Around The Way Girl: Vivian Johnson

Vivian Johnson is every parent’s dream kid: Master’s by 24, degrees in business and in marketing, scholarship recipient, grad school paid for, active in extra circular work, GPA above a 3.7, didn’t have to take the GMAT, and has a great corporate job related to her field. Sounds like her life is all set, right? In the words of the great Chief Keef, “NAH.” All it took was Vivian living out her life long corporate dream to find out her true calling was really in fashion blogging. No matter how crazy her life path may seem, this young girl from the STL is confident that she’s headed in the right direction, aiming to empower women one closet at a time. “Everything that is put in place is set up for you to succeed. God doesn’t set you up to fail.”

Explain what TheVivianJohnson.com is.

TheVivianJohnson.com is a fashion blog that not only highlights different brands and what they have going on currently, but is also more of a soundboard for young women, and women in general, to get tips in their everyday life as far as fashion. I like to talk a lot about confidence and right now my biggest angle I’m working on is reworking your closet. That’s what I’ve been talking about a lot this past month. My blog is all about women empowerment and having the tools for success. Not only tips on how to dress for work or on the weekends, but also how to save money, financing, investing in yourself, being independent and relying on yourself.

viv7What made you want to start a blog?

To be one hundred percent honest with you, I had never heard of a fashion blog until I watched this show called Courtney Loves Dallas. I had heard of blogs in general, but I wouldn’t really say that was my thing. I knew they existed but never in a million years would I have thought that I would ever get into that until I watched that show. I’m really into Bravo TV, that’s like my favorite because of Andy Cohen. He’s the executive producer of most of the shows on there and he’s also from St. Louis so I’m a big supporter. I think it was a year and a half ago or so that I saw this girl Courtney. She was talking about how she quit her full time corporate job to start a fashion blog because that’s what she was confident about. And she’s been doing so well that honestly she didn’t even need her corporate job because the blog opened so many doors to opportunities for her. She’s been able to appear on local news networks, she has a fashion segment, she’s worked with multiple national and international brands in promoting them. Once I saw that I was like, how have I not known about this?!  Like really, how did I not know there was this fashion platform for you to be creative, share your ideas, and get feedback from other people? And ever since then I was like, if she can do it, why can’t I?

I haven’t really been blogging that long, I started in mid January and I’m still learning and figuring it all out. Eventually I want work in the fashion industry and I want to use my blog as a way to legitimize myself since I don’t have the career experience just yet, but I’m working towards it.

viv1

Where does your degree come into play with your blog?

Oh my gosh, EVERYTHING! Because both of my degrees are in marketing and I have to market myself, no one will know about my blog if I’m not constantly representing myself in the right light. Before blogging, I definitely paid attention to what I wore, but now I pay particular attention even if I’m just going out to grocery store because I’m representing my brand at all times. So my degree was absolutely essential, in my opinion, in uprooting the blog and everything that comes along with it. I definitely did my research through and through before I decided to start. I was like, if this doesn’t make me money in the long run, then I’m not doing it. 

What goes into maintaining a fashion blog?

My biggest thing, and also advice that I’ve gotten from other fashion bloggers, is consistency. That’s probably one of the hardest things. There are days where I don’t feel like blogging, honestly. On top of fashion blogging, I work full time. My job is currently in busy season. I’m involved in a bunch of non-profits and volunteer opportunities, as well as my church mentor program. I have a bunch of other stuff going on besides the blog. So really, the hardest thing maintaining a blog is consistency. I like to post three times a week and to some that may not seem like a lot, but oh, it is. Not only do I have to get the pictures taken, but I edit them myself. Then I have to get the content because I’m not going to post anything just to post something. If I’m not feeling it or I don’t like the pictures or if I feel like I don’t have anything valuable to say, then I’m not gonna post. There are times when I do only post once a week.

Where does your style inspiration come from?

I would definitely say one thing I really like doing is seeing how other people style things then adding my personal touch to make it my own, if that makes sense [laughs]. Because at the end of the day, fashion is based off styles from all over. I like to be creative and show my personality through my clothes.

viv6Usually fashion bloggers flaunt the latest expensive high end brands, how do you teach your readers to be trendy with what you’ve got?

It’s funny, I feel like as women we tend to buy one thing and only wear it once. I have so many things in my closet that haven’t been worn and are now pushed to the back. Or I’ll have items that I bought for specific events and then never wore it again. As women, we’re always complaining about not having anything to wear and it’s like, no, you DO have something to wear. Sometimes all it really takes is to look at one of your items and reinvent it for something else. In most cases, fashion blogs make you want to shop and yes, I do tag all the brands that I’m wearing, but in the end, I want my readers to look into their closets and see if they have something similar to pull off the same look.

viv9

As a black woman aspiring to work in the fashion industry, do you feel that there is a glass ceiling that holds women of color, especially black women from reaching “that” major level of success?

It’s crazy that you ask because that is something that I’ve felt but never shared with anyone, you’re actually the first! There is an account called Like To Know It. It’s this affiliate program that helps you make money off of your blog. I’m a part of a different affiliate and I pretty much make money based on the clicks that I get off certain retail items that people click on from my blog. So Like To Know It pretty much works the same way. It would email subscribers when I make a post, show the different items I wore and gives them the option to buy it from my site, sales, etc. Like To Know It is very selective and I have yet to figure out what exactly it is that this particular organization is looking for. I definitely have noticed that most of the gals on there are Caucasian. I don’t see a large group of black bloggers on there so I’m like, you know what, I’m gonna apply. Before I apply for anything I make sure I meet the criteria, I don’t just apply blindly. With that being said, I’ve been rejected twice from them, and I just feel frustrated because I don’t think it’s race thing, but I definitely don’t see a large flux of black bloggers on their site. I would think that someone would want to bring diversity to their company.

So that got me thinking about that small percentage of black fashion bloggers and how long it took for them to get on the site, what struggles they went through, and if they’re able to market their things outside from just black women, you know? I’ve always used being black as a strength, one hundred percent, because it’s something that makes me different especially in this pool of fashion bloggers where to me, everyone all looks the same. No matter what, I’m gonna stay true to myself. I’m never gonna conform to what society, Like To Know It, or the fashion industry wants me to be because then there would be no point in having my blog.

But back to your question, I do think about that glass ceiling but at the same time the sky’s the limit so I don’t let it discourage me.

viv4Which do you prefer: corporate or independent?

I am pro both. Once I got to college I pretty much made the decision that this is setting me up for the rest of my life career wise. And my parents are very supportive and anything I need, they have me, but they also made it clear that once I got into college they wanted me to be financially independent. With that being said, I made sure to do internships and all that stuff to prepare myself for [life] after college. It wasn’t until my junior year when I was like, I want to have a corporate job in marketing, downtown. I can’t wait to live the corporate life and work my way up to Chief Marketing Officer at some huge fortune 100 company. Now that I have a corporate job and I’m working in marketing at a company that’s like 24 of the most profitable companies in our entire country, I’ve realized that it’s not what I want to do. I was never really afraid of entrepreneurship, I just didn’t know what I wanted to do for it to even be a thought. I do think there are pros to both corporate and independent: the security and things you take away from corporate is amazing, but I would like to know what it’s like to have a business to call my own.

What advice do you have for a young girl that wants to start a fashion blog?

At the end of the day, what’s most important is being true to yourself. Everyone is gonna have their own opinion and tell you how to do something. Some of those opinions may matter because I believe knowledge is power, but if those opinions go against who you are as a person, then don’t listen, especially if it doesn’t feel right. I’m still figuring it out and learning from my mistakes, but one thing that keeps getting back to me on different occasions from different people is to give back by lending a helping hand. There’s no point in living in this life if you’re going to be selfish. That’s not how you foster relationships. Also, don’t let anyone ever tell you you can’t do something because there is someone out there that wants to help you, see you progress and be successful.

Where would you like to see the future of TheVivianJohnson.com?

Honestly, I would absolutely love it if my blog impacted more people. I would love to see TheVivianJohnson.com blossoming into something that positively affects and helps women all over the world, not just in St. Louis, not just in Chicago, not just in New York, but all over. Yes, I’m doing this blog for me, but mostly it’s for my readers.

viv2Is this what you saw yourself doing at this age?

No. Not at all, oh my gosh. Back in my freshman year of high school we had to write to write a letter to our future self and we would receive it our freshman year of college. Apparently, according to  my letter back then, I’m supposed to have a boyfriend, which I don’t, I’m supposed to be getting engaged, and you can’t do that without a boyfriend so that’s not happening. One of the things that was true was the corporate job. I knew that I was always going to have a corporate job, but as far as the fashion blog, never in a million years.

I am a big planner and a few years ago I came to terms that life is so unpredictable.You never know what’s gonna happen and every day is something completely different. I’m really just praying that every day will continue to go up from here.

What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

The advice I would give to myself would be to just relax and just know that everything is gonna work itself out and be okay. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I was a very intense person. I wanted things to go a particular way and if they didn’t I would freak out and not know what to do and have all this anxiety. It used to tear me apart. So I would tell myself to take a deep breath, and that everything always works itself out and happens for a reason, and those reasons are usually positive.Everything that is put in place is set up for you to succeed. God doesn’t set you up to fail. I wish I could have told myself that because I was so caught up in the moment that nothing else mattered.

viv5What’s your favorite thing about Chicago?

It’s my second home. I went to school in Illinois, all my sorority sisters are from there, yay for the AKA [laughs], but 95% of my friends live in Chicago. Every single time I come to Chicago I feel a sense of comfort, relaxed sort of ease. It’s my home away from home and what’s crazy is that I don’t have any family out there. Another thing I love about Chicago is of course the shopping!


Keep up with Vivian’s latest fashion on her blog thevivianjohnson.com and get more personal with her on instagram @thevivianjohnson

XO,

Rebecca

{Know an Around The Way Girl we need to to get in touch with? Let us know in the comment section below!}

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