#BecomingABoss: Briana Pashcow, BrianaPashcow.com

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

Briana Pashcow is the creator of BrianaPashcow.com. She publishes posts about fashion, beauty, lifestyles, and more. She also launched a consulting business that focuses on Branding & Social Media. Briana currently lives in Washington D.C. with her husband, Patrick and their dog, Chloe. I had the opportunity to interview Briana for the #BecomingABoss series!

 

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What was college like for you—Where did you go and what did you major in? Were you involved in any clubs/organizations?

I went to Catholic University in Washington D.C. I’m from New York originally, but when I was visiting colleges, I fell in love with D.C. and have lived here ever since! I was a Marketing major and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. At the time I was in college a CUA, they didn’t have a Business School or any organization opportunities so I found a marketing internship for my junior and senior year.   

How/why did you start blogging?

I started a fashion-tech website called Rack It Up that launched in 2013 and hired bloggers as “Trendsetters” to help spread the word quickly about the website. Two years later, I had to close down the business and a few bloggers I had become close friends with encouraged me to start my own blog. I realized it was the perfect way to continue to pursue my two passions: owning my own business and fashion.

What are your top tips for creating a successful blog?

I can’t say there’s really a measure for success when it comes to blogging. For some people it’s the amount of followers they have, the amount of likes they get or the amount of money they make. I feel successful each day because I’m doing what I love. I don’t post every day because I have clients and consulting work that I balance with blogging, but I post when I can. If you stay true to who you are by keeping your content authentic and writing about what you love, people will start to follow along. I don’t have tens of thousands of followers but the fact that even a few girls seem to love what I post, is really awesome.

 

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You started your own company, Rack It Up, in 2013. How did you build it to become a nationally successful business?

Rack It Up was a customized sale tracking website. You could create a virtual closet of all the items you loved online, in your personal size and color preference, and receive sale alerts when anything went on sale. My first step was to get retailers on board as affiliate partners so our users could “rack up” items into their virtual closet. I spent every day tracking down contact information for all the marketing directors at every retailer and cold-emailed pitches to each one of them. I sent over 2,000 emails over those first few months and was so delighted when almost all of the brands were open to affiliating with us. My second step was to help it grow among consumers. Originally I hired a PR company in New York City that got us some amazing press, like being mentioned in a September issue of InStyle Magazine. Seeing the website’s name in print was amazing but in terms of building brand awareness, being mentioned in a magazine didn’t help much. So, I had the idea to utilize fashion bloggers all across the country. Once they knew about the site and told their readers and followers about it, people could just click a link to create their accounts and word spread like wildfire.

Are there any mistakes that you’ve made in the past that you’ve learned from?

When you start your first business everything is basically trial-and-error. You learn to ride the entrepreneurial rollercoaster— there are good days and bad days, followed by more good days …followed by more bad ones. Looking back, my biggest mistake was not building the right team in every aspect of my business. As soon as I had the idea for Rack It Up, I jumped in headfirst. I hired the first web designer and the first web developer that I met with. The web designer had no idea what they were doing, and as it turned out, neither did the developers. Eleven months “in development” later…I still remember this overwhelming feeling of excitement the morning the final website was supposed to go live… and…nothing. We got scammed! The developers sent us a page with a logo on it and a few buttons that didn’t work. It was absolutely devastating. After more months of research and interviewing more companies, I found the right one that finally built the website. Then, less than two years after the launch, my business partner decided to pursue a completely different career path and Rack It Up was ultimately shut down. I think the best advice I can give to anyone thinking about starting a business is that it can’t be done alone, you need a team, and you need to make sure every member of that team is equally as passionate as you are about your business!

How did you come up with the concept of your consultation services, such as Instagram Growth and Blog Monetization? Which do you find the most rewarding?

The idea to start consulting fell into my lap a bit. When I started my blog and Instagram platform, I started receiving messages from bloggers and small business owners who really liked my aesthetic and branding. I got a lot of questions about how I take my photos, edit them and how I keep my feed looking so cohesive. It took me over a year to figure this out on my own, so I loved the idea that I could help other people within just a few weeks. It’s been incredibly rewarding because I’ve been able to see how new photos and branding strategies have grown these small businesses, not just their social media numbers but their website traffic and revenue.  

 

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How does being a contributor to different platforms work?

In addition to my blog, I do freelance writing and contributing when I’m able to. I’m not directly associated with any specific websites, but every once in a while when my client work slows down a bit, I write a few pieces on fashion topics like seasonal trends, or budget-friendly items and I cold-email them to the editors of sites like Glitter Guide to see if they can be used. When they like a piece I pitch and want to publish it on their site, it’s so exciting to see my writing somewhere other than my blog! It’s really just about putting yourself out there.

What does a typical day in your life look like?

A lot of people think that bloggers days are filled with photoshoots, going to events and sipping on lattes, but those things are less than 5% of what an actual day is like. For me, I am on my computer or phone 24/7 and I typically work 12-15 hour days. Most of my day is spent creating content for my clients, then going through emails, tracking down contact info for retailers, writing emails to pitch brands for potential collaborations, creating editorial calendars for blog posts, editing photos, writing blog posts, shooting brand campaigns, negotiating contracts, posting on my social platforms and engaging with my followers.

What are some major misconceptions about blogging?

I mentioned a few above, but I think the biggest one in general is that blogging is mindless or easy! I’ve even had friends ask me if my job is to just “take pictures of myself all day”. The hustle is REAL. Over the past few years, bloggers have completely changed the landscape of digital marketing and have built legitimate businesses. Blogs have become just like mini advertising companies. Influencers work on getting brand collaborations, drawing up contracts, staging and shooting the content for campaigns, editing all the visual and written content and publishing it- just as a magazine would. On top of the daily effort to create interesting and engaging content, most bloggers are also their own accountants, PR agents, website designers, coders and entire social media teams- as a single person. Being a digital influencer takes up every minute of every day. There’s no 9-5 window for work or a time when you really feel you can just “shut off”. Even your vacations become interesting content for your readers and followers. It can definitely be a lot!

 

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What is the most rewarding part of your job?

Definitely that I get to be my own boss. It was always my dream and I’m so happy that I get to do what I love each day. It also feels amazing to help other people build their businesses and blogs!

What are some of your own personal and professional goals for the future?

I hope to continue growing my client list and growing my blog. A big goal of mine for 2018 is to start blogging and posting on social media every day. I’d also love to help run social media platforms for some bigger brands.

Do you have any advice for college students who are about to graduate and get a job?

The absolute best way to figure out what you want to do with you life is by trying different things. There’s a lot of pressure to figure out your passions and find a solid career path right away. But the truth is, the only way to truly know what you love (and don’t love) is through work experience. When I graduated I got a job marketing and producing for a political TV show. It made me realize it wasn’t what I was passionate about at all. I also have so many friends that don’t work in the same industries they started out in.  Every job is an experience that will take you one step closer to figuring out who you are and who you want to become.

Do you have any mantras and/or role models that inspire you?

There are so many female CEO’s that are an inspiration! When I started by first business I was so scared and everyone looked at me like I was crazy to leave behind a steady paycheck and take such a big risk without even having an MBA behind me. Starting Rack It Up, was the best “MBA” I feel I could have ever gotten. I learned so much about business and about myself. Even though I miss Rack It Up every day, the closing of it really opened a window for me and my consulting business is thriving because of the experience I had behind me. One of my favorite quotes is by Marissa Mayer: “If you push through that feeling of being scared, that feeling of taking risk, really amazing things can happen”.

 

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Fast Favorites:

Favorite stores/designers?

I shop almost exclusively online at Nordstrom. They just have the best options for every single price point so I head there when I want to splurge and when I don’t want to spend over $100. The fact that the sell everything from Gucci to J. Crew is amazing.

Favorite blog post that you’ve created?

My favorite one by far has been my wedding day post. It felt so personal and special to share my thoughts and our photographs with my readers and followers.

Favorite influencers?

My favorites for everyday relatable style are StyleCusp, StyledSnapshots, OhSoGlamblog, LoMurph and JessKeys_. My favorites for daily inspiration and life goals are: JuliaHengel, MonikaHibbs and AshleyKane.

Favorite makeup products?

I just recently switched my entire makeup collection over to BeautyCounter products so my makeup can be organic and all-natural. Everything has been amazing so far and so much healthier for my skin and body!

Go-to Starbucks order?

This time of year I’m addicted to Cinnamon Dolce Lattes and Peppermint Mochas.

Favorite TV show(s)/movie(s)?

My favorite all-time TV show is Friends— I could watch re-runs every single day. My latest Netflix binges have been The Crown (so amazing!) and Grace and Frankie (so cute and funny!). My all-time favorite movies are the classics: High Society, Meet Me in St. Louis, Breakfast at Tiffany's and anything in black and white!