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Creative Crushin': How a Love of Trapper Keeper Collages Inspired This Creative to Start Glitter Guide

How a Love of Trapper Keeper Collages Inspired This Creative to Start Glitter Guide

Femininity, a little rock and roll edge, and *flashes of delight* are three things that come to mind when I think about the popular blog Glitter Guide and its Bay Area-based founder Taylor Sterling.

Anjelika Temple here, Founding Partner and Chief Creative Officer of Brit + Co. And fangirl-turned-friend of today's creative crush. For me, Glitter Guide has been a treasure trove of inspiration for just under a decade — since 2011 when we started Brit + Co, in fact! So when I finally met Sterling at an event for creative mamas, we instantly connected. After being serendipitously seated next to each other at said lunch, we ended up sharing the stage on a Create & Cultivate panel a few months later, and have been IRL internet buddies ever since ;) I’m so thrilled to be able to share her story with you — complete with unpaid internships, doing marketing for a physical therapist, getting laid off, and ultimately starting Glitter Guide alongside her personal brand.

Brit + Co: First off, tell us a little more about your background. Where did you grow up? What did you study? Family life, etc.

Taylor Sterling: I’m from the Bay Area of California. Born and raised. I went to college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and studied communications. It’s one of those majors you get and you’re like, okay, so now what do I do? Looking back, it was a smart move for me though. It taught me a lot about people and public speaking (although that’s still pretty terrifying!).

B+C: Before you founded Glitter Guide, what did your career path look like?

TS: Do you have all day? I mean, I did a little of everything. I always loved fashion and pop culture, but I never understood how I could turn it into a career in the Bay Area back in the mid-2000s. I was a fashion intern for Women’s Wear Daily in Los Angeles in college. It was my dream internship. I remember I was paying to live in a dining room converted into a room with UCLA students and interning for free four days a week for that summer, and I thought it was the greatest thing ever! However, after college and moving back home I didn’t know what to do. So I did all kinds of things. I did management and recruitment for retail, I did marketing for a physical therapist (ya, I don’t even know what that means), and I was head of recruiting for a financial services firm. That’s when I started my first blog, Sterling Style. It was a mix of style blogging, lifestyle, and inspiration. This was back in 2009. I really enjoyed doing that but wasn’t sure how to turn that into a lifelong career. That’s when I started thinking about Glitter Guide. I wasn’t sure how to balance my full-time job, Sterling Style, and Glitter Guide, but I eventually got laid off and it was one of those pivotal moments in your life where you realize this terrible thing is a blessing in disguise. I launched Glitter Guide about six months later in 2011.

B+C: Tell me the origin story! How did Glitter Guide begin?

TS: I was knee-deep in the world of personal style blogging. It wasn’t something I had set out to do when I started my blog, but in 2009, it was really becoming a big thing and I was having fun playing with it. However, I was older than a lot of the other girls doing it (27 at the time) and I didn’t feel super comfortable with it and my boyfriend (now husband) wasn’t an Instagram Boyfriend as they call them now. I just couldn’t see the longevity in it for me. So I kept asking myself what I would want to do that I could see myself doing at any age, and that was creating an online magazine. At the time, Who What Wear was growing quickly, and I loved Splendora and Daily Candy (RIP to them both!) and I wanted to make a lifestyle site that was in that style. Something more editorial, but I also wanted Glitter Guide to also be casual, like your best friend was talking to you. That’s how we still feel about it today.

B+C: What led you to go out on your own? When did you realize your side hustle could be your main hustle?

TS: I had been working on Sterling Style for a couple years and had landed sponsors for the blog. Once I realized I could monetize the site, I started networking with as many people in the industry as I could. I was making some money, but not enough to quit my job. What was nice was I didn’t start my blog with any intention of making money. That came as a surprise. I have mad respect for people starting a blog now with how saturated and competitive it is. Back then it was a different ballgame. Once I realized I wanted Glitter Guide to be my career, I knew I would have to find a way for it to make enough money for us to survive in the very expensive Silicon Valley. Thankfully, I had unemployment for a few months while I made that transition.

B+C: Given your role, it’s clear that you play the part of writer, photographer, curator, designer. What’s your favorite piece of the puzzle to work on?

TS: It’s funny because my title is Creative Director, but like most founders, I’m doing a little of everything. I used to do a lot of everything and I was extremely overwhelmed, but I’ve gotten better at delegating. I know my strengths and weaknesses. I’m best at being a compass for the brand. Especially with our creative direction, marketing, and the things we’re putting out into the world. My strength is in visuals. My favorite thing to do for any project is really in the inception of the idea. So coming up with the idea, then making the mood board, picking the colors, the soundtrack, the feel, the marketing, the packaging, etc. That’s my jam!

B+C: What inspires you to create, curate, and share your unique point of view with the world?

TS: I’ve alway been someone who liked to share things I found cool and interesting. I remember my dad telling me in middle school, “if you can find a job in making collages, you’ll be set!” I was always making mood boards. You know the binders with the clear folder in the front? I was always creating my mood boards in them in high school. I took great pride in how they looked. My 17th birthday party invitation was a collage of all these '90s fashion models. It was kind of weird, but I was just so into all of it. I guess I’ve always been really into showcasing what I find awesome, whether people like it or not. Once I discovered blogs, it was a no-brainer for me. I had to have one.

B+C: Who makes up the Glitter Guide team? What tips can you share for working with a team who’s scattered all over the country?

TS: We are a tiny but mighty team! Currently, we have five girls: myself, our business manager, graphic designer, copy editor, and an editorial assistant. We also have a few contributing writers and photographers we work with often. Typically we have a someone doing social media too, but right now we’re really trying to re-evaluate all our social so my biz manager and I have taken that on. We’ve also taken on the bulk of the editorial and planning. Most of us on the team aren’t in the same city and some in a different state. I find it to be super challenging at times. Since we started using Asana and Slack daily as a team, things have gotten a lot easier in terms of communication, accountability, and organization. I also try to do fun things when I can with the team so we can connect since we don’t get that office time!

B+C: How do you decide what to pursue and what to say no to? What advice can you give to folks who are navigating yeses + nos with regard to their personal brand?

TS: It can be challenging when you have bills and mouths to feed, but you always have to stick with your gut. If something feels off or like it compromises you and your brand, don’t do it. Mistakes will happen, and that is actually a good thing. That’s how you learn. You also need to have a super clear outline of what your brand is about. What do you value and want the world to see you as? If a deal comes up that doesn’t match that, don’t do it.

B+C: Now, for some feels. How has motherhood changed your approach to your work? Any tips on balancing all the things?

TS: Balance is a unicorn. It doesn’t exist. I really struggled with this with my first child. Not only was I navigating life as a new mom, but I was also trying to navigate running a small business as a new mom. I made mistakes on both ends. Now with two, I realize that there is a lot more to life than work and while it is a passion of mine and I love my job so much, I don’t love it more than my kids. So, I set boundaries on my work hours, when I respond to work-related things, how often I travel, etc. I no longer have alerts for things on my phone. They can wait. If they can’t, it’s probably for the best. Don’t get me wrong — there are still times I struggle, but I realized this year that I started my business so I could have time to drop off my kids, or take Fridays off, and if someone else doesn’t agree with my work ethic, then they can work with someone else. That sounds harsh, but I had to stop trying to please everyone.

B+C: I know that sometimes being a founder can feel like an island. What does your support system look like? Do you have mentors, community groups, etc. that help you thrive?

TS: Totally! My network is everything to me. My family is everything, my mama friends help me stay sane and my community of industry friends are an outlet. I believe that making connections with people is what it’s all about! I know quite a few Bay Area ladies who started in the industry around the same time as I did, and it’s been great to grow together over the years. It’s a really supportive group.

B+C: On that note, who are some other badass babes our readers should know about?

TS: @EmTheGem, @DrCassidy, @Bjonesstyle, and @heathertaylorhome.

Favorite Quote: “Comparison is the thief of joy.” - Theodore Roosevelt

“To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.”- Elbert Hubbard

Trivia About You: I can pick up things with my toes. They are like an extra set of hands.

Go-to Karaoke Song: I’ve never actually done proper karaoke, but it would by anything by ABBA.

Favorite Art Tool: Pair of scissors and glue. And a good highlighter.

Late Night Snack: Any form of cereal. Cereal tastes better at night.

Currently Reading: In Paris: 20 Women on Life in the City of Light by Jeanne Damas and Lauren Bastide

B+C: What advice do you have for creative women just starting out? What do you wish someone told you back when you started Glitter Guide?

TS: That things take time. There is so much pressure to be the most followed, the most liked, the most successful. I don’t really want to buy into that. Social media can put so much pressure on that now. When I start to feel overwhelmed, I get back to the roots of what I’m doing. Why do I love it? What do I want to convey? It may not be the most popular thing of the moment, it may not sell out, it may not get a ton of likes, but if I stay consistent and keep working hard, things will come my way!

B+C: Back to that work/life balance thing, when you’re feeling burnt out, how do you reset?

TS: Take a day off or simply go on a walk. It always helps.

B+C: I know you’ve got about a dozen collabs up your sleeve. What’s new and coming soon that we should all check out?

TS: Thanks! It’s really exciting! I’m coming full-circle and just launched a personal site: It started off as a place to showcase product development, photo shoots, and inspiration, but it’s slowly turned into a wonderful hub that looks at creativity through the lens of different inspiring women I admire. Stay tuned!

I also have super fun wallpapers launching with Lulu & Georgia soon, a special piece of jewelry with my girl Ariel Gordon Jewelry that launched last week, holiday label designs with Tubby Todd, and a few more I can’t divulge just yet!

To stay up to date on all things Taylor, follow her at @taylorsterling and follow all things delightful at @glitterguide. For more creative inspiration, check out our entire Creative Crushin' series and get ready to swoon.

Author: Anjelika Temple (Photography via Taylor Sterling)