What I love about Instagram and social media is discovering amazing and creative talents, and the ability to cultivate friendships over common interests! Like many of you, I do my daily scroll through Instagram and discover new accounts from the ones I already follow. One day I stumbled upon Jeanne's Instagram (a few years ago) and have been following her account ever since. Through the years, we've left comments on each other's feed and found out we had mutual friends and connections along the way. I'm so grateful Jeanne took time out of her busy schedule to share her story as a Mom, Blogger, and Small Business Owner of Harlow & Grey (our favorite partyware company) with us! Read on to discover Jeanne's story.
Hi, Jeanne! Tell us about yourself and your background.
I studied business marketing and worked in luxury retail and an interior design firm before I started my blog 6 years ago. During my years of work, I've developed a love for luxury design and quality, and I've always enjoyed working in fields that hold really high standards. But I've also decided to leave my work after my first daughter was born. It was about when she was six months old that I wanted to get back into doing some work, but I didn't know what to do. So I started researching on "work-from-home" options and blogging as business came up. I didn't know anything about blogs at the time, so I started doing more research around blogging and got really inspired by some beautiful blogs out there. I was eager to create something on my own (and hopefully make a business out of it), so I decided to give blogging a try and that's how Shop Sweet Things was born.
What was the inspiration and vision behind your blog? How do you decide on what content to produce and share?
My vision has undoubtedly evolved over the years. The blog was very product focused at first because I just wanted to share my finds in fashion, home, and lifestyle. I simply wanted to help people seek out amazing products with quality designs at accessible prices. As my blog and audience grew, I began to share more personal content and also collaborated with brands to produce creative content such as DIY, entertaining/styling tips, and sharing my favorite spots in my city San Francisco. My angle has always been about simple luxury, so anything that I find tasteful, on-trend, and attainable to my readers, I would share. It really is an extension of myself.
Life as a Blogger and Small Business Owner can be hectic and differs from day to day. What does a normal workday usually look like for you?
My day usually starts at 6:30am. After I get my kids ready and drop them off at school, I come back home and jump right onto my emails around 8:30am. I try to juggle both my blog and my new business, Harlow & Grey. But lately, H&G has taken up a lot more of my time. I work on everything from sales outreach to partnerships, brainstorming photo shoots to social media content, business development to sales reports, managing customers to inventory. It can really get overwhelming sometimes. And some nights, I would attend industry events and my night would end around 8:30/9pm. If I don't have to attend events, I try to end my day around 5:30pm so that I can spend time with my family and have a decent meal together at the dinner table.
Let's talk about Harlow and Grey! We've been fans from the start (even before your official launch)! What inspired you to start creating and selling modern party goods?
After a few years into my blogging, I wanted to start a product line. I didn't know what I wanted to make but I knew it had to do with either home or entertaining. I'm not a designer or have product-design experience, so starting a line from scratch was certainly daunting. Luckily and coincidentally, my cousin Gloria Wong Tritasavit, who is an extremely talented event/wedding designer and also has a background in product design and fashion, approached me about the idea of starting a party ware line together. It was a good fit from the beginning because I lend my skills in marketing and social media, while she lends her skills in design and product development. We both also share a similar aesthetic in taste and style so that just made it that much easier. The inspiration behind Harlow & Grey is also similar to Shop Sweet Things -- making luxury accessible to everyone, and in this case, it's making stylish entertaining and chic partyware accessible to anyone who can dream it. And while most of our products are only one-time use, we pay a lot of attention to the design process and hope to produce thoughtful collections that are beautiful and versatile.
Does social media play a part in marketing Harlow and Grey and how has it helped spread brand awareness?
Absolutely! Social media plays a huge part in Harlow & Grey's marketing and brand building. As a new and growing brand with a limited budget, social media is one of the main channels of how our customers discover us and how we connect with them! And because our products are highly visual, platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest are really effective in terms of getting ourselves in front of our potential customers. I've also allotted more time to plan out my social media content these days and I love using tools like PLANOLY. It's a godsend!
What seems to be the most popular party good at the moment? Any hints or sneak peeks on what could be coming next for Harlow and Grey?
Our marble plate is definitely a top seller. People have used it from baby showers to bridal showers, and weddings to milestone birthdays. It truly makes us so happy to see how versatile this plate is and how much our customers are loving it – and yet, it's only paper plates. Since we just came out with the Noir Collection that is very strong and sexy, our next collection will tend to be more soft and dreamy.
Your girls are adorable! As a working mom, I always love to hear how other mommies "do it". How do you balance work and mom life?
Some days I only see them for 15 minutes and some days I get to take a whole day off with them. I think once you start your own business, you have to accept the fact that there's no such thing as having a consistent schedule. Some days or weeks you just have to work more hours than others, and you'll have to look at your calendar constantly to see how to fit everything in (or not).