Here at the Lala, we love exploring creative careers and expanding the horizons of our readers. We know that in the fashion industry it’s easy to get lost on the typical path: stylist, designer or buyer. But there are so many more careers and opportunities outside of the typical! In this new monthly feature, we’re talking to Lala ladies who have unconventional jobs in the fashion industry & how they became so successful. We hope these fashion industry insiders inspire you as much as they inspire us! the Lala : Tell us about yourself and what you do for a living!
Kiki E. : My name is Kiki E. and I run a blog called “Blonder Ambitions” (a fashion, lifestyle and intelligence website). I am 29 years old, over 6 feet tall, a non-practicing attorney, a very passionate blogger and a professional model. I love french fries and champagne. Scratchy jazz music and brunch always put me in a good mood. I have an old-fashioned sensibility (thank you, Dad) balanced by a rock-and-roll rebellious nature (thank you, Curious Mind). I am incredibly close to my family (and my friends… as I also consider them to be family). My parents are my heroes. Some of the women that I admire are Cleopatra, Coco Chanel, Brigette Bardot, Elsie de Wolfe and Marilyn Monroe. I am an introverted bookworm when I feel like it and a social butterfly when I don’t. Leopard print is my favorite color. I am unapologetically eccentric, and I despise gossip. Blonder Ambitions is my career and I couldn’t be happier about it. You’ll find articles on fashion, lifestyle, food, visual inspiration, makeup and hair tutorials, music, places you should check out, and all kinds of other fabulous things. The twist? The blog posts are infused with a bit of intelligence, something quirky, or just something that really floats my boat.
the Lala : What do you enjoy most about having an unconventional job?
Kiki E. : That it’s unconventional. I’m not attempting to be trite, I truly mean it. I’ve never fit the mold for other jobs… nothing ever felt quite “right.” I love when people ask me what I do and I’m able to enthusiastically reply, “I’m a blogger!” I’m used to the wide-eyed, shocked skeptical, confused look I get in response. I guess people assume that when you’re a year away from 30 that you’re supposed to have a “real job.” I don’t take offense to it because people don’t usually understand exactly how much work goes into running a blog. I’m my own boss, my own manager, my own paycheck and I’m completely responsible for my own success and any failure. You have to be incredibly independent and brave to work for yourself; I suggest putting a lot of work into your relationships because a support system full of encouragement and love will pull you through the toughest times.
My daily motivation is simple: focus on spreading joy. That is the goal of my blog. That is the goal of my life…I seek to inspire, encourage, motivate and (at the very least!) to put a smile on someone’s face…There is nothing more rewarding than receiving an email from a 15-year-old (or a 65-year-old!) telling me that I made a positive change in her life; just one of the many perks of being “unconventional.”
the Lala: Can you tell us how you got your start in your career? What was your first job?
Kiki E. : If I rewind to look back at my late teens and early twenties, I was on the fast track to be an attorney. I went to college when I was 16 years old. I took a year off after college to travel all around the US (over 30 states!). Then I attended the Pepperdine University School of Law; I graduated in 2010 and took (and passed) the Bar Exam two months later! I had a series of jobs in retail during my education (first at Ann Taylor and then at Nordstrom), because I wanted to be surrounded by fashion while I was pursuing my degrees. Though I enjoyed my work, I knew that retail was not for me. When it came time to actually practice law, I found my heart wasn’t in it. I spent most of my free time during my legal education (not like there is a lot of free time!) planning events, scouring the Internet for the latest fashion trends, learning about design and decor, painting, writing and cooking. While others spent their free time in the library, I found myself constantly giving others life advice, exploring Los Angeles, and helping friends put together outfits (which entailed scouring their closet, going shopping and doing their hair and makeup) for job interviews or first dates. Additionally, after working for others since the age of 16, I had an epiphany where I realized that my own happiness could only be actualized if I worked for myself. After I had two degrees under my belt, I felt confident enough to run my own business. The first business I started was an event production company. I ran that company for a year and a half and after some gorgeous weddings, birthdays, and unbelievable memories, I found that my favorite part of the business was being a pivotal part of a joyful moment in someone’s life. I also felt as though limiting myself to event production was too restrictive, as it wasn’t utilizing all of my other passions and talents. I closed the business and decided to create a place where I could be a part of someone’s daily joy, and I could also express a variety of interests and explore a multitude of topics. That is how Blonder Ambitions (www.blonderambitions.com) was born. Almost three years (and 2.6 million page views) later, I know that I have made the right choice. the Lala : If you had to go back to college, what class(es) would you take now that you didn’t take the first time?
Kiki E. : I thought about this question for a considerable amount of time and I have continued to come back to the same answer: I wouldn’t do anything differently. I attended the University of Southern California. Initially, I entered as a Cinema major so I was able to take a lot of incredible courses exploring the history and influence of film. I found this major wasn’t for me, but I fell in love with cinematography and the visual impact of film. I then changed my major to English Literature and I was fortunate enough to be able to take graduate level courses during my first year of study. My love of the English language, literature and the absolute magic that can be created by piecing together the correct words grew at an exponential rate. I also minored in Business which allowed me to learn the basics of accounting, how to properly communicate in a business environment, organization and it taught me a good deal about bravery (and how much courage it takes to turn one’s passion into a career). Looking back, I didn’t realize that my love for visual impact, the power of words and the basics of business would get me to where I am today… but now I do. My recommendation to you would be to study things that you can’t get enough of… that is who you are. Don’t let your courses define you; you should define your courses. If you are authentic, your path will call you to it; you will find that choices you made in the past that seemed nonsensical, finally make sense and that there was a purpose to your journey all along. the Lala : What does your typical day look like?
Kiki E. : It is different each and every day (and that’s the way I like it)! I absolutely love being able to set my own schedule. It takes a great deal of trial and error (and discipline), but I have finally figured out what works for me. Setting my own hours is absolutely pivotal to the success of my blog. The reason that dictating my own schedule is so important is because, in my opinion, there are two elements to running a successful fashion & lifestyle blog: 1. Organization & 2. Creativity. Based on the way I function, I am organized in the early morning and creative late at night. This means that I must utilize an “unconventional” schedule. During my typical day, I get up early, grab a cup of coffee and throw a record onto my Crosley player. I then tackle the organizational aspects of my blog (emails, scheduling, meetings, responding to comments, advertising, coding, social media, etc.). I then take a “creative break” or a “mental vacation”… I don’t technically stop working during this time (a blogger is essentially constantly “working”… I am always attached to my camera or phone or social media outlets), but I get up from my desk and go out into the world. I meet friends for lunch a few days a week. Sometimes I peruse boutiques or art galleries. Other times I take a book and indulge in some overpriced coffee. Occasionally I sketch or paint. I frequently shop the local farmer’s market. All of these things inspire me and help motivate and direct the content of my blog. Essentially, a loyal blog reader wants to connect to the blogger’s life; that’s why it’s important to continue getting out there and LIVING… you can’t stay stuck behind a computer. Late afternoons vary for me. I try and schedule meetings, bookings, appearances, radio shows, etc. at that time. I take another mini break in the early evening (for happy hour with girlfriends, an impromptu meet-up or time with my family). Each night, my creativity strikes at a different hour. When it hits, I sit back down at my desk and get back to creating enjoyable, lively and fresh content for my website. It’s essential that I set my own hours because sometimes the creative process can carry me through until sunrise! the Lala : Do you have a favorite college memory?
Kiki E. : Yes! I had a professor named Heather James who made a tremendous impact on me (I hope she somehow stumbles across this and reads this because I never had the chance to properly thank her). I remember walking into a classroom of 15 or so students on the first day of college, and I sat down and looked up to see Professor James sitting on top of her desk with her legs crossed and her eyes scanning the room. I immediately thought, “Wow. What a powerful woman.” I was right. She was intelligent, dynamic, courageous, bold and feminine. It was the element of femininity in her strong nature that I admired so much. Her haircut was fashion-forward and her clothes were impeccably tailored and on point. She was the first woman, besides my mother, that I had ever admired. Professor James had a tradition in her class… on the last day of the semester, she gave out books to her students that she felt represented them. When it was my turn, she smiled and handed me a copy of “Taming of the Shrew” by William Shakespeare. To simplify the play, it is about a strong-willed, sharp-tongued and very intelligent woman who, in the end, realizes the importance of her femininity in addition to her other strengths. Professor James told me that the play was for me, and she told me that I reminded her of herself when she was young. That was enough motivation to push me forward… and it gave me something to live up to. Thank you, Professor James, for seeing something in me that I had always hoped would come to fruition; I hope I’ve made you proud. Make sure to check out Blonder Ambitions and stay up to date with Kiki!