A Seat at the Table Ep.1: Chelsea Jackson
Hello! I'm here with a brand new series I've been sooo excited to share with you all. While this site is a place to gather inspiration for interiors and style, design, beauty, and all good things... the reason I really fell in love with it is because it's opened me up to a world of creative women, entrepreneurs, and like-minded people who inspire me every single day. I'm trying to be better about personal posts and sharing more than just pretty products from time to time, and want to get back to interviewing and collaborating with others. I am so happy to finally be introducing you to "A Seat at the Table" (because I love a little Solange). While I loved my older "About a Girl" series, I just didn't keep up with it and with the relaunch of this space, I really wanted something fresh and new.
A Seat at the Table is a series aimed at celebrating inspirational women everywhere and supporting eachother through this crazy business of keeping up with social media, creativity, building our brands, and plunging into our passions full-force. Having a community of strong, like-minded women is important to all of us, and these are the ladies whose circles I want to be a part of.
First up, Chelsea Jackson of Hazel & Scout. Chelsea and I actually connected when I won one of her giveaways several years ago and we stayed in touch ever since! It's been amazing to watch both of our blogs grow and evolve over the past few years, but today I'm chatting with her about more than just fashion and lifestyle...
1. Elevator pitch...
I’m a creative content strategist and digital native (meaning I grew up sharing my life on the internet). Right now I’m focused on chronicling my personal style journey, navigating motherhood and empowering women through authentic sharing.
2. Tell us about your past experiences and what led you to creating Hazel and Scout? What do you hope your readers take away from following your blog?
I created Hazel + Scout in 2011, shortly after having my daughter, as a creative outlet. I had recently stepped away from the retail world and needed something to channel energy into as I made a big personal transition. I was learning how to separate the parts of me that are someone's mother from the parts of me that were still eager to create and put information out into the world and a blog seemed like the perfect solution. Hazel + Scout has gone through all kinds of iterations (from cringe-worthy daily outfit posts… seriously, don’t scroll too far back in the archives... to more in-depth personal essays) and it’s still evolving. I hope that my readers will find something to connect to that inspires them… whether that’s a cool look to recreate or words to hold onto as they navigate the world.
3. How do you stay inspired to be creative and to create?
I’ve found that, for me, inspiration is an uphill battle. With so much content out there, all of the inspiration can be deafening. I’m the most creative and inspired when I step away from the noise and limit the resources I use to gather ideas. For me that’s disconnecting from places like Instagram and paying more attention to the world around me, reading things off-screen and spending time communicating with real, flesh and blood women with stories to tell.
4. What advice do you have for others who are trying to start a blog?
Just do it. Taking the leap of faith and putting yourself out there is the hardest part of starting a blog but you’ll regret the days you didn’t hit publish far more than that one day you did.
Don’t try too hard to fill a niche. Most advice articles about blogging will tout the “niche” as the end all be all of what you should be striving for but I don’t think anyone should pigeonhole themselves. My interests change and grow all the time and I’m grateful that my blog is a place I can explore them all on a whim.
Stop comparing. There’s a particular brand of fear that cripples bloggers and it all lies in comparison. Don’t try to measure your growth in comparison to someone else's middle.
5. With the saturation of social media and algorithms/bots messing up our game, how do you keep your head up with publishing content and how do you continue to build engagement?
This is such a hard one! I’ve gone to great lengths in the past to grow my social media presence, understand the numbers of blogging and maximize things like SEO but the biggest take away for me this year has been having the grace to put it all down and step away. I’m much less focused on the numbers because there has been such a shift in the way that content creators are using social media that feels so inauthentic. Right now I’m focused on creating when I feel inclined, sharing what feels right and moving away from things like hashtags and blogging trends. I think my content is starting to really reflect me as a person and I’m sure it has to do with the realization that algorithms aren’t everything. I think your followers can sense when content is real and they gravitate to that authenticity.
6. How has your personal identity evolved in the past few years since starting your blog and breaking into the world of social media, influencers, fashion, brand collaborations, and cultural/lifestyle discussions.
I touched on this a little already but my brand is in a constant state of evolution. The more consistent you are with something, the more it grows and takes on new meaning. I’ve used the last few years to really find my footing in the blogging world with a lot of trial and error. I’ve carved out the things I care about (feminism, motherhood, personal style) and weeded out the things I’m not as interested in (OOTDs, meaningless sponsorship, etc.). The freedom to explore these things online has really helped me to channel a sense of self-awareness IRL as well.
7. If you weren't doing what you're doing now, what would your dream career be?
We recently made a big move that allows me to re-focus on my career goals and finish going to school via distance learning. While I love blogging and will probably continue to blog indefinitely, I’m working on making the transition into the world of weddings (an industry I fell in love with while planning my own wedding and delved into a little last year). I have big dreams to own my own bridal boutique upon returning home and have started taking steps to make that a reality.
8. What advice would you give your 20 year old self?
I was twenty only six years ago so I definitely don’t feel like I have it all figured out yet. I would tell myself to be patient with my growth. When you’re young you feel a lot of pressure to know what you want out of life and I think that’s unfounded. I needed time to get to know myself and I’m still on that journey.
9. You recently moved to the Marshall Islands, how has moving somewhere new and starting over affected you and your lifestyle?
Moving to a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific (at least 1,500 miles from anywhere I’d consider “civilization”) has been an incredible ride and we’re enjoying every minute! It’s crazy how much I relied on the trap of being “busy” to fill up my days before and being out here with very limited resources has taken a lot of the static out of my life. We currently live on a very small chain of islands made of coral reef (about three square miles TOTAL) with a population of 1,500. We have one grocery store, one convenience store, a post office, a small library, a school for our daughter, work for my husband and a lot of beach. The days here are simple and often you’ll find us in the ocean. Living here has been like one big lifestyle cleanse and I feel so much more connected to myself than I ever have before. We’re no longer part of the rat race and it's so freeing! The experience has grounded me, allowed me to process a major personal loss more succinctly and helped us get back to the things that are truly important like being present in our daughters life without screens in our faces or commitments to rush off to. We’ll likely be here for a few years and I’m so excited to see what this island has in store.
10. Feminism is something you haven't been afraid to talk about on your blog. What do you hope to teach your daughter and what advice would you give to her growing up as a woman in today's society?
The feminist movement is something I'm incredibly invested in. I haven’t shied away from sharing my feelings about feminism on the blog because I believe it’s important to use whatever voice I have to speak my truth. My scope of the world grew exponentially when I became a mother and it wasn’t until then that I started to really understand that fighting for women’s rights went so much further beyond me and my own triumphs or struggles. I figured out that I needed to stand up and speak out against inequality and the unfair treatment of ALL women. I discovered pretty quickly that the world I was helping to shape was the world that my daughter would one day inherit and it made the issue all the more real. I realized I had a greater responsibility to the digital footprint that I was leaving than just blogging for my own prosperity. I’m essentially leaving a legacy, however small, crafted of words and actions that’ll convey a message to my daughter long after I’m gone. I want that message to be one that says, “You are enough. You are valued. You are strong. You are defiant. You can have anything in this world simply because you are worthy of everything.” I want those things for my daughter and for all women.
11. If you could have a seat at the table with any woman (past or present), who would you choose and why?
There are so many women that I admire and would love just a moment to connect with but the first person that comes to mind is my mother. I’m tempted to spend time with someone like Hilary Clinton or Frida Kahlo but honestly, I’d give anything for a seat at my mom’s table. When you’re young you don’t realize that your parents are human and it’s so rare to spend time together as peers. There’s so much more about being a woman that I would have hoped to learn from my own mother and so much more she could have taught me about her own experience with the world.
12. Why do you think building a strong community of women to surround yourself with is important for all females?
Women are this magical force to be reckoned with and only good can come from surrounding yourself with that. In the past I’ve been one of those girls that “just doesn’t get along with girls” but the older I get, the more I discover that there’s truly nothing like female relationships. Building a community of strong-willed, uplifting women is the greatest gift you can give yourself because no one will come to your aid like a strong woman. No one will be in your corner quite like your girlfriends, your mom or your sister. No one will share in your struggles and celebrate your successes like someone who has had those very same struggles and successes. Women are resilient and beautiful and only good things can possibly come from having more them in our lives.
13. What does "girl power" mean to you?
Earlier this year I got a little “grl pwr” tattoo on my arm at a fundraiser to benefit Planned Parenthood. The phrase just felt right and I’m happy to be toting it around with me for life. Girl power is about trusting your female intuition and realizing how strong and formidable we are as a collective. Girl Power is a reminder that we, as girls and as women, are at the very core of everything human.
14. What does it mean to you to be a woman and why do you think your role is important?
Being a woman is this great, big reckoning with the world. It’s messy and hard and beautiful and heartbreaking and exciting. Being a woman, to me, is everything. It shapes how I see the world. It’s life-giving and reaffirming. It means that I am experiencing moments with raw emotion. As a woman I am able to nurture those around me and impact change. I feel so fortunate that I have experienced hardship, love, pain, loss, happiness and joy in this body, in this gender. I think our role as women is so important, especially right now. We’re ushering in a new generation of more compassionate, more aware, more inclusive humans and that’s something to take seriously.