Linking up some of my recent swim buys!
I am sitting here just trying to wrap my head around how it’s been five years since I started this blog! My life has been so profoundly and positively impacted by this amazing community of women. I’m answering some of your questions and reflecting on these last five years. Whether you’re new here or have been around since the beginning, thank you, thank you, thank you.
Q: How did you get started?
A: I got started back in 2017 during a really tough time in my life. I was having a very difficult time in the classroom (I taught 10th and 11th grade English), was feeling lost, and really needed a hobby. My mom actually started her Instagram and blog before me (Hi Mom!) and I was living in San Antonio and would be her “Insta Husband”, taking her photos, helping her create content. She encouraged me to start ThatBlondeRebel and it’s been a wild ride ever since. I started my IG first and ran that for several months and then started my blog five months later!
In the picture below, you can see my first IG post EVER!
Q: What’s been the greatest change in your style evolution?
A: Good question! I have always loved fashion, but I think as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I will spend more money on quality pieces instead of constantly indulging in fast fashion. Don’t get me wrong, I am part of the problem as a blogger, in terms of fast fashion, but I’ve gotten better about where I spend my money. Another thing would be the confidence I’ve gained to try things I wouldn’t have five years ago. Denim shorts, mini dresses, etc. Life is too short to wore about belly rolls and cellulite.
Q: Work vs. Rewards – Is it worth keeping up the blog?
A: Ohhh interesting one! TBR has grown a lot over the last few years and I think it is still important to own your site. Instagram, Tik Tok, it could all be gone tomorrow, right? The one thing you own? Your site. I also love having posts in one place for you. Like my Reads page (all the books I’ve read in a year), and Eats page. There’s five years worth of content on this site! Should I reshare some of my most read posts over the years? Could be fun to look back.
I’m not going to lie, though, running this account… this is work! At times, it feels like a second full-time job. However, I’m better at stepping away when I need to and not feeling pressured to share every single day (although I’m very active on my page).
Q: You were so new at the mannequin challenge?!
A: Yes, I was only a few months in to running my IG! If you don’t know what she’s talking about, back in Spring 2017, I got to do a mannequin challenge at Neiman Marcus with some other bloggers (including my mom!). I loved putting this outfit together so much. It was very much a Liza outfit that I would have worn. Although I didn’t win, it was awesome to be a part of! Check out pics from my styled look below!
Q: In these five years, how has plus size fashion evolved and what does plus size look like in store?
A: LOTS of thoughts on this, but I’ll try to keep it brief. Plus size fashion has definitely evolved. Big names like Anthropologie, Madewell, Tanya Taylor, Show Me Your Mumu, have all worked to expand their lines. This is progress (insert clapping hands emoji here)! However, the in-store shopping experience for plus is still extremely dismal. With news hitting this last week of Old Navy removing plus from 75 of their stores, it’s just another brand in a long line who didn’t consult with plus consumers on the roll out. Anthro removed plus from almost all their stores (only 10 carried it) – which can we pause for a second and talk about this? EVERY Anthro has a petite section but the average sized woman in the US in 18, so make that make sense (insert eye rolling emojis here lol). Nordstrom’s plus section is store is sad, and Walmart doesn’t always have the plus sizes available in store. So although brands are expanding, we’ve regressed in terms of making in-store shopping accessible for all. Remember Loft’s plus rollout? Yea, although advertised in store, my local stores didn’t have it. I want to be able to go shopping with my mom and sister, with my friends, and have options. I almost always hate shopping in-person now, just because this is such an uphill battle and feels discouraging.
Q: What has been your proudest moment?
A: Gosh, there’s been so many pinch-me moments and I’m so grateful for the community we’ve built at That Blonde Rebel and all the opportunities that have come my way. Two things certainly stand out when I think about what makes me proud. The first is during the crazy Texas freeze of 2021, the TBR community came together and raised $6,600 in 72 hours for Kids’ Meals Houston, a nonprofit organization that lost all their food and reserves after they lost power from the freeze. I’ve volunteered and working with KMH for years, and it feels extremely rewarding to be Hunger Hero for Houston kiddos.
The other proud moment was being included this past May for Show Me Your Mumu‘s Barbie Collaboration Launch. The weekend was an absolute dream and I certainly would not have been invited to Malibu had it not been for all of you supporting and shopping my Mumu picks. So thankful for my relationship with the Mumu fam and have been happy to see and be a part of their expanding into extended sizing!
Q: How do you balance this account (the business aspect) with your full-time career?
A: I think for me, it’s been all about time management. I do most of my shooting, filming, and writing on the weekends. I’ll respond to emails and messages as I can. Would I love to be a full-timer?! Absolutely! But as a single woman in my 30s, I have to be able to fully support myself and I wouldn’t be able to continue to live at the lifestyle I’m accustomed to on blogging alone. My full time job provides me a consistent salary, insurance, and a 401K. I think people don’t talk much about this side. Have I made money from blogging? Yes, a pretty penny actually, but it will remain a passionate side hustle (and second job) for the time being.
Q: How do you feel like you’ve grown as a person in the last five years?
A: Oh my gosh, so much! I’m stronger, more confident, and more reflective. I truly feel lifted up by y’all in so many challenging moments, losing Suellen traumatically, leaving the classroom, moving to Houston, getting Dolly and becoming a dog mom again, quitting my job. Y’all have been here for all the highs and all the lows and because of y’all, I’ve felt empowered to put me first, make decisions that are best for me, and worry less about people pleasing. I’m not afraid to share my opinions, not afraid to get on my soapbox once in a while, and not afraid to show my dimpled legs anymore. Y’all have truly been a gift and as you tell me I inspire you, y’all do the same for me! We’ve grown together and I wouldn’t be me without this page and this community.
Q: Did you ever get discouraged?
A: Absolutely. Still do. It is hard to grow in this space nowadays. Other bloggers doing loop giveaways, buying followers, challenges with the algorithm. All make getting noticed by potential supporters and brands that much harder. Not to mention, the fatphobic and rude people who want to discourage you cowardly from behind their keyboards. All of this would have made me sad and discouraged a year ago. Now I just focus on doing me, being me, and whoever is here to support it, that’s great!
Q: What do you like most about being on social media?
A: The sense of community! Five years ago, there really weren’t a ton of plus size bloggers in this space. Now we have a strong presence in the blogging community and honestly have helped make this space more inclusive. Connecting with so many of my readers over the past five years has been incredible! I follow a lot of you and love seeing you live your lives and knowing that we’ve connected because of fashion but now we’re connected by more! Y’all are an amazing group and it fills my cups to know so many of you across the globe. Okay, now I could keep going, but this will get more sappy lol. Overall, I’m extremely grateful for the connections made with my readers and supporters, other bloggers, and brands!
Q: How long will you be on this journey?
A: Easy one! As long as this community continues to have me and feels impacted by my presence! Excited to continue to grow!
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant to start their own business?
A: Get organized, create a plan, and do it! Don’t dive headfirst and put all your eggs in one basket. Let your business be the side hustle to start. Nurture it, grow it in your spare time, invest what you can and when you can. This keeps the passion for your business alive, thriving, and growing, while staying afloat with your active income. When you’re ready to make the switch over, you’ll know when the time, environment, and finances are right. I hope that helps!
Thanks for submitting these great questions, they really made me pause and think. Thank you all for reading along these last five years, here’s to the next five!
Draper James is having a major sale – an extra 30% off sale! Tonight is the last night for the sale though so hurry on over! Here are some of the pieces I’ve picked up over the last few months (all on major sale)!