Lemon Stripes is one of my favorite blogs because the author, Julia Dzafic, is authentic, honest, well-rounded, and stylish. Whenever I read her blog I learn something new because she covers everything from outfits, healthy recipes, and health and wellness advice to interior design, blogging tips, and entertaining. She runs her blog, her own store, works at Nourish Snacks, and still manages to have a social life. I am so thrilled for you to read all of her advice!
1. What was your career background? I’d love to hear about how you got where you are now.
My first job in New York was as a Sales Assistant at a Bridal Magazine. So random and I hated it! I went from there to an Executive Assistant at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (A holistic nutrition school, of which I’m also a graduate. Fun fact!). In 4 years at IIN, I moved up the ranks until I became the Director of Sales and lead a team of almost 40 people. It was an unreal experience but I left last year to start my business, the Lemon Stripes Store.
After about 8 months of working for myself, I knew it wasn’t for me. I felt lonely and stressed out financially and was ready to get back into the work force. The stars aligned because I was hired at Nourish Snacks only 3 weeks after I made that decision. My career path has been part luck, part hustling my ass off, and part politics.
You are the head of online marketing at Nourish Snacks, how do you manage your blog, your business, your full time job, and your social life? Do you have any tips for time management?
If I had a good answer for this, I’d probably feel a lot less exhausted right now! It’s a constant struggle to balance my many projects. I am beginning to realize that I have too many pots on the stove and I need to pull back somewhere. In the meantime, I am hyper-organized and try to make a schedule for every day down to the quarter hour (no joke!).
Turning off and relaxing is probably the most important thing that I do for myself. Even though it’s rare, it makes me much more productive in the long run. Exercise and date nights are like gold for me too. Without those two things, I would for sure lose my mind!
What motivated you to start Lemon Stripes?
My friends and family were constantly coming to me for style advice so I figured I must be doing something right fashion-wise. I started the blog as a creative outlet to share my thoughts with them and it somehow blossomed into a money-making highly trafficked website. I never thought in a million years that I’d have thousands of followers looking to me for fashion and lifestyle advice. Sometimes I have to pinch myself.
What is you favorite thing about blogging?
I bet no blogger ever says this but they’re all thinking it: Getting free clothes is amazing. You have no idea how many boxes of amazing things I get every week. It’s awesome. On a less superficial level, I’ve met incredible people with similar interests and creativity. The women I’ve met in the blogging world have become some of my closest friends.
I also love having a space where I can just be me and no one else can dictate how I do that. I post what I want when I want and it feels good to have that control over a project.
What has been one of the biggest challenges in growing a lifestyle blog and what advice would you give to other bloggers or people who want to start blogging?
My advice to new bloggers is boring and obvious but BE AUTHENTIC. There are so many bloggers out there now and I find half of them copying each other’s styles, designs, and even writing. People will want to look at your blog for you so own that.
The biggest challenge in blogging for me has been to find my voice. At first I tried to do everything that Emily (Cupcakes & Cashmere) was doing, then I found myself trying to emulate the styles of other top bloggers. It just looked ridiculous. Now I’m 100% me all the time and people really resonate with that!
You collaborate with so many amazing companies! What advice do you have for bloggers that hope to collaborate with brands.
It’s been a journey but when I first starting collaborating with brands, I would schedule an hour a day for emailing companies that I wanted to work with and would send each brand a personalized email (not a template!) letting them know why we would be a good fit for working together.
Today, brands usually reach out to me and I have learned to be VERY clear on the terms of collaboration. If the brand has a big following on social, for example, I always ask that they promote me as a part of our partnership.
My advice would be to only work with brands that truly resonate with you. For a while I was saying yes to everything and I felt like I was losing control of my blog because every day was another scheduled sponsored post and they didn’t necessarily resonate with my style. I’m very picky now!
What is one thing that you wish you had known when you were starting out blogging and building your business?
I wish I had known what a commitment they would both end up being. I didn’t realize what kind of hours I would have to spend on my blog and my business.
What is a typical day like for you?
You’re not going to believe me but this is my average weekday. Wake up and do a 5 minute meditation followed by 30 minutes of emails and social media. I get ready for work and then work on blog emails for another 15-20 minutes. I work from 9-5 as the head of online marketing for a new healthy snack company, Nourish Snacks. Sprinkled throughout the day, I sometimes have to take calls or meetings for Lemon Stripes which my boss understands and encourages.
After work I usually have to attend some sort of blog/press event followed by 30 minutes-1 hour of packing up orders from the Lemon Stripes store. Somewhere in there I manage to cook dinner for my husband. It’s a constant whirlwind!
Where do you see yourself. your blog, and your company, in the next five years?
I honestly have no idea. I know that I want to buy a home and have kids in the next 3 years so that’s where my main goals lie. I hope to continue to learn and grow in my job and with Lemon Stripes. For once I’m ok with the unknown because I feel so happy and blessed in both areas of my life.
What is on your desk right now?
Three BKR water bottles full of PH balanced water (I’m a weirdo about my water), a note pad, a bottle of Kombucha, a monogrammed pencil holder, Tocca hand lotion, John Masters Organics rose water spray, and my Beats Pill!
What advice would you give to someone who is about to graduate from college and enter “the real world?”
Life is about to get really real! I’d tell them to take a class on personal finance (start those 401k’s, ladies!) and start making short and long term personal and career goals as a part of your routine. Things can start to get really busy but take time for yourself.
Thank you, Julia!
All photos are from Lemon Stripes. Follow along with Julia at her Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and shop her store!