Kendi Skeen of Kendi Everyday and Bloom Boutique
We need more than all ten fingers to count the reasons why we love style blogger Kendi Skeen. Chief among them? Her sharp wit and quirky sense of humor; her relatable ‘girl next door’ appeal, and her budget-friendly style sense she’s brought to both her blog, Kendi Everyday, and her new clothing boutique, Bloom.
Each day, this Texan sweetheart welcomes a world of young women into her closet, mixing ensembles that range from traditionally classic to a sort of dreamy neo-Bohemian. Her blog is matchless, fun, and refreshingly light-hearted. And Bloom Boutique, based in McKinney, Texas, is no different—offering a smartly edited collection that’s every bit as sweet and fashionable as the girl behind it.
From blog to Bloom, we chatted with Kendi about finding her footing, creating her own career, and what it took to finally follow her dream and open a clothing boutique.
What was your first job out of college and how did you land that position?
Get ready to be underwhelmed: My first job out of college was as an administrative assistant at an engineering firm in Dallas. I know I just scream 'field of engineering' to you. I landed that position by way of a friend who worked for a temp agency. I graduated somewhat cocky and was kicked in the butt by the people who were less than impressed by my empty resume. Coming out of a small university with no experience meant that I had to start somewhere and so I did. I ended up working my way into the marketing department there which helped me land my next position as a print and online marketing manager for a retail store.
What was your occupation prior to starting your blog and opening up your boutique, Bloom? How has your career path changed since college? Did you expect yourself to be doing what you’re doing now?
I worked at a prominent jewelry manufacturer as the manager of print and online marketing. Although a large company, the headquarters was based out of a small town in Texas. That's when I decided to start Kendi Everyday. After about a year at this position I figured out that people could care less about things I cared about (style, clothing, oversharing on the internet) and so I wanted a way that I could relate to other people like me. I kept my blog a secret up until the day I quit—no one ever knew. I totally felt like a spy, some days living a double life.
Since college my career path has been winding but in the best way possible. I feel like every step I took, although not always enjoyable, was to lead me to where I am now. Thank goodness I landed a position at the engineering firm, because without that I would have never found a position in marketing which lead me to start my blog. But [that position] also has given me a great basis for what to do with my store now. E-mail marketing was my life for almost three years, so it's an easy task to implement now with Bloom. And as far as expecting myself to be doing what I'm doing now, I can honestly say no way! It still blows my mind that people want to read my blog and although I always wanted to own a store, there is always a part of you that downplays a dream.
When and why did you start your fashion blog Kendi Everyday? What were you hoping to get out of it when you started?
Like I said before, I started it out of a necessity to find similar people who were interested in similar things. I became obsessed with style blogs and style groups on Flickr in 2008/2009, and I knew I had to start a blog; I just had to work up the guts to do it. I don't think I knew what I wanted out of my blog when I started it. I think like anyone, you hope for a reader or two, but I didn't expect much more than that. I certainly didn't expect it to change how I see my closet, how I see myself, and how much it has changed my career path.
At what point did you begin looking at your blog as a business instead of just a hobby?
Although I took on sponsors in mid 2010, I didn't really start looking at my blog as a business until later that year. I had left my job and really needed to make a living off what I was doing. However, I still struggle with looking at my blog like a business. I definitely see a business aspect to it, but I try not to take it as seriously as I do my shop. I started my blog as a way to be creative, to have community, and to learn a thing or two. And I never want [it] to lose that spark. I feel like when a hobby turns into work, you lose the joy of doing it.
When did you feel like you were ready to take on sponsors? What was your first step to do so?
Like many young bloggers, I had no idea what I was doing when a few brands approached me about sponsorship or about item wears. But I knew that I had to make the decision of either accepting advertising or not, and that I needed to make my own rules when it came to how I was representing a brand or advertiser on my blog. So I created a media kit, which is like a nice way of saying this is how I run my blog if you are interested in working together. It started off very slowly and it has built over time, as most things do.
There are so many style blogs out there. What do you think made Kendi Everyday stand out and grow into the huge success that it is today? What advice would you give to other style bloggers hoping to grow their own blogs?
You know, I try not to think about it and why my blog is what it is. I started at a time when there weren't as many style bloggers. I kind of did my own thing without really thinking about it. I never really had a plan for growth or a strategy, I just did what I knew how to do. In my case, being who I am has allowed me to pick up a few followers along the way. My advice to others is to not look around and wonder about someone else's success. That's the best part of the internet: there is enough for everyone. Just because someone reads my blog doesn't mean they can't read 80 other blogs. Be who you are, write what you know, and create a great blog that you are proud to share. Nine times out of ten, if you are creating great content, your blog will grow. (Also, Pinterest doesn't hurt.)
How do you stay inspired to create daily outfit posts? Was budgeting for new clothes and accessories to feature ever a challenge? How long into blogging did you start getting pieces gifted from companies?
This is probably the worst answer ever for being inspired but if I ever get stuck, if I ever find myself in my closet thinking I have nothing to wear, it's because I've been looking around a little bit too much. I have to really watch myself—am I being inspired by my pin boards, by my favorite bloggers or am I comparing myself and my closet to them? See? Worst answer ever. But other than trying to just dress the only way I know how, I do love looking at blogs and seeing what creative ways others are wearing their clothes.
I've always been a shopper. (My mother and husband can back me up on this.) So my clothes budget hasn't necessarily grown because of my blog. I typically spend around the same amount of money a month for clothing. I know when I can get something, I know when I can't. The only time it was a bit of a challenge was after I quit my job and I wasn't making up for my lost salary. So I turned to thrifting in order to keep up with trends and to keep up with my blog. As far as receiving items from brands, that started about six months into blogging. I felt like a rock star the first time I received an email from a company!
Can you tell us a little bit about opening up Bloom? After you had the idea, what was the first step you took to make it a reality?
Of course I can! Bloom is my favorite thing to talk about! Sans the abundance of adorable iPhone photos, it really is like my firstborn child. I've always wanted to open a store, as asinine as that may sound. But it's always been in the back of my mind as the plan. I've kept idea notebooks since high school with ideas of boutiques for my “someday.” Last spring, I met a young girl who had just opened a boutique and the feeling inside of me was overwhelming. Not necessarily jealousy, just an immediacy I'd never felt before. I talked to my dad about it and it was nothing short of encouraging—he told me to get a business plan ready. I delved right into my business plan. And some days I would just stare at it, because my gosh, is it daunting. But as I would work on it, I was always envisioning what the store would look like, the brands I would carry, I was researching how to get these brands, the cost of opening, etc. This was all before I even had sat down with a banker. But all of these steps, even though at the time they seemed imaginary, were elemental in opening Bloom.
The details and planning that go into opening a store can be daunting. For example, finding a space, finding investors/getting a loan, choosing products, setting price points, hiring employees, figuring out the finances of it all… Please tell us how you went addressing these challenges when opening Bloom.
Just reading that list gives me anxiety! But yes, these things all approach me at different times on a daily basis. Honestly, the best thing that I did was accept the fact that this was going to happen. That opening a store was not a dream, this was a reality. Finding a space was a reality, even if it took six months of being turned down. I think for many things I am still learning—I am absolutely still learning how to handle my finances, how to be a good boss, what the best products are and which are the ones to stay away from. I constantly feel like I am on a learning curve. But one thing I've learned is to listen to the advice people give you. I have made a few friends in this so far and people can give some great advice. Usually if I have a question, there is someone out there who has done this wrong or done it right and is more than willing to share with me. Advice is priceless in the world of entrepreneurship.
What has been the greatest challenge in owning your own shop? Has anything been easier than you thought it would be?
Learning to not only trust myself in my decisions, but learning to back them up. I hear a lot of comments during the day, and I've had to develop a pretty thick skin sometimes. Knowing that not everyone is going to love everything you do is a hard challenge for a people pleaser, but if I believe in something, then I need to back it up and not bend with every opinion I hear. Finding vendors is easier than I thought it was going to be. I listened to far too many people that scared me into thinking I'd never find any vendors.
What is one thing you now know that you wish you knew going into the process of opening a store?
Everything? Just kidding, but not really. I think probably one thing would be to stick with your original ideas, no matter what. Opening a business, especially a retail store, comes with a lot of decisions and with that a lot of distractions. I think this probably runs true for anyone and anything in life—stay true to who you are, even if it's a challenge to get there or to make something happen. Sometimes original ideas are the best ones.
How do you balance the blog and boutique along with having a life outside of work?
Two words: happy hour. ; ) Oh, how I wish I was super woman and could answer this with a laundry list of ways I balance my life, but I don't know if that list exists. Balancing a new life and schedule is undoubtedly difficult at times, but I think one thing that I've learned through this process is to just keep going. Sometimes the most stressful day can be followed by a really great day. On a more practical note, I have multiple notepads around me at all times with lists of the things I need to accomplish each day. If it isn't on a list, it isn't going to happen!
Best moment of your career so far?
Standing in front of the store with my husband at 2 am the night before we opened. I've never been so tired and so proud of something in my life.
What advice would you give your 23-year-old self?
Please know that you aren't making a mistake and you aren't failing. Every step you take is a part of your path, good or bad, don't be afraid to follow it.