Coffee Date: Susan Kelley of The Preppy Princess

I am honored to have interviewed Susan Kelley from PreppyPrincess.com, and the blog ThePreppyPrincess.wordpress.com.  The Preppy Princess is a one-stop shop for every preppy purchase your could ponder.  The PreppyPrincess.com’s “About Us” page embodies the mindset of the authentic prep, “In a sense, we already know each other. If you went to certain schools or summer in a few of our favorite places we may have already met; the world isn’t that big…I’ve always had a love for color and fun designs. These items are some of my favorite things. They remind me of summers along the shore, friends I’ve made through the years and family. Items we manufacture are created with care and concern for our environment. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.”  The Preppy Princess store is like having a preppy  older sister handpick everything just for you.  From pens and plates to trays and tableware they have it all.  The site doesn’t focus solely on providing preppy-fare (although they do that exceptionally well) they also participate in charitable endeavors because “all of us at The Preppy Princess feel a responsibility to help out wherever and whenever we are able.”   As I’ve explained in earlier posts, the true prep is charitable and The Preppy Princess team is no exception.  Five percent of the net profits from each purchase is donated to the customer’s choice charity.  Customers choose either Dogs for the Deaf or The Fisher House (why limit yourself to one? you can switch back and forth every time you shop).

Dogs for the Deaf adopts abandoned dogs and trains them to help people with disabilities. Dogs for the Deaf, “strives to be known throughout North America for rescuing and training dogs to assist people with hearing loss, autism, panic/anxiety, and other challenges.” Other dogs are available for adoption free of charge (you know you want one).

The Fisher House Foundation, “donates ‘comfort homes,’ built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers.  These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times-during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury.”  Since 1990, The Fisher House Foundation has helped more than 12,000 families and has provided three million days of lodging to family members.  The foundation also operates the Hero Miles Program which uses donated frequent flyer miles to bring family members to injured service members and scholarship programs such as a Scholarship for Military Children.  The Fisher House and Dogs for the Deaf are both dependent on donations and The Preppy Princess is grateful to their customers for donating $750 to each organization.  You can find out more about Dogs for the Deaf and The Fisher House on their respective websites.

Without further ado here is my interview with Susan Kelley from The Preppy Princess:

  1. How did you come up with the idea or focal point for your blog? The idea for the blog was a natural outgrowth of our online store, PreppyPrincess.com, it is also a subject matter that seemed fun and enjoyable, something important to me after 17 years of TV, most of them in news. I had seen enough death and destruction, lighter fare was a vital component of any writing endeavor.
  2. If your blog had a mission statement what would it be? The Preppy Princess blog focuses on news and humor targeted at those with a preppy background and/or aesthetic, with an emphasis on fashion and culture.
  3. What advice would you give to people who have just started or would like to start a blog? Be sure you are comfortable with what level of anonymity you want with the blog. Decide if there will be any conflict with an employer, or prospective employers – don’t think that if you “take down” the blog during a job hunt no one will be able to see what you have written. There are companies and services now that do nothing but storing and tracking such things. If planning to write sensitive things about  family members, your boss, sorority sisters, etc., be clear there may be repercussions.   More than anything, select a topic that you enjoy and feel comfortable writing about. A blog should be fun, unless it is part of a work assignment, if you are enjoying it your readers will as well. 🙂
  4. What forms of social media or widgets do you use to gain readers and followers? I always recommend having links (up near the top of your sidebars) to associated accounts, including Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Polyvore, and Pinterest, as well as others. But I would be cautious about “broadcasting,” doing an update that is also simultaneously sent to all or most of those other accounts. The odds are that if I follow you on Twitter I also follow you other places; reading constant tweets that say what I have just seen you post on Facebook, or a string of FB updates showing precisely what I just read on Twitter gets tedious. Quickly.  However, I do tweet each time I publish a blog, that is one time you want to share content; it’s easy with WordPress, I imagine it is also easy with Blogger and other blogging platforms.
  5. How have you been able to gain friendships with other bloggers? By expanding the discussion and friendship via email and then phone, resulting in meetings IRL. There are also other ways to ‘meet’ new friends via “swaps,” or doing ‘tags,’ answering a specific set of questions from someone who has ‘tagged’ you to their blog post; in your post you share the info and then you ‘tag’ other bloggers.
  6. What goals do have for your blog? The only goals for the blog involve writing at least three new posts weekly and keeping the content about things readers will find appealing, that’s the primary goal. Because we don’t accept advertising on the blog I’m not as concerned with readership; our stats show us with 2,400,000+ views, continued growth is nice but not a content driver.
  7. How do you get inspiration for posts? Inspiration comes from a lot of places, including other blogs and Twitter. The majority of it comes via several national newspapers I subscribe to (NY Times, Wall Street Journal) and Women’s Wear Daily, along with online and print fashion magazines, and lots of ideas from readers!
  8. The Preppy Post Grad is also on WordPress.  What tips and advice do you have for WordPress users? I am a *huge* WordPress fan, it seems to be a much better platform than Blogger, at least from my limited experience. But other than that, I don’t think I have any good insight to share, I’m sorry I’m not more helpful!
  9. As my paycheck knows, you can shop on www.preppyprincess.com, how do you establish relationships with various brands and vendors (such as Lilly Pulitzer, John Adler)?  Aww, thank you, I am happy you like some of our offerings in the store, that is always nice to hear. We usually make contact with vendors by phone and in some cases, email. But we like to meet with vendors in person as well, usually at trade shows, like the Atlanta or NY Gift Shows, in some cases the Stationery Show in NY, as well as shows in Chicago. Other times I have been fortunate to be in a place where a vendor is; for example, after many phone calls with Kiel James Patrick, I was able to spending time with him (as well as his better half, Sarah Vickers) when I was in Boston visiting my brother. You can’t overstate the value of a face to face meeting, be it a customer or vendor.
  10. You have been featured in “Take Five & Company” talk show on WZZM-13, the ABC affiliate in West Michigan, and Pink and Green Scene to name a few.  How do you form relationships with the press? Wow… that is a good question. Mostly I am just open and receptive when they contact us, or when we are reaching out to them. One of the benefits of having done news for so long is that we’re familiar with the needs and constraints of most media organizations, that is a *big* help.
  11. Have you considered selling or marketing to sorority women?  I know a lot of my sorority sisters follow your blog. I’m flattered your sisters like the blog, thank you for sharing such nice feedback! We do carry a number of licensed sorority products, mostly paper goods from Donovan Designs, but also personalized phone cases, clipboards, memo pads and other items from Clairebella. We will only sell licensed products, so the offerings aren’t as broad as we would like, we hope to expand them in the near future. You all are great to work with, putting together presents for littles is so much fun, getting wrapping paper sent out for rush parties, we just love working with everyone on those (and other) occasions!
  12. Where do you get ideas for the products that you sell on your site? Product ideas often come from customers and blog/FB/Twitter friends, but we also find things at market that we think we just have to have, or in magazines, online, etc. There is an endless supply of good ideas out there, but having things that are unique are the thing that will set any retailer apart. One of a kind merchandise and outstanding customer service are both required to be successful in an online venture. We also like to add in a touch of whimsy, believing people work much too hard for their money nowadays, shopping should be fun.

 

The Preppy Princess’ tagline is “Building a Preppy Planet” and their dedication to non-profits show that they are simultaneously building a better planet. 

Start shopping.

Love,

The Preppy Post Grad

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