Strong Yet Feminine Profiles are a series of interviews, showcasing ambitious women who are striving to follow their passion. Many are working full time and pursuing their dream on the side, some have already taken the leap, and share their experiences (the good and the bad!).
Any career decision is difficult, but making a leap into a different field, in order to pursue a true passion, has to be one of the most inspiring stories. I know, for me, hearing stories like these were crucial to bolstering my confidence when considering my own change in direction.
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Jasmine, Founder and Editor of AFIA AND JAY shares her experience of writing an award-winning lifestyle blog for the Millennial woman, while training to be a solicitor (serious kudos!)
Q: What inspired you to start your own website/how have your passions been cultivated over your life?
A: I've always been both a voracious reader and a generally creative person. From as early as I can remember I was always midway through a book, and during my teens when I wasn't reading in my spare time I would run around my school grounds dreaming up imaginary fashion and beauty campaign concepts or sit in my dorm poring over the pages of British VOGUE and Harper's Bazaar. With the rise of the Internet and its influence on the ways in which we consume information, I began to read more and more online websites and blogs, particularly ones on fashion. I figured I could create my own space where I could write and create my own content, and so after a few years of stopping and starting blogging, AFIA AND JAY was born!
Q: Was there a Eureka moment when you just knew what you had to do?
A: Not exactly, it was a few different events that lead me to where I am now. When I graduated from university I decided I wanted to work in fashion journalism so I reached out to a few companies and people in the industry, and eventually secured a few small internship roles in magazines' fashion cupboards. After a while I felt like I wasn't progressing in the way I wanted to, so I did a total 180 and pursued a career in the law instead (which I'm still doing now). When I got my current job I just knew that I would always love fashion and writing, and that I could to both of those things without necessarily having to work directly in the fashion industry and whilst still being committed to my legal career. And it was around that time that I launched the blog.
Q: What has been the most challenging element of this journey?
A: The daily balancing act! During the day I work as a trainee solicitor, which is wonderfully challenging, and whenever I have free time I try to work on AFIA AND JAY. There were a few occasions when I really struggled to maintain the site consistently and so wouldn't post anything for weeks or months, but I've become a lot better at creating content in bulk during my free moments and automating a lot of processes.
I'd also say that writing a blog and being the face of it puts you in the firing line to criticism and judgment from others. As a result I've developed a thick skin from overcoming situations when my content hasn't been received well by others. But it's all been a learning process and I'm continuing to learn as I go along.
Q: What has surprised you the most about your new career?
A: The friends I've made and the small successes along the way. Blogging can be a bit of a lonely business because on most occasions I'm tapping away at my computer at home and thinking of ideas on my own. I've only recently begun to work with photographers on a freelance basis to produce the blog's imagery and try to network more with like-minded individuals, but it's always a surprise to find out that people are actually reading your content, let alone enjoying it.
Q: Were your friends and family supportive of your choice?
A: To an extent, yes. I'm not sure that my parents totally understand what blogging is and what it involves, but they're definitely supportive nonetheless (my mum often scolds me for not blogging often enough!)
Q: What is it that motivates you when you feel like giving up?
A: The fact that whether my blog is successful or not, it's something that I truly love to do and will always love! It's no secret that it's pretty difficult to create a scaleable, sustainable business out of a blog - and a fashion blog at that - but writing, styling and (hopefully) creating value for my readers in the process is ultimately a lot of fun!
Q: What advice would you give to anyone else thinking of taking the plunge to go it alone?
A: I'd say (bearing in mind that this is all advice that I'm still working on myself!) do your research on similar businesses out there, but really try to find your niche and run with it. That last part is hard, and something I'm still working on at AFIA AND JAY.
Q: What has been the most rewarding moment to date?
A: I was super lucky to have been named New Blogger of the Year and won a separate Special Recognition Award back in late 2015 with online publishing platform The Bloggers' Lounge. Knowing that people recognized and liked what I definitely made this process feel a lot less solitary.
To read more from Jasmine, check out her fab blog: www.afiaandjay.com/ or follow her on Instagram or Twitter: afiaandjay