We just LOVE Erica Stolman.
Not only is she the bad-ass babe behind the DIY fashion + lifestyle blog: FashionLush, but she's also the cofounder of Blog-Doo, a web/graphic design business that she started with her BF, Lauryn Evarts!
Although her successes are evident now, Erica’s completely open and honest about her struggles, and she’s committed to being a trusted, authentic source for information—someone her readers can learn from and relate to (without any phony blog-vertisements!).
Now, in this feature #SheForShe interview, Erica’s talking about the parts of her life that you can't glean from social media — like how she went from fashion student to fashion blogger, how she overcomes severe anxiety, and which women have supported & inspired her the most along the way!
SOLO: What drives you to wake up every day and continue doing what you’re doing?
ES: My readers!!! I get frustrated with the blog world often: Am I skinny enough? Pretty enough? Am I doing all that I can? Should I put myself out there more? All those pesky questions & insecurities disappear when a reader comments that something I said helped her get through her day (even if it's something as small as a beauty tip!).
SOLO: What makes you different from all the rest?
ES: I think I have managed to stay down to earth, for the most part. Sure, I get caught up in this digital world often, but I know that it's not everything. I know that at the end of the day, what matters is my health, friends, & family. Also, I make it a goal to stay real. I'm not putting anyone on blast at all, because that's not my style, but I will not promote a product or brand that I don't truly love-- no matter what number is being thrown at me.
I want to be a trusted source, not a vessel for advertising.
SOLO: Which of your personal attributes have contributed the most to your success?
ES: I think my creativity and my drive to be different.
I want to be a big fish in a small pond, not the other way around. The only way I see that happening, is to embrace what is different about me and to (again) be honest with myself and my readers.
Also, passion and drive! If you're not passionate about what your doing, you will never get to where you want to be. I am a total believer that if you do not like what your doing, just stop and do something else. I know it seems unrealistic, but I did it. You won't notice an open door until you choose to close one.
SOLO: Are there any sacrifices you have had to make in order to be successful?
ES: Of course! Quitting my day job was horrifying, not getting a new desk job- even more horrifying. I had to downsize, live with roommates (not a bad thing, just different!), and spend a lot of time at my desk while everyone was out on a Friday night.
It takes work and sacrifice to get to the place you want to be. If you are determined, the sacrifice pays off.
I now live on my own in an amazing place & although I still sacrifice my Friday nights for work, it's all for good reason. I have an end goal in sight, and I won't stop until I get there (although at that point, there will be a new goal to conquer!).
SOLO: What advice would you have given to yourself when you were first starting out?
ES: Just keep swimming (big Ellen fan!).
Really though, if you want it, don't stop. There are going to be roadblocks & naysayers, but don't let it stop you. If you want it bad enough, keep on keeping on.
If your feeling overwhelmed, take a break and get some perspective, but don't give up.
Eye on the prize.
SOLO: Being in such a social, interactive profession means having to "be ON" a lot of the time. How do you stay confident and self-assured?
ES: Ugh! This is something I battle with often. A friend of mine recently went to an event with Bethenny Frankel and she gave me some advice that Bethenny gave her, "be like Michael Phelps and stay in your own lane!"
If I find that I am comparing myself to others too much, I take a break from social for a minute. I will still post, but stop looking. Comparing yourself to others will only halt your own success.
I recently wrote a post about the "instagram facade" and how it is proven that Instagram causes depression. That makes me sad, for myself & for all the other girls who think that these bloggers or influencers have it all.
You just have to remember, no ones life is perfect, no matter how they make it look on their pretty feed.
SOLO: How do you pull yourself out of bad moods or dark days?
ES: Is it bad if I say work? I don't just like working, I love it. It's a great distraction from the everyday problems of the world and accomplishing something you've been working on is a great confidence booster.
Also, a mani/pedi never hurts!
SOLO: What makes you feel beautiful?
ES: My boyfriend and my family are so supportive, and they see how this internet world can effect me. It's kinda like high school, on crack. People can be mean when hiding behind a computer screen, so they really make an effort to keep my spirits and confidence high.
SOLO: What makes you feel strong?
ES: Whenever I accomplish something I didn't think I could do. I can "talk" your ear off in a blog post, but when it comes to socializing, I get VERY shy. When I put myself out there and conquer a situation that involves a whole lot of face to face communication with people I don't know well, I feel strong and proud.
SOLO: When faced with negativity, are there certain techniques that help you come out on top?
ES: I am a big list maker, so writing out lists works for me really well. Writing in general actually. Sometimes when I am stressed/angry/sad, I will write myself an email. Just getting it out feels good, even if it goes to no one.
Also, I am OBSESSED with acupuncture. I have a hard time getting my brain to stop going in circles, except for that one peaceful hour when there are needles stuck all over me. I know, sounds crazy, but it works like a charm.
SOLO: What are the challenges you face in your work, and how do you handle them?
ES: I hate that people don't take my career seriously. They refer to it as a "job", when actually it's a JOB (no quotes please!)... just like anyone else's.
Not too long ago I was looking for an apartment, and of course they asked me what I do, I stuttered when I told them I was a blogger because I knew they wouldn't want to rent the place to me. I was right, they didn't. They didn't trust I could make a living off of it. I do understand why, because everyone and their mom is a blogger these days, but I shouldn't feel ashamed of saying what I do for work or be doubted for it.
If I couldn't afford the rent, I wouldn't have looked at the place. It had carpet anyways, so I was over it (haha!). Now when I look at places, I just take out the whole blogger thing & say "business owner". Makes things easier.
SOLO: What is your vision for your future? What are you most excited to accomplish?
ES: My vision for the future...where do I start?
I hope for my blog to become a brand, I'd love to design clothing and put my degree to use (fashion merchandising), increase my graphic design skills (a huge passion of mine), etc. etc.
Mainly, I just hope to continue to have this platform and opportunity to express my creative side! The sky is the limit.
SOLO: Do you experience fear? If so, how do you handle it?
ES: All the time, I am very very very fearful and suffer from (sometimes) extreme anxiety. I have always turned to my Mom when I am fearful/anxious/scared. She knows how to handle me since I have had these issues since I was just a small kiddo, she can talk me down from whatever I am going through in a matter of minutes.
You can read my whole anxiety story here for more tips/techniques on how I cope.
SOLO: If you could have one super power, what would it be?
ES: To be a fly on the wall whenever I wanted :), how cool would it be to just quietly pop into a meeting at Vogue HQ?
SOLO: What message do you want to send to women who may deal with insecurities and anxieties that could be holding them back in their lives?
ES: That you are not alone & that no one's life is perfect!
I want people to read my blog, know my struggles, relate with them, and feel confident that they can get through it and thrive.
SOLO: What advice can you can give to women who are trying to find their "purpose" in life?
ES: You have one, so don't give up!
SOLO: Are there any women who have influenced your success or inspired you in some way?
ES: I'm always inspired my the entrepreneurial women, the "girlpreneurs" of this world. Lori Greiner from Shark Tank (aka the queen of QVC) is a total boss, my best friend Lauryn from The Skinny Confidential who is killing it at the blog/fitness game, Bethenny Frankel who turned a reality show into a full blown empire, and ALL THE MOMS OF THE WORLD--- who really do it all and wear 90000 hats.
Oh, & of course, the one and only... ELLEN!
SOLO: What is the best piece of advice a woman (could be your mother) has ever given you?
ES: An old yiddish saying my Grandma would say, "if you want to make G-d* laugh, try to make plans". *(G-d means "god" in yiddish).
Basically it means that you can make 10,000000 plans for your life, but you don't have the ultimate say. There will be bumps in the road, but the only thing you can control is how YOU deal with them.
SOLO: In the spirit of this #SheForShe campaign, which women have consistently supported and encouraged you throughout your life?
ES: Well of course, my family! I am very lucky to have a close knit family who supports each other in every way. My mom has always been an advocate of expressing my creativity and encouraged me to never hold back, no matter what anyone says. She knew from a young age that I was more of a "creative" thinker, so she helped grow and nourish that in a variety of ways.
My sister is my best friend, and my rock. She is the kindest and most patient human ever, even if our interests are very different! She is a midwife (such an admiral and sometimes emotionally taxing career choice) and I am blogger, so yea... pretty much polar opposite,but it works. She always makes it a point to relate to me, my interests, and my career. Whether it be stepping in when I am overwhelmed with work, or taking my blog photos (a skill we discovered she is great at!), she is always there for me whenever I need her.