Bloggers Prepare for Fall Fashion: NYFW 2017

Oh, Fall. Football. Pumpkin Spice. And of course the fashion. New York Fashion Week (NYFW) Fall 2017 starts on Thursday, September 7, 2017, and runs until Wednesday, September 13, 2017. This week showcases the first looks of next year – spring and summer trends for 2018 from some of our favorite brands including Coach and Calvin Klein.

While Windy City Cosmo was invited to a few shows, we’ve decided to watch from afar this season (which you can too here). Fashion Week is something that everyone should experience. I went to the Paris Fashion Week for Spring 2016 and the city really does come alive and people are modeling everywhere from the Eiffel Tower to every alleyway in between.

While many bloggers have been teasing fall fashion like this jacket here and this casual outfit, the real thing that bloggers are getting excited for is getting ready for NYFW. Windy City Cosmo reached out to some of the local Midwest bloggers and bloggers throughout America to spotlight how these bloggers get invited to NYFW and how they prepare!

So, with no further ado, I want to introduce you to some bloggers to watch this week as they post about NYFW 2017, their fall looks, and what to look forward to for spring 2018.

The first blogger I would like to introduce you to the beautiful and talented, Mireille, Founder of the blog, City Peach. I love her fashion because she plays with color and patterns, but most importantly, she plays with silhouettes. She inspires others to look chic, especially mothers on any budget. She likes to blend her city girl and southern girl vibes and incorporates vintage pieces with name brands.



Mirellie, Founder of fashion blog, City Peach

The second blogger who is preparing for fall fashion at NYFW is Caitlin Patton, Founder of With over 18k Instagram followers, and a fresh perspective on details like these jeans with flowers, she is definitely shaking up the fashion world in her city (and mine!), Chicago.


Caitlin Patton, Founder of fashion blog, Sophisticaition.

The third blogger I want to introduce you to is Bria Kiara, Founder of Daydreamers Magazine.  Her visual site pops and explores everything from new looks to not feeling connected.

One of my favorite fashion trends she covers is about these fashionista sunglasses from Vizion Eyewear. It honestly makes me want to reevaluate my love of plain black sunglasses.


Bria Kiara, Founder of Daydreamers Magazine.


Windy City Cosmo: Describe being a fashion blogger?

Mireille, City Peach: To me, it’ll all about providing inspiration and creativity. I love being able to be creative with outfitting and talk about the why behind what I put together and how it can work for the reader. Part of my blogging journey is to help people think outside the box when getting dressed.

Caitlin Patton, Sophisticaition: I really think the blogging community here in Chicago is something special. There are so many creative and bright individuals here, and I feel blessed to be a part of it all! A rising tide lifts all ships, and I love getting to work with other bloggers, photographers, stylists, graphic designers, etc. to help us all succeed.

Bria Kiara, Daydreamers Magazine: I’m a magazine founder and editor. It’s a very rewarding but ultra successful position to hold. I manage the daily operations of the online site while handling photo shoot and interview arrangements for online and print content. I create editorial calendars and attend events in the city as the magazine’s representative. In addition to fashion, I also focus on music and culture throughout the year.

Windy City Cosmo: What inspires your outfits?

Mireille, City Peach: Is it your mood or the events you’re going to, etc? I am mostly inspired by seasons and genres. For example, in the fall, I will layer everything, almost becoming the main focus of the style I create for that time of year… how creative can I get and use different ways to put many things together. I also am inspired by movies that I was obsessed with in the past and bringing a style to life through an outfit.

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Mireille from City Peach rocking a statement necklace.

Caitlin Patton, Sophisticaition: My outfits are definitely inspired by where I’m going and how I’m feeling. I also can make an outfit off of a song or album I’m really feeling. The new Lana album was a big source of my summer looks!

Bria Kiara, Daydreamers Magazine: My personal style is inspired by my mood and the event I’m going to. If I’m going somewhere at night, I tend to dress more fancy and classy; heels, dresses and really going out with my look. If I’m going somewhere during the day, I may wear something light, bright and easy to get me through my day. No matter what though, I’m always experimenting with different textures, color palettes, and eras.

Windy City Cosmo: How did you develop your style?

Mireille, City Peach: I have taken styles that I have loved over the years and experiences, to create a style that speaks to me as my identity. I worked in retail during my entire 20’s, from Abercrombie and Fitch, where I like to keep a classic feel to most looks, and then working at Anthropologie while in NYC, almost opened my eyes to mixing, matching, and taking risks. I wear what I love, what I feel comfortable in, and stay true to a style that I either love or stay away from what I truly do not like.

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Mireille from City Peach with a bright red purse and classic shades.

Bria Kiara, Daydreamers Magazine: I developed my style by reading magazines, watching movies about fashion and Pinterest. I want to get a worldview of how people are dressing, not just how people dress in my hometown (Philadelphia). I find I always find inspiration in the world outside of my own.

Windy City Cosmo: How do you choose locations to shoot beauty and fashion pieces?

Mireille, City Peach: My preference is for a ‘city setting’ because that is my blog namesake and theme. I like my outfits to depict a busy mom who is on the go; a city gal who will always feel at home in a concrete jungle and ever sacrifice being chic for anything! It is always possible to look put together, and my job is to show you how.

Caitlin Patton, Sophisticaition: I love shooting on Michigan Avenue. It’s just so quintessential Chicago, and I love the skyscrapers. It still feels surreal to look up at them and think, wow, I live here. The lake never disappoints, either!


Caitlin Patton from Sophisticaition a few blocks from the iconic Michigan Ave., at Sprinkles Cupcake ATM.

Bria Kiara, Daydreamers Magazine: I choose locations for photoshoots based on the concepts I want to execute. The location is the most important element of a successful shoot, so I also try to pick places that have various options for angles and shots.

Windy City Cosmo: How did you go about getting invited to New York Fashion Week?

Mireille, City Peach: It’s all about putting in the work, year round, growing your brand. If you put yourself out there and connect to brands that you love, you will always have a starting point. Then you just email, call, and ask to be a part of anything!

Caitlin Patton, Sophisticaition: I was invited to shows in February by some PR companies I work with, and they encouraged me to attend this fall! I’ve reached out to brands myself but have also continued to work with my contacts at PR agencies to help them with brand coverage.

Bria Kiara, Daydreamers Magazine: It’s honestly all about good timing, knowing somebody who knows somebody and being ready. A friend of mine knows a designer personally who needed media for her fashion show during NYFW. She immediately told me about the opportunity, and I was connected with the designer of the fashion show.


Bria Kiara from Daydreamers Magazine showing off an elegant choker.

Windy City Cosmo: What designers are you excited to see?

Mireille, City Peach: Rodarte is one of my absolute favorite design house (especially for Fall inspo) and runway show in general. I will not be seeing them this year, but love Christian Siriano and his idea of the woman’s definition of style, I love Tibi’s ideas, Carolina Herrera’s full skirts, and Alexander Wang.

Caitlin Patton, Sophisticaition: Not all invites are finalized yet, but I am really excited to see the Banana Republic presentation because a lot of my readers have expressed interest in work wear – I hope I’ll get some major office outfit inspo!

Bria Kiara, Daydreamers Magazine: I am excited to see Siobhan Hunter!!

Windy City Cosmo: Lastly, what are some staples you’re packing for the show?

Mireille, City Peach: I’m extremely into jumpsuits, so that is my go-to when all else fails. I have a pair of tassel heeled loafers that can go with any outfit and are actually comfortable, and I have about 6 high waist skirts in every color that if anything, can always go with a tee and still look amaze!

Caitlin Patton, Sophisticaition: COMFY SHOES. Extra memory cards for my camera. Lots of fun lipsticks, and some favorite fall trends like metallics, velvet, and more.


blue cocktail dress-5922 edit

Caitlin Patton from Sophisticaition in a gorgeous blue dress and nude heels.

Windy City Cosmo: So, readers can follow along, please list your social links where they can see your coverage.

Mireille, City Peach: I will be on my IG stories the entire time, so the best place to follow along is @city.peach on Instagram.

The best place to find direct links to my blog posts are either my actual blog, or on!

Caitlin Patton, Sophisticaition: 




 Bria Kiara, Daydreamers Magazine: 

Twitter: @daydreamersmag_

Instagram:  @daydreamersmag

Update: New York Fashion Week is still going strong and these are some of my favorite looks:

City nights with @lincolnparkmin #nyfw ‚ú®

A post shared by Lexi Holden (@lexandthecity____) on


Why Meeting In Person Is Important: The Power of Free Events

When I moved to Chicago, I was nervous because where I came from zero was a dress size and not the temperature outside.

Nevertheless, I wanted to make the most of city life, and I did that by attending a different free event every night.

My adventures and the people I met along the way inspired Windy City Cosmo, a lifestyle blog that encourages you to explore the city with or without heels because there’s new cocktails to drink and CEOs to meet.

On Wednesday, February 24, 2016, Windy City Cosmo was selected to speak at Bloggers Meet Startups Meetup’s first event at 1871. The four-year-old group, Bloggers Meet Startups, was formed by Scottt ¬† and is now moderated by Maddy Osman of The Blogsmith.

I wanted to share with you highlights from my first speech and also share some great blogs and startups in Chicago. There were four featured speakers at the February 2016 Bloggers Meet Startups Meetup, but attendees also have 60 seconds to pitch their own projects. Since we were at 1871, one of the greatest innovation hubs for startups in Chicago, there were a lot more startup founders at this event.

You’re Invited To Free Events Every Day:

It’s hard to believe that you are invited to an event when you don’t receive an invitation. So, I’m giving you a formal one. When you live in the city you are invited to a handful of free events every single day. And these events can be as small as a pop-up sale at your favorite Chicago boutique to as big as a startup competition at IBM.

You can find these events on Windy City Cosmo, Time Out Magazine, Eventbrite, Built in Chicago, and, among other sites.

These events may be exciting like a Ne-Yo concert on Michigan Ave., but the true value comes in the fact that they are held at Chicago businesses like Edelman, The Shift, Basecamp, and The Social Deviant. On top of access to restricted businesses and special spaces in Chicago, these free events also help you gain really easy access to the people you want to meet, the people who are going to inspire you or the people who are going to discover your brand and share your content on social media.

In Person Is Important:

Making real-life, in-person connections is important, even in the digital age.

Aziz Ansari mentioned in his book, Modern Romance, that you can swipe right on Tinder, but ultimately you need to meet the person in person for the relationship to progress. The same is true for job interviews. The third part of the interview is always the in-person interview because meeting in person in important.

From Instagram to Insta Friends:

I think when you combine technology to create opportunities to meet people and then actually meet in person at these free events, you are able to grow a very strong social network and professional network very quickly.

For example, I have been an active user on Instagram, which requires liking a lot of photos a day. I realized I was finding photos from Once Upon a Dollhouse, a Chicago lifestyle blog. After a few weeks, I checked out their blog. They liked my photos, and I liked theirs. I went to an Ulta Beauty event on Tuesday and one of the bloggers introduced herself. Yes, it was the founder of this blog I had really enjoyed. We instantly connected and they ended up coming to this Bloggers Meet Startups Meetup the next day to support me and also pitch their blog at the end.

This all happened because we created an opportunity through social media, but deepened our relationship in person. Now we also follow each other on Snapchat (@Rationalization, @OnceUponADollhouse).

Be Inspired, Be Inspiring:

The last part of getting the most out of free Chicago events is that you want to give back.

It’s nice to be inspired, but you want to be inspiring as well.

I started Windy City Cosmo because I wanted to have a purpose for going to these events, and I also wanted to document how resourceful and beneficial it is for city dwellers to attend these Chicago events.

I started writing event recaps for SheSays Chicago, an international group of women and men in creative fields helping women advance to leadership roles. Today, SheSays Chicago is still one of the best resources for not only networking, but also mentorship, and freelance work referrals for me.

After the presentation, we had a brief q&a with Windy City Cosmo and the room full of roughly 50 startup founders and bloggers.

People asked about analytics, strategies for promoting blogs, and the hardest part about running a blog.

It was really great to be in a room of Millennials all working on projects to make life better, inspire others, and create ways to form and facilitate relationships.


Amanda Elliott from Windy City Cosmo speaking at 171 fir Bloggers Meet Startups. Photo: Amanda Elliott


This was Bloggers Meet Startups first time booking space at 1871. Photo: Once Upon a Dollhouse

Chicago Bloggers Pitch:

Several attendees pitched their blogs and startups including the lifestyle blog, Once Upon Dollhouse, and a new event company that followed trends on Pinterest to bring clients the best mix between hiring an event planner and DIY parties, Paris 312.

We were inspired by Susie of to live a life beyond expectations. Susie was diagnosed with a terminal disease but has been living life like a champion by running marathons and helping others with her health and wellness blog and as a trainer.

Startup Founders Pitch:

Startup founders also pitched like Justin and Matt of Backspace app, a social sharing site where nothing lasts forever, and the most liked content stays on the platform longer.

And another startup, ParqEx, is using a similar concept to Airbnb¬†and applying it to parking space by letting consumers rent out their personal garage space or outdoor parking space when they don’t use it. Because yes, parking ¬†is always an issue in cities.

Below are some photos from the networking portion of the event.

The next Bloggers Meet Startups Event will be at Next Door Chicago in Lakeview.


Bloggers Meet Startups has three portions: features speakers, 60 second pitches and a networking opportunity. Photo: Amanda Elliott


Nisha Mathur, who is currently working on a startup and Sara McAllister of the blog, Freckles and Ivory mingle at Bloggers Meet Startups. Photo: Amanda Elliott  





Celebrity Makeup Artist Debuts Line at Ulta Beauty Wicker Park With Must-Have Purple Mascara

Fiona Stiles. I already wanted to meet her because I love Fiona Apple. There’s something in a name.

Stiles’ bio reads that some of the world’s most famous and recognizable faces trust her, as do a roster of top photographers and directors, including Mario Testino, Steven Klein, Inez & Vinoodh, Annie Leibovitz and Ellen Von Unwerth.

I was intrigued.

The petite, denim-styled blonde has spent the past year transitioning from celebrity artist to a creator of her own makeup line.

Her new line hit shelves this February 2016 at Ulta Beauty Wicker Park and your favorite Chicago bloggers were there to meet Fiona Stiles and play with her new line in hopes that we can also achieve a face worth photographing.

Fiona Stiles Helps Bloggers Pick Out Makeup:

Seldom do we have the opportunity to meet the person behind the product. With startups, it’s a little bit easier, but with an international, celebrity makeup artists, this felt like a dream.

So, I asked Fiona Stiles some of my top makeup concerns, starting with the number one component of my Snow White look‚ÄĒred lips.

The Trouble With Red Lips:

Help me, I looked toward Fiona Stiles, “My Mac red lipstick smears so much that it looks like I ate my lipstick.”

And The Fix:

Stiles told me that it’s best to use a lipstick pencil than a lipstick. I used two different lip pencils from her collection,¬†Fiona Stiles Beauty!.¬†At first, it felt like my lips had dried up like a flower without water, but when I went back to pick out a foundation, it was more comfortable, and didn’t dry out my lips as much as some long-lasting lip stains and lip pencils do.


Meeting celebrity makeup artist, Fiona Stiles. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Fun, But Mature Looks With Eye Shadow:

For her eye shadows, Fiona Stiles kept things natural and added some rich, vibrant color.

She explained her trick for helping us look playful, but sophisticated at the same time.

“I added black in the eye shadow colors,” Fiona says, “so that there is great, vibrant color, but it looks mature rather than meant for a teenager.”


Fiona Stiles at the Fiona Stiles Beauty! launch party event at Ulta Beauty Wicker Park. Photo: Amanda Elliott


“Pigment and payoff were really important to me in developing the line so the products all have incredible, vibrant, long wearing colors,” Stiles says in her recent blog post.

“I also wanted to create something that has the quality of an expensive high-end brand at a reasonable price point so that incredible quality can be available to everyone.”

I met the bloggers behind Once Upon a Dollhouse, another Chicago Lifestyle Blog that is just as fun as adorable as the roommate pair who created it.

We had fun as we took our makeup to the makeup artist for mini makeovers.

Danielle from Once Upon a Dollhouse picks out the prefect lip color with makeup collection creator, Fiona Stiles. Photo: Amanda Elliott


On a Scale of 1 -10, I’m White Stone:

The thing that I love about Fiona Stiles line is that she paid attention to all the details that go into picking out makeup so that we don’t have to.

Her foundation and concealer line are all labeled 1 – 10, so that if you are #1 foundation, you can match it with the #1 concealer.

Guess who has #1 foundation skin tone? Yours truly. I am the whitest pigment in Fiona Stiles’ new makeup line,¬†Fiona Stiles Beauty!. ¬†The foundation is called Porcelain, but the loose setting powder is fittingly called, White Stone.

If this isn’t a call for more sunshine in your life, I don’t know what is.

Stiles said that she didn’t want to add white to the foundations, which is why my skin tone is the lightest color in her line.


Makeup artist, Lauren, who previously worked for Mac Cosmetics,gave me tips for applying Fiona Stiles White Stone Loose Setting Powder and Porcelain Foundation. Photo: Amanda Elliott

Must-Have Purple Mascara:

My absolute favorite part of her collection is her mascara. I went through a Chicago snowstorm to get to my speaking engagement, and my mascara didn’t smudge.

For all the girls who wind up with their mascara all over their face instead of nicely held on their lashes, the¬†Fiona Stiles Beauty! purple mascara is a must-have. It’s everything you want in a mascara that volumizes your lashes: smudge-resistant, clump-free, flake-free.

I seriously just threw out three mascaras during my extensive spring cleaning process, and this purple mascara has been what every close-set eyed girl has been waiting for.

Fiona Stiles Beauty! Line Makes You Look Cool, Calm, and Collected:

I’ve been waiting for a makeup line that helps you look cool, calm, and collected, and this is it. There are some fun colors to play with, like the¬†Fiona Stiles Beauty!¬†Oceanus¬†eye shadow¬†palette,¬†but her makeup line really focuses on enhancing your natural beauty.¬†

Fiona Stiles sent us home with awesome swag at her launch party event at Ulta Beauty in Wicker Park.

Bloggers went home with two lipstick shades, purple mascara, a Topanga eye shadow palette, and skin beautifiers.

There are 120 pieces to the Fiona Stiles Beauty! makeup collection. This is one practical collection that everyone who wants to look like a somebody should have.


Fiona Stiles makeup swag from the launch party at Ulta Beauty Wicker Park. Photo: Amanda Elliott

The day after this Ulta Beauty event, I had a big presentation at 1871. I trusted¬†the makeup tricks from the funny and talented makeup artists, Lauren, and Fiona Stiles’ advice and came up with the below creation.



Testing Fiona Stiles’ first makeup line, Fiona Stiles Beauty! Photo: Amanda Elliott


You can shop Fiona Stiles Beauty! online and in-store at Ulta Beauty. Seriously, start with the purple mascara. When Fiona told me that mascara is one of her must-haves, I now understand the true value in a good mascara.



How Bloggers and Brands Create Authenticity on Social Media

Be authentic are the key words at Social Media Week (#SMWChicago), a week-long program (November 16-20, 2015) part of a global conference which combines social technology, creativity, and human interaction to discuss the latest trends and best practices for social media.

Bloggers vouched for it. Marketers and journalists agreed.

I am going to explore different bloggers and brands who are authentic and personal. I will evaluate the argument for finding the middle ground of creating an authentic brand, while also putting personality and yourself into the social media messaging.

What is a Brand?

To clarify, a brand is “the practice of creating a name, symbol or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products,” according to Entrepreneur.

A blogger can operate under a separate brand name. For instance, my name is Amanda Elliott, but my brand is “Windy City Cosmo.” Some bloggers operate under their name. Journalists do this as well, creating a separate brand for themselves, while operating within the brand of their employer.

Define Authentic:

Authenticity means “true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character,” according to Merriam-Webster dictionary.

In writing, you need to have a voice, a tone and an objective that relates to your subject matter and audience reading your blog post or article. This is part of what authenticity means to social media marketers.

Brand Authenticity has four parts according to Digital Intelligence Today:

  • Continuity (brand being faithful to itself)
  • Credibility (true to its consumers)
  • Integrity (motivated by caring and responsibility)
  • Symbolism (support consumers in being true to themselves)

Brand Example: Elite Daily:

A good example of brand authenticity is Elite Daily, an online publication for the voice of Generation Y.

To create credibility, it only employees Millennial writers to share personal anecdotes for its Millennial audience.

It also has standards, the integrity component of authenticity, in its style guide. Elite Daily won’t accept posts that are racist or against the LGBT community. The brand further creates becomes overly personal about all things related to Millennials to help Millennials tackle their own battles on dating, world news, and women’s health, which provides symbolism.

Notice, when you view their Instagram account, Elite Daily uses statements that resonate with Millennials to add a deeper connection.

One post reads,” How do girls contour their face I’m lucky if I brush my hair.”


Humpday sentiments via Social Media Coordinator @alisaysdance

A photo posted by Elite Daily (@elitedaily) on Nov 11, 2015 at 10:01am PST


Elite Daily didn’t post a video¬†of a girl brushing her hair while trying to contour her face. Now, the publication might publish a post, “Contour Fails: How I Tried to Look Like Kim K,” because Millennial women have probably attempted to contour their faces and just can’t.

You can be yourself and add personality as long as you are consistently tying your content back to your readers.

There was a big controversy about brands posting photos with #prayforparis last week. Some people found it ingenuine to post them because they felt it was just to draw attention to their brands and get “likes”, rather than feeling a reverence and empathy for the attacks and the French people.

Bloggers who Balance Authenticity and Their True Self:

There are some bloggers, that do a very good job of this.

Lamise Mansur is a yogi and runs a very powerful and active Instagram account under her name. She has 46.2K followers. While focusing on yoga poses, she also adds in food photos that tie into the yogi lifestyle she curates. Mansur and I went to high school together.


Apart from growing up in school as a fellow classmate, her quotes and her photography have help me to see her a social media influencer. On Instagram, she shows personality in her yoga poses and the fact that she is a more modest yogi, compared to others who do yoga in bikinis.

While creating personality, she isn’t overly personal. She’s personal in the realm of yoga and health and growth, but she’s private in the sense that I don’t know a lot of detail about her personal life.

Continuity: Does One Brand Mean One Topic?

Ultimately, your brand doesn’t have to just talk about one thing, like yoga. You can incorporate other areas and passions of your life while maintaining the integrity and authenticity of your brand.

On Wednesday, November 18, 2015, Social Media Week had a Foodie Chat, “Not Just #FoodPorn: Social Media and The Impact on the Way We Eat,” session at 5 pm. Three Chicago food bloggers talked about their success and tips for blogging and building an audience on social media with brands they want to work with and followers they want to attract.

I asked the question about how to remain true your brand while also exploring and writing about other topics.

One blogger, Monique Volez, founder of Ambitious Kitchen, who is predominately a food blogger, is recently writing about travel. She says that she’s found ways to incorporate her love for travel while also maintaining the focus of her blog on healthy food for Millennials.

Another food blogger, Julie Gordon, founder of Inspiring Kitchen, said that when she travels, she reports on restaurants at hotels to tie back into her brand.

You have to get creative with how you present your ideas and your stories because even you, the brand, can get bored with one topic.

Does Personality Bring You More (Social) Currency?

I’ve met a few bloggers in Chicago who are working with¬†powerful brands. After establishing your brand, it becomes easier to receive samples of products or get invited to events to produce blog content.

As you grow your brand, getting paid for your work is a much harder feat. Yet global brands, like Coca-Cola, reach out to bloggers who are influential and wealthy in social currency.

You can’t pay for your bills with macaroni samples and heartfelt notes from followers, but you can get influence that gives you social currency. Unlike monopoly money, you can cash that in. Because¬†that’s what professional brands really want‚ÄĒan engaged audience.

With personality, a brand transitions from a salesman in a suit to a best friend.

It’s interesting that bigger brands are paying for audience and personality from smaller brands like bloggers, who have limited means of creating revenue beyond contracts from companies.

Convincing¬†readers to pay for content is an ongoing challenge. With the saturation of the blogosphere and the fragile state of publications (see Details Magazine) it seems naive to even think it’s possible, which hurts to say as a writer myself.

However, there is hope. When bloggers and brands balance the line between authenticity and being themselves, they can create something where that are paid two-fold. They are paid in their impact and appreciation from the community they built, but also paid by a professional brand, who uses them as a new level of influence to increase new user acquisition.

One of those brands is Coca-Cola, which has reached out to a few Chicago bloggers to promote and generate content. One speaker as Social Media Week Chicago, Jocelyn Delk Adams, founder of Grandbaby Cakes, writes and promotes on behalf of Coca-Cola and Pillsbury to name a few.

Adams, who has 70 percent of brands reach out to her for social media and content creation services said that when she works with brands, “It has to come from me. It has to be my voice.”

She spoke about the struggles of building an audience and how important it is to be authentic to the brand she built to continue to grow her brand and keep her audience.

“When you start a blog you start with one follower, and that’s your mom. If you find someone whose reading your blog who you didn’t know, you’re like ‘yay.'”

Another popular food blogger, Kit Graham, founder of The Kittchen and co-founder of Windy City Blogger Collective, started blogging in 2011 according to an interview with The Blog Issue.

Like Adams, she also writes and creates recipes for Coca-Cola.

Both of these established bloggers have generated income on their own by creating their own cookbooks,  Grandbaby Cakes: Modern Recipes, Vintage Charm, Soulful Memories  and The Gourmet Grilled Cheese Cookbook ,as well as working with brands.

Chicago foodie blogger and deal finder, Maddy Osman, founder of Chicago Cheap Ass, created a brand that was authentic to her personality. Much like her brand’s name, she is open and honest and tells you the deals and advice you might be too afraid to ask for. One of my favorites is, “Spend Your Birthday Collecting Free Stuff.”

When I met Osman, I felt like I was meeting someone who was savvy, and professional, but also true to the person she is. People love her and her brand for it. Osman recently started solely freelancing and is continuing to help other brands achieve that authenticity.

Platforms: The Thing About Snapchat:

While bloggers and brands create different content for various platforms, Snapchat helps to provide a behind-the-scenes feel. Brands become more personal on Snapchat, taking you in the car or airplane with them on their journey of eating, dancing, dressing, and other everyday activities.

The Chicago foodie, 312Food on Instagram, is one ¬†brand that uses¬†. The account is run by Erin Byrne, and she only engages with her audience on that platform and Twitter. After starting her brand this summer 2015, there are 8,143 posts under the hashtag, “312food” on Instagram.



On a platform known for food and selfies, Byrne  focuses on the local restaurants she patrons and discovers daily. You can see where she goes and who she is eating with based on her tags, but she maintains a strong, authentic brand that feels like I personally like her, yet professionally appreciate her work.

I think what Byrne is doing is what we all want to achieve in the social media world. We want to be liked, but taken seriously (and as a business, paid for being all of that through products and services).

On her Snapchat (Snap312food), you see a more personal brand. The behind-the-scenes of where she goes helps me to feel involved with her work and apart of her brand.

Adam Soko, another Chicago Foodie, has also made a name for himself, at 24 years old this month, he has 19.2K followers. He actively posts his smartphone taken photos on Instagram, and then takes you behind the scenes on his eating adventures and the friends he enjoys them with on Snapchat (adamsoko).

On Snapchat, Soko revolves his content around food. He also takes it a step further and takes selfies and videos of friends dancing in living rooms. You get the personality behind the food. This made me like his brand on a different level.

I’ve had drinks with both Byrne and Soko at blogger foodie events. They are both awesome people, with great personalities. I was impressed with 312Food before I met her, and knew it was only one person, and I learned about Soko’s online presence while at a Violet Hour private tasting.

Walking the Line of Too Much Information:

When I first started managing a company’s Twitter account in 2010, I noticed that people who I was so intimidated by as an intern at the time, were tweeting about 80’s music and bonding over plaid socks. I only met with them for an hour about every other week, and who they were online and who they were in that meeting, were vastly different. There was personality, life behind these people, they had music taste and style.

It made them human, it put them more on my level, but it also slightly changed my professional view on them. It seemed we could talk about anything online, but not when we were face to face. There was a difference.

As I develop my own brand, I am torn between what is too much information and what gives me to be enough personality to be human and relatable instead of just a generic product or an idea.

I find more and more you can like the product, but hate the person, or hate the person, and love the product, but the most social media influence derives from liking the person people think you are and the product or idea that you are selling.

Examples of Brands Who Got Personal:

Brands and bloggers, have found ways to grow communities that help them in both their professional and personal life.

I met yogi, Margo Kellison Lightburn, who is a former Nike Yoga instructor, at a park before bible study last year. I am going to pause and say that while editing this very piece, I toggled with including “bible study” into the article, ¬†because that’s a personal detail and religion is not a main part or any part of my blog, Windy City Cosmo. I even thought about changing “bible study” to simply “meeting,” because that is more authentic to my brand.¬†But I decided to keep it in to make a point about authenticity v. being myself. I can still be the person who goes to bible study, but I don’t have to tweet to my audience, “Church on Sunday RT,” that’s too personal and doesn’t relate to my brand.

Back to Lightburn, I have since followed her on Facebook and Instagram. I love the way she incorporates her son growing up, and even his attempts to learn yoga, into her professional brand as a yogi.

PR Communications Founder of Geben Communications in Philadelphia, PA, Heather Whaling, shares posts on her website, PRtini. I have followed Heather since about 2012, and she always has good tips on PR advice and strategic communications. Sometimes, I was a bit suprised, but touched by how personal she got in her newsletters and posts. In one post, she mentioned her pregnancy, specifically that she gave birth prematurely and had to make quick changes as a company owner, to take maternity leave early. It was a very private and personal anecdote from her life, and quite frankly it was the first time I read a story like this from someone who I came to respect professionally.

At the Foodie Talk at Social Media Week, Adams¬†said, “They love when you get personal.”

In a way, I believe it sometimes creates a bigger bond, like it did with Whaling.

However, ask yourself, do you link your Twitter, a more social and relaxed platform, with your LinkedIn, a more professional one?

Bloggers and brands alike are aware that they can be insensitive or overshare.

Blogger and speaker at Social Media Week, Gordon spoke about how she was promoting a French festival event in downtown Chicago, but in light of the current attacks in Paris, has refrained from heavily promoting the event, for instance.

Tips to Balance Your Personal and Professional Life Online:

The key tip is to include yourself in the brand, but curate content that always relates or brings your audience back to your mission statement.

  • Remember your audience. Your content should always be created with them in mind.
  • Keep your message consistent. Create a mission statement. While you can add different categories and products to your brand, make sure they resonate with your brand’s mission statement.
  • Explore different social media platforms to create a stronger bond with consumers and followers.
  • Your goal is not to be related, but relatable.¬†Get personal, but not too personal. Gage when an audience is ready for heavier content, and when personal details may not be appropriate.
  • Check yourself. It’s easy to forget that real people see your content and are affected by your brand if you are developing a new brand. What you do matters and people are watching what you do in the beginning, even if you don’t see the impact right away.

While a brand may be part of you‚ÄĒa big part of you, it’s not all of you.






SheSays Chicago Event Recap: Turning Passion into Profit

‚ÄúI’d like to repeat the advice that I gave you before, in that I think you really should make a radical change in your lifestyle and begin to boldly do things which you may previously never have thought of doing, or been too hesitant to attempt. So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The¬†joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild


“Is this ginger beer?” I asked

“No, that’s Malort,” she said.

“Oh, no, ¬†I don’t want that,” I replied.

The girls were gathered in the kitchen. The woman next to me taught me how to make my first mule: start with bourbon, add a drop of bitters and top it with ginger beer.

It’s 6:30 pm on Thursday, May, 14, 2015. The Bulls are playing their last game against the Cavaliers down the street. The season finale of Scandal is on, as our host indicated, but nevermind¬†pop culture,¬†we were all dodging the unexpected rain, staring at a blackboard and four successful entrepreneurs: a soap crafter, a food blogger, a mapmaker, and a travel writer.

There were four main questions on everybody’s mind.

1) How did you become successful?

2) What does being successful look like?

3) How did you overcome fear?

4) How do you carve out time?

Then the little questions came.

1) Do  you have a business plan?

2) Do you quit your day job?

Tonight’s event is entitled, Turning Passion into Profit. These entrepreneurs, like most, were not changing jobs for the money or the fame. They were changing careers, or as two of them indicated, keeping their day jobs and fueling their side business, in the name of passion.

The event was hosted by SheSays Chicago, a local chapter of a global organization, which empowers women in creative fields to advance through panel discussions with top female professionals.

Tonight, we are sitting at Basecamp’s office, a leading project management software company.¬†Twenty new girls, a guy, and the regulars took their seats.

“Our office is built for education, and obviously badass ladies doing badass things,” Mig Reyes (@migreyes)¬†from Basecamp,¬†a top contributor and one of the few male attendees at the previous event at Social Deviant,¬†welcomed us.

The panelists included:

A) Kit Graham (@thekittchen) РFood Blogger and Author, Privacy Specialist at Groupon

B) Jenny Beorkrem (@OrkPosters) РCreator and Designer of Ork Posters & Neighborly

C) Lisa Lubin (@LLWorldTour) РFreelance Travel/Food Writer/Photographer

D) Susie Jendro (@SusieJendro) РSoap Crafter, Technology Manager at OgilvyOne

SheSays Chicago turn passion into profit

And I leave you with this my entrepreneurs, my start-up founders, my next big things, I am starting my own business. We will see if I can branch from my 9-5. I am creating the of the professional world, a space where you can find events hosted by groups like SheSays Chicago to meet professional people and companies in person. Stay tuned as I grow this idea with my SheSays Chicago accountability group, which starts today.


Event Location: Basecamp (30 N. Racine, 2nd Floor, Chicago, IL 60607)

Event Host: SheSays Chicago

Event Date and Time: Thursday, May 14, 2015 5:30-8:30 pm

Discovered Through: Invite

Bonus: Making my first mule cocktail

Amanda Elliott is a writer and speaker and a relationship builder. She believes that meeting people in person is important. After attending numerous fashion, startup, and creative events, she founded Windy City Cosmo is 2015 to help people make connections in the city as they build their businesses, start and end relationships and see and be seen. Over the past three years, the entrepreneurs she’s interviewed have become the most successful in Chicago and Windy City Cosmo won an award in 2017 for her work for female entrepreneurs.