On today’s episode Brittany is talking about how Loverly Grey has changed in the past 6 1/2 years. She started this passion project that is now a growing business. The Loverly Grey team, brand and following have grown more than she ever imagined, and Brittany is sharing other changes over the years.
Listen to hear:
• About photography and the angles are different now
• How Instagram has changed over the years
• The LTK process and how simple it is to shop now
• How and why Brittany started creating try-ons
• About the expansion of team Loverly Grey
Join us on @lifewithloverly for a LIVE Q + A episode on June 19th at 12 pm EST!
Follow Brittany on the LTK app
If you have any questions or podcast episode requests, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grab an iced coffee and let’s continue the chat over on Instagram @lifewithloverly
This podcast was transcribed using Descript. Please forgive any typos or errors.
Brittany: Hi friends. Welcome to Life with Loverly. I'm your host, Brittany Sjogren. I'm excited to share my heart with you beyond the 15 seconds. We get on Instagram, grab an iced coffee and let's do life together.
Hi friends. Welcome to today's episode of Life with Loverly. I am here in the studio solo today.
Which I feel like I haven't done a solo episode in a long time. Anyway, we kind of thought it would be fun to walk back over the course of Loverly Grey for the past six and a half years. It still blows my mind that it's only been six and a half years, but it also seems like that time has flown by and the way that things have changed in the past six and a half years.
It's just wild the difference, and that's why lately people, when they've congratulated me for hitting a million followers, it takes me back to like where I first started, which was so different. Like the way Instagram was run, the way it was as an app. I mean when I first started there were no Instagram stories and you were truly only posting photos and you had to leave everything out there for people to know was like, in your caption, in your photo. I mean, I don't even think they had the carousel photo option yet. I remember the first time that somebody actually did a carousel photo and I was like that's interesting that they're posting them all together.
I wonder why they wouldn't wanna post all of those separately because so many times we would post the same outfit several times throughout your feed. It's just so wild. The way Instagram has changed, the way that my blog has changed. So we're going to just kind of start back at the beginning.
For those of y'all who maybe are hearing the podcast for the first time I started Loverly Grey back in 2016, January, 2016, and I was working corporate job. I was in sales. I had to wear business professional attire every day, and the blog kind of came about. While I was trying to find like cute outfits to where to work every day. And I'm a huge sales shopper. So I love shopping for a great sale, and I was always telling my coworkers in the office about, Hey, I went to Loft on my lunch break and they're having 50% off everything.
They have some really cute skirts and they had tons of tops that you could wear with black pants that would be so cute under a blazer. So I was just providing all this information to all my coworkers all the time. And a friend of mine was like why don't you just start a blog? Because you could put this out on the internet for a lot more people to know about because nobody talks about work wear and that's kind of how it all started.
I remember taking pictures in front of my garage doors of what I was wearing to work that day. I would have my husband at the time we worked for the same company and we drove separately to work because I was in sales, so I was out on the road a lot more, and he was in the office.
So sometimes I wouldn't necessarily be leaving from the office to come home, but he would always be leaving from the office to come home. So it just didn't work for us to carpool, but we would usually leave around the same time and I would stand out in front of the garage with my stuff and I would be like, babe, take a picture really fast.
He would get so annoyed that he would have to do this, and every day would be a new picture in front of my garage, or I would do this up and down kind of selfie photo. It would just be showing what my outfit was that I was wearing to work that day, and then I once I started seeing people were interested in what I was wearing. I was like, well, I could show them what I'm going to wear to go to date night, or I could show them what I'm lounging in at my house or what I'm going to wear on Saturday morning or what I'm wearing to church or to this wedding. I just started thinking about every time I go somewhere and I'm wearing an outfit.
I could show what it is that I'm wearing and give people outfit ideas. That's all that this is, and what I originally started was sharing outfit ideas and putting outfits together. I feel like I have a very unique taste, especially for work wear of mixing prints.
And that was another thing I feel like I didn't see a lot of people doing was putting certain prints or patterns together, or kind of stepping outside of the box and saying it's okay to mix and match. It's really just how you are confident in what you're wearing and how you feel in the outfit.
And that's really all fashion is. I mean if you see somebody walking down the street and they're wearing something that you're kind of like, I would not put that together, but they are confident and they are rocking it and they're wearing the outfit with confidence. You're like okay that's probably in style somewhere. It's maybe not my style, but they look so positive and just confident in wearing it. So that's what I always wanted to encourage people to get this confidence and feel good about the outfits that they were putting on. I just realized I can share so many different types of outfits because if you think about throughout the day, and I guess the demographic of person, I was targeting was probably going to a job and, you know. Again, this is back in like 2016, and then after work you're changing and maybe going to a workout class, or maybe you're changing and going to a happy hour or meeting up with friends and you change clothes. What are you changing into and giving people ideas, and it truly still is that.
I think about, you know, fast forward to 2022, where reels are so popular, and a lot of my reels are more of a try-on style reel where I am putting outfits together and then telling you where you can wear them, or maybe it's a Roundup from old Navy, but you could see here are five different dresses that are available at old Navy. They're all on sale. They can all be worn for different things. I'm still offering that try on concept. It's just the way that we do it now is just different from before.
So going back to the beginning. For the first like five or six months that I had this Instagram account, I think I started the website about five months later because I kind of wanted to make sure that this was something I was really going to be interested in doing before I decided to start a website that felt like I was really committing.
So Instagram there was no monetary way to make money from it at this point for me that I knew of because back in the day LTK was called, Like to Know it. You literally used to be able to like the photo and you would, there was like technology within Instagram and like to know it, and you would get an email to your email that was connected to your account that would send you the outfit details and the direct links to the outfit. So similar to the LTK app now, but the technology has changed just a little bit. To get accepted into their platform you had to have, I think it was more than 3000 followers.
You had to prove that the type of content you were going to be posting, you had to apply, and they had to accept you as a creator. It was this whole process, and I remember building up my Instagram account and showing them that I have this shopping account where I'm sharing outfits and people are wanting to use my link or figure out where things are from.
So I applied and got accepted and remember being like, this is amazing. I can start making money from this, and the way that this I could make money was through commission. If somebody clicked through one of my links, I would make like a small percentage of commission on the purchase, so the brand's website would pay the commission.
So it was a free service and still is a free service to anybody who uses or clicks through any commissionable link. The consumer isn't paying for that. It's the brand's website is paying person's referral click, if that makes sense. But it's a lot of the sites it's like 20 cents per shirt.
Sometimes it ranges between like the commission percentages, so there was a lot of learning on what brands do I use? What is true to me that I. Want to continue showing? What's their commission rate? Am I going to have to work really hard?
Target has a pretty low commission rate, so while I do a lot with Target back then and to this day, you have to sell so much volume to actually make a good amount of commission. There were so many things I had to learn, but I was so excited to be able to start earning commission.
Then I decided to start a website. This feels like I'm going somewhere. It feels more legit. I can actually write more details about each outfit and explain a little bit more because remember video is not a thing yet. Instagram story is not a thing. There was Snapchat, so I remember making a Loverly Grey Snapchat, and I would say on my Instagram caption, come to my Snapchat for me to talk through this outfit.
But you had to connect the apps, you know, somebody from Instagram would have to leave Instagram and then come to Snapchat and follow me on Snapchat and then see my outfit and then get the link. It is made so easy for consumers to get a hold of product right now, compared to what it used to be in the past.
It was so hard to get started, and then video came around on Instagram and stories became a thing. That's where I really think I like started to connect with people and started to see a growth happen. In this timeframe, I think it was still really before stories was a thing, I talked to my husband about leaving my corporate job and doing Loverly Grey full time.
He was just kind of like, I don't even understand how you're making any money. Because I kind of set up this account separate from our joint account. So I was seeing money coming in, but he wasn't necessarily seeing it. I wasn't trying to hide it from him. The money from my commission would come in, and then I would just reinvest that into new outfits that I was buying or things that I was using for the blog, paying the fee to have the website, paying my photographer to help me take photos. So he was kind of not aware of what was coming in and going out, so he was very confused and thankfully, I mean, I have no idea. Sometimes I look back and I'm like, how did I convince him to let me do this?
I left my six figure sales job to make commissions, and it just felt like not there, but in my heart, I was like, I know this is going to be bigger someday. I know this has potential. I know if I just put all my hard work into this, instead of something that I'm not as passionate about while trying to be passionate about this, it would work.
So he finally agreed, so then I just started figuring out how to be a full time entrepreneur, which was so crazy because I'm thankful I had my sales job and it was so intense. I worked like seven to seven at this job and doing sales and at the end of the day, that's kind of what I'm doing here is sales.
This is a sales company. We always talk about that with the team now. We are running a business, we are selling product and it's just the way that it's done is different from a direct retailer, and I'm trying to earn your trust. So you know the products I'm talking about I'm sharing with complete confidence that these are items I love and would wear and do wear.
It's just kind of so crazy where everything and all the hard work that went into it to get it to where it is today. Now I feel like if you are starting out today, it almost feels like it would be so easy to do, especially with all the classes that are offered now. And there's so many people who are in this industry that you can watch and see what they're doing.
And do a version of that for yourself. You know, I think it's always important to change and make this like unique to you and really figure out like what is going to make me stand out. What is going to make me different? Once you identify that, then go with it. So many people I feel like fall back on oh well I'll just do fashion. I get dressed. And it's like, well, that doesn't necessarily mean that you're this is going to be your passion long term if it wasn't before.
So video becomes a thing. I start really getting to know the people who are following me and then people could message you and then they could reply to your stories.
And I started having conversations with people in my direct messages. I started really treating that as a customer service area, you know? Because most of it was like people being like, what size are you in? What are your stats if you're wearing this, what do you think I could wear? So a lot of sizing related questions, I started to be like okay every day I post something and people ask me what size I'm wearing, because they wanna know where that would compare for what size they should order.
So we started like sharing our sizing. Another thing I feel like nobody was really doing before and one thing that really helped make me unique and stand out was try-ons. Everybody was taking photos of outfits and putting 'em up, but nobody was like talking through the material and showing how it fits and other ways to style it, talking about the fit of it. And it was me and this girl named Amanda and her blog was the Miller Effect. She and I were like the first two to start Instagram try-ons. It just started to become this thing because it was like , oh yeah, that's so helpful to the followers who are potentially going to buy something that we're sharing. We're giving our honest review over video.
I used to go to Loft, and I would get a bunch of outfits that I was like interested in, I would get in one of the dressing rooms, and I would video myself in the mirror trying on the clothes in the store's dressing room. I remember bringing a pair of heels in my bag and I would have a pair of flats and a pair of heels, so I could show people this is what it's going to look like when you are wearing it to work in your heels.
So I would video all of this and post it on Instagram stories, and then I would go home and I would link everything that I just showed. Then I would make this page on my blog that just showed everything that I just tried on, and then I would tell people, okay, everything is now linked on my blog. Go here to shop it. For some reason, people would just wait for me to get done that whole process. Then they would go to my blog and shop it through my links instead of just going directly to the brand's website and searching it by themselves.
I'm sure some people did that, but it always amazed me how many people just followed my process, because some of this technology that's available now wasn't available then. That's how we had to do it back then if you were sharing try-ons of any type. That's how it had to be done. Then of course it got like better over time and we got to a certain point where we could add like the swipe up is what it was.
It was swipe to shop. That's when everybody would be like swipe to shop, you know. Once you got to a certain amount of followers you had access to put links in your stories. So then people could start shopping directly.
It's just so wild. I think back when people had to wait for me to go home, link everything, and then tell them, Hey, this is now available even though they've already seen the outfit on me. They were just waiting for me to go win it. I just wonder how would that work now? Because I feel like people are so impatient now because they're now used to being able to like getting it all at their fingertips. So that process is so different.
Video has become so much more relevant and important and you know 2020 everybody's quarantining, it felt like TikTok was huge. Everybody's doing these funny TikTok dances, and I remember being like, I just don't have time to learn these silly dances. I have actual work that I need to be doing. It is so crazy because that was a thing for a long time, and that's how people then got discovered.
Now I do reels. Then reels came over to Instagram and I remember being like, I'm not going to do reels. I like doing photos. I love showing multiple outfits in photos, my audience likes still photos, but really what my audience also really liked was my try-on stories. So now we are just kind of moving try-ons into reels, but I feel like I also have to keep them in stories because you're reaching a bunch of different audiences is what I've learned.
And across all these different platforms, there are different people who wanna consume my content a different way or how they like to see things. So you kind of have to be able to make content work across several different platforms and you have to be really creative and that's kind of taken us a long time to figure out.
When I first started, it was just me and it was Chris helping me take photos, or I hired a photographer and would like take a bunch of outfits and we would go to like some location and shoot all these outfits around. And then now, you know, I mean, I think like after. It was like two years in.
I hired my first assistant and that felt like we can do so much more now because I have like full time help somebody with me five days a week to like, help me get all this stuff done and do more and, you know, grow and figure out like, what's the next step. And then I eventually hired another person.
Then that two turned into five and it's just crazy. How we've grown over the past few years, but there's also people who are growing as well, but just have their team different. That's what's so cool about this business is because it it's so unique and personal to every person who's doing it for themselves.
Every entrepreneur is doing it differently and there's no rules. I mean, there's like some best practices, but it's still such a new industry. The rules are being created as we're all going along. I think that's really cool to be part of something like that, but it does make it challenging because it's like, is this okay to do? I think it is, let's try it and see what happens.
We were talking about the other day how far brand collaborations have come. My first I think collaboration that I ever did was with this boutique called Dress Up. I think they paid me $300 plus like the outfit. I posted a photo of me wearing the dress and they paid me $300 and I was like, this is awesome.
I mean, you have to start somewhere. The first time that Nordstrom came to me and was like, we want to partner with you. We want you to do a blog post and an Instagram post and talk about it on your stories. I think they paid a thousand dollars for all of this. And I was just like, yes, this is so cool.
Of course. It was a brand I'd shopped at all the time before. It's so cool though, that I still have a standing partnership with Nordstrom and the rates have changed and grown, and the deliverables are different now, but you have to start somewhere and it feels like just yesterday, that's where we were.
Fast forward we have an entire office with a team of people who work here and we're growing and we're going to be expanding and getting a new office space because we're busting at the seams in our current location. All the cool things that are coming because of this little dream that I had and this hobby, it's just so crazy to see the difference over time.
I'm looking at some questions that we wrote out about just like things that were different back then, because I've also learned processes and figuring out ways to make this work for us. I feel like I'm pretty organized, type a, like to have a routine and structure. I want to come in and be like, okay, this is how we're doing things.
So I like to have processes in place, but it wasn't always like that. It's a lot of trial and error. I'm reading through some of these questions. One of them was like, let's say you and Chris go on a trip alone. When you ask somebody to take your photo of like maybe the two of us, do you give the person direction?
I feel like now I do, or I'll just say make sure that you capture our head and our feet. I'll kind show them kind straight on. Here's what we're looking for. If we're asking a complete stranger, my expectations are pretty low.
I'm like, it's fine. Whatever they take will be great. My expectations are a little higher for Chris now. Because I'm like he should know how to take my photo by now. And thankfully he doesn't really do take a ton of photos. If it's like, we're just out, the two of us he will, but Nichelle mostly handles all of the like help with content creation, photos and videos.
So he doesn't have to do a ton of that. A photo that somebody might take of Chris and I on vacation, that is content that I am creating to put on a platform and make it a certain way, you know? And so in my mind, I want it to look a certain way. So teaching somebody really quickly how to do that is kind of interesting.
So speaking of photography, obviously, I feel like it's changed so much. It was very popular to post photos where you would cut off your head and just show your neck down. I think the reason that we did this was so that somebody could envision what the outfit might look like on them without seeing my face, you know.
At the end of the day, I was purely just showing outfits. I wasn't necessarily wanting people to see who I was, but I was quote unquote modeling the clothes. So it was more of here's how the outfit is put together. If you think about a mannequin in a store, they don't have faces or heads. It's just so you can get an idea of what the outfit looks like, so that was a lot of what we were doing. Then it became this personal connection that people were trying to have with you. So then they wanted to see your face and they wanted to see if you were happy, if you were sad, but I would always be like it's not really about my face.
It's just about like the outfit that I'm wearing. Looking back. And over the years, I remember when I was working my corporate job, I was an account manager and I had a few people on my team underneath me, who I was training or mentoring, and we'd go out on the road to like a client lunch.
Sometimes I would be like, okay, we're going to pull over and you're going to take my picture in front of these stairs or this window or wherever, and I would show them how to take the photo. That's when I was kind of like, okay, I'm starting to be way more into showing outfit options for people than I am my doing my actual job.
You always kind of know when it, when it's like starting to cross over and you're like, I really need to pick which one of these I'm going to really focus on. So it's just funny. I need to go back and pull up some of the photos from the first year of just how the posing has changed, just the overall vibes.
At the end of the day, I'm still showing the outfits and wanting to provide inspiration. So I feel like that's where I've really stayed true to myself over time. Even now there's so many different parts about being an entrepreneur and a creative. I have a team that I delegate tasks to and that I have to be a leader for and provide direction to.
I think the way I was doing that two years ago, even it looks different than the way that I'm running a team. There's definitely been some anxiety and stress that has come around, managing people and especially because they're all working on something that's so personal to me. It's not like I'm running a boutique here where it's like, okay, at the end of the day, we're trying to sell the merchandise that we have on hand, I am Loverly Grey.
This is my personal life and it all is coming back on me. So delegating tasks and having a team can definitely be hard, but it's so rewarding and has been so good for me to like, get back into some of this really creative space and create content for my followers, but I remember a few years ago, but I think I only had like one person on my team at the time.
I was with a friend who was taking this like CEO class, and I was asking her about it, and I was like what have you learned? What has been like your biggest takeaway from the class so far? Because it was a year long class, and I think they were probably six months in and it was just like how to be an entrepreneur, how to like be the CEO of a company, but for a small business and kind of how to know when to start delegating tasks, so that you can grow.
You can also just stay stagnant, but you eventually have to delegate some stuff to move forward. She was telling me that the teacher told them, you know, look at all the tasks that you do throughout the day. And because you're the CEO of the company, let's give yourself an hourly rate like that.
You would think a CEO would make. Let's just say for easy math $500 an hour. And so look at all these tasks that you have on your plate and go through, and if something is not worth $500 an hour, or if you're not making that back in the time that you're spending, putting whatever it is together. You need to hire somebody to do that for you at a rate that is worth it for that position.
I remember being like wait a second and started thinking when I do this, is that worth that time. When I do this, is this worth, that rate. I started to kind of almost create a job description of what I needed because I kind of just started moving things off my plate and allowing myself to , move that out of my mind to move to somebody else.
Then I've been able to find some really amazing employees who have taken some of these responsibilities off my plate, but have then allowed us to grow and get bigger and do really cool things that I wouldn't be able to do just by myself. I don't know. I mean, some of this, I feel like goes back to a podcast that I did with Allie Reeves, which we'll link here again.
I've shared it on the podcast before we kind of really talk through a lot of how I got started to where I am now. So if you're interested in more of that process and knowing a little bit more, that podcast would be an awesome one to listen to. We'll link it in the show notes, so you guys can go check that out if you're an entrepreneur, you're wanting to get into that space or just interested on how this works a lot more.
So much has changed. I think in this industry you have to be willing to change with it, but stay true to yourself. That's what I feel like I'm doing and what I love doing.
I'm just like flipping how we do it and trying to stay current with the times, but also continuing to reach people who maybe don't like to consume reels, or don't like to see that. They can still go to my profile and see photos and get inspiration or go into the Like to Know it app where we have an entire separate following and produce app specific content.
If you're only looking to shop and you don't necessarily care to get to know me or know somebody on Instagram. You're not really there to follow along with their life. You just wanna shop outfits, that is the perfect place for you because there's so many great influencers and outfit ideas that are in this app all the time.
There really is like something for everybody. If you think about it, print media and commercials. So much of that is changing and going towards social media and brands are putting in money, taking it out of print and putting it into social media, so it's only getting bigger. Sometimes people ask do you think this is going to be around in the next few years, or does it ever worry you? And no, it doesn't worry me because this industry's only growing and more and more brands are seeing the benefit of that direct to consumer relationship that these influencers have with their audience, that they have curated over time, which is so cool because to me, it's like, I have this awesome community of people who are following along with me, but they've grown to trust and respect what I'm talking about and it's serving them well you know, and if for some reason at any point it's not serving you or your mind changes on some things or you have to make some shifts. That's okay. You gotta do what you gotta do. It's definitely not going away though. If anything, it's only getting bigger and there's room for everybody. So if you're sitting on the other end of this podcast right now being like, I kind of wanna start my own thing.
Here's how I can be different. Here's what I'm seeing is a need in the influencer space. I'm going to go do. Absolutely. There is so much room for everybody know that it's hard work. There's so much that goes into it, but it's so rewarding and so much fun. At the end of the day I feel like my team and I have a blast.
There are days where we're like, oh my gosh, how are we going to get through this? Then there's other days where we're like, that was the best day ever. We had so much fun. It just ebbs and flows, but I don't know. I'm so proud of myself that I stuck with this and that I've made it to where it is today, but we have so much more that we want to do.
In fact we had a new employee start earlier this week, and we were going over the employee handbook and just talking about goals, our ten, three year, one year goals with her and some of the 10 year goals. I was like, yes, I can't wait until we do that. I'm like can we maybe bump that up to the three year?
We're having so much fun, and I think this is a need we need to move up higher. I'm just proud of myself, and I'm thankful for everybody who's supported me and believed in me that I could do this. I want to encourage everybody to give a shot if that's what you wanna do. I feel like there's so much more I could talk about on this topic.
I don't want to just ramble on, but maybe we'll make a spinoff and kind of ask some direct questions. We actually have a fun, podcast episode coming up in a few weeks. That's going to be a Q and A where the whole podcast is just going to be us answering questions from our readers and listeners. So stay tuned to get more information on that.
If you ever have a question for us or something that you wanna hear on the podcast, please feel free to email us or DM us on the Life with Loverly Instagram account. We would definitely love to talk with you guys there. Maybe we'll get into some more of these type of questions once we do that Q and A episode.
Because I think that's going to be a really fun one and hearing from like Nichelle too, on her opinion as a follower and then somebody who has worked here, which I'm always like, did you think it was like this before you came on? And there was parts where she was like, yeah, that's kind of what I thought it would be like, and then other parts where she was like, I had no idea that this is what went into it, so I'm sure she can share a little bit more information there. Then we do have some really great episodes coming up. So as always, I am just so appreciative that you guys take time to listen to this until next time friends.
Thanks for listening to today's episode. If you enjoyed this podcast, please rate and review on the platform you listen on. It truly means the world to me. And don't forget to follow along on Instagram at Life with Loverly until next time.