Charleston Life: Spring Round-Up


There are so many fun and fabulous Charleston events almost every day in our city!  I wanted to make sure you know about a few of my favorites so you can plan accordingly.  Leave a comment if there's anything else happening we should know about!

1. Charleston Fashion Week // March 13-17

Grab your gal pals and head to Marion Square for 5 nights of fashion shows!  You'll see runway shows from local boutiques and talented emerging designers.  Grab your ticket here so I can see you at the tents!

2.  CSOL Designer Showhouse // March 14- April 15

This is a great chance to see inside a Tradd Street Home.  Talented designers from around the region decorate different rooms in a lovely Charleston home, and you get to tour it!  See my post from last year's house here, and go to this link to purchase your tickets. 


3. Festival of Houses & Gardens // March 15- April 21

See inside even more charming Charleston homes, explore beautiful window boxes, and set foot in plenty of private gardens.  There are multiple events happening as part of this festival- everything from home & garden tours to luncheons to concerts!  Get details and purchase tickets here.  


I'll keep adding to this post as I hear of more fun things happening around town!



Influencer Gifting 101: Tips from Oh Joy Founder Joy Cho

This post contains affiliate links which earn me a small commission.

If you have been wondering how to go about gifting your products to bloggers/influencers, there are some tricks of the trade that will certainly help you get what you’re hoping for.  I happened to see a great story on the @OhJoy Instagram recently where founder Joy Cho spelled out how she goes about influencer gifting.  She has an awesome new line of fun and colorful paper goods that she created along with Cheeky (at Target), so here are her thoughts on how to gift your products successfully!  Be sure to check out my other favorite Oh Joy collaborations here, like the fun hat box suitcase that I’ve been loving!

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1. Research the best fit for your products. Make sure that blogger’s style aligns with the aesthetic of your products.  Can you really envision them using and loving your products? Try to mix it up so you don’t always gift to the same people.  

My two cents:  Try to find people that are already sharing about your products or similar types of products.  They are even more likely to share if they are already a fan.


2. Reach out to make sure they’re interested.  Narrow your list to 5-10 people to gift product to, then email them to make sure they are open to receiving your product.  You’ll have to email them anyway for their address, but this gives them the opportunity to politely decline if someone passes- they are just being respectful of you if they know it’s not a good fit for them.

3. Wow them with your package.  It’s all in the presentation!  Do a creative wrapping job, send it in a colorful bubble wrap with fun tissue paper, etc.  Include a postcard or something with your branding along with a hand-written note. This is a great way to share where people can buy your product and any relevant tags/hashtags you are hoping they’ll share.  

4. Have no expectations.  If you’re not offering to pay for them promoting your items, you shouldn’t necessarily expect a blog or Instagram post.  When you reach out, let them know that there are no strings attached so they will feel like they can share it in a way that’s as natural as possible.  

My two cents:  When I’ve given my products to bloggers with smaller followings, I’ve gotten a bigger return on the type of content they share.  For example, it’s more likely that you’ll get a dedicated Instagram post or blog post from a blogger who is just starting out. With larger influencers, I usually only expect an Instagram story or to be tagged alongside the other brands they might be getting paid to promote.  You never know- if they really love it they might share in a big way, but this has been my experience when gifting my Turkish towels. 

5. Just keep your fingers crossed that they will love it and share it in some way!  Typically influencers that know something is coming ahead of time will usually share in some way.


It can be great to reach out to bloggers, and other times they might reach out to ask for your products.  If you aren't comfortable gifting, the best way to decline (well, the way that I most like being turned down) is to say that you have already reached your gifting budget/limit for the time being. Try following Joy’s steps if you're doing the "pitching", and it will most likely help you spread the word about your awesome products!  If you enjoy learning about entrepreneurship, blogging, and social media, read more free resources in the Social Media University section of my site. 



Building A Brand: Q & A with Hedley & Bennett's Founder


If you're not already familiar with the cheery lady behind Hedley & Bennet aprons, allow me to introduce you to Ellen Marie Bennett!  You've probably seen her aprons worn by chefs & servers at one of your local restaurants, and they are also the official apron of the Charleston Wine & Food Festival!  The 2018 festival is why I had Ellen on my mind lately; she's here in Charleston to moderate my favorite CHSWFF shindig (Pecha Kucha), and is hosting another fun event called Brunch Squad.  

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Last August I had the chance to visit Ellen's apron factory for her School of Hustle conference.  I learned so much, so I really wanted to have her share some insight for those other hard-working entrepreneurs out there.  I know you'll be as inspired by Ellen as I am!


Liz: A brand is so much more than just a logo, but that really is part of what makes your business so recognizable.  Tell us how the name Hedley & Bennett and the decision to use the ampersand logo came about.

Ellen: Hedley is the last name of my English grandfather and he was a rocket scientist way back then. His name brings in the proper functionality aspect of the brand. We want to design aprons that perform better and last longer than what’s out there. Then there’s the other side… Bennett is me, colorful and vibrant. Design matters. The ampersand stands for the balance of those two things and the dignity that we offer people when they put on our aprons.

Liz: As a fun-having soul with a big personality, can you share your pros (or cons) of being the own face of your brand?  

Ellen: Being the face of your own company is A LOT of work! Between juggling my role as CEO and managing a business, to running around to events and being the face, I’ve learned that it definitely isn't for the faint of heart.  I mean I definitely love both but it’s a daily struggle.  The pros are having creative control and being able to direct where we’re headed--I’m able to guide the growth of the company and how our message is perceived and be the translator of our narrative. In terms of cons, IT’S REALLY HARD! I’m working long hours around the clock--it’s literally like working three full time jobs. It’s exhausting but something I truly enjoy.

Liz: Hedley & Bennett is more than just a product (aprons), so what are some of the best ways you have found to spread your brand message?

Ellen: Collaborations have definitely played a role in spreading our message--they’re really fun and exciting! Being able to collaborate with like-minded brands and sharing our stories along with theirs have helped us reach new markets, and is something we’re continuing to grow this year.

Instagram Stories has also been an amazing channel that’s helped spread our brand message. It’s a lot of fun being able to show people how a company exists and how we operate between my personal Instagram and the Hedley & Bennett account. We collectively get to show our audience the people behind the business; it’s human and relatable and I love that because it’s real. Our entire Instagram in general has gravitated more towards showing that we really care about our community. It’s a place where we can show people who they are and why we do what we do. Our new Test Kitchen is something we’re really excited for, too.  We have this opportunity to collaborate and share our message with our community on another scale by being able to have them come cook with us at Apron HQ --it’s something that makes us truly unique and we’re really excited for it!

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Liz: One of the things I loved about the School of Hustle was Ellen's advice about putting yourself out there at all times- now at conferences I try not to eat with people I know and I strike up conversations with anyone I can.  What are some ways people can get their brand message out there when they step away from the computer?

Ellen:  You have to put yourself out there! Even if you're uncomfortable, you should do it--don't let being afraid hold you back.  Find what makes your brand special--what makes it real and hone in on that.   Be real, don’t copy others and find what’s original to you. For me, color has always been my art.  Over the years, my color choices and clothes have gotten crazier and crazier, but it’s apart of my identity and the message Hedley & Bennett is getting across. We’re loud and proud and we know it’s important to have fun in what you’re doing and we stay true to that.  At the end of the day, it’s just really important to identify your brand in the most real way possible--be as human as possible, be honest, be unique. It’s so important.


Liz: Your brand story & identity has really made a mark within your industry, and you've successfully grown your company within a relatively small amount of time.  What advice would you give other up and coming brands to be able to scale at a more rapid pace?

Ellen: I think it’s really important that you find your own path, and follow it. No two paths are the same and we can take advice and inspiration from other people’s journeys, but at the end yours is your own and for you to trek. When I first started making aprons, everyone thought it was ridiculous, but I was determined.  Find what makes you want to get up in the morning and make it yours--make it original.  It takes time but you have to try and figure it out. Try everything and if it doesn’t work, you learn from it and learn not to make that mistake again. You can’t wait for the right moment because it may never come. I always say look and then jump because you’ll figure it out on the way. Bring to the table only something you have the ability to do, and believe in it!

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Doesn't this year's CHSWFF "Street Team" look pretty fantastic in Ellen's aprons?  Follow us behind the scenes of the festival on Instagram here, and learn more about Ellen in my previous post

group photo via Libby Williams Photographs



My 2018 CHSWFF Picks

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This post is in partnership with the Charleston Wine & Food Festival and Holy Spokes Bikeshare, but all opinions are my own.

It's super easy to get overwhelmed when you see the vast array of awesome events that The Charleston Wine & Food Festival offers each year.  I wanted to share my top event picks, as well as some insider pointers I learned from last year!   Here are the events I'll be going to and/or my favorites from last year:

1.  Pecha Kucha, $45 // March 2, 7-11pm // There will be food from local food trucks and plenty of libations, then 8 speakers will inspire you with their 7 minute presentations.  Choir! Choir! Choir! is doing a special performance this year, too.  Ellen Marie Bennett from Hedley & Bennett is the emcee, and I just can't wait!

2.  Namaste Bubbly, $65 // March 4, 9:30-12 // Sarah Frick of Charleston Power Yoga will lead an energizing yoga class in the Cedar Room, and then you'll enjoy lots of bubbly and healthy bites.  This event was one of my favorites last year!

3.  Brunch Squad, $100 (for locals) // March 3, 11-1:30 // We'll be helping prep our own brunch alongside The Apron Lady, Ellen Marie Bennett, and some guest chefs.  There will be a DJ churning out fresh beats and we will possibly be churning some butter!

4.  Queens on King, $125 // March 4, 11-1 // The William Aiken House is going to be super wild and fun when Monica Van Pelt and friends dazzle us with a drag show to accompany a delicious brunch!

5.  Bowen's Fish Camp, $135 // March 1, 3:30-6 // The views on Bowen's Island are the perfect compliment to all the awesome food you'll get to try.  There will also be live music playing, so this will be sure to be an entertaining evening!


Insider Tips:

Bike or Walk.  Finding event parking will not be fun!  I highly recommend getting around on foot or on bike.  Did you know Charleston has a bike share program, Holy Spokes?!  I've ridden their bikes a few times, and not only are they cute, the system is really user friendly.  Read more about how it works here. They have a bike corral on nearly every corner, and you can find one near you on this map.  You'll want to indulge in all of the fabulous food you'll encounter, so adding a little extra exercise this week is a nice way to balance all of the delicious festival eating!

Pace Yourself!  There is a bite or sip everywhere you turn, so last year my best friend was something I dubbed a "water sandwich".  Wine, water, wine, water.  Repeat!  This will keep you from over-imbibing, which is easy to do and takes all the fun out of an event before you know it!

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Bring a Buddy! The events are such a great way to give your significant other the gift of a great experience.  I know it adds up when you have to buy 2 tickets, but it's SO much more fun when you can bring another friend or your boo along with you to experience all the fun!  We've gathered a whole group to go to Pecha Kucha Friday, and my awesome friend Andrea of Charleston Shop Curator will be at most of the other events with me.  I hope she keeps me in line!

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I'll be catching the festival along with the rest of the 2018 CHSWFF Street Team, so I hope to run into you!  Follow us via the hashtag #CHSWFFStreetTeam on Instagram so you can see all the fun!



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Getting Press for Your Brand: Top Tips From a Celebrity Publicist

I hope you're enjoying my guest bloggers as much as I am! We are all in this entrepreneur game together, my friends.  Catch my last post for a convo straight from the folks at Instagram, but first read on to hear from a fabulous publicist and influencer, Molly Schoneveld!  We recently met up in LA so Molly could share her tips on getting published.  
Molly is the president of SW PR Shop, a boutique entertainment and lifestyle public relations firm formed in 2008. With over 15 years of experience in the industry, she specializes in entertainment talent as well as luxury lifestyle brands. The same year she started her business, she launched her lifestyle blog called This Yuppie Life, which has given her a unique perspective on the influencer space. 

Liz: In terms of crafting a pitch, whether it be to ask a media outlet to be published or to secure a brand partnership for your blog, what are some of your main recommendations? 


DO YOUR RESEARCH!  Know something about who you are pitching. If it’s a media outlet, read multiple stories especially from whomever you are pitching and try to make reference to something specific so they know you’ve done your homework. If it’s a brand, pay attention to what types of partnerships they have done and actually use the product before you pitch. You want to be able to truthfully say that you are a fan of the brand and have used their product or service.

KEEP IT SHORT, YET IMPACTFUL. This is the challenge of pitching. You have a lot to say, but about 1-2 short paragraphs in which to say it! Edit down your pitch so that you get your main ask within the first few sentences.

YOUR PHOTOS MATTER.  When pitching, only embed one low res image within the email and then send a Dropbox link with the rest. Nobody likes having their email inbox clogged up.

IT’S ALWAYS ABOUT THE BOTTOM LINE!  I say this a lot, but you have to remember this is a business. Whether you are pitching yourself to the media or to a brand, you have to know what you bring to the table and tell them how you can add value. If it’s media, it might be beautiful, free images and a story you know will resonate with their readers. If it’s a brand, you will need to share analytics or better yet, a case study that shows that by working with you they will get something valuable.


Liz: Do you recommend that bloggers reach out to brands directly or should they reach out to PR agencies when they want to work with a company?

Molly: I recommend both. PR agencies are great because they represent multiple brands, and often times have a lot of control over who the brand works with. Offer to take the publicist to lunch or see if you can go into their office for a quick meet/greet. Face time goes a long way. A lot of brands have an in house team that oversees partnerships. I utilize Linkedin a lot to find the right contact.


Liz: Can you share how a blogger or brand can go about using HARO ( to get more press features? 

Molly: HARO is a tool that is completely free—all you have to do is subscribe. Three times a day, a list is emailed with inquiries from reporters looking for sources for specific stories. The key with HARO is to only pitch yourself when there is a perfect fit. Don’t try to stretch to fit a mold that just isn’t you. These reporters get lots of responses, so make sure you really read the inquiry and follow the rules exactly, otherwise you risk annoying the reporter.

Liz: Besides HARO, how can you go about getting yourself press such as magazine coverage or a guest podcast feature?

Molly: At least 90% of my business is about building relationships. If you own a local boutique, for example, you need to start meeting freelance writers who write for your local media and/or editors at those outlets. Look to see what press other boutiques have gotten in your area and start making a list. The media likes new and they like “newsy”—meaning you will have better luck pitching yourself as a brand if you are either brand new OR you have something new to report. I have had great luck pitching myself first to people I have a prior relationship with and also providing free professional images.

Podcasts are really the hot place to be right now because they are so niche. Even if a podcast doesn’t have a huge audience, you can know for certain that those that tune in care about the topic. Personally, I only pitch myself/company to people that I have a relationship with and that I know cover people like me. 


Liz: A lot of bloggers & small businesses don't have a budget to work with a PR team on a recurrent basis, so are there other ways to form a mutually beneficial relationship with a publicist?

Molly: The reason having a publicist is such a large investment (and the reason I have a career) is that pitching media is incredibly time consuming.  It takes thoughtful research and a lot of outreach that can go unanswered. I hear all the time (and I totally agree!) that it is SO hard and sometimes awkward to pitch youself. I offer a consulting package that is way less than hiring my firm on retainer. I have worked with bloggers and business owners on getting their materials in order, crafting a pitch, brainstorming ideas and oulets. Finding a consultant who can be your cheerleader and someone to bounce ideas off of can be a less expensive way to get PR help. I essentially tell you what to do and then you go do it!

I also wrote a whole blog post on 9 free ways to promote your business, so for more tips check it out:


WOW!  I can't wait to implement some of Molly's awesome strategies!  If you know you're one of those people that's terrible at pitching yourself, check out her website for more info on her PR consulting.  If you want to give it a try to put yourself out there more, make sure you read my "Secrets to a Better Pitch for Bloggers" post (which has a template for crafting a better pitch).  If you found this as helpful as I did, please share on Pinterest!

images c/o Lish Creative

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