Hello Alley: Fashion, Beauty, Brand and ... Baby!
It's seems like yesterday that I found Aubrey on Instagram and blindly reached out to her on behalf of FlipperSplash. I was pleasantly surprised when she not only responded, but agreed to meet for coffee! As mentioned in previous posts, starting a new company is brutal. No one knows who we are, no matter what I say, I feel spammy and our company name is FlipperSplash which isn't exactly indicative of a Marketing company (until we explain our crafty, cute meaning behind the name). Anyways, I was stoked to connect with such an admired Influencer right here in our neighborhood.
Over coffee we learned all about Aubrey and Hello Alley. Not only did we receive some crucial Influencer feedback that we were able to implement into our app, but we collectively developed the concept behind the Summer Social Series which really put us on the map here in Northeast Florida. We first met Aubrey when we were FlipperSmack and she was just starting out as a full-time Blogger. Fast forward a year and she has grown by 10K+ followers, introduced her very own label and announced the arrival of Baby Alley! It's been a whirlwind for both us and Aubrey, and we couldn't be more thankful to have such a driven, awesome chick on our team!
Almost a year after our first meeting, I was able to sit down with Aubrey again (for more coffee) and chat about where Hello Alley has taken her, what her future plans are and all about her newest endeavor - Basic B The Label!! I hope you enjoy getting to know the boss babe behind Hello Alley as much as i've enjoyed getting to know her over the last year!
FlipperSplash: When did Hello Alley start?
Aubrey Alley: I started my blog back in September of 2015 - that was when I officially launched it. Not many people know this, but I did almost a full year of research before actually starting my own blog. I wanted to know the back end of the business, graphic design, what I wanted the aesthetic of my blog to be and I wanted to be prepared.
FS: Were there any Bloggers that you followed before starting your own blog that served as inspiration?
AA: While I didn't start as a huge "Blog Follower", I started seeing Fashion Bloggers on Pinterest which led me to their blogs. One that stood out to me was a girl named Caitlin Covington. She was so incredible and once I discovered her, I fell down the rabbit hole and found so many other incredible Bloggers. Another Blogger that I really admire is Christine Andrew who runs @hellofashionblog and I really liked her because not only did she post incredible fashion, but she had so many other aspects of her life that she incorporated - a clothing brand, family and lifestyle stuff - and I really looked up to her as I was starting my own blog.
FS: What about local Bloggers?
AA: When I was doing all my research and fell down that rabbit hole, I discovered Alyson Haley, who runs Sequins and Things and Danielle of @shopdandy - both are Jacksonville locals. I've never met either (yet), but they have huge followings and have been doing this since the beginning - they are the OGs.
FS: What would your definition of an Influencer be?
AA: It's someone who has created a platform and a trusting relationship with their followers - someone who people go to and trust for advice on fashion or travel or anything really. I look at Influencing as a lifestyle. I document my life through my blog and through that transparency, I am able to inspire the decisions my followers make. We're not celebrities or anything, but just like people look up to them for purchasing decisions, people look to Influencers for a more localized, honest review on products. In this day in age, everything happens on Social Media and because of that everyone can be an Influencer.
(We couldn't have said it better ourselves!)
FS: What is your coffee drink of choice?
AA: I actually drink my coffee black - sometimes with a little Almond Milk. I also like tea, unsweetened, but if I feel like i'm in the mood for something sweet i'll go with a sugar-free Carmel Latte or something ... i'm not very "extra" when it comes to coffee.
(Aubrey and I also discussed the Starbucks "Medicine Ball", which I tried per her suggestion on Instagram - hellooooo Influencer Marketing - and she would like to set the record straight that since losing Teavana, the Medicine Ball is just not the same. Luckily, I found an at-home recipe just in case anyone wants to give it a try!)
FS: What is your morning routine?
AA: Well, I do brush my teeth every morning. Honestly, working from home makes is hard to get on a set routine - there are weeks when I have a great routine in place and then weeks where I have a bunch of random meetings at random times and i'm just trying to get my life together. The routine i'm trying to get into is to wake up around 6:30, drink some coffee and do my devotional, turn on The Today Show at 7 and chill for about 30 minutes, answer emails and then the rest of the day is just up in the air. I shoot every Tuesday which takes about half a day so I do keep that consistent. Since I don't have a set time I need to be in an office, I can be flexible, but need to remember that I still have a life and don't have to say yes to meetings that don't fit into the schedule I have set for myself.
FS: Clearly, a big part of your job is taking photos - Do you use the same photographer for every shoot?
AA: Yes! Viktoriya is ahhhmazing. When I first started, my husband did photography on the side, so I used him for the first year or so, but once I started blogging full-time I wanted to shoot during the week so we could enjoy our weekends. I went through four or five different photographers and, while they were all SO talented, it doesn't really work unless you click with somebody. Viktoriya and I kind of fell across each other and I now call her my left arm - she is a dream. It's good to have a photographer that's really good at what they do, but is also open to being creative and hearing your visions. Photographers have creative minds, but so do bloggers so it is often a challenge to meet in the middle, but Viktoria and I really found that synergy.
FS: What motivated you to take the plunge and be a full-time blogger?
AA: I did it because blogging is a full-time job. I was leaving my "9-5" and coming home to another full-time job that I had to keep up with. I figured it was scary to finally take that leap of faith, but I would never know where this could go if I didn't try and I could always go back to a 9-5 if it didn't work out. I have an incredibly supportive husband and a really supportive family which made the decision that much easier. Since then, i've been able to take on so many more campaigns and partnerships so it has given me the freedom to pursue my passion.
FS: Are there any Brands you are currently working with now that you have always wanted to partner with?
AA: So, I'm sure everyone has seen me posting Kendra Scott stuff all over Instagram - mainly because I love it. What people don't know is that when I first started my blog that was a goal of mine - to be able to do something with Kendra Scott because I already knew and loved that Brand. I actually emailed corporate for about two years trying to work with them. I sent them blog posts and examples of what I could do for the Kendra Scott brand. FINALLY, after two years, I heard a rumor that there was a Kendra Scott opening at the Town Center and I got the partnership! I always tell people, if you really want something, just keep going after it.
FS: What is your favorite vacation spot?
AA (without even a moment of hesitation) : Abacos, Bahamas. It's my happy place. I would live there forever.
FS: What is your favorite local restaurant?
AA: I'm not sure I can pinpoint an exact favorite, but I can tell you that I love Mexican food and i'm pretty sure I could eat that everyday.
FS: As a Fashion Blogger, do you have a fashion staple that everyone should have in their wardrobe?
AA: I say splurge on a good pair of shoes and a good bag and you can figure everything else out from there. You will have it forever and it will bring everything together.
FS: What's next for Hello Alley?
AA: Well, the first piece of exciting news is that we will be welcoming Baby Alley this September!! The second piece is the addition of my own line, Basic B The Label! Owning my own line has always been a dream and it has finally come true!
FS: Tell us a little bit about the Basic B Brand ...
AA: I am so excited to be the new owner of Basic B! One of my goals when starting my blog was to eventually create a clothing line as an extension of the blog. I had been researching ways to start, as I thought this was a good time for "Phase 2" and I just happened to fall into a lucky business deal and bought out a Jacksonville-owned clothing brand: Basic B! I've started to revamp a bit and thrown some of my own flare on the Brand, starting with a semi-new name: Basic B The Label. (follow us @basicbthelabel!) Right now, the brand remains witty, but chic graphic tees. I love graphic tees because you can dress them up and down, but I eventually plan to start producing some of the designs I've been creating over the years - so keep your eyes peeled for what's next! The direction I want to go with my new Brand is classic, with a trendy twist. Pieces that never go out of style, but stay up-to-date with current trends.
FS: What are your goals for the future of Basic B?
AA: Right now Basic B is carried in quite a few local boutiques. Through blogging, i've made friendships with so many store owners and I would love to get Basic B into more stores around Jax. Since I've also been on the Influencer side, working with companies for almost three years now, I feel like I have a small advantage when it comes to collaborating with other Bloggers for my Brand. Some of my best friends have huge social media followings and I know they'll help me get the word out - including promoting on my own blog! I'm really excited for what's in store and I already have so many ideas for new collections with Basic B ... ahhh I can't wait to share more!
FS: Let's talk baby! Do you have any Brands in your sights now that Baby A is on the way?
AA: ummmmm lol I'm totally not familiar with the "cool baby brands" yet... I guess I should start doing some research! In my defense, we still don't know what we're having so I surprisingly haven't done any shopping yet for Baby A! I will say, I would LOVE to collaborate with UppaBaby strollers because their strollers are SO cute and i've played with them a little and they seem really easy to maneuver.
FS: Will you start to incorporate more kid-friendly things into your blog or will your focus continue to center on fashion?
AA: You know, I've had to think really hard on this one and I still don't have a straightforward yes or no answer. I know I don't want Hello Alley to turn into a "mom blog" because that's not fair to my followers who have been with me from the beginning for fashion advice, but as an Influencer, it's my job to review/share all things "lifestyle". I'll definitely be sharing hwo to style maternity clothes because there's no way around that one (lol) and I know i'll do at least 1-2 "mom-centered" blog posts a month because it will be a big part of my life and I want to be a good resource. I personally love fashion and beauty ways too much to not cover that 90% of the time on my blog! I think i'll continue to run polls and surveys about what my readers want to see and go from there.
FS: How did @roscoe.the.golden take the news?
AA: Well, I don't think anyone knows this, but I let my brother run Roscoe's Instagram account (because he thinks he's his dog too and I don't have time to run three social media accounts, sorry Roscoe) when we announced we were expecting on social media, all of a sudden I started to see these sassy comments from Roscoe's account saying that we didn't discuss this with him, he still needs to be the center of attention, etc. ... it was hilarious! I give Brennan props on this because I was not expecting to see those funny comments. On another note, I kind of feel like Roscoe knows, he's been cuddling with his head on my tummy a lot more than usual, it's SO cute! He's going to make the cutest puppy brother!
FS: Do you have any advice to give someone thinking of starting a blog?
AA: I actually have a lot of people that have emailed me asking just that and usually they are on the verge of starting it, so my advice is to just launch it and get back to me in two weeks because then you will have some specific questions. There is just SO much to think about when getting started that it's tricky to cover it all. I can share that consistency is key - post style, how often you post, what you post, etc. As cliche as it sounds, stay true to yourself, don't get lost in the social media world. Brands will want to work with you for being you and your followers will value your transparency. Plus, it's too hard to try to be someone else. Also, it's easy to compare yourself to other bloggers and fall into self-doubt, so I encourage everyone to use that as motivation to be the best version of yourself. Just stay real.