Julie Story is a branding expert turned DIY queen who takes ordinary things and makes them extraordinary all while being bougie on a budget. Julie shows people how they can take everyday things they already have and with a little creativity and DIY magic, turn them into home decor, gifts, or upcycle their way to the space of their dreams. With an audience reach of over 300,000 on TikTok, Julie is truly an authority when it comes to DIY and tutorials. You can follow Julie on TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.
Can you give us a quick summary of your background, including what led you to establish yourself as an influencer, blogger, and branding expert?
So back in 2009, I was actually working at a company doing graphic design and I was a newly single mom and I found myself not loving my job. So I transitioned out of that and actually built my own company, doing branding for other people. My niche was photographers. So I would help photographer entrepreneurs build their brands in a way that connected who they were to their ideal client. So I did that for about nine years and I absolutely loved it. It was amazing. My clients were incredible and I just really loved it, but there was a certain point that I got to that I just felt like it wasn’t as fulfilling as it had been before. Not because of my clients, but just because building designs is a very tedious thing and I felt like, “Gosh, like I really want to do something else,” so I had spent nine years building a brand that revolved around helping other people build their brands, which was amazing.
But then I put that all on pause and got to a place personally where I needed to just kind of reconnect to myself. It was just like one of those times where it was like, “All right, let’s scrap everything. Let’s just start from square zero and really connect to parts of myself that I forgot that I had neglected.” So I started just creating. I kind of woke up every day and I was like, “All right, what is my soul need today? How am I going to play,” and I just decided to start documenting that. That’s really how it began. Like I didn’t have this plan of like, “This is what I want to do.” I just said, “Well, what feels good to me? And how can I share that with other people?” And it turns out that it was really interesting to other people to watch and I’m like, “All right, well, why don’t you come along and watch me make more?”
At what point did you realize that you were a DIY influencer? What was your aha moment? Was it that one that you did the room for $20 and that took off?
I still don’t feel like a DIY influencer. I just feel like I’m just like a quirky mom who likes to make stuff out of nothing. So I don’t feel like I’ve reached that point yet. I think having so many people watch that particular video and watch me make over my daughter’s room, I was so incredibly humbling and overwhelming because I just wasn’t expecting it.
I think that there’s been so many moments along the way that really like stood out to me that have made me realize like, “Oh my gosh, what I’m doing is really impacting people.” So if I were going to pick a moment, it would probably be the times when I get DMs from my audience. I get a DM from somebody who’s watched one of my videos and said, “Oh my gosh, like I made geometric shapes out of skewers just like you did and look at them,” or like they’ll send me pictures. So I feel like that’s when I feel like, “Oh, this is really, really important and humbling when I get that interaction from my audience.”
Now, so normally this is a lame question and maybe it still is, but when I asked, entertainer or general content creator, but where do you get your DIY ideas from? Normally, this question is the throwaway one, but I’m really interested because you’re so innovative in what you do.
I think that’s actually a great question and I get that question a lot from my audience, so don’t feel alone in wondering that. There’s a couple of different things that happen in my creative process. Because I’m a creative, it kind of feels like an explosion of like rainbows and glitter everywhere, which is amazing, but there is a little bit of structure in it that people might not be aware of. So for instance, if I’m wanting to create something, I will go on Pinterest and I will look up ideas. So for instance, if I’m going to DIY a room, I will look up modern or whatever direction I want to head in and I will look at and be inspired by other creators.
And what normally happens in my process is I see something that I want to make and immediately I’ll get an idea of how I could do that, but in a different way, or that one like picture will inspire me to do something completely different. I don’t know. It’s very magical experience of like, “I want to do something. I’m going to look at what other people are doing,” but then I get my own kind of glitter in there and then it just becomes something that I wasn’t even planning on.
What has been a favorite brand collaboration or two to-date that you’ve had?
I’ve worked with Olay, which that project was really fun. I had so much fun with them and did a collaboration with them. One of my favorite brands to work with is Cricket. They have been so extraordinary to work with. Their team is wonderful. They are so supportive of me as a creator just doing my own thing. They kind of give me a general direction, but they really let me play with the creativity and that just makes the project so much more fun and interesting as a creator because I really get to add my own personality and I also really think about what my audience would resonate with too, so it feels very free just to make and create.
And I think that it makes working with them so much more interesting and fun, and also something that my audience really loves the finished project because they can tell I’m excited about it. And it’s something that I really love it. It’s also like around my house too, so they see another video. So I think that’s really fun.
You create a ton of content. You have a huge collection of designs ranging from entire websites to logos and other miscellaneous branding elements. How do you structure your average day so you can get everything done that you need to get done and then still take care of the family and have a little bit of time for yourself – if there is a little time for yourself?
That’s a great question. So I don’t do the branding for other people like I used to at this time. So I’m not doing logos and websites anymore. I also used to coach and consult and give presentations and teach others about branding. So I set that aside for now, but generally in my every day, I’m looking at a couple of different things. There’s the very practical side of running a brand, right? So you have the emailing, you have invoicing, that kind of thing. And then you also have the other side is kind of the face of the brand. So you have creating the actual content, making sure that you’re engaged with your audience, which is super important to me because I wouldn’t be here without my audience. Like at the end of the day, this is about them and I’m really grateful that they’re along on this journey with me.
So I want to make sure that they get time, attention, that their questions are answered. So I kind of structure it depending upon the day. Being a creative, there are days where I feel more creatively energetic, so I can make and create and DIY from eight o’clock in the morning till 10 o’clock at night. And then there were some days where I’m not feeling it and that’s very normal for me and my creative process. So I try and structure it where I’m giving myself days where I’ve got those big blocks of creative time and then on the off days, I’m making sure I’m catching up on emails and things like that. I also try and plan out in advance what videos I’m going to make, so I will… not super strict, but more so in a way that makes sure that I’m listening to my audience.
If they ask me a question that has to do with one of the videos that I can make a video on, I will go back and add that into my schedule to make sure that they’re feeling heard and that I’m able to create content for them. So I do it in a way that is very free flowing. That way I’m not set to something that isn’t going to work. The worst is when you get to the day that you set aside to be creative and you’re not feeling it and that doesn’t work for the soul, that doesn’t work for anybody because your audience can feel like, “Oh, she’s not feeling this,” and I don’t want that at all. So I think it’s important at least for me, just to be flexible and make sure that there is some kind of plan, so it’s structured instead of creativity inside of a plan.
What are some of your goals for the next year or so as it pertains to your work as an influencer?
I’m really interested in working with particular brands. So I’d love to work with Target. I love them. I think they’re amazing. So I have have certain brands that I’m just like super drawn to them like, “Wow, it would be amazing to do something with them.” I like to pay attention to products or brands that I’m already really excited about. That is definitely the direction that I want to head in as far as where I’m going with collaborations, rare collaborations because again, this is about connecting with my audience. And the more that they get to see me and who I am and my genuineness, the more that we’re going to be able to build something great together. And so I like to pay attention to those things.
I’ve always loved Target. I’ve always loved Starbucks. I’m a huge Apple fan. And then there are also some makeup brands I’m just like, “I use this every day.” And so I would love to work with them in the future. And one of the things that I’ve actually done in building my brand is I’m not waiting for them to come to me, I am creating the content that I want to make just because I want to make it and share, and also to show how I want to work with brands in the future. So I’m not waiting on Target. Like I’m hoping Target will find me, but we’re still doing Target videos, like we’re still doing makeup brand videos and that’s what makes it fun and interesting is like, I get to play inside of sharing with my audience things that I already really love and things that I’m using.
Well, I’m going to make a prediction. They’re going to find you sooner rather than later.
Target was one of my first jobs growing up, no lie. And so they just have such a special place in my heart and I’m there all the time.
Note: Influencer Spotlight interviews are edited for time and clarity.
Andrew is the Head of Client Services for Intellifluence and has a background in communications. He is committed to helping brands get the most out of their campaigns and is the co-host of the Influencer Spotlight series.