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STYLE: A N.Y. fashion writer brings her blog back home

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Gabrielle Poshadlo

When I started my own style blog a little over a year ago, I discovered it can easily gobble up 40 hours a week, but it’s yet to evolve from a hobby for me. The concept of a profitable independent style blog is still baffling.

Yes, I’ve heard that there were people out there who quit their day jobs to take pictures of their outfits for a living, but I couldn’t begin to imagine a business plan that could make that lifestyle happen. Plus, an Indiana girl need not apply, right?
 

Style dress Pictured here in a vintage dress, Jessica Schroeder has made a living out of her closet and a tripod. (Photo courtesy Jessica Schroeder)

That’s what I thought before I heard about Jessica Schroeder, author of style blog “What I Wore.” She’s from Fort Wayne, studied at Indiana University, and went to New York, where she became said pro blogger.

Well, maybe that’s possible in New York, but Schroeder plans to keep doing what she’s been doing when she returns to Bloomington, where she and her fiancé are looking for houses.

Impossible? She doesn’t think so.

Schroeder didn’t go to New York five years ago intent on blogging. Rather, she began using her bachelor’s in apparel merchandising from IU as a print and plaid designer for a textiles manufacturer. Drawing plaids sounds fun to me, but Schroeder insists it was mostly grunt work and is representative of what it’s really like to work in the fashion industry.

“Everybody looks at Fashion Week and thinks working in fashion will be so glamorous, but that event is only a very small piece of the pie,” she said.

Boredom at the workplace led Schroeder to start publishing daily “What I Wore” outfit photos online. She quit her job just over a year ago when she discovered she could sustain herself on the blog. Companies such as Shopmamie.com and ModCloth.com advertise on her site and clothing retailers sponsor many of her outfits. And it’s not just the blog readers who have paid attention. Time Out New York included Schroeder on its list of most stylish New Yorkers.

She’s confident her advertisers and sponsors will stick with her even when the Big Apple is no longer her backdrop.

“My blog isn’t the most cutting-edge or editorial. No one’s confusing me for the editor of Vogue,” she said. “There’s a more casual feel in Indiana, but that won’t change what is in my closet or how I dress.”

Jennifer Shirk Mentzer, author of local style blog Indy Fash Bash, writes only as a hobby and prefers it that way.

“I know a lot of bloggers have evolved into motivational speakers and consultants as well as gotten book deals, but I just like to write about shopping—not sure how that could translate,” she said.

She also fears that any kind of sponsorship would begin to dictate what she writes about or, as in Schroeder’s case, what she wears.

“I think if you try to monetize a blog as an incentive, it really loses authenticity, which is what draws readers,” she said.

Schroeder, on the other hand, says she allows only sponsors whose clothes she’d most likely wear, anyway.

“I think readers are attracted to my style because it’s approachable. They read my blog and feel like I’m their friend,” she said.

Emboldened by the attention Schroeder’s friendly, Midwestern style has attracted through the blog, she’s publishing a book. “What I Wore: A Recipe for Style, Day by Day and Season by Season” is due out in spring 2011 from Ballantine Books.

She said she’s targeting women who have a job and a budget and want to look chic at a company picnic or a baseball game.

I’ve intentionally shied away from displaying my outfits on my blog, Haute in the Heartland, mostly because I can’t believe anyone cares what I’m wearing every day. But with Schroeder, people clearly do, about 10,000 every day, in fact. That’s because she understands that fashion is everywhere, not just in places with a large industry for it.•

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If you’d like to share your own style ideas or know anyone who’s making waves in the fashion community, contact Gabrielle at gposhadlo@ibj.com. This column appears monthly.

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  1. Now if he'd just stay there...

  2. Daniel - what about the many US citizens who do NOT follow what the Bible teaches? The Hindus, Jews, Muslims and others who are all American citizens entitled to all rights as Americans?? This issue has NOTHING to do with "What the Bible says..." Keep all Churches separate from State! Pence's ongoing idiocy continues to make Indiana look like a backwards, homophobic state in the eyes of our nation. Can't we move on to bigger issues - like educating our kids?

  3. 1. IBJ should link to the referenced report. We are in the age of electronic media...not sharing information is lazy. Here is a link http://www.in.gov/gov/files/Blue_Ribbon_Panel_Report_July_9_2014.pdf 2. The article should provide more clarity about the make-up of this panel. The commenters are making this item out to be partisan, it does not appear the panel is partisan. Here is a list of the panel which appears to be balanced with different SME to add different perspectives http://www.in.gov/activecalendar/EventList.aspx?view=EventDetails&eventidn=138116?formation_id=189603 3. It suggests a by-pass, I do not see where this report suggests another "loop". 4. Henry, based on your kneejerk reaction, we would be better off if you moved to another state unless your post was meant as sarcasm in which case I say Well Done. 5. The article and report actually indicates need to improve rail and port infrastructure in direct contradiction to Shayla commentary. Specifically, recommendation is to consider passenger rail projects... 6. People have a voice with their elected officials. These are suggestions and do not represent "crony capitalism", etc. The report needs to be analyzed and the legislature can decide on priorities and spending. Don't like it, then vote in a new legislature but quit artificially creating issues where there are none! People need to sift through the politics and provide constructive criticism to the process rather than making uninformed comments in a public forum based on misinformation. IBJ should work harder to correct the record in these forums when blatant errors or misrepresentations are made.

  4. Joe ... Marriage is defined in the Bible ... it is mentioned in the Bible often. Marriage is not mentioned once in the US or Indiana Constitution ...

  5. Daniel - Educate me please: what does the Bible have to do with laws? If the government wasn't in the business of marriage to begin with, then it wouldn't have to "define" marriage at all. Marriage could be left as a personal, religious, or otherwise unregulated action, with no ties to taxes, legal status, etc. Then people could marry whomever they want, and all this silliness would go away. Remember to vote Libertarian in November.

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