ct later this year, and it gives me all the feels. I’ve been following Chrissy since the launch of her blog, after stumbling across her beautiful Instagram feed while searching geo-tags in San Francisco. It was love at first sight. Her airy aesthetic, constantly original content, and kind heart behind her blog made all my creative vibes well up with joy.
After finally getting together IRL while I was back home in San Francisco, we discovered Chrissy grew up a block away from my grandmother’s house (where my parents currently live!) in Marin County. From there, a special bond was formed and we’ve been close friends ever since. This is the magic of Instagram people – longterm friendships in the most unexpected of places.
Enough about my gushy love story for Chrissy – I can’t wait for you guys to meet her. Read on to find out how she balances her life as a full time interior designer with her lifestyle blog, which is absolutely exploding right now. Get tips on recreating her effortless style at home and in your wardrobe, and learn how she throws together an impromptu cocktail party in 5 minutes flat.
I had the idea to start a blog long before I decided to take the plunge. Once I decided it was something I wanted to do and take seriously, it was about a month of research and three months of building a site, learning how to code and coming up with a name.
I went to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and got my B.A. in interior design. Going to SCAD changed my life for so many reasons. I use the technical training I received in my job on a daily basis, but it was my time in Savannah that really shaped me as a person. It opened my eyes to so many things I love other than interior design, which is why I eventually decided to start a lifestyle blog.
I cover everything from food, interior design, travel, entertaining and wellness… sometimes style + beauty.
I am lucky that as a working designer I am exposed to so many trends, but I find most of my inspiration from my daily life. Instead of going to Pinterest and trying to recreate something I just saw, I will walk around the flower mart and pull colors that are inspiring me that day, or I will go to the flea market and recognize the stands that are populated with people and observe what they’re buying. I share recipes from my mom or will spend a half day in the kitchen coming up with new concoctions. I am inspired by so many things!
EDIT EDIT EDIT! Editing is key and it costs you nothing, in fact – it can actually make you money. I look at a home like I do an outfit, it is blank canvas to do whatever you want and sometimes there are just one too many accessories making it feel cluttered. Less is more, in my opinion and if you take one look at our apartment you don’t get the vibe that it is cold or sterile. It is filled with items I use and love, but no extra clutter for the sake of decoration.
A fabulous cheese board and something delicious to drink. Invest in a really nice marble or wood serving board with a handle. I use mine all the time, for everything! If you lay out some cheese, an arrangement of fruits and nuts and a fresh baguette it looks like you put in much more effort than you did. Pair that with a chilled glass of champagne or wine and you’re good to go! We always have something in the fridge because you never know who will stop by!
This is similar to my apartment, I invest in classic pieces and spend less on the layered items. Almost all of my tops and shirts are solid or striped whether they are long sleeve, short sleeve, t shirts or blouses. Keeping the building blocks of your wardrobe neutral help so much. Then for seasonal switches, I will wear a printed skirt with a white off the shoulder shirt or in the fall I will throw a chunky plaid jacket over a beige sweater and jeans. I prefer my outer layer to be the fun piece since those can be adjusted to the season so much more easily than your main item of clothing.
This experience has all been such a whirlwind. I never expected to have so many pinch me moments both big and small. I honestly think the messages I get saying I inspired someone are the best moments in all of this. I started a blog to share the things I love with other people and when people enjoy and relate to what I post, it feels like I am sharing that moment with them. It’s incredible to feel connected to so many people I have never even met!
I have had quite a few mentors throughout my life both personal and professional, but to this day my biggest mentors are my parents. They taught me how to work extremely hard for the things you want and to have grace while doing so. The biggest thing they have instilled in me is that you are never better or worse than anyone else, no matter what successes and failures you have. You can never define your success by someone else’s, but instead focus on your goals and the life you want for yourself.
I work before I go to work! I get up at about 5:30 every morning (thanks to my electrician boyfriend who wakes up at the crack of dawn) I make my coffee, turn on some Billie Holliday, light a candle and sit at my desk. I like to go through anything I didn’t get done the night before and create a to do list of what I would like to accomplish that day. Some mornings I go to the gym, but I have to get ready for my actual job around 8am.
Even after a year in, this is something I still struggle with. I think it comes down to loving what you do, being extremely dedicated and learning how to sacrifice certain things. I had to shift my life a bit and realize that weekends were no longer a time to relax every day, but time to get more work done. If you aren’t loving what you’re doing then you are going to get burned out pretty quickly.
I take and edit about 90% of my own photos, but I wish I could work with Torrey Fox on everything! She takes a majority of the photos of me, or anything I submit for publication.
I have always been drawn to light, crisp images, so I knew when I started creating content that I would go in that direction. I use two different cameras, a Nikon D7000 and a Cannon EOS Rebel T6. As far as editing I mostly use Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. I use some VSCO presets for Lightroom and just adjust the exposure and white balance. This helps brings a lot of photos to life. On my I phone I use Snapseed to brighten images and VSCO to give it a finished looked.
I feel like I am really honest. I don’t try to be perfect or paint a picture of my life looking beautiful all the time. I always wanted Harlowe James to be relatable, not unobtainable, so I am always trying to think from the view point of the reader. If I was looking at something I posted, could I afford it? Does it make sense? Etc. I always want people to read a post or see photos of something I created and feel inspired to do the same, not be disappointed that they don’t have the budget or resources to do so.
Social media is everything for me because it is how most people found out I even had a blog. I have a love hate relationship with social media, as sometimes it can feel like a chore, but for the post part I really enjoy it and look at it as another outlet to share work that might otherwise go unseen.
Torrey Fox is hands down my favorite person to work with. She photographs all of my major projects and we collaborate on a lot of posts together. We have such a similar aesthetic so working with her is like short hand language. I don’t have to tell her how I like something, she just gets it.
The fall tablescape shoot we did together will probably forever be my favorite project. It was the first big photoshoot I styled and our first time collaborating on something that scale. It was raining and freezing cold and we were all on top of a mountain in dresses, but she captured everything I wanted and more. Torrey captured the essence of Harlowe James and I feel extremely proud of that shoot.
I am still so new at all of this and feel like I am evolving and learning everyday. I think the steps I took might have been messy or out of order, but I really think that is all part of the process.
There are so many I can think of off the top of my head, but ultimately to create a brand the embodies a well lived life. I want to offer services, products and workshops that all help people feel like they are getting the most out of their lives with beautiful moments.
I mean, now you get why I’m so obsessed with her, right? I don’t sound so stalkerish?
To everyone hoping to start a blog or already started and stuck in a rut – remember to not take everything so seriously. Not everything has to be a full production shoot – take note of the littlest moments in your life and showcase those. Chrissy started Harlowe James just a year ago and it’s now developed a cult following. Don’t stop yourself from sharing your ideas out of fear of being too “new”
Chrissy – thank you for taking the time to meet with me to share all your entertaining + style tips. Your effortless grace + endless style make Harlowe James a daily read. Can’t wait to see you again very soon.