.)
… But I knowingly chose to have a 24/7 so that I don’t have to have a nine-to-five.
Blogging-as-a-business is a new(ish) concept to many. Why would you spend so much time on something when there was no guaranteed paycheck? How the hell do you even make a living? (That’s a post for a different day.)
(A little disclaimer, too — I’m not advocating for you to quit your job. I’m just sharing my story.)
Now, I know you probably have some questions about how this impacts the direction of my site moving forward, and you might even be wondering about my journey as it relates to your own. I hope these answers provide a bit of clarit:
So, are you a full-time blogger?
Sort of, but I don’t think of it that way. Yes, I have paid partnerships that make sense for corals + cognacs, but I write for other publications (like Glam) and consult for a variety of brands and businesses, too. And know that “blogger” is an all-encompassing term, in many cases meaning writer, photographer, editor, graphic designer, web developer, marketing manager, social media director, accountant and so on.
Do you want to be a full-time blogger?
Why did you quit your job, then?
The lifestyle of being someone else’s full-time employee wasn’t right for me and my life at the time. When the balancing act becomes too much and you don’t have time to move the needle on things that can help take your brand the next level, you have to make a decision. This wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision, though – it was one that manifested over many, many months.
What is your schedule like?
It’s similar to yours, probably – but some days I’m in a coffee shop; other days I’m at home.
What do you do all day? Each day is different, really. I spend most of my day writing, editing and creating. Some days are devoted to meeting with my photographer, e-mail answering, brainstorming meetings with brands and meet consulting clients for coffee. And, okay, maybe wine.
So, is it worth it? This is a subjective question, but for me in my life right now – yes. I’m grateful to have the flexibility and creative freedom to think more clearly about what it was I want to do.
Are you going to get another job?
For now, I’m really enjoying the opportunity to explore the flexibility, freedom and challenge that comes with being my own boss. That said, though, I do have a huge passion project in the works – as well as a strong intuition knowing that I’m meant for more.
What do you mean?
You’ll see… Give me a couple of weeks to gather and write my thoughts on that.
I know. Soon!
Will your blog change at all in 2015?
Yes and no. My objective for corals + cognacs has always been authenticity and consistency, so not much will change overall. I’m really enjoying writing about lifestyle-related topics (health, wellness, fitness, living in New York), so those will continue — in greater volume.
What was the hardest part about your transition?
You know, when you dream about quitting to “blog full-time” or whatever else, you often forget about the boring shit you have to do — like invoices, taxes, pitching yourself, dealing with high-maintenance clients and the fact that no one will pay you on time. In addition, no guaranteed income means no guaranteed lifestyle.
I want to do the same thing (eventually). What advice can you share? Well, for one…
No, just kidding… But really.
If you want to be taken seriously, you need to treat your blog that way. From design and copy editing down to what you’re saying on social media. Invest your time, stay true to yourself and treat everyone (especially your readers) with respect. If you do this, really cool opportunities and relationships will come from it.
For me, this recently manifested in a full-page feature in Redbook magazine’s December/January issue (below). I’m still pinching myself!
What if I don’t know what I want to do with my life?
Girl, we’re all faking it. Don’t let not knowing where to start get in your way. It’s really easy to feel overwhelmed by possibility, the uncertain and the fear of failure. But you’ll never have everything figured out – just keep going.
Any other general career advice?
Believe in yourself. Save money. Stop making excuses and get your shit done.
Now, guys: Like I said; I’m not challenging you to up and quit your job(s), but I am encouraging you to take a hard look at your life. Are you happy? Fulfilled? Ah-mazing… Teach us!
But if you’re comfortable – and you’re not content with being that comfortable – change that. Instead of trying to predict the future, why not create it?
There’s no time like the present, my friends. And like we’ve talked about – you can do literally anything you want as long as you set your mind to it. Right?