#BecomingABoss: Allie Provost, Blogger + Photographer

If you’ve ever dreamed of #becomingaboss, you’re not alone! This HC Hofstra series profiles women who are killin’ it in their career — and it’ll show you how they became a boss, and how you can become one too. 

Meet Allie Provost - she's the blogger behind prėt-a-provost, a full time photographer, and lives a gorgeous, French inspired life in NYC (she even previously worked at Kate Spade before launching her blog and photography business as her full time career). Sounds like #allthegoals, oui? Keep on reading to find out how Allie transformed from a small town Midwest girl to NYC girl boss! 


What was your college experience like? Where did you go, what was your major, what clubs were you involved in, etc.? 

I absolutely loved my college experience. I attended The George Washington University in Washington, DC and I always said it was the happy medium between a city and a suburban school. With roughly 10,000 undergraduate students, it was also small enough so that I felt as if I always passed someone I knew on my way to class and large enough so that I was constantly meeting new people. 

At GW I majored in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance: a far cry from what field I’m currently in but that foundation has helped me in all aspects of my life. For my extracurriculars, I was on the school’s dance team (fabulously called the First Ladies) and was a school tour guide during my freshman year and then I was a member of Chi Omega during the duration of my time at GW.

 

How did that prepare you for your life after college? 

I was incredibly fortunate to have been a part of such an wonderful business school. Although I had prior knowledge of some of these things, they covered everything from how to compose a professional email to fine tuning my interviewing skills to negotiating a raise. Being a Chi Omega has also helped me meet and connect with so many different women before and after college and some of my photography clients are my sisters too! Even with school aside, living in such an active city as DC, I was able to become independent very quickly and that played an integral role in my preparation for living in NYC.


According to your blog, prêt-à-provost, you moved from the Midwest to Washington DC to NYC. How was the transition from small town to big city, and how did you manage living in NYC after college? 

Yes! I grew up in a small suburb outside of Detroit called Birmingham and will forever be thankful for my upbringing there but I always knew I was destined for NYC. I actually initially had my eye on attending NYU but hesitated for fear of it being too much of a culture shock right out of the gate. Looking back, I feel as if I may not have loved living in New York as much as I do now if it weren’t for the “baby step” of moving to DC first. Being a part of various groups and networks made my transition to each city smooth. For DC, it was my dance team and sorority sisters, and for New York, it was all about my blogging and photography connections as well as my coworkers at my first job out of college. I adjusted fairly quickly and now that I’m used to the city life amenities, I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to living in a suburb. I will say, though, the only thing that I haven’t quite gotten used to are all of the stairs on my fifth-floor walkup apartment.

 

What was your career at Kate Spade like? Did you ever expect to work there while you were in college? 

When I chose not to continue on the dance team after my freshman year, I knew I needed something to occupy my free time. So I printed out 20 copies of my resume and walked down the main shopping street in DC seeing if people were hiring. I had stopped in a few different stores before Kate Spade and once I did, I immediately knew it would be a perfect fit…and so did one of the managers because she literally interviewed me on the spot! After being hired I fell in love with selling and retail and it was at this point that I realized sitting behind a computer screen in a cubicle would not be the career path for me. I don’t think I ever expected my part-time job at Kate Spade would have turned into the career it was but every moment was incredible! I met so many inspirational people throughout my entire career there and I even stay in touch with many of them!

 

What ultimately led you to create a blog and a photography business? And before you left your job at Kate Spade to pursue blogging and photography full time, how did you manage having a full-time job and two side hustles?

I had always loved fashion and my job at Kate Spade gave me a reason to dress up all of the time. I began documenting my work outfits through the classic mirror selfies but it was never much more than that. When I was working at Kate, I met Dana Mannarino who had a blog (The Champagne Edit, but at the time it was Pink Champagne Problems) and I was always fascinated with bloggers especially because this was when the popularity of blogging and Instagram started to rise. I never got the courage to finally begin the process of creating a blog of my own until I was a senior in college. With encouragement from Dana as well as other friends and family, I went live with my first post the spring right before I graduated. 

For my photography, I started getting really into it during my blog design process. I knew I wanted to have better pictures but didn’t quite know how. So I splurged on a very nice camera without any real photography experience and admittedly, went a little in over my head. This new camera of mine didn’t have any automatic settings so I had to self teach myself the basics of photography using the internet and any YouTube tutorial that I could find. After struggling for a few months, I enlisted the help of Michigan photographer Ann Gordon who really helped me grasp the concept of taking a photo in manual mode. It’s safe to say since then I was hooked and I never stopped practicing. I started taking some photos for Dana when I moved to NYC but it was nothing professional and I was paid in Chipotle. That all changed, however, when one day someone reached out to Dana for a photographer recommendation and basically told me, “make a rate sheet” because she was going to recommend me. It grew very naturally from there and slowly gained clients over that two and a half year process.
 
When I had a full time job all while working on my blog and photographing other people, it was tough! there were lots of early mornings and late evenings but I had too much fun to notice how hard I was working. One thing that helped me stay sane during the most hectic of days was that I had to leave “work" at work. I would be incredibly efficient with my work when I was there but the moment I stepped foot outside, I would not let myself think about it in an effort to separate my jobs.
 

It’s clear that your love of French culture has a huge impact both on your blog and in your style. When and how did you discover your love of France? (And for those who don’t speak French, what does your blog name mean?) 

Oh, I’ve loved France for as long as I can remember! I started studying French when I was in the third grade and that only amplified my obsession with French culture. My first trip to Paris was when I was in middle school and I was completely in awe of everything and everyone around me. Since then I’ve visited France countless times and even studied abroad there, I consider myself an honorary Parisian.

My blog name is derived from the fashion term “prêt-à-porter” which means ready-to-wear so with a simple insertion of my name into the mix, prêt-à-provost was born!
 


 

What’s a typical day in your life like?  

A typical day starts out fairly early as most of my clients like to shoot when the light is still soft and there are less people on the street. I will have a few appointments scattered throughout the day but as soon as the sun sets, I upload and send out all of the proof images and edit photos for other clients. I will usually break to grab dinner or a drink with a friend and even sometimes the occasional SoulCycle class. But after dinner is the time that I dedicate to my own personal blog duties. This includes to editing my own photos, planning out content, answering emails, writing posts etc. Right now I’m planning a few trips within the next few weeks so I’m spending most of my evenings scouring the pages of Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration!

 

What advice would you give to college girls who dream of having their own blog or photography business? What can they do now to get started? 

Do it! Seriously, the only thing I wish I had done differently with my own blog is that I wish I had started earlier! You will learn so many things along the way that you just have to put yourself out there. I would highly recommend first, figuring out your niche and then learn how to maximize it. There are so many people who use social media platforms as a foundation for their blogs and businesses in an effort to reach more people and it’s an incredibly useful tool. I would suggest starting/focusing with one and then continue to branch out to what you think your followers and readers are going to respond well to. For me, I started on Instagram (as I know so many people do) before i enlisted the help of a blog designer for my website and now am slowly dipping my toes into Pinterest and then eventually Twitter! Having a separate photography Instagram (@pret.a.photo) has also been an invaluable aid into broadcasting that I’m not just a blogger but a photographer as well. Since the launch of that Instagram, it has been an overwhelming and positive response! At the end of the day, be proactive and work hard. No one becomes a success overnight!

 

Who are some influencers or other girl bosses that you look to for inspiration?

Hands down my answer has to be Blair Eadie. As one of the original bloggers, I remember looking to her for inspiration when I was a freshman in college both professionally and in the fashion world. She worked for so many amazing companies at high levels all while doing her blog at the same time. Outside of the blogging industry, I would say Deborah Lloyd (the former CCO for Kate Spade) is someone who I find to be so inspirational. Not only is she a fellow redhead but her vision and talent completely changed the trajectory of Kate Spade during her time there. We really have her to thank for what the brand has become today.

 

What are your goals for the future and how do you plan on accomplishing them? 

Of course I love what I’m doing now in the photography field that I’m in but I want to keep pushing myself creatively. My goal for the future is to get into more editorial photography with more studio work. This, of course, is easier said than done so i’m currently taking some classes at ICP (International Center of Photography) to expand my genre and network with other photographers. I’m also constantly looking for apprenticeships with photographers to hopefully work alongside one day!


 

Fast Favorites: 

Favorite place to shop?

Kate Spade, of course!

Favorite NYC brunch spot? 

Claudette...it’s delicious and Instagrammable! 

Favorite Starbucks drink? 

Hot Chocolate - no coffee for me! 

Favorite place to relax + unwind? 

The nail salon right across the street from my apartment. I’m a sucker for the chair massages!

Favorite TV show + movie? 

There are so many great TV shows out right now but my favorite of the moment is The Marvelous Mrs. Maizel and then my all-time favorite movie is The Devil Wears Prada. I know every word.

Favorite Instagram accounts?

@parisinfourmonths
@officiallyquigley
@daphnemodeandthecity
@margoandme
@dametraveler
@jenniferlake
 
I could go on forever!
 
Follow along with Allie on her blog, Instagram, and photography Instagram account