Katie Emery: “Limit the use of hot tools”

If I could inspire a movement, it would be to get women to accept themselves at any age despite the relentless pressure from our culture and from the media to believe that aging is bad. Every day that we are on this planet, with our loved ones, is a good day. Fretting over wrinkles and […]

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If I could inspire a movement, it would be to get women to accept themselves at any age despite the relentless pressure from our culture and from the media to believe that aging is bad. Every day that we are on this planet, with our loved ones, is a good day. Fretting over wrinkles and gray hair — what does that accomplish? There is so much on this planet to enjoy — so much to learn, so much to teach, so many amazing people to talk to, why waste one more second worrying about getting older? Let’s not waste the remaining years of our lives fretting about our looks.

As a part of our series about “Five Things Anyone Can Do To Have Fabulous Hair”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Katie Emery.

Katie is the founder of KatieGoesPlatinum.com, a blog devoted to the subject of gray hair. Katie founded the blog in 2018 to provide comprehensive information about gray hair, and to show women that growing out their grays could be fun and empowering. Katie’s blog has been featured in publications such as Thrive Global, Vogue Brazil, and Woman’s World.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My blogging career started in 2017. I had been struggling with anxiety and depression for about 18 months since one of my sons had suffered a near-fatal illness, and my husband had lost his job. I was trying hard to regain my equilibrium but hadn’t quite gotten there yet.

That summer, I decided to drive my son to Boy Scout camp in San Diego, and use the 3-hour drive back to clear some of the cobwebs out of my brain. On the drive home, I listened to Jen Sincero’s audiobook: “You Are a Badass at Making Money” and, I swear to God, that book changed my life!

Sincero doesn’t give traditional financial advice, but she has great ideas on how to change your mindset around money, and she offers creative ways to find financial freedom. We needed extra income coming in, but the traditional routes weren’t working. My full-time job paid well, but not enough to support a family in Los Angeles, one of the most expensive cities in the USA. Sincero presented many great ideas for different ways to bring in money while working full-time, and blogging was one of them.

As a working mother, the idea of blogging appealed to me since I could do it from home in my spare time. I have a background in photography, I love to write, and I’m technically savvy, so blogging seemed like a great fit.

Shortly after returning from San Diego, I set up my WordPress account and hired a WordPress tutor. I read as much as I could about blogging because I wanted to be set up correctly from the get-go. The more I read about it, and the more I learned, the more worried I got. To be a successful blogger takes a lot of time and energy. You need to learn Pinterest and be proficient in multiple social media platforms.

I remember crying, one night, thinking that I might as well forget the whole idea because how in the world was I going to do all this, and still work full-time and not neglect my two kids? But I decided to keep going, because we needed the extra income and, to be honest, I needed a creative outlet to keep my anxiety under control.

The other big struggle was figuring out my niche. I started 3 blogs in a short period of time, and none of them panned out. I didn’t find the topics interesting enough to keep my attention, let alone anyone else’s.

Meanwhile, I also happened to be nearing 50, and it had always been my goal to stop dyeing my hair at that age. Years of negative feedback from friends and stylists had pushed that idea to the back burner. But I suddenly got to the point where I couldn’t bear to waste any more time or money chasing my gray roots, especially since they started appearing within 1–2 days of dyeing. I also worried about the long-term health effects of hair dye.

In February of 2018, I dyed my hair for the last time. It wasn’t a conscious decision. Instead, I found that every time I contemplated dyeing my hair, I felt a sense of dread. Dyeing my hair took so much time, it irritated my scalp, and it was tedious. I kept putting it off. Finally, in April of 2018, I just couldn’t take it anymore and decided enough was enough, and that I was done with dyeing forever.

I announced my decision on social media, and a good friend of mine introduced me to the world of gray hair support groups on Facebook and Instagram. I spent hours looking at other women’s pictures and reading their stories…I became completely obsessed!

The one thing that I found frustrating was that there wasn’t a single website that had all the answers to my gray hair questions. Gray hair was usually just one of a number of topics on most sites, and the articles were often geared to much older women. And a lot of the information I found on the major websites was negative. It made gray hair sound like a problem to be solved. It was kind of depressing

So I decided to create a comprehensive website for women with gray hair that also showed the fun side of going gray! Gray hair doesn’t mean you’re old; we only think that because a huge majority of women in our culture dye their hair. If nobody dyed, you’d see women and men of all ages (some as young as 11!) sporting gray hair. Gray is just another shade of hair, and it can be very beautiful. You just have to change your mindset to see it.

Anyway, that’s how Katie Goes Platinum was born, in the summer of 2018, and it’s been going strong ever since.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Last year, a writer from Vogue Brazil reached out to me on Instagram to let me know that they were going to do a little feature on me. My jaw dropped. It seemed unfathomable to me that I’d be getting this kind of acknowledgment in my 50s. I had bought into the mindset that life was going to be somewhat dull and conventional as I got older, and that has certainly not been the case.

Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?

My blog took off very quickly. Within 3 months of launching, it was generating income. I think the lesson to be learned is to write about a topic that nobody else is fully covering and to come at it from a different angle. Also, even though we had very limited funds at the time, I put a lot of money into taking high-quality courses to learn everything I could about blogging, and affiliate marketing. You can’t get the high-value information for free; you really do have to pay for it.

In your experience what were the most effective ways for your business to generate leads and sales? Can you share a story or give an example?

I wish I could figure that out — I am not a great saleswoman yet, but I’m learning.

In my case, being honest and writing from my heart and not in a “slick” corporate fashion has generated income in the form of sponsored posts. Brands see me on Instagram and Facebook and they reach out to me to write about their products.

Sometimes, when I do influencer marketing for a brand, I’ll experience a moment of panic wondering why they would ask me — a 53-year old mother who has gained some weight and has some wrinkles — to advertise their beauty product. And then I’ll remember that people are tired of that corporate idea of perfection. They can relate more to a real person than a figurehead.

I actually turn down about 80% of the sponsored requests I receive, as I only promote products that I believe in. I’m generating enough income in other ways through the blog that I don’t have to compromise my ethics to make money, and that feels good.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’m lucky to have more than one person to thank for my success!

My Mom has always been my biggest cheerleader. She recognized an entrepreneurial spirit in me from a young age and has always actively encouraged it. She successfully managed my father’s chiropractic practice and has passed along her wealth of knowledge to me.

My sister is also super-supportive; she and her husband were my “angel investors” in the beginning. They gave me some seed money right when I started, so I didn’t have to struggle so much to pay for some of the items I needed to start my business. I couldn’t have done this without their support.

And, of course, my husband. He’s always there for me, and he has taken over the running of our household so I can concentrate on blogging. He is a great father, a fantastic companion, and he is one of my biggest fans. Blogging takes up a lot of my free time (since I still hold a full-time job), but he knows that I love it so he does everything he can to make sure I have the time and space I need to devote to it.

And finally, Tracie Fobes! Tracie is my blog coach, and I can say with certainty that I wouldn’t be where I am today without her guidance. I often come up with good ideas but have no idea how to monetize them, and Tracie shows me not only how to monetize them but also how to make them even more valuable for my reader.

For example, I used to have a page on my website that showcased gray-friendly salons. It was one of my most popular pages, but it generated no income and took a lot of work to maintain. Tracie convinced me to turn it into a paid directory and I’m so glad I did! It looks beautiful, it’s easy to maintain, and my readers find a lot of value in it.

Unfortunately, salons are hurting financially right now due to the pandemic, but it’s such a valuable resource for gray-haired women that I’m sure things will pick up once the pandemic is over and salons can invest in advertising again.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

I’ve only been blogging for two years, and nothing too funny happened at first. But recently, I was asked by a major brand to do a makeup video highlighting their products. I’m not entirely comfortable shooting video, and we live in a very small house, so when I do a video I am forced to kick my entire family out so I can set up my equipment and have complete silence.

The best light in the house is in my tiny bedroom. I set up my lights and my backdrops in there, and it was such a tight fit that I had to crawl on my hands and knees to get under the backdrop and into the space where I was going to shoot. I had to repeat this process several times, as I kept forgetting things that I needed for the shoot. By the time I was finally ready to shoot this makeup video, I was sweaty and disheveled. To top it off, I forgot to tell my family to take our pug with them, so the whole time I was shooting, you could hear him snoring in the background.

That was certainly not the glamorous shooting experience I had pictured ahead of time!

You have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?

Blogging is a long game. It’s hard to get your articles noticed when you are first starting out, so make sure to learn how to use Pinterest to your advantage right away. You also need to learn for long-term success.

If I was going to start blogging today and I didn’t know anything, I would join some Facebook blogging groups, such as the Blogger Education Network, and I’d ask successful bloggers which courses they recommend for newbies. You can’t do well in blogging quickly unless you’re willing to invest in your business right from the beginning.

And you also have to be prepared to invest your time. In the first year, I probably spent an extra 20–40 hours a week on my blog, which was difficult on top of my regular job. Now that I’ve got traction online, and have built up a loyal following, I’m able to invest less time.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you please share “Five Things Anyone Can Do To Have Fabulous Hair”. Please share a story or an example, for each.

The first thing I’d recommend is to find a great stylist. You want someone who is talented and keeps up with the latest trends. It also helps to find someone who is personable, as you’ll be spending a lot of time together and it can be awkward if you aren’t able to chat easily while you’re sitting in that salon chair.

It’s important that your stylist supports your choices. When I informed my (former) stylist that I was ready to go gray, she was very unsupportive and simply snapped at me, “You’ll look old.” For some reason, I kept going to her for a while even though she made me feel foolish for choosing not to dye. Don’t put yourself through that. Find a stylist who supports you, cheers you on, and gives you a great haircut.

It’s also helpful if your stylist can teach you how to take care of your own hair; not all of us are great at using hair tools, and it helps to get instruction from a competent hairdresser.

Secondly, don’t feel pressured to cut your hair short at a certain age. There used to be a dictum that women who were over 40 shouldn’t wear long hair. Ridiculous! Some of us have face shapes that look better with long hair than short — why would that change once we’re over 40? I think women of any age look the most beautiful when they feel comfortable with themselves, and that includes having a haircut that suits you and makes you feel great about yourself.

Limit the use of hot tools. Heat can be very damaging to hair, especially to gray hair, as it can cause yellowing and discoloration. A famous YouTuber damaged her gray hair and had to go back to dyeing after using a flat-iron and a product that reacted badly to heat. You don’t want to go through that. Instead, air-dry your hair as much as possible. If you must use hot tools (such as curling irons, flat irons, or blow-dryers), wrap your damp hair in a cotton t-shirt or microfiber towel for 15–20 minutes. Afterward, spray your hair with a heat protectant and use your hot tool on the lowest setting.

Do you have hard water? Invest in a water filter for your showerhead. I live in an area with very hard water and one day I noticed that my gray hair had taken on some caramel-colored hues. I pride myself on my bright silver hair, so I was a little dismayed. My fellow “silver sisters” recommended an AquaBliss water filter for my showerhead, and it has not only helped my hair stay bright, but it has also reduced product build-up for my entire family!

Finally, clarify and deep condition once a week. Clarifying removes product build-up from your hair and makes it feel squeaky clean. But it can be very drying, so it’s best to follow it up with a deep conditioner. Once a week, I clarify my hair with Neutrogena Anti-Residue Clarifying Shampoo, and after I rinse it out, I use Joico K-Pak Intense Hydrator Treatment. I leave the Intense Hydrator on for anywhere from 5–30 minutes before my final rinse. My hair feels fantastic for days afterward.

Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Stop obsessing about looking younger. Our society teaches women to hide their true age and to feel ashamed of it. Once you stop trying to hide your age and instead feel grateful for every day that you’re alive on this Earth, it takes a burden off of you. Releasing that burden will make you feel more joyful and exuberant than you have in years. That joy and exuberance translates itself into physical beauty.. Feeling ashamed of your age weighs you down mentally and (I believe) physically.

2. Eat healthier, hydrate, and get some sleep! People are probably tired of hearing this, but you are what you eat. If you are stuffing yourself full of fast-food, sugary treats, and other processed items, you will feel sluggish. It will affect your energy levels and the quality of your sleep. You won’t feel beautiful; you’ll just feel blah. But if you start eating right, drinking more water, and sleeping better, you’ll feel beautiful and have a higher quality of life.

3. Do things that make you happy. My friend Janice is one of the most beautiful women that I know and she’s also one of the happiest. Why? She surrounds herself with beauty, she immerses herself in activities that she enjoys, and she finds pleasure in every interaction. She spreads joy and it radiates out of her, which makes her even more beautiful than she already is!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could inspire a movement, it would be to get women to accept themselves at any age despite the relentless pressure from our culture and from the media to believe that aging is bad. Every day that we are on this planet, with our loved ones, is a good day. Fretting over wrinkles and gray hair — what does that accomplish? There is so much on this planet to enjoy — so much to learn, so much to teach, so many amazing people to talk to, why waste one more second worrying about getting older? Let’s not waste the remaining years of our lives fretting about our looks.

And yes, I know that’s easier said than done — I struggle with it every day.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite quote is “Mother Nature knows what she’s doing.” My friend Joli Campbell introduced me to the concept when I (and others) fretted about whether our gray hair would look good with our complexions. And Joli was right — those dark dyes I put on my hair all those years aged me, and made my skin look dull. Once I stopped dyeing and let Mother Nature take over, my naturally silver hair made my complexion glow… my thinning hair started to thicken again, and my once dull and frizzy hair became smooth and shiny!

And that quote has also helped me in other ways. I’ve learned to stop saying, “What if…” all the time and trust my instincts and Mother Nature/God more often.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂

I’d love to meet Jen Sincero, and let her know how much her Badass book influenced me. It turned my life around at a time when I was feeling quite hopeless. It’s pretty amazing how the right words at the right time can change the course of your life!

How can our readers follow you online?

The best place to start is my blog,KatieGoesPlatinum.com, where I share all of my gray hair tips & tricks.

I’m also super social, and can be found on the following platforms:

Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/katiegoesplatinum)

YouTube (https://www.youtube.com/c/katiegoesplatinum)

Pinterest: (https://www.pinterest.com/katiegoesplatinum)

Facebook (www.facebook.com/katiegoesplatinum)

Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!

You’re welcome, and thank YOU for having me!

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