Blogger Spotlight - Sweet Tea & Champagne
Every time we visit the blog Sweet Tea & Champagne, two things go through our mind: 1) How did we not already know about this amazing recipe/website/jewelry designer/insert anything else your heart desires here; And 2) How has Kathryn, owner of the site and sweetheart of a southern belle, found her place in life while staying up on school, fashion and the blogosphere? The senior at the University of Tennessee answered these questions and more during a recent call and we’ve got it all for you below.
How long ago did you start your blog?
I started blogging two summers ago. It wasn’t called Sweet Tea & Champagne then. It was called Bright Lights…Long Nights. The blog was just a recap of my summer in New York City. I interned for jewelry designer Diana Warner. I wanted to remember everything day-by-day, so each night I would do a blog post. I got really good feedback mainly from family and friends who thought it was funny. When I came home I wanted to continue blogging but I didn’t really know what I wanted to blog about. I had started reading fashion and lifestyle blogs and I thought, you know, I could do that. I tried it myself and now have Sweat Tea & Champagne.
Where does the name Sweet Tea & Champagne come from?
Well, I am from the South and consider myself a southern belle. I love The City and I thought Sweet Tea goes with the South and Champagne goes with The City, so it was a mixture of both city and country life.
How have you been able to juggle school, your internship and blogging?
Blogging isn’t as easy as it seems. It takes up a lot of your time. When I have breaks-like Christmas break-I am able to post more. This past summer I wasn’t able to post as much as I would have liked. I worked 10 to 7, so at the end of the day I was a little wiped out. You really need to just schedule the time. I try to have at least three posts per week.
We love your content and the site’s diversity. Where do you get your inspiration and post ideas?
I just pull from things I enjoy. For example, I’ve always loved to bake and cook. In high school I baked a lot, so I decided to add some of that to my site. I’m passionate about a lot of things. It can be kind of boring for a blog to solely be about one thing. I try to keep it interesting with each post.
Do you see your content changing or growing in the future?
I’m constantly trying to put more focus on certain things. It’s nice to have different content for variety, but it’s also nice to have a focus. I’m also looking to collaborate with other bloggers. I would like to work with as many people as I can and expand that way.
So how does that work with guest bloggers on your site?
It’s funny because with Cathy, from Poor Little It Girl, she came across my blog and read my About Me. She was in the sorority Chi O at her university and I’m actually a Chi O at Tennessee. She reached out to me and we started talking. She helped me with contacts for internships and we learned each other’s story. With her and other bloggers, when one of us goes out of town, we just feature each other to keep content fresh on the site. Another blog I guest-posted for was Raving Fashionista, she’s awesome. She posts daily outfits. That’s a lot of work, I don’t know how she does it.
Since you are in Tennessee, how do the fashions you present differ from the bloggers in New York or other big cities?
I would say shopping is a bit more difficult in my area. You have to stick to boutiques for unique pieces and show your readers that there is more than just the mall. I like finding cool new designers. Like Diana Warner, who I worked with, she is a jewelry designer from Knoxville, Tennessee. I like introducing readers to small town or budding designers.
What’s been a difficult part of blogging that you didn’t expect?
It’s easy when you are blogging to compare yourself to others, bigger blogs everyone knows, but you can’t get caught up in that. You have to believe in yourself and know that the content you are showing is something you are passionate about. It doesn’t matter how many people are reading your blog and what type of attention you are getting, you need to just focus on the original content and the rest will come. You just shouldn’t compare yourself.
Can you tell me about your experience with Diana Warner?
I met Diana last February. I helped her with a fashion show at a local boutique. That was my first taste of the fashion world. I interned for her last summer and pretty much handled sales and what not. This summer she decided to open a flagship store. That was crazy. Literally, the first two weeks we were still doing construction and I was hammering the tin up on the ceiling. It was so cool to watch it grow. I had a lot more responsibility this year with social media and PR. I worked with stylists from the Glee Project and some from movies. It was really cool.
Ideally, what would you like to do after you graduate?
I would love to get involved in the fashion magazine industry. Seeing The September Issue just opened my eyes. It’s kind of a cutthroat industry, but I would love to work in social media or be a contributor of some sort. I definitely want to move to NYC. There are more opportunities in fashion there.
Did anything about your style or what you tend to wear change while in New York?
Living in New York, you are more likely to dress crazier than you would in Knoxville. For example, if I wore a maxi skirt in New York, that’s totally ok. If I wear that in Knoxville, it’s a little bit weird. People have a more narrow view in my area, but you can wear whatever in New York and it’s ok. I try not to get caught up in what other people think.
What fall look are you excited for most?
Right now the 70’s trend is really big. I’m looking at high-waisted trouser pants. I think that style is flattering on a lot of people. I like that look with a silk blouse and a skinny belt. I love dark trousers with a light silk blouse, especially the blouses with the bows around the neck. Anything leopard print or neon is wonderful as well.
As a college student, how do you find affordable clothing and still stay on trend?
Obviously being in college you don’t have much money, so it can be hard to stay on trend. But when I am buying staple pieces I’ll spend more money. J. Crew is one of my favorite places to shop for staple pieces because you know you will get quality. If you’re just shopping for trends, I do Forever21. Their prices are amazing.
Do you ever really splurge?
Sometimes. My most recent splurge was my Rebecca Minkoff Morning After Bag Mini. That’s about as crazy as I’m going to get, but I love that bag. I can wear it anywhere, out with friends or a meeting. It’s prim and polished and I love it. I think about what I want to spend my money on and then I save it. I splurge on bags and shoes, things with great quality.
We notice on your site that you do always have accessories on, are those important to your overall look?
I think accessories are definitely important. They really bring a look together. I am not someone who will pile everything on together. Sometimes a simple piece can really complete a look. Most of my jewelry is gold or silver-it isn’t really bold, it’s dainty. I usually go bolder with my clothing and then add accessories from there.
You posted a necklace the other day from Spike the Punch on Etsy and We’re in love with that necklace. It was a great find.
Yeah, I emailed the seller and told her I loved her necklaces and I want to get one. That’s actually a great example of staying on trend and having a great piece while staying on budget. They are very affordable.
Where do you get your ideas for the DIY projects on your site?
If I see someone wearing something and I think I can do it, I’ll try it. There is a great bead store here where you can get crystals and chains and just mix and match things. Another blog that I check is Honestly….WTF?. There are great projects to get inspiration from on her site.
You wear a lot of solids, are you more of a solid person or do you throw in patterns?
Last year I was looking in my closet and it really was all solids. I made a pact with myself to start buying more patterns. Solids are usually going to go with more stuff, but I try to add patterns. Mixing patterns can be fun. I’m not going to go crazy mixing, but last night I wore polka dot and leopard together. I admire people who can pull off bold patterns together. I like to keep it a little more subtle most of the time.
So for your nails, do you go for more contrasting nails or keep it subtle?
More contrasting. I’ll wear neutrals every once in awhile, but I think that is kind of boring and I like to jazz it up. I recently polished my nails all different colors, each a pastel. I like experimenting with color.
Do you match your outfits with your lacquer or your mood?
I polish more for the mood. With bright colors I wear sometimes it clashes, but I just go with it. I wore a mint green and I have a dress almost the same shade. I wouldn’t wear those together because it’s a bit of overkill. I like bold nails that stand out against my clothing.
If Kathryn’s nails stand out anything like her personality, then she’s got the brightest nails on the block. To visit her site and explore the world of Sweet Tea & Champagne, click here.