You guys! We’re celebrating six years of blogging this month. SIX YEARS. Isn’t that crazy? To be totally honest, it feels like much longer to me. I guess so much has changed in my life these past 6 years that it feels longer. Anyway, in honor of six wonderful years, here’s a walk down memory lane, a blast from the past and a brief history of how A Beautiful Mess grew into what it is today!
In July of 2007 I started A Beautiful Mess as a just-for-fun personal project. In those days I shared mostly scrapbook pages and personal photos. My job was designing scrapbook products. I didn’t know that blogging would ever in 10 billion years be a side-job, much less my primary career.
I often say I feel sorry for people starting blogs in 2013. They know too much, and they can have unrealistic expectations. They hear about people making a lot of money from blogging, getting stuff for free and gaining thousands of readers. I think they can sometimes put too much pressure on themselves for all those reasons. Because I know I would do the exact same thing if I started today, a part of me is definitely thankful my start was so adorably clueless and strictly for fun.In October of 2007, Emma moved to California. My heart broke into a million pieces (dramatic much?). In retrospect it was a healthy season for both of us to pursue our dreams as individuals.2007 was a year of growth, the year of the original iPhone (HOORAY! Yes, I was in line on the first day!), a year of missing Emma and gaining some independence and a year that ended perfectly, because I spent new years eve with Jeremy on one our very first we’re-just-friends-this-is-not-a-date dates. One month later we were a couple. 😉
In June of 2008 I visited Emma in LA and we took a daytrip with a few pals to Salvation Mountain. It was an incredible experience, and we were lucky enough to get a tour from Leonard King, the artist himself! It was on this trip that I started to consider the idea of leaving my job and starting my own business, the first Red Velvet Art local shop and website. A new dream is born.
Over the next few months, I moved to a new loft with a space below it large enough to become a beautiful studio for Jeremy and a teeny, tiny local shop in the front room. A few other especially happy memories from 2008 were Rachel’s pirate birthday party, a Red Velvet weekend, visiting Jeremy’s childhood hometown and getting tattoos with Rachel. Oh! and this photo…
In February of 2009 I opened my first local shop and website. You can see photos of the shop here, here and here. It was teeny tiny and super cutesy. Starting the business was an incredible learning experience. It was really, really hard. Sometimes it felt worth it, and sometimes it didn’t. I can honestly say 2009 was the hardest year of my life. It was hard to make ends meet, and my young business still needed so much creative development.
I was sad and frustrated a lot, which of course is not good for the creative process. On the bright side I was in a place where I was forced to learn, forced to improve and forced to try to think bigger.
In 2009, I took a lot of selfies like this one (a. lot. of. selfies… sigh), but I also started blogging more regularly. I started a (very small) advertising program here on the blog. I know some people think of advertisements as a negative thing, but for me it’s always been the exact opposite.
That small step served as a huge motivation for me to take my blog more seriously. I started actually planning blog posts getting really excited about geeky stuff like analytics. To be clear, I still had no idea where blogging was headed or that it would soon be my full time job. I’m a slow learner.
The highlight of 2009 was definitely adopting Suki. ♥ No contest.
2010 was a year of big change. This is the year I started to feel serious about blogging. You can see one of my very first DIYs here. I had a few friends sharing projects too, and it just kinda stuck. I started to enjoy writing teaching content. I also started to experiment with fashion—this was one of our very first style shoots in an abandoned school building.
In June, everything changed. Emma decided to move home and become my business partner. We bought out a bigger vintage store across the street from our first shop, I drove to California to help her move, and we spent the next few months getting our new shop ready to open. We were mostly broke, starry eyed and so excited.
In October of 2010, Emma and I opened the second Red Velvet location in Springfield, Missouri. This location included a bake shop, run by Emma, and a much more size-able collection of vintage and handmade clothing. You can see photos of our second retail store here + here + here + here.
Emma and I worked in the store by ourselves every single day for about two years. During that time we learned a lot (A LOT). We learned that blogging and online products (like e-courses) were a more profitable and fulfilling business for us than retail. We learned that we enjoyed collaborating with established companies more than creating and selling our own collections.
We learned that we LOVED blogging as a team. During the first year of working together our blog traffic grew by more than 400%. I invited Emma to become a co-author of A Beautiful Mess, and since then we’ve done every project together, as partners!
In August of 2010 Jeremy and I got engaged! It was complete surprise… I mean, I went to his show with my hair still wet (oops!) and had a ring on my finger by the end of the night. Wohoo! You can see a few of our engagement photos here, here and here.
2011 was a year of firsts…
At the end of 2011, we started talking to Julie, our first editor from Random House. She found us because of this blog post and started talking to us about a photography book deal.
Around the same time we started working with our literary agent, Lindsay. Soon after that we got our first book deal offer while working at the shop one day. There were lots of happy tears that day. We often talk about our first book as the start of a brand new season in our career.
Oh yes… one more important addition from 2011…
In 2012 we wrote our first book (the one that is now available for pre-order!!!) We learned a ton through that process. First of all keeping up with a blog AND writing a book at the same time is no joke.
It’s one of the hardest things we ever do and something I’d like to share a full post about sometime. I now understand why so many bloggers have trouble keeping up while writing a book. We did our best, learned a lot and ordered way too much pizza along the way! 🙂
In June, we breathed a huge sigh of relief after book 1 was turned in, we took a trip to New York with our mom and I started house shopping. Later that summer we found our house and started the crazy process of renovating. A few of my favorite updates in this home have been the restyled bar cart, the pony wall, our homemade dining room table (that seats 8!) and the light up headboard.
In the autumn of 2012, we took another huge leap, hiring Trey to become our full time Business Development Manager. For the past two years previous to this, Emma had been managing our advertising program. It was successful, but we both knew that it wasn’t the best use of her talents and that the program could be developed much further with another team member who was able to focus all of their energy on that area.
Trey had been working for agencies since college, and we somehow convinced him to join us on the dark side (aka the blog world). And it was one of the best business decisions we ever made. Since then the advertisements you see here on ABM are more thoughtful, more natural and we’re working with companies that we’ve always dreamed of collaborating with!
On the day after Christmas Emma and Trey got engaged. Yes, we are truly a family business and we love it that way!
Emma’s wedding season was incredibly fun! We loved sharing it with you.
In May we released the A Beautiful Mess Photo App! It was a crazy and exciting experience. We spent nine months developing it, and it’s been so exciting to see people from all over the world using it! I shared a little about our experience here. The launch of the app was a huge milestone and dream come true for our business!
This past spring and summer have been crazy busy around here. We hired Laura full-time as our project assistant, have been working on writing a second book (it’s a FUN one!) and have been seriously dreaming about what’s next for the future of our business. It’s crazy when I sit back and think about all that has taken place in just six years.
Over the years some things have changed. Our hair (yikes! no regrets, haha), our dreams have evolved, and we’ve grown up in a lot of ways. Blogging is funny like that. You get to look back on things and laugh… sometimes a whole lot. Looking back there are also so many things that haven’t changed. Our love for photography, crafts and food has only grown. More than anything, the business experiences that have brought Emma and I closer together as sisters and best friends are my favorite part of writing this blog.
Thank you SO MUCH for reading A Beautiful Mess. I wish we could have coffee with every single one of you, but more than a million cups of coffee just can’t be healthy for anyone, right? Seriously though, we adore you so much! We’re so thankful to do this full time. It’s a dream job that only gets better each year!
Cheers to the next six years! Elsie + Emma