I’m beyond pumped to share this month’s Hustle Profile with Audree Lopez! Audree has been living that fempreneur life for years and left her full-time job to pursue her side hustles which include a blog, a styling label, freelance writing, and more! Read on and get inspired by Audree’s serious drive and hustle…
Tell me about yourself.
My name is Audree Lopez and I’m a fashion stylist, freelance fashion editor, blogger, and industry consultant. I am originally from Arizona and graduated from Arizona State University with degrees in marketing and journalism. I moved to New York City after graduation and began my career working as a fashion assistant at various print magazines including Glamour, Redbook, and Editorialist. After I left print, I did freelance contracts for brands such as Alice + Olivia, J.Crew, Marc Jacobs, and Club Monaco. Today, I am the freelance fashion editor at StyleCaster.com, I style for various brands and publications under my own styling label, Audree Kate Studios, as well as assist in-house teams like Alice + Olivia.
I also run my blog, Simply Audree Kate full-time and oversee a small team of kick-ass interns! The website focuses on fashion, styling tips, and working in the fashion industry. I have had the opportunity to collaborate with amazing brands like Coach, Fossil, Starbucks, and Olay. In 2017 I launched a mini-workshop series for college students wanting to work in the fashion industry and hosted the workshops at a handful of schools including Fashion Institute of Technology, UC Davis, Arizona State University, and Kent State University. Recently in March 2018, I published an eBook called “Fashion Fundamentals”! It’s in conjunction with the workshop series and is sold on simplyaudreekate.com
What made you want to start your blog and styling business?
I originally wanted to attend a fashion college to study fashion design but ended up getting really good scholarship to Arizona State University. Plus my parents encouraged me to get a business degree first (which I am so thankful I did!). I quickly realized there were little to no fashion resources at ASU and in Arizona, so I had some friends and photographers suggest I start a blog to showcase my work and act as an online resume.
At the end of my freshman year in college, I started styling for a handful of local lifestyle photographers—I styled their engagement, graduation and family shoots. A few months after I started styling, I launched the blog. It was originally a digital portfolio where I did sewing tutorials of how I reconstructed thrift store purchases, pictures of friends I styled, and mini-trend articles. After about a year of blogging, the website shifted into more of my personal style, outfit pictures, and lifestyle content.
Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur?
Yes, I do! I have always been in a start-up environment and mindset. I actively seek out new opportunities to break the mold and I don’t like following routine or tradition. In college I helped launch a student safety initiative with student government, I was the editor-in-chief for a start-up lifestyle website, I was a founding member in my sorority, and I co-founded ASU’s fashion student organization. Today, I run my two companies—Simply Audree Kate and Audree Kate Studios—and I’m constantly working on new activations, and projects. I definitely identify with the entrepreneur title.
When did you say ok, I can call myself a business owner/entrepreneur now? What happened for you to give yourself that recognition?
It happened in the past year when I finally left my desk job and realized that I wasn’t under another brand or company. It gave me the confidence to start thinking of my blog and side projects as a legitimate business. Once I put myself in that mindset, people took me, and the businesses, more seriously, and bigger and better opportunities started coming my way. It was never a benchmark goal or amount of money that helped me define myself as a business owner. It was an internal mindset that I had, and once I was okay with just “owning my shit”—I started treating it like a serious business, others did too, and everything else just fell into place.
How do you balance growing your business with other parts of your life?
It has definitely been a challenge because so much of my business is my personal life. The blog is a personal scope into my life, so sometimes it’s difficult to separate the two and compartmentalize Simply Audree Kate vs. Audree Lopez. I balance both by trying to keep business things during the week and give 110% to Simply Audree Kate, Audree Kate Studios and StyleCaster, and then on the weekends, I focus on myself. I limit the time I work, I hang out with friends who aren’t in the industry, I have been picking up hobbies or routines that aren’t for the business (like working out, cooking or traveling).
What specifically do you find most difficult about balancing your business and everything else?
The most challenging part is that there is not a set 9-5 routine where you can turn off work. When I worked at an office, I would put in my hours, leave and not do any work or think about it until 9 am the next day. It’s completely different when you own a business because you are constantly “on” and thinking about your to-do list, pitching your company to other people and on call in case anything happens.
How can you tell when you’re stretching yourself too thin and you need to pull back to take a break? What do you do when you’re feeling that way?
For years I was the energizer bunny—go, go, go until I physically broke down and got sick or too exhausted. I now know when I’m stretching myself too thin when I feel overwhelmed, not excited about the things I’m working on or the events I’m attending, or I actually start getting sick or too tired. The point of working for yourself is so you have the flexibility and enjoy what you’re working on. So in order to get back into the groove of things, I start stepping back and saying no and focus on my “must-do” list versus my “to-do” list. I cancel RSVP’s, reschedule meetings, delegate tasks to my team and take some time away from my computer or phone. Just giving yourself a little time to regroup and accept that you don’t have to, and should not, try to do it all.
How or where do you find inspiration for your style and your work?
I find inspiration online, magazine editorials, and just around New York. I find that some of my best outfit inspiration is from street style pics at fashion weeks or people I pass on the street.
What is the one thing you want women to get from you and your business?
Fashion is powerful, inspiring, and fun. I don’t want people to look at fashion as superficial, exclusive, or serious—it’s a creative outlet and I wanted to work in fashion to help women empower themselves through your outfits. When you feel good in the outfit you’re wearing, you can take on anything that day.
How do you interact with other bloggers and entrepreneurs to support each other?
I subscribe to their mailing lists, actively stalk all of their social media, and share their content! I have a couple really close friends who are bloggers and entrepreneurs, so I set time aside every couple weeks with them to chat about our businesses/side hustles and give each other advice, support, and catch up about work. It’s nice to have a community of women who are going through the same ups and downs as you are.
How many hours do you typically spend on your business in any given week?
Over 100 hours. It sounds insane, but my days are packed with meetings, events, phone calls, photo shoots, and then actual computer time. I’m at the point in my life right now that I have the time to dedicate to work, and I am taking full advantage of it.
I have some really exciting projects coming up in 2018! I am diving more into video and styling content on Simply Audree Kate, I am styling for a handful of brands and modeling agencies through my label Audree Kate Studios, and then also writing/editing for other websites and publications. I think in the next five years I’ll still be working like crazy (lol) and expanding the Audree Kate brand. I want to focus on styling personal/celebrity clients and working towards designing product. I don’t know exactly what is next in my businesses, but I’m excited to see what 2018 and the next five, to 20 years has in store for me!
Is there any advice you would give someone who is looking to start their own business?
Do your research, trust your gut, and find your niche.
What do you wish you had known before you started?
I should have taken it more seriously from Day 1. I was afraid to dive in and treat it as a business until I hit these mental checkpoints (i.e. the number of social followers, amount of money made, etc.). I felt like I wasn’t credible as a business until others told me so, but these roadblocks only hindered my initial growth because I was waiting for things to just happen. Once I turned that mindset around and treated it like a business, it became one, and I saw more growth.
Where can people reach you if they have questions or want to follow you?
Anything else you would like to add?
Thank you for asking me to do this interview! xoxo