C A R E E R C R U S H
L E X Y W A R D , T H E P R O P E R B L O G
If I had to choose four job titles, Prop Stylist, Party Enthusiast, Blogger, and Craft Boss would definitely be at the top of my list! In fact, I would trade my one title for all four!
Lexy Ward, founder of The Proper Blog, lives those titles (and everything that comes with them) day in and day out. Throw in “mom” and “wife,” and, well…to say she’s a hard-worker would be an understatement. Dedicated and down-right-awesome are two other ways to describe her, as you’ll see from her responses below. Shortly after a major move, with an 18-month-old daughter and a blog that doesn’t skip a beat, she took the time to answer my ever-so-curious questions on how she achieved those four great titles and continues to creatively thrive.
. . . . . . . . . .
Take me back – how did you get into styling? Was it something that you’ve always had a passion for?
You know, I’ve always been a little OCD about how everything looked. Whether it is for photos, or my home, or office, or my wallet (I’m not even joking. Everything is meticulous.), I just want things to be aesthetically pleasing. I didn’t really start doing it full-time until I had been blogging for about two years. I just kept receiving more inquiries from brands and companies asking me to style photos around their product, and it just sort of took on a life of its own!
Is prop styling something you went to school for? If not, what were your career plans before you decided to go this route?
I didn’t go to school for it, but I interned with a wedding planner and have amazing friends who work as professional prop stylists and just kind of learned from working with them and then honed my own aesthetic. My career plans were this: “Be the next Martha, okay, Lexy?” That was my second choice after I realized a career as a professional bass fishermen wasn’t going to pan out.
In addition to being a prop stylist, you’re a party enthusiast and craft boss – best titles ever! How would you describe your job on a day-to-day basis?
Oh heavens! It’s all over the place. I work from home and have an 18-month-old daughter who is non-stop. I have a backbone of what each day looks like, but I move things around to cater to her so that I can be as present and in-the-moment as possible. I usually make and shoot projects during the day when the light is natural, ideal, and available. And then I tend to the administrative side of things when my daughter is in bed at night.
While your job must be so much fun, you wouldn’t have such success without a lot of hard work. What would you say has been the biggest challenge in launching The Proper Blog?
Staying driven! Working from home is both a blessing and a trap. I have to make sure that I’m focused on my goals for PROPER and that I can meet them realistically. Even thought I’m no longer working in an office with a boss to hold me accountable, I don’t let that stop me from making this more than a 9-5 job.
What has been the biggest reward?
For me, it’s the connections that I’ve made. I feel so lucky to have my work featured both on and offline by large publications I’ve always admired. Some of my best friends have come from this job. While we only see each other in person a few times a year, we chat daily and have seen each other through pregnancies, weddings, divorces, and all the big and little triumphs of life. And we all work the same way so it’s refreshing to be able to have friends who truly know what your life is like.
Your blog and your work inspires so many others (such as myself), but who or what inspires you?
Thank you so much! It’s always a surreal feeling when I see and read comments from others about my work. I will always be inspired by Chelsea Fuss of Frolic!. I have had a girl crush on her and everything she does for years. I also like to be outside as much as possible. I try to surround myself with happy flowers, happy food, and happy friends doing happy things. I like to flip through vintage magazines to see what was inspiring back then. I try to imagine ways to modernize those trends.
Do you ever struggle with the need to be constantly creative? If so, how do you get yourself out of a creative rut?
Oh gosh, yes! So much knowledge and information is at our fingertips thanks to social media. It’s hard to be creative and original 100% of the time, but I am trying my hardest to make what works for me work for me. If I find I’m stuck in a rut, I just quit what I’m doing and do something else. The best (and usually last-minute!) ideas come when you’re not thinking about them.
What advice would you give someone that wants to turn their passion into a career, but they don’t know where to start?
I think building an online portfolio is a great place to start. If you can’t justify charging for your work just yet, figure out a trade with someone in the same field. With everything be online these days, photography is very important – at least in my line of work! Beautiful photos speak for themselves, so find a way to improve yours by either hiring a photographer or learning the craft yourself. I take a lot of my own photos for my blog and I’m learning something new ALL the time.
Lastly, as a party enthusiast, what are your top 3 tips to throwing a good party?
Oh man. I would say that food is my #1 priority. Even if everything else fails, if the food was good, that’s all the guests remember.
#2 – Cohesion. Make sure everything works. It doesn’t have to be a ridiculously over-the-top theme, but just have a general idea of what you want to do.
And my #3 – Find a way to make a memory! Have disposable cameras floating around. Or have someone illustrate your guests. Send pals home with something to remember that experience with. I am a hoarder and save all my non-perishable party and wedding favors. They eventually get used as props! 🙂
. . . . . . . . . .
I’ve read this interview over and over again simply to re-inspire myself and to ensure that I didn’t miss one bit of advice. When you visit The Proper Blog – whether on the blog directly, on Instagram, or on Facebook – those “meticulous” habits Lexy mentions are evident in the beautiful quality of her work (which is also bright, vibrant, and happy – a reflection of her personality, from what I can tell). Below are the key things that I’ve take away from my email interview with her.
– Be meticulous: Work until the quality of your content is up to YOUR standards. I often feel like I’m being too picky about a photo or a blog post, but I realize that there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, the “pickier” I am about my work, the higher I set my standards, and the quality of my work will continue to get better. Don’t criticize yourself – just do your best, and be happy with it.
– Prioritize and organize: We are all busy! However, if you really love what you do and want to succeed at it, you’ll find a way to make it work. Organize times when you can focus on a project, tend to personal needs, and manage the administrative duties of your business. Each day may be different depending on appointments or meetings, so take each day as they come. Prioritize each morning before setting out to tackle the day, and be willing to be flexible.
– Be accountable: When you’re your own boss, you’re the only one that can hold you to your own deadlines, so do it! The success of your business depends on it.
– Be yourself: Lexy didn’t specifically address this, but I can tell that her brand is built very much around her personal characteristics and likes. What you create or do in your day to day should be a reflection of who you are and what you love, not what you think others will like or respond to. Your work will be better (and way more fun to create) when it genuinely comes from you.
Thank you, Lexy! Now off to implement those party tips!