Blogger Interview: Cami Fannin

Blogger Interview: Cami Fannin

It’s been a while since my last blogger interview, but this one was definitely worth the wait! I’m excited to introduce you all to Cami Fannin of Cami Like a Tank Top. Cami and I actually met in our sorority in college, and we also both majored in Strategic Communication. I was always impressed by how kind (skip to her answer for question 10 if you don’t believe me) and smart Cami was, and I’ve enjoyed following her blog and Instagram account over the past year.

I was excited to hear her perspective on things, because I find all of her content to be extremely inspirational! I think you all will agree when you read this interview. Cami talks honestly about how she manages to stay true to herself and create genuine content, and has great advice for anyone starting out in the blogging world.

So without further adieu, let’s dive into the interview!

  1. To start things off, can you share one “fun fact” most people don’t know about you?

I’m awful at fun facts – can that be it? HAHA! I think a lot of people are surprised to learn that I was once trained in flying trapeze and wanted to join the circus for a while! I’ve also never broken a bone, except for my right pinky toe twice.

  1. I’d love to hear the origin story of Cami Like A Tank Top. What inspired you to start a blog and second Instagram? Did you have a specific goal in mind? Did you have any fears going into it?

I’ve always been a creative writer and stylist in a sense. I used to want to become a fashion magazine editor or fashion buyer, so I played around with many different blogs over my lifetime. I actually recently found my very first blog I wrote with my friend in middle school, so if you want a good laugh check it out here: http://couturecrazed.blogspot.com/.

I stopped blogging my senior year of college because I just didn’t have the time or direction to turn it into something of worth. A few months later, I was graduating college, getting engaged, turning 21, moving to a new city, and starting my first full time job all at the same time. I couldn’t find articles on the advice I needed, like how to make new friends in a city and how to negotiate your salary. I saw there was a gap between college bloggers and “adult” bloggers who cooked 3 course meals and wore designer clothing. I decided to launch Cami Like a Tank Top last year to provide conversations on how to adult, which incompasess topics on style (focused on affordable items from Target and H&M), wellness, adulting, relationships and more!

In terms of goals, I try not to get too caught up in the “I want to hit X amount of followers” or “collaborate with X brand” type goals. My goal is to just have a creative outlet and foster a community. I want my blog to be like a friend – providing some fun anecdotes and real advice.

I had a million fears! I still do. I actually kept my blog a secret and didn’t tell anyone I knew personally about it for about 6 months because I was embarrassed people were going to judge me or criticize me. I don’t have the largest following (but I do have the best, they are all so amazing!) so I thought people would think I’m stupid for trying something like this and not succeeding quickly. Luckily I’ve found that the blogging community is insanely supportive of everyone regardless of your following, content, etc. We all want each other to succeed in whatever our goals are.

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  1. One of the things I struggle with most is finding time to blog and focus on Instagram, on top of a full time job. Not only do you have a full time job, but you’re also planning a wedding! Do you have any tips for managing your time and staying motivated?

Oh my gosh, if I did then all my problems would be solved! Honestly that has been my biggest struggle. I get very overwhelmed but I just take it day-by-day. I’m sure I could dedicate more time to my blog if I didn’t have a full-time job or a wedding, but my blog was never supposed to be more than a hobby for me. I’m so thankful for what it has become, but I always remind myself at the end of the day, it’s just Instagram. I can control how much time I put into it and I may be a “smaller account” because of that, but life is so so so much more than that app for me right now.

That didn’t really answer your question so for time management I recommend making a schedule and planning out content well in advance. I normally have 1-2 shoot days a month where I just cram in different outfits and shoots to have content for the next few weeks. I also try to write on the weekends or 1-2 nights of the week after work. I also have a schedule for when I post certain series and I have sale trackers to help me plan out sale alert posts. It’s all about being prepared.

Motivation is a different story. I’m actually going through a bit of a re-brand because I found myself constantly uninspired and unmotivated. I thought about deleting my blog, but I realized I just needed to pivot what I was blogging about and I feel so much more inspired. I would suggest taking time away if you are unmotivated and really think about what content you are producing and why. If you can’t answer that, you’re probably forcing whatever you’re doing and if you force it too much, it will cause you unnecessary stress and lower your content quality.

  1. A lot of people struggle with comparing themselves to others, and worrying about not being good enough, especially when we spend so much time on social media. What’s your advice for staying positive and self-confident?

Hi, this is me right now! I think the best thing to remember is that everyone, and I mean everyone, goes through this. It’s hard to see someone’s post or following and not compare it to yours. I just try to remember that what you are seeing is most likely a highly-styled photo that was taken by a photographer and then edited – it’s gorgeous and well-thought out but it’s not representative of real life. It’s a highlight – a carefully crafted highlight. Nothing wrong with that on its own but you can’t compare that photo to what you see in the mirror. Be yourself and just have fun. In particular for social media, if it stops being fun, take a break and/or unfollow that person. I promise you it is the best thing you can do for yourself.

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  1. I’m a huge proponent of women supporting women, and working to lift each other up. Who are some of your idols in the blogging and Instagram community, and why?

There are so many are you kidding me?! I love the entire Instagram community. If I had to choose, I love Lauren of Lake Shore Lady, Kate of Classy and Kate, Wesley of Have a Wesley Day and Katie of Katie’s Bliss. These ladies have so much fun putting together their content and you can see that genuine passion in their photos. I love how they engage with everyone, and even before I started blogging, these ladies would reply to my emails and comments and really cared about the community they were fostering. I definitely look up to them. I also love Lucie Fink because her content is just inspiring in the deepest sense. She reminds me that it is important to constantly learn new things and open up your creativity every day.

  1. What is one piece of advice you’d give someone who wants to start their blogging/Instagram journey?

Really really realllllyyy evaluate why you are doing it, what your goals are and how you plan to get there. I wish I had thought more about this because I probably would’ve saved myself lots of stress. It’s so easy to get caught up in the “Instagram game” and to think you want to be like X when that’s not you. That’s a lesson I’m going through right now. I got so caught up with followers and engagement and collaborations that I really lost my voice. I was posting content that was not genuine to myself and I was basically forcing it to be like every other top blog out there. Now that I’m creating content that is genuine to who I am outside of the blog, I’m having much more fun. I had to remind myself that for me personally, this is supposed to be a fun hobby, not a job.

Blogging takes hard work. It sounds silly at first, but it is hard work and it’s frustrating and there’s a lot of judgement from the outside world. You have to have thick skin and be ready to overcome all of those challenges and more.

Sorry if that’s a little harsh, but I wish someone was as honest with me starting out. With that said, if you really want to do this, go for it! Blogging is such a fun thing to learn and create. When starting one, I also recommend reaching out to people you admire on the platform. I DM’d a lot of amazing women who are now my blogging friends. You never know what could happen.

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  1. What three things are at the top of your gratitude list right now?

My fiancé, my family & friends (because friends are basically my family) & a healthy body that loves green juice (I just drank that so it’s top of mind right now!).

  1. We originally met back in college, in our sorority. What is one piece of advice you would give to College Cami?

YES, BOOM BOOM (ADPi’s will understand). I would tell College Cami to stop planning, and just enjoy. I spent all of college preparing for post-college life. I got an internship my freshman year and always had a side job or internship after that. I once had 5 jobs, on top of school. I was obsessed with my future career. Once I met Jake I just focused on graduating and moving in with him and our future relationship. I barely enjoyed senior year because of that. Very rarely in school did I ever just stop and realize where I was at the moment. I didn’t go out very often or do crazy adventures. I was so obsessed with the next step and treated college just as a stepping stone to my future. I would recommend to anyone to just enjoy where you are. Focus on your career, yes, but adult life hits you fast so enjoy being young and irresponsible for a little while.

  1. What accomplishment are you most proud of, and what is something you still hope to accomplish in your lifetime?

That’s tough but I would say that I most proud of the career I’ve built, and I hope to continue building it. I’ve always wanted to be a C-suite exec or entrepreneur so we will see what happens!

As for blogging, I’m proud of where I am right now and the content I have coming up. I remember feeling so happy when I was accepted into RewardStyle (Like to Know It) and called my mom crying that I was “a real blogger now!” because that’s what I thought it took to be a “real blogger” (spolier alert, that isn’t)! 10K Instagram followers would be my next goal because I think the swipe-up feature is fun.

I’m also proud to have run my first 5K this summer after saying I was going to do it for 5+ years!

  1. I have to throw a fun one in here to wrap this up. If you could have one super power, what would you choose, and why?

As a funny response, I would say the power to conjure up cookies at any moment. In a more serious sense, I wish I had the power to take away someone’s emotional pain. Like if a girl was crying over a boy, I wish I could hand her a teddy bear and Ben & Jerry’s to make her feel better. Or be able to give super hugs that just heals someone’s heart when they get one.

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I hope you all enjoyed getting to know Cami! You can find her on Instagram @camilikeatanktop and at her blog www.camilikeatanktop.com.

I’d love to get to know you all better. Pick your favorite question from this interview and add your answer in the comments below!

Blogger Interview: Julie Cao

Blogger Interview: Julie Cao

I had the pleasure of interviewing another travel blogger, who has a unique perspective on travel as an expat in Canada, a freelance travel writer and full-time travel blogger. Check out her travel blog and get to know her in my interview below.

When and why did you decide to become a travel blogger?

I initially set up my blog five years ago to provide a journal for myself of living in Hawaii, and to show readers the reality of living in paradise. I wrote a post on the things I learned after living in Hawaii, and readers and my friends in Hawaii told me they loved my post and could totally relate to what I wrote about.  This inspired me to share more of my island life.

In the About Me section of your blog, you say: For me, living abroad is the best way to get to know a country. What do you think you learn from living abroad that a tourist cant learn during shorter travel? 

Living abroad has given me an extended period of time to explore my host city and country, and get to know some aspects of a place other travelers are not aware of. For example, after living in Hawaii for a few years, I realized it was not all paradise. It also has many negative sides – too expensive to live, very limited job opportunities, island fever, and has the second worst traffic in the USA (behind Los Angeles). One cannot notice these parts by just going there on vacation. 

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Youre a full-time travel blogger and freelance travel writer. How did you transition your passion for writing into your full-time job?

I did not think much, I just decided to do it full-time because it would be the best to combine my profession with my passion for travel and sharing stories. When I just started out, I had no experience in travel writing. I joined the MatadorU travel writing program to hone my writing skills and get myself exposed to the travel journalism industry. There are support groups, valuable resources and work opportunities in the program that helped me transition as well.

What are you most proud of that you have accomplished so far with your blog?

One of my favorite parts of blogging is being a part of the supportive travel blogging community. I have met many bloggers and we have been very supportive of each other. You know the feeling when you get to know someone and totally understand what you are doing?

What are you still hoping to accomplish?

I still want to finish the MatadorU travel writing program. I signed up for the course three years ago and I am still only halfway through it. It is a huge commitment and it’s easy to get distracted, but I am determined to finish this course so I can step up my career.

What has been your favorite place youve visited, and where do you still want to visit? 

Alaska. It is the best place to visit in the USA if you love natural beauty. I have been to Alaska five times and I still want to return. 

I also wish to visit Churchill Manitoba, the polar bear capital of the world with 300 days Aurora Borealis every year and only 3,000 residents. 

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What is the biggest lesson travel blogging has taught you?

Always be kind and generous. The world is very small and the travel blogging community is no exception. Everyone loves working with those who are nice and easy to work with. 

What are some of the things you are most grateful for in your life right now?

Having the opportunity to live abroad and travel around the world. I have seen poverty and people struggle with daily life and it makes me feel privileged to live the life I want in a developed country and be able to travel.

Who are some of the women (both in your personal life and famous people) who inspire you the most and why?

Julia Dimon, co-host of Word Travel, gave me the idea for travel writing in the first place. Her travel show revealed that it is possible to travel around the world full-time. She is quirky and practical, and you can tell she is very intuitive and smart.

I am also grateful to have met my travel blogger friend, Emily Luxton, when I just started out. We collaborated with each other and she invited me to her Facebook group where I had the opportunity to meet and collaborate with other travel bloggers. She offered me valuable advice on blogging and encouraged me to work with tourism boards when my blog was just five months old. Thanks to her, I was then offered a self-organized press trip to Winnipeg early this year despite my blog being so new.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start a travel blog?

Focus on creating high-quality content, and try not to look at the numbers and your blog statistics. I used to obsess over social media, blog statistics and comment pods, but I found it very time-consuming and can only get me so far. If you offer something readers really need and write from your heart, followers will come and ask for more.

What is one thing most people dont know about you? 

I do not like most sweet foods and desserts, but chocolate and ice-cream are exceptions.

 

Make sure to follow Julie on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest to follow along with her exciting travels.

 

Table Talk Tuesday With Jenny (Glam TravelGram)

Table Talk Tuesday With Jenny (Glam TravelGram)

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of chatting with Jenny from the awesome travel blog Glam TravelGram over Skype. Jenny is such a sincere person, and her passion for travel and writing really inspired me to put even more work into my blog. I know you all will get just as much out of reading her responses to my questions, as I did with talking to her.

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Why did you decide to start a travel blog?

I have a passion for travel, and it’s something I get to do a lot in my career [as a conference planner]. Throughout my career I’ve seen the beauty of travel, and with this passion I wanted to do more. I was always posting on social media and writing memoirs about my experiences. I found myself almost over-posting on social media, but my friends liked it, and they were always asking me for advice.

One night I was talking to my brother on the phone, and I said I had been thinking of starting a blog for a while, but I wasn’t sure if I should start it because there are so many travel bloggers out there, and I didn’t know if I could succeed. He said he thought I had the talent for it, and I should try it and just see how it goes. That same night, I started my blog!

I like what you said under ‘Why I Travel’ in the About section of your blog: “Every time I leave my home, I come back to it a different and better version of myself.” What exactly is it about traveling that you think makes you a better version of yourself?

I’ve met people from all walks of life, and seen people who live in much harsher environments than myself. Seeing people from different religions and customs has really widened my scope of knowledge about the world we live in, and makes me realize how blessed I am in my own life. After seeing so many people from different backgrounds, speaking different languages, I realized we aren’t so different. We all speak the same language of love. We all want to be loved and we all want to love. The world is so connected.

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What is the biggest lesson traveling has taught you?

Being present, in the moment, and really seeing what’s in front of you. I wasted a lot of time taking photos and being on my phone while I was traveling, and now I’m trying to focus on seeing things with my own two eyes, and actually recording those memories in my head so I have stories to tell instead of just photos to show. 

What are you most proud of that you have accomplished so far with your blog?

I’m proud that I got to learn some of the technical aspects of blogging. I like to go behind the scenes and make sure that I’m tuned into my website as a whole, to make sure it is running properly, and that it’s aesthetically pleasing to my readers. I want to know the ins and outs of everything.

But what makes me most proud is that I’ve been able to really explore my creativity and my writing skills. One of the articles I wrote recently on the Mojave Dessert, I would call my masterpiece, because I put a lot of thought into that. I hope to continue writing like that and really exploring the kinds of things I can do with my writing.

What are you still hoping to accomplish?

I’d like to grow a steady readership, which I think is the most difficult part in blogging; building a loyal audience. My blog is still only 3 months old, so I’m just hoping I can keep a steady readership from here on out. To gain followers I’ve been doing what I did from the beginning, which is promoting on social media. Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are my main portals, and they’ve all been doing fairly well, Instagram being at the top.

It sounds like you have a lot going on in your life from your career to your blog to your extensive traveling schedule. How do you balance everything in your life? 

Having the support of my husband has helped a lot. He is constantly reminding me what’s most important in life, and helping me prioritize. I’m also a very organized person. I plan out my days and set goals for myself which helps me accomplish everything. But I wouldn’t be able to do all of this without the support of my husband. He understands and supports me. So no matter what, I make time for him because he is my priority.

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Who are you most inspired by in your life, and why?

My main inspiration is my mom. She’s Super Woman and I don’t know how she gets everything done. I look to her and I think “okay, I want to be like that.” So she definitely inspires me in a lot of ways.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start a blog?

My biggest piece of advice is to not give up. After about a year, a lot of people decide to stop blogging. So I say, push through it. Get through that year. Keep going no matter what. One of the biggest lessons blogging has taught me is to have patience.

What is one thing most people don’t know about you?

I’m a hardcore perfectionist, from the way that I dress to the way that I write. It takes me ten times longer than most people to do things because it’s never perfect, and I want to produce excellent things. My dad taught me growing up that you have to always be striving to be better than you were yesterday. And those have become the words I live by. I can’t even help it, it’s in my blood! A lot of people don’t know that about me, but I guess now they’re going to know…


Don’t worry, Jenny, your perfectionist secret is safe with us! 🙂

I hope you all enjoyed this interview. Please take a moment to check out Jenny’s awesome travel blog and social media accounts (linked below), and as always please get in touch with me if you’d like to be featured on my interview series!

My email if you’d like to collaborate: shelly@shellyray.com

Table Talk Tuesday With Haley Marie

Table Talk Tuesday With Haley Marie

I’m back with another Table Talk Tuesday, and I’m so excited for all of you to get to know my interviewee, Haley, from the blog Haley Marie. Haley and I have been chatting over email for a while now, and I was immediately impressed by how smart and driven she was, as a freshman in college. I can remember back to being a freshman and how lost and confused I was about where I wanted to go with my life, so I am really blown away by how Haley’s ability to set goals and go after what she wants.

So without further adieu, let’s get into the interview so you can see what I mean…

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Can you tell me the story of how you decided to start your blog, and what your blogging journey has been like so far?

Though my current blog, Haley Marie, is only a couple months old, I have actually been blogging for about three or four years now. I guess the best way to start is actually with the story behind my first blog, so I’ll just roll with that! I was fifteen years old, and I was in a bit of a rough patch as far as my personal life was concerned. I was aimlessly searching for something to fill my time and build myself back up again. So, I followed my gut and returned to my roots by filling my time with something I’d always loved to do: writing! I channeled all my energy into starting a blog, the Chick Lit Kitchen, where I wrote about my loves of food and romance novels. 

Though the Chick Lit Kitchen was a bit of a flop (I started running out of time to read and make time-consuming recipe posts as I advanced in my high school career), I eventually returned to blogging as a kind of therapy when I entered another rough patch in my life. When I was a bit older, the dormant anxiety and depression I’d always carried deep within me started to become too much to bear. Finally, the thought occurred to me: why don’t I start a blog again? So I did! Love, Haley (my second blog) didn’t start out about mental illness, but it quickly morphed into a place where I shared my deepest thoughts and feelings about the anxiety and depression I was battling. 

Yet as my anxiety and depression began to improve with time (and therapy), I sort of felt that I was outgrowing the old label of “mental illness blogger.” So, as I graduated from high school and began to transition into college, I started to experiment with a couple of new niches. The result was that my blog ended up all over the place. I strayed so far from my original brand that I eventually felt like my best course of action was to start from scratch, rather than rebranding Love, Haley for a second time. That’s how Haley Marie Blog began! Now, while I consider myself a college, beauty and health blogger first and foremost, I will never forget my roots as a mental illness blogger. 

I contributed to your blog post about why I picked my college major. Can you talk about how and why you picked your major, and what your advice would be for picking the right major? 

I actually have two majors, Journalism and Political Science. Somehow, I think I always knew that this was where I would end up eventually. I have always known I wanted to be a writer, just like I have always known I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself (like politics!). Personally, I identify with the word “writer” before anything else, besides maybe the word “woman.” 

My first semester, I was a part of both the student newspaper (as a news writer) and the student PR society (as a member of the digital/creative team, which does client work based on graphic design). I instantly fell in love with the newspaper – particularly with the positive energy and quick pace of the newsroom – and now I am (as a freshman!) an Associate City News Editor there this spring! While I enjoyed PR too, I felt like these were the same experiences I was getting through my blog, which I was much more passionate about than the student organization, and that it wasn’t really as valuable to me as being in a newsroom. 

Around the same time, I also happened to be falling in love with my first Poli Sci class, Intro to American Politics, and all of the heated election discussions it brought. And, I mean, not to be that person, but the 2016 election definitely shaped my perception of the Poli Sci field by showing me just how much the world needs strong female leaders! So, as long-winded as this story has been, that’s exactly how I realized that these two things were the subjects I couldn’t live without studying for the next three and a half years, and the fields I wanted to build my future career around!

What is the most important thing you think someone should know before starting a blog?

Ooh, this is such a good question! My advice for anyone starting a blog is this: whatever you want to blog about, make sure it’s genuinely what YOU want to blog about. Don’t blog about whatever’s popular in that moment (popularity is fleeting). Honestly, what keeps me motivated to keep banging out posts – even when it’s after 1 AM and all I really want is to eat a bagel and go to bed – isn’t getting views or comments or likes on Twitter (though I won’t lie – those things ARE nice!). Instead, it’s passion. And I think most successful bloggers would say the same!

I actually experienced the dangers of falling into this trap firsthand. For a while, I felt self-conscious about my blog because it wasn’t “serious” enough. Instead of blogging about scholarly things like politics, I blog about some of my favorite things: beauty, lifestyle tips and healthy eating hacks. At first, I worried this meant I was vapid and shallow, and that this was the way my readers would perceive me. However, I quickly found that when I wrote about something I was passionate about, rather than things I thought I should write about, I was able to produce better content and let my true sincerity shine through. Because I was writing about things I loved and could genuinely offer my advice on, my posts are more popular – plus, because I actually look forward to writing, I am able to produce more quality content, more quickly!  

A lot of college students and 20-somethings battle with feelings of self-doubt and questioning if they are good enough. Do you have any tips for moving past these negative thoughts? 

I’m not going to lie: though I’ve tried my hardest to be open about my battles with mental illness, body issues and self-esteem, I’m still in that age bracket and I still have insecurities and doubts. Sometimes, I act like I’m beyond the point of having negative feelings or self-doubt, when in reality, I haven’t fully pushed past it – and nobody should expect me to! I’m only 18!

The problem with being in college or in your 20s is that we compare ourselves too much to others – especially when it comes to people like celebrities, bloggers and YouTubers. When we’re confronted with posts and videos like “How I Organize My Life” or “My Perfect Morning Routine,” we always seem to think that everyone else has their life together, and we’re the only ones who are still figuring it out. If you’re someone who reads a lot of blogs, you probably know exactly how I feel. But here’s the secret no one wants to admit (especially not in the college blogging community, where we’re literally telling you how to lead more organized, productive lives): literally none of us have our sh*t together yet! No matter how many blog posts I write about having high self-esteem, no matter how “on-fleek” my eyeliner is on a particular day, no matter how organized my planner appears, I’m still not perfect. Nobody is. 

If you had a life motto, what would it be?

In one word, “balance”! Life, to me, is all about balance between work and play, health and pleasure, friendships and significant others, and all the other competing factors in our lives. To me, balance is all about listening to what your body needs and gratifying it. Maybe it’s all the yoga I’ve been doing lately, but I firmly believe when you give your body what it asks for and start to show it love, sooner or later your body will start to love you back! 

Meditation is a huge way that I achieve balance: my therapist recommended it to me, and I find that 5 to 10 minutes of meditating a day counteracts a lot of the stress I experience in my day-to-day life. Because I try to stay in tune with my body’s physical and emotional needs through meditation, intuitive eating and other mindfulness strategies, I can always tell when I’m getting tired or cranky, what I’m craving (whether that’s a chia seed smoothie and a sweat session, or Chipotle and Gilmore Girls) and when I’m starting to isolate myself because I’m working too hard, and need to plan a night out with my girlfriends. 

What three things are at the top of your gratitude list right now?

My boyfriend, Ryan, always makes the top of my gratitude list! He lives about an hour away from where I go to school, so we don’t see each other very often; however, I’m eternally grateful for all of the stability, balance and positivity he brings me. Whenever he comes into the city for our weekly visit, it puts a smile on my face!

I’m also grateful for my family. My parents are divorced, so my family has had a harder journey than most. Working out the details of where I would attend college and who would pay for it was more difficult and complex than I originally expected; however, I can’t express enough how grateful I am that everyone is trying to make the best of our difficult situation. 

Finally, I’m grateful that I will (hopefully) be travelling to London for five days this summer! My boyfriend and I are planning a trip together. We haven’t finalized the details yet, but I couldn’t be more excited about the possibility of seeing the city together.

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Who is your biggest “girl crush” in terms of female entrepreneurs, celebrities, or any other woman you look up to, and why?

I’m cheating and giving two answers, because I look up to so many women! I personally think that having empowering women as role models is one of the most important things a female entrepreneur can bring to the table.

When it comes to celebrities, Emma Watson is always my go-to answer. I admire her resolve to lead a private life and have a normal college experience at Brown, I love how intelligent and collected she is and I think she’s such an incredible role model for women everywhere. Her work with the UN to further the rights of girls all over the globe inspires me to think about what more I could be doing to help people outside my own backyard.

As far as business goes, I’m a huge fan of Nikki Phillippi. She’s a YouTuber rather than a blogger, but I couldn’t be more impressed by her brand. I discovered her by listening to her Tea Talk series, and fell in love with the way she connects with an audience. She always comes across as so authentic and genuine, and gives advice that makes me think she’s the big sister I never had! Plus, her work with sponsors is just so inspiring to me as a blogger. So, even though YouTube is a bit of a different world from blogging, I hope I can take a leaf from her book and adopt some of the same ingenuity and sincerity as a female entrepreneur in the media.

What is one piece of advice you would give your younger self?

I would tell myself to spend more time focusing on the things that matter most to me and the qualities I would like to see in myself, rather than what other people think of me. I feel like growing up, I put so much energy into achieving “goals” that had nothing to do with my personal character or my entrepreneurial spirit. Though I’ve always been a self-starter who’s achievement-oriented, when I was in late middle and early high school, I sometimes lost sight of that in favor of striving for superficial beauty, popularity or the “right” boyfriend. So, I wish that I had channeled my energy into something productive and meaningful to me, rather than chasing guys who didn’t appreciate me or worrying that my stomach or thighs were “too fat.” If I had been in a more mature state of mind back then, I think I would have focused on giving myself something to be proud of and finding a reason to love myself first, without needing some random guy or friend’s approval.

What is one accomplishment you are most proud of?   

One of the things I love to brag about is my high school senior project. Besides my blog, this project is one of the things in life I am most proud of! Senior Project was a course in my high school geared toward preparing us for a career in our major of choice through completing a research component, internship and final project of our own design. Prophetically, since I’m now a Poli Sci double-major, I spent my year researching the impact of television on American politics. 

For my internship component, I interned in the office of Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker in his constituent affairs department. While I don’t always agree with the Governor’s politics, I loved the human element of getting to do casework for constituents and feel like I was really making a difference in people’s lives. 

For the project component, I invited a group of professionals for a panel discussion at my high school, on the topic of media and politics. For weeks, I was emailing people left and right, filling out grant forms and designing advertisements and tickets for the event. We ended up getting an almost $600 grant from the district’s education fund for my work. I also moderated the panel, which included a Massachusetts State Senator, the Director of MassVOTE, a Boston Globe journalist, a Northeastern professor, and a grassroots campaign organizer for a PR company. Educators and citizens from my town and the wider community attended the panel and even had the opportunity to ask their own questions at the end of the panel! Overall, the night was a whirlwind, and one of the most spectacular experiences of my entire life. 

I have to throw a fun one in here to wrap this up. If you could be any animal, which  animal would you want to be? 

I’d probably transform into a cat. I’m notorious for falling asleep in boring lectures (sorry, not sorry to my Stats and Political Theory professors) and I am fiercely independent. I also crave attention and fall in love with anyone who feeds me treats…so, I guess I just have to face it: I’m pretty much a cat already! 

 

I hope you all enjoyed this installment of Table Talk Tuesday! I’m so impressed by what Haley has been able to do with her blog(s) so far, and at such a young age. I’m looking forward to continuing to read her posts and learn from her. Be sure to subscribe to Haley’s blog, and follow her on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Also, if you would like to be featured on Table Talk Tuesday, leave a comment here or email me at shelly@shellyray.com!