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.
Sally Lane Jewellery is designed for exactly such Strong Yet Feminine women…the fierceness of the edgy triangle jewellery is the perfect accessory to these confident, go get ‘em ladies...all power to you!
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
It’s finally happened…I have taken the leap of faith and left my full-time job to focus 100% on my beloved jewellery. It is without a doubt one of the scariest decisions I have made, after having worked in the Digital and Adtech world for over 13 years with no break. Now, I have a beautiful calm studio space in the comfort of my own home, and I couldn’t be happier.
For some time, people have advised that I need to focus on Sally Lane Jewellery 100% in order to really make a success of it but there is no doubt that turning your back on a successful career, and the standard of living that it affords, is incredibly daunting. When you are consumed in a world of commuting and work stress, it is easy to splash the cash without a second thought: ‘I deserve it because I work so hard’, I’d say to myself as I spent £60 on dinner for the second time that week. If I wanted something, I bought it; ‘Why do I work so hard if it isn’t to spend money?’, another common phrase I would reassure myself by. I realised that after so long being with money, I felt I couldn’t leave my job until the jewellery business was earning as much (which was likely to be never, when I was only working on it evenings and weekends) and so I had my Catch-22.
It took a complete burnout, and the thought of being stuck in New York for two years, without friends and family, in a role I was no longer enjoying, to make me take a step back and reassess what really brings me happiness. Yes, I enjoyed progressing in my career, and I wanted to ‘have it all’ and live in New York enjoying ‘that dream life’, but the reality was unfolding, and it was to be two years of further stress, taking me away from my true creative passion. ENOUGH. I quit and reversed all the planning that had been going into transporting my and my boyfriend’s life across the Atlantic (which is pretty awkward, let me tell you). Fortunately, my employer was very understanding and wished me well on my new venture…and so my new life started to form ahead of me.
They say: ‘fortune favours the brave’, and so far I couldn’t agree more. Opening myself up to my new life and discussing it with whoever I can has revealed a heart-warming number of people ready to help, advise and put me in touch with relevant people. New opportunities are forming and it is incredibly exciting.
What I do know is that, for me, it had to come to that breaking point. I was not ready before, and it is only with the new, fierce desire to have a different type of lifestyle, with creativity and not money at the heart of it, that I had the courage to overcome the anxiety that follows such a life-changing decision. Without realising it, my work had become a defining part of my confidence, and as such it was vital for me to break that down and understand how to rebuild that in my new working life. What was amazing to me, was that all of it was transferable, and best of all, it is now in addition to my main passion…jewellery. I have a stripped back life, with a considerably lower budget, but I get to spend my days dreaming up the next gorgeous jewellery pieces to adorn all the StrongYetFeminine ladies out there.
Watch out for some new killer designs, and a lot more communication from me. I will be sharing stories from many women following their passion, corporate or independent, to inspire us all. I am so elated to be fully dedicated to the StrongYetFeminine ethos that I whole heartedly believe in.
It is so easy to fear failure and let that stop you giving 100%. Time to reframe what failure is; not pursuing my dream would be the saddest failure of all. Δ