All photos provided from xoxoijoelle.com and republished with permission.
I, KiKi, first connected with Ireana of the local blog Xoxo, I. Joelle at a Charleston Blog Society meet-up nearly one year ago where we spent the evening learning the ins-and-outs of Pinterest. Upon meeting, I was immediately struck by her bold sense of style as well as her keen ideas on how to expand the blogging scene in Charleston to be more inclusive and community-oriented. A few months ago, she launched Flourish Blog Workshops, a workshop series and annual conference which offers informational sessions centered around blogging, social media, and branding, among other topics. For its first incarnation on Saturday, September 30th from 8 am to 2 pm, the event features an impressive lineup of speakers including Erin Phillips of boutique social media firm Pinckney Palm, Liz Martin of Charleston Weekender and storefront Cannonborough Collective, Saprina Nickelson of She Hustles Creative, a creative branding agency, and Sirena Singleton of Aneris Photography. The two of us sat down to chat about Flourish, what it’s like to blog in Charleston, and how to achieve work-life balance:
Tell Dandy readers a little bit about yourself.
My name is Ireana, and I am a Life & Style Blogger at Xoxo, I. Joelle. I’ve been blogging for total of about five years, but I’ve only been using the name Xoxo, I. Joelle for two years. My blog focuses on my personal style with additional posts on lifestyle topics such as beauty, travel, and motivation. I have a deep love for both pizza and coffee, and one day I hope to visit New York City and Paris. My dream is be to blogger or writer for a fashion & lifestyle magazine on a full-time basis.
Why did you decide to start blogging?
I started blogging because it serves as an outlet for my creativity. I wasn’t always this outgoing: growing up, I stayed in the house a lot, sitting on the computer fixing up my MySpace page and playing SIMS. Still, I always loved writing, so I eventually turned my efforts to writing about what I love, which led to starting a blog.
Now, I want my blog to be a voice to the young girl or woman who feels like she isn’t enough. I want my voice to be the voice for those who feel like theirs doesn’t matter, because for so long I felt as if mine didn’t, either. Over the years, my blog has helped me evolve into the woman that, deep down, I knew I always could be. Every day isn’t always easy, but I grow to love EVERYTHING about myself more and more with each post.
Where did the idea for Flourish Blog Workshops originate, and what do you hope to achieve?
Flourish Blog Workshops is a chic and creative outlet for blogging, social media, and branding. The idea came to mind because of the lack of blog workshop events available on a local level. I’ve seen a handful of conferences or workshops hosted in Charleston, but it almost feels like you have to be part of a secret society to get in, like you are cherry-picked to be invited. I know what it feels like to be overlooked, and I don’t want Flourish to be that at all! My goal with Flourish is to host workshops for creatives, to share knowledge that I as well as others have learned about the subjects being taught, and to foster an openness in the blogging community.
You balance a full-time job with your blog as well as your forthcoming workshop series. What are some tips you would offer to other entrepreneurs struggling with time management?
Oh man, it’s all about BALANCE! Do little by little here and there but don’t burn yourself out. It’s okay to take break and rest but just remember, DON’T GIVE UP! I love to use my planner to plan posts and shoots ahead of time to keep myself organized. I would also recommend taking some time off from social media every now and then to recharge–I’m telling you it’s worth it!
Where are your favorite shopping spots in Charleston?
For clothes, I like shopping at Lane Bryant, Forever 21, H&M, Old Navy, and Nine West. I wish there were more local plus size boutiques.
What is the best business advice you’ve been told, and what advice would you pass along to others?
The best business advice I’ve been told is “Go hard for what you want.” Remember that no one wants the dream more than you want it. And no matter what field you’re in (especially blogging), ALWAYS BE TRUE TO YOURSELF! Remain authentic to you and your brand, and everything else will follow, I promise.
Who are some bloggers that you find particularly inspiring?
My favorite bloggers are Claire Sulmners of Fashion Bomb Daily, Gabi Gregg of Gabifresh, Kim of Naturally Fashionable, Kathleen of Carrie Bradshaw Lied, and Kéla Walker of Kéla’s Closet, but there are so many amazing others I can name!
What can we expect in the future for Flourish Blog Workshops?
Honestly, I don’t know what I want to do next, but I’m excited to host the first one in September to see how everything works out!
Before I even had a chance to have this interview published, tickets for the Saturday workshop were already sold out–but don’t fret! There are still tickets available for the Friday meet-and-greet at Cannonborough Collective from 7-9 p.m., so please come by to meet Ireana or myself and say hello! In the meantime, be sure to follow Ireana and Flourish on Instagram to stay up-to-date.