From Blogger to Full Time Entrepreneur… A discussion with Kim of “Naturally Fashionable”

Quitting your job is the ultimate goal of entrepreneurs everywhere. Being able to make your own schedule and control your own brand seems like the ultimate status symbol. Most of us only think about how glamorous that freedom is but after talking to some entrepreneurs recently, I am learning that it takes a lot of hard work to build your brand, especially when you start as a blogger, to full time entrepreneurship. That’s why I was honored to talk to Kim of “Naturally Fashionable” about the state of the plus size industry and quitting her job.

(Photo retrieved from @NaturallyFashionable Instagram)

Seven years ago Kim began her blog “Naturally Fashionable” to showcase her plus size fashion style. Back then the plus size community did not have such a huge platform and Kim was able to develop a niche in this field. She went from posting about her daily outfits to teaching women how to dress for their body types. I asked Kim about why she decided to focus on teaching plus size women to dress for their body types instead of just continuing to post her daily style pictures.

 
Kim said that when she started her blog there wasn’t a plus size voice. As she began blogging she realized that she could use the skills that she uses in her classroom to improve the direction of her blog from just showing her outfits to teaching women why she looks great wearing them. Even with the growth of the plus size industry Kim says that her platform is different from other popular plus size bloggers because her audience is conservative women who like to be trendy. She credits her own popularity to being different, staying true to her aesthetic, and deciding to make it more focused on teaching then just displaying looks.

 
One of the things that bothers me about the direction the plus size industry is going is the over-sexualization of plus size women. It seems like the popular message is that plus size women should wear whatever they want regardless of their shape. To me it seems like advocates for the plus size industry want us to believe that in order to show that you love your body you have to be naked or very close to it on social media. As a prominent voice in the plus size community I was interested in learning Kim’s opinion on this direction.

 
Kim said that what makes her different from other plus size bloggers is that she does not think that people should wear whatever they want or that being overweight should be glorified. She understands that there are real issues associated with being plus size such as diabetes and heart disease so there should be a balance in the imagery and messaging about body positivity. That is why she focuses on teaching women to dress for their body types which could help them improve the way they feel about themselves. Kim believes that you should “love yourself where you are in life but always try to improve.” She feels that it is her responsibility to be honest on her platform when discussing these issues and does not feel pressure to go along with what is popular.

 
As mentioned above, there was not really a plus size movement when Kim started her blog, so I wondered who inspired her.

 
Kim is inspired by her mother and grandmother. Her grandmother had a hard life and she wasn’t considered beautiful in the traditional way. She was a dark skinned Indian with long hair and although she was teased, she was very confident. Her grandmother’s story inspired her. Kim said that “some of my opinions are not going to be very popular but everything I say and do matches my brand.” Her confidence in not doing what is popular stems from being raised by confident women.

 
Before taking the leap to full time entrepreneurship, Kim was a high school teacher. While she was able to transfer her teaching skills to grow her platform, having a full time job has also hindered her in some ways.

 
Kim acknowledges that having a full time job helped her with financing things for her blog such as the hosting fees for her website but it was difficult to do both.  Working full time and having this creative outlet was challenging  because “you can’t burn the candle at both ends.” Kim felt that she had to work smarter not harder so she decided to let the full time job go.

 

On her Youtube “I quit my job” series she discusses things that people should think about when deciding whether they should quit their job. Kim suggests having at least 3 months worth of your salary saved as a “rule of thumb” that she thinks people should follow. I also talk about this in my financial security series. Furthermore, Kim says it is important to make sure that you have a business that could actually make money before you quit your job. That seems obvious but sometimes I think people overestimate the worth of their ideas. Planning is an important aspect of ensuring future success.
Due to my impoverished childhood, I could not see myself giving up the security of my salary to pursue my dreams full time. While I have the highest admiration for individuals that are able to do that, I also wonder how they find the confidence to make that leap. So I talked to Kim about how she overcame her fears.

 
Kim told me that the fear she felt is similar to looking for another job. She worried about whether she would make enough money to sustain herself and if she would enjoy full time entrepreneurship. She credits planning and spirituality for how she overcame those fears. Kim stated that “fear is a natural part of life” and having it will not change the situation. She encourages people to focus on the positive. By doing so herself, she felt more confident in the decision that she made and she feels at peace.

 
Before earning my doctorate, I was a teacher for 10 years. Although I loved the students I began to feel unappreciated as an educator and sometimes even disrespected. In spite of the issues that I faced in the teaching profession, I felt guilty about leaving to pursue other opportunities. It was interesting to me to find that Kim felt the same way.

(Photo retrieved from @NaturallyFashionable Instagram)

Kim believes that “our children need good teachers” but she did not feel fulfilled with teaching in the traditional setting. After three years of feeling guilty she decided that she could not put other people’s priorities over her own. Kim says she only has one life to live and she wants to be happy which is why she decided to work full time on pursuing her own goals.

 
Even though she chose to leave the classroom, Kim is still passionate about teenage girls. She believes that they need support and encouragement the most, therefore she still mentors young girls. Kim believes that it is her responsibility to use her platform to say the right things to encourage young girls and to help them build character, morals, and values.

 
Social media allows you to follow people through their business journey from inception on. What you often do not see is the work that people are putting in, the sacrifices that they make, nor how they are truly living. Kim shared with me how she balances her home life while pursuing her goals and the biggest misconception people have about entrepreneurship.

 
Surprisingly Kim shared that there is never truly a balance. She tries to prioritize the things that are important to her but “life is all over the place.”

 
As far as the biggest misconception people have about entrepreneurship, Kim said that people think that most entrepreneurs are making six or seven figures. They imagine entrepreneurs such as Diddy or Beyonce but entrepreneurs spend more than they make and it is a lot of hard work. She says that you have to invest in your business and that people need to realize that everyone is not going to be a millionaire. Kim also added that entrepreneurship is for everyone. It is important to have multiple streams of income and that people need creative outlets.

 
We concluded the interview discussing what Kim is looking forward to most in the next phase of her life.

 
Even though she was hesitant to share specific plans, Kim told me that “Naturally Fashionable” is moving towards becoming a travel and lifestyle brand. She does not want to talk about being fat all of the time but fashion will always be a part of her brand. Kim is happy to be trying new things and plans to make her platform more heavily education based.

 
Since our interview, Kim has revealed pictures and a video from her campaign for Crème of Nature, in which she looks fabulous. In addition, she has a podcast called “Blog with Kim,” teaching people how to start and/or revamp their blog.

(Photo retrieved from @NaturallyFashionable Instagram)

If you have not done so already you can follow Kim on Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube @naturallyfashionable. She offers a wealth of information on fashion, beauty, and blogging.

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