Alexandra Nicole is a mother and entrepreneur from Memphis, Tennessee who fills her days pursuing the dream of being her own boss as a boutique owner, makeup artist, fashion stylist, brand developer and blogger. Alexandra’s blog, City Chic Living, began as a way for her to escape daily obstacles over a glass of wine and share some of her passions with the world. City Chic Living is for the modern mom who seeks to be empowered through fashion and makeup tips, health and lifestyle choices, unconventional parenting ideas, and through exploring their environment and the world around them. Additionally, Alexandra is the founder of the clothing boutique called The Ivory Closet which features women’s dresses, shoes, accessories and more. Check out ivorycloset.com or citychicliving.com to learn more.
Can you tell us about the early days of City Chic Living in terms of what inspired you to get into blogging?
Yes. So I did not originally set out to be a blogger. I actually used to work for Corporate America and quit my job because I’m more of a creative [person]. Loved it learned a lot but knew it wasn’t my forever passion. I felt like I was young enough to kind of leave and if I needed to come back and beg for my job back I could. I wasn’t at the high pay level right. I quit so that I could own my own boutique and so I started women’s fashion retail and it was a lot of fun it was back in the days of when you could sell easily through Facebook and you didn’t really need Facebook advertising stuff like that like you do now.
I don’t even think they had business pages, they might of just started business pages. And basically I was doing a lot of sales through my Brick and Mortar and through Facebook. Well Facebook did the whole revolution change and I needed lots of money to promote, well not lots but a significant amount that I didn’t have as a young new entrepreneur. I was twenty-six at the time and literally used my life-savings which was only ten thousand dollars so it wasn’t a lot so I had no extra for marketing and that’s why I decided well let me try blogging. I have a lot of local following from coming into the store and I started blogging on fashion and just in particular the items that I have in my store. Again I was twenty-six at the time I’m thirty-two now the blogging while it started- everyone was blogging at that time.
I wasn’t actually trying to do it for a career at the time I was doing it for extra marketing, free marketing and it just blossomed over time. Now I do fashion it’s centered, I’m a mother of two so it’s centered around moms so I have mom fashions, beauty hacks, entrepreneurial section for business, travel, lifestyle, and of course parenting. So it really was just a little ploy to get some free marketing for myself and then it just overtime it became a passion of mine and I really enjoyed sectoring out into different segments and it’s just grown into really my secondary income now.
At what point did you realize influencer marketing was a viable revenue stream?
Well I had several people I was – I mean it took time. You don’t just become – it’s doesn’t become, you know, a job overnight. So about a year and a half two years into it I started – my following had grown, social channels had grown and I started getting other fashion brands reaching out because at this time I was primarily just fashion. And I was a little weary about it because I was doing it to push my own brands within my store but the other brands that were reaching out were other small businesses that were not necessarily in my market. They have the same target demographic but they weren’t in my market so it wouldn’t be my customers.
So they were actually in different states. So I started doing a little bit of – I branched the blog out into being instead of just being the ivory closet, which is my boutique, it was – and the blog was originally ivorycloset.com and then it was like a blog on there. I branched it out into City Chic Living I kind of rebranded myself and I decided okay I’m going to make this all about fashion and I’m going to start taking in other fashion paid collaboratives and trade collaboratives. So I started off as that and then it just kind of – after a year of really focusing on fashion, doing a lot of traded stuff, starting to get paid for things I got married it sectored into like wedding stuff as well as fashion. I’ve always done beauty because I do own a cosmetic line as well so I had that piece so of course I had some beauty brands reaching out and it just kind of – I was like wow I can make income on this it doesn’t just have to be for my own business benefit. I can benefit my business and really grow myself as a professional in my industry instead of just kind of keep it into one little I’m trying to promote my small little business over here thing.
As a mother, entrepreneur, influencer and boutique owner, how do you structure your days so you can get everything accomplished?
It is really tough. I’ve been doing this now for roughly six years and I will say last year I had the most work on my plate because I’m mainly a “yes” person. I decided about November of 2018 that I’m going to stop saying yes to everything and I’m only going to do things that are lucrative, that make money, or things that I enjoy. It’s not all about money I do some collaborations that, you know, are just things I really enjoy and really believe in.
So I decided I’m going to – I wrote down on a piece of paper of all the things I’m going to stick with and things I’m going to say “no” to and I basically, you know, I used to do wedding makeup every weekend. So I was doing the boutique, I was doing the blog during the week, I was parenting two children and I’m a single mother so by myself, and running a household, and then I was doing wedding makeup and doing all these other little events around town, So first at the end of 2018 I decided get rid of everything that doesn’t make money and is not really a true passion don’t say “yes” to everything. Now in to 2019 we’re only in the first month but I have really planned out my days a lot better.
So I will do the boutique on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday for about three to four hours just to have my face in front of the customer and to really be in touch with what’s going on and then I do photo shoots on Monday’s and Friday’s as well as catch up in my office. And then of course when the kids come home from daycare and preschool it’s mommy for the rest of the evening.
You describe your obsession for 2019 as ultimate goal setting. Can you tell us what you mean by that as well as the strategies you employ to achieve your goals?
Okay. So kind of how I went back to all of the, you know, saying “yes” to everything and learning to say “no” I didn’t really – when IU was saying “yes” to everything I wasn’t really focusing on goal mindset as much as I was feeling like oh there could be as a true entrepreneur you think there could be an opportunity here or here or here and I would say eighty percent of the time I wasn’t able to prioritize I was hanging on to the whims of hoping that there were opportunities. So now I’m starting to – when I’m ultimate goal setting I start to prioritize on the main things. So I actually did do this activity at the beginning of the year, actually it was at the end of 2018, I wrote down what are my main goals it doesn’t have to be just with work but I had some qualitative and quantitative goals.
Becoming healthier, doing date night with my kids once a week, and then things like I want to grow my boutique business by ten percent year over year, sales, the collaborations I made this much last year and I did this many volunteer collaborations last year this year I want to increase it by a certain percentage, start volunteering more, and basically when I was setting my goals this year it was understanding what’s important to me and making that part of my goal but also putting numbers to it so that I can look at the end of the year. And I wrote this all down on a piece of paper, folded it up and at the end of every quarter I plan on opening it up and making sure I’m hitting my numbers but also that I am doing those weekly date nights with my kids and that I am staying in the gym and doing the things that are more important to me.
What is the weirdest request you have received from a brand?
Immediately something popped in my friend that I do not know if it’s appropriate. Let just say this there is no where on my blog that suggests any kind of sexual content. I did have a brand reach out about products that they wanted me to write a blog post about and talk about my stories and I just like immediately was like [no] I mean not knocking anything anybody might do I’m just saying that I’m not putting that out there in the public.
What has been your favorite brand partnership to-date?
Okay. So that one’s tough because like I said I do have my own cosmetic brand. I’ve had my own brand now since 2007, Adel Amor Cosmetics but I have had Urban Decay send some items, makeup items, I’ve had fun playing with that because honestly since 2007 I’ve only used my line. So they sent some items, I did some stories and did some posts on it because it was nice to try some new shadows but I really really really loved I just got done doing this Keratin hair collaboration and they sent me the whole range of hair products and I really enjoyed treating myself for that as well. And Davines which is one of my favorite hair brands.
What are some of your sources of inspiration in terms of creating fresh and compelling social media content?
Well I do like to go out there and see what other influencers are doing. So I will say that I do that but I will say my primary thing is magazines It’s very hard when you’re not exclusively beauty and fashion to get that editorial magazine look which is really my personal style because I do a whole lot of mom products and baby products and I do a whole lot of health products.
I would say that’s my majority is mom and health right now and I’ve noticed when I do the health challenges the health collaborations pop up, you know, I have my second baby more mom collaborations pop up. So it’s really hard for me to keep that look so what I’ll do is I’ll look at other bloggers that have that really fresh magazine editorial look on their Instagram but I’ll also pull my parenting magazine. I like Better Home and Gardens and Parents magazine and I’ll go through and I’ll look for some of their more editorial pieces with children’s products, health products, baby products, home products and I’ll try to mirror certain setups when I’m doing my photo shoots so that I can kind of mesh them together.
Note: Influencer Spotlight Interviews are edited for time and clarity.