Sometimes discovering your ideal career is a result of just diving in–tapping into a passion, and learning a new skill. Such was the case for Cortnie Elizabeth of Style Lust Pages, whose desire for the perfect oversized clutch led her into entrepreneurship. Cortnie’s fabulous style and fashion sensibility have garnered her features and quotes at outlets like Fashion Bomb Daily, Refinery 29 (multiple times!) and Lucky Shops. Keep reading to find out how Cortnie seamlessly and organically blends her blog and her business, get her tips for time management, and find out how she achieves those adorable updos.
Cortnie, tell our readers a little about yourself and what you do.
Hey all! *Waves* As you can see, my name is Cortnie and I design and make handbags full time for Love,Cortnie. I graduated in 2002 with a BS in Kinesiology from The University of Maryland and from there went on to The Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in LA where I received my second degree. Can you believe that before going to fashion school I had planned on becoming a Physical Therapist? Yea, I can’t believe it either. Even after fashion school I planned on getting into Buying. That never happened. I recently moved to Miami in January of this year and I’m also newly married.
What inspired you to create your very first clutch, and how did you know you wanted to turn your designs into a business?
It was some time after I got back to Maryland from living in California for fashion school. I had a bit of an obsession with clutches and oversized handbags, but I could never find a clutch that combined the two. I had a really big clutch collection. They were always so small though and kind of boring. I wanted something large, colorful or printed and just as fun on the inside. I could never find one though. So one summer when I was between jobs I found myself with some extra time on my hands.
I had always wanted to learn how to sew, but never made time for it. No better time to learn! It was important that my grandmother teach me. I grew up watching her sew. When I was a kid, she made clothes for me, for herself and for others; she made costumes; and she could reupholster furniture, make drapes, etc. She was and still is THAT kind of lady. So she taught me and was more than excited about it. I learned in her kitchen. While playing around on her sewing machine, I brought up how it would be cool to make a clutch. Again, more than willing to teach me we made one. It took forever! Over 3 hours! We eventually went to our local fabric store and grabbed printed fabrics and other supplies. Longer story short, I learned how to sew and about a week later had my Etsy shop up and running with 3 different styles available.
At the time I had already been blogging for 2 years. I blogged about my new hobby before launching my Etsy shop, and asked my readers what they thought about my idea of making clutches. They gave me such great feedback that it pushed and encouraged me. I owe a lot of what I’m doing now to that. I didn’t start making bags with the intent to start a business. It started out as a hobby and as I continued making bags, I fell further in love with it. I kept blogging and styling my bags and the word spread. It grew into a business.
How do you use your blog to promote Love,Cortnie Clutches in a way that feels organic for you and for your readers?
Touching on what I said in the previous answer, my blog is a major platform for me. It was actually the first platform I had and maybe one of the smartest decisions I made in the beginning by choosing to use it as such. My blog is all about my style. I’m able to be myself and style my bags just as I wear them.
How do you balance blogging and being an entrepreneur with all your other responsibilities?
Time management! If you can’t balance your time, then you’re in trouble. Get yourself into a routine. I wake up everyday and run errands. That usually includes a trip to the post office, a fabric store and/or the grocery store. I come back and hop online for a sec. Then I might eat because if I don’t eat before I get started sewing I may not eat for hours. It’s hard for me to stop once I get into it. Depending on how much I have to do I may stop around 6-8pm. Then I shower, eat, watch a bit of TV and hop online again. I’m usually up pretty late. But I have my routine.
What advice would you give to others who aspire to work in fashion or to start a blog?
Just start! Stay optimistic and keep a positive mind. When you’re first starting it can be difficult. No one knows about your business, you’re trying to reach people and potential customers, etc. Self-doubt can kill your dreams before they even have a chance to get off of the ground. Keep at it and be consistent.
Also, get used to social media. Pick 3 platforms to start and post consistently on each. If you can switch up what you post on each and make them slightly different it wouldn’t be a bad idea. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and I just joined Periscope. Social media is a great way to interact with people. It’s a must!
Tell us about your self-care routine. Are exercise and eating healthy important to you?
I recently got back in the gym. I had been wanting to for a while. After moving to Miami I swear I eat so much rice and beans now. All the sitting and sewing, I’m afraid, may catch up with me. I keep it simple though. I don’t lift too many weights since it’s not a focus of mine. My main goal is to sweat it out for a good 30 minutes at the least. And I feel great afterward. Plus it’s good for your skin. 😉
And yes, your diet is so important. I had adult acne maybe a year or two ago. I tried so many different products and nothing did anything. It came to my attention after reading an article that it could be what I was eating: dairy to be exact. I would eat cereal literally everyday and sometimes twice a day. I loved cereal. If it wasn’t cereal it was a yogurt parfait with fruit. I already did not drink soda (it’s been years since that was a regular drink for me), I only drink water and tea (not even juice). I thought I was ingesting too much sugar, so I cut those out a long time ago. Well it wasn’t that. I don’t eat fast food either. I may go to the occasional burger joint, but McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King are never on the menu if I do. It wasn’t until I cut out cereal that I saw a major change in my skin! Who would have thought?? I’ve also always been obsessed with fruit and have increased my veggie intake. It’s where most of my money goes when grocery shopping. But I agree (with the notion) that you are what you eat!
What is the best piece of skincare advice you have ever received?
Again, keep it simple. Less is more. I don’t use a lot of products on my skin.
You showcase a lot of soft, feminine updos on your site. Tell us what hair products or styling tips help you to achieve the perfect bun or pony.
I call mine a poof lol. I started transitioning from relaxed hair to natural earlier this year. This Miami humidity makes it a challenge to wear it straight, so I stopped. I had my last perm in early February, I believe. So now I use little to no heat on my hair; I usually just wash and go. I throw it up into a ponytail after washing and let it air dry. I recently started experimenting with Bantu knots and flexi rods. I also just bought my first perm rods that I can’t wait to try. I love using the flexi rods though, when I have the patience.
But I don’t use much product on my hair either. I try to wash once a week with Organix shampoo and conditioner. If I don’t use my Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioner, I’m moisturizing with coconut oil or Moroccan oil. I also use Palmer’s deep conditioning protein pack maybe every other week. But that’s really it.
What 3 items are in your Ultimate Beauty Arsenal–those Holy Grail items you just can’t live without–and why?
Tea tree oil, for sure! I mix it in with my face moisturizer morning and night. Coconut oil is also amazing. I use it on my face from time to time, my hair often and even on my skin. I also love my concealer by NARS. Easily the best concealer I’ve ever used.
Is there anything else you would like to share with us? What’s next for Style Lust Pages and Love,Cortnie Clutches?
I’m not sure! I will continue to blog because it creates new content to share for my brand and I will continue to keep growing as a business. Maybe in the next few years you’ll be able to shop Love,Cortnie at your local retailer. 😉 Until then, keep up with me on social media: Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. And @cortnieelizabeth on Periscope too!