If we truly lift each other up, resisting the temptation to steal, gossip, attack, default to the negative, we could all become much stronger, lighter and more successful together!
For my series on strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Erin Busbee.
Erin started BusbeeStyle as a wardrobe consulting business, specializing in styling “real” women one-on-one. Now, she focuses her attention online on both the blog and YouTube channel providing women with the simple tools they need to look amazing! Erin is proud to lead a community of more than 700-thousand vibrant women in the prime of their lives! She is launching Busbee Bags in early 2021, multi-functional bags co-created by her 40-plus community to complement the needs of today’s active woman.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I remember spending a year working in corporate America (and not liking it) and saying to a close friend and colleague… “I wish I could just shop for a living.”
At the time, influencers didn’t exist. And the idea of shopping for a living was so foreign.
Fast forward seven years, shortly after I married my husband and moved to Texas, he asked me, “What would you do for free?”
I answered without hesitation, “I want to help women look pretty. I want to shop for them.”
He nodded. “Well, that’s what you should do.”
I started, Busbee Style, a wardrobe consulting business immediately afterward.
Over a decade later, I’m managing a 10+ person team of a nearly 7-figure business, through which I reach millions of women globally. The cornerstone of my business…? Sharing my favorite shopping suggestions! ANYTHING is possible. It might not look exactly how you expected, but don’t be afraid to share your dreams.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started?
Through Busbee Style, I’ve had some incredible and rare opportunities. I was the face of a national Ulta Beauty campaign which was a ‘pinch-me’ moment. I also had the chance to really dust off my journalism skills by helping a major retailer with some holiday-themed videos.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I thought when I started my YouTube channel that it has be really professional, like a TV news story so I set up two cameras and then spent HOURS editing the two camera clips together. It looked like I had a full production staff, but it was just me. I chuckle thinking back to those early videos and my total misunderstanding of what people really wanted on YouTube. Early days, it wasn’t about production value, it was about (and still is) … authenticity!
(Although, great audio has always been a must on YouTube.) Women who watch YouTube don’t want a slick, TV-type production. They can watch TV for that…they want to have a cup of coffee with a trusted friend and learn something new.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
If you polled my readers and viewers, I think they would tell you that I’m authentic and brave enough to share anything…not just style tips. I’ve shared my “Me Too” experiences, stories about my alcoholic father, my own issues with alcohol abuse, and my struggles with motherhood, depression and menopause. While I’m a very private person, I always feel pulled to share my personal experiences that I believe can potentially help other women. I think that willingness to be vulnerable, along with my drive, passion and ability to reach women over 40 set me apart in the space.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
The same advice I would have for any women in general, keep evolving. You have to change to keep things fresh and exciting for both you and your followers/subscribers.
I also think you need to have vision. I always try to be two steps ahead of everyone else. For example, I started my YouTube channel at the same time as my blog. Most bloggers did one or the other. I just hired a team of writers and rebranded my website, so it transcends me and offers more faces and voices on the site to potentially reach more women. Most bloggers are still in the personal style blog lane. I am also in the early stages of creating my own product line. Most of my contemporaries are partnering with a brand to create products versus doing it on their own. Think ahead. Don’t get so mired down in the day-to-day that you lose your vision.
Another great tip to avoid burnout, outsource EVERYTHING possible. Outsource website modifications, scheduling, emails, photo selection, photo editing, photography, video editing, etc… Anything and everything you can!
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I have a folder in my email inbox full of thousands of testimonials from women saying I’ve changed their lives. It still doesn’t register for me fully that by simply doing what I love, I’m empowering other women in such a unique way to truly look and feel amazing. I feel SO grateful!
I hope as my business grows, I can start my own charity where I will help women over 40 live their best lives through non-traditional healing modalities like hypnosis, EMDR, breathwork, plant medicine, etc.
Do you have a favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that was relevant to you in your life?
I love the quote by Teddy Roosevelt, made infamous by researcher Brene Brown “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
Similarly, the food critic, Anton Ego in the movie, Ratatouille shares, “In many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so.”
The quotes are different, but the overarching message is the same. It’s easy to criticize. It’s MUCH harder to actually DO something. I put myself out there in so many ways which leaves me open to negativity and criticism. It’s scary and difficult. I keep coming back to these quotes to help guide me through those really challenging days.
Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the fashion industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?
A few things: I think the Chinese luxury market is growing rapidly and that will be a heavy focus for major design houses.
On the influencer side, I think more and more influencers will develop their own brands and product lines.
I am also eager to see what will happen with fashion once we can all resume travel and social gatherings. I think we will all go BIG after being locked inside for so long. I know I will anyway. I plan to wear lots of tulle, lace, and puffy everything! Think the roaring 20’s… 2020’s.
Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Top 5 Things Needed to Succeed in the Fashion Industry”. Please share a story or example for each.
- Be Passionate
Don’t get me wrong… money is GREAT. “I love money and money loves me…” that’s my mantra. BUT, at the end of the day, the “why” and the “passion” for your mission and business are far more important.
My mission from day one has been to empower women to look and feel their best. I want women to have the invaluable tools they need to make sure the outside matches how vibrant and amazing they feel on the inside. We are truly disrupting the perception of what it’s like to be a woman over 40.
- Consistency is Key
For more than six years, I have uploaded content every single week to 3 platforms: 1) Website, 2) YouTube channel and 3) Instagram. Followers and readers know they can count on me to be there for them. And that goes a long way in terms of building credibility and trust.
- Unleash Creativity
I see so many women just copying other women’s content and ideas. You need to establish your own voice and identity in order to go the distance and really succeed in this space.
A little over 6-months ago, I decided to rebrand my website so it’s a place where all women over 40 can uplevel their lives. I wanted the platform to be about more than just ‘me’ featuring more voices, faces and body shapes so I hired a team of writers. I am SO excited to see where this new site will take us. New ideas keep you and your readers/viewers engaged.
- Be Vulnerable
“Vulnerability is courage.” That’s another mantra I say to myself regularly. It’s REALLY hard to share personal stories and the times that you’ve failed, but by sharing these experiences, you build trust and loyalty. You show readers and viewers that you are a real person who makes mistakes just like they do. You also are able to help other women grow and feel less alone. I think the greatest influencers understand how important this piece is to your overall success. I’ve shared SO many hard things, like why I quit drinking alcohol and my experience with sexual abuse. The outpouring of love that comes from this content is unlike any other and truly beautiful, but wow… is it hard!
- Treat It Like a Business
I was an English major in college. I didn’t have any entrepreneurs or business owners in my family, but I was determined to work for myself and learn everything I needed to learn in order to run my business like a business.
I remember early on other influencers saying to me, “If you run this like business, people will think you are only interested in money. It won’t work.”
I STRONGLY disagree. Turning your passion into a business ensures you are compensated for your knowledge, time and efforts. If you don’t run it like a business, you may end up with a really expensive and time-consuming hobby, which is fine, but you should know that going in.
Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?
I can speak to the influencer side of the fashion business… I think more and more businesses should look to influencers as a mainstream part of their sales and marketing plans. It’s very effective and it’s the future.
For influencers, I think they have to find new and innovative ways to distinguish themselves as the landscape becomes more competitive. I see MANY influencers simply copying other people. It happens to me daily. Women will use exact blog and YouTube titles I’ve created. BUT you won’t find sustained growth unless you find your own unique voice and path to success. It IS effective to follow those who have achieved greater success to some extent but add your own twist or spin.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
That’s easy… it would be a movement to LIFT each other up (instead of tearing each other down). You know who hurts women the most…? It’s not men. It’s other women. Isn’t that so sad? I literally see it every single day. If we truly lift each other up, resisting the temptation to steal, gossip, attack, default to the negative, we could all become much stronger, lighter and more successful together!