Jessica Sturdy, ’11 ACES, on fashion blogging for a living
Growing up, Jessica Sturdy, ’11 ACES, enjoyed creating collages from magazines such as InStyle and Teen Vogue. Now, she appears in those same fashion publications whose pages she once cut apart and glued together. As the Chicago-based style expert behind the blog Bows and Sequins, Sturdy promotes brands like Kate Spade and retailers like Nordstrom and has attracted an impressive social media following—with more than 100,000 followers on Instagram alone.
What drew you to fashion?
I was that friend everybody asked, “What should I wear with this or pair with that?” You realize that you might have an eye for something other people don’t. But I never really considered it as a career.
What changed your mind?
One night, my senior year—Nov. 12, 2010—I took a break from studying and stumbled upon a fashion blog based in Texas. My eyes opened up to a world that I had no idea existed, this underground blogging community. I bought the domain bowsandsequins.com and became immersed.
I’d planned my whole life to go to law school. Instead, I moved to New York City. I ran social media for a company that owned eight beauty and fragrance brands, then I was the brand manager for a fashion jewelry line. I got every job post-college through my blog.
Why did you decide to blog full-time?
After about five years, I had built the blog up to where I was making enough to match my salary, in just five hours per day. I wondered: What could happen if I were to dedicate all my hours to it? I saved and took on enough projects and left my job.
What most surprises people about blogging?
A lot of my blog is pretty pictures; it’s meant to be aspirational. It may look effortless, but a lot of work goes into it. Online publications have a team of stylists, writers, photographers, then marketing teams to push out the content after it’s published. When you add in contracts and brands and all of the legal stuff, it’s extremely time-consuming. I’m primarily a one-woman show—though I did just hire a part-time assistant.