Style Bee - Thoughts On Gifted Goods

Thoughts On Gifted Goods

11.16.16

Today we’re talking a bit about how a creative passion can lead to a small business and how the two intersect, specifically when it comes to personal style and free product. It’s a lengthy fella, so grab a coffee and a comfy seat for this one.

Truthfully, when I started getting into fashion blogs, about 6 years ago now, I just took for granted that these women must all be independently wealthy (or have rich spouses). I hadn’t yet clued in to the fact that for the most part the products and in many ways the lifestyle they were promoting was given, if not also paid for by the brands behind them. I didn’t even know what ‘c/o’ meant (it means courtesy of or provided by) and it wasn’t until advertising and endorsement disclosure laws were enforced that I became more aware of the realities of blogging as a business.

Now, I still work full-time in addition to creating for Style Bee, so I’m not yet relying on my blog for full financial support. This puts me in a unique position as I work towards a goal of blogging full-time one day. As such I’m trying to be thoughtful and seek out ways in which I can differentiate myself and make Style Bee a space for great style, that is both inspiring and honest.

Style Bee - Thoughts On Gifted Goods

It’s not uncommon nowadays to see popular blogs (and even new ones) posting paid features back to back to back (I know, I’m guilty of this myself!) and Instagram seems to have taken things to a whole other level. Fashion blogs/influencers are pretty notorious but I’ve seen this taking hold of many food, decor and lifestyle blogs too. Naturally, it makes us as readers and followers wonder, ‘What do they really believe?’. Of course, there are lots of authentic partnerships that make total sense and I love to see that, but all too often it’s some random, unrelated product that sticks out like a sore thumb or simply one sponsorship after the next indefinitely. I don’t know about you but I find myself wondering, was the paycheck really worth diluting your creative integrity? I don’t know, I’m asking! Plus, I get it, a gal’s gotta eat! 

Now, I’ll gladly say that I’m not opposed to free product, sponsored posts or brand partnerships, in moderation. I can also totally see the value in it from a brand’s perspective. They get to have a ‘real’ person promote their product, to a highly targeted audience, in a fairly measurable way, for costs that ring in far less than conventional marketing budgets. In fact, in today’s post I’m wearing a sweater that was sent to me by Everlane, a brand I occasionally receive gifted items from and who I’ve been a long time supporter of.

That said, since taking some time off from collaborations, I’ve had a chance to regain perspective on my relationship with brands and more importantly my responsibilities as an ‘influencer’ (not my favourite term!) in this ever evolving day and age of multi-media marketing. Since this is not a topic addressed very often by bloggers themselves, I figured I might as well take a stab at demystifying it a little and share some candid thoughts on how it’s affected me and my little blog Style Bee.

Which brings me to some initial thoughts on the following: 

  1. 4 ways in which my style and blog have benefitted from ‘gifted goods’.
  2. 4 ways in which ‘gifted goods’ have had a not so positive influence on my style and blog.
  3. What I’m beginning to see as the best path forward.

So let’s discuss! 


Style Bee - Thoughts On Gifted Goods
4 ways in which my style and blog have benefitted from free product.

1 | PERSONAL STYLE EXPLORATION

Gifted products, whether it’s clothing, accessories, beauty products or something else have been a significant avenue for me to explore my personal style. There are many items I may never have purchased or even thought to add to my life that have made significant and positive influences on my style and helped me arrive at my current a point of closet contentment. If you’ve been reading Style Bee for long, you probably know that ‘contentment’ is an underlying theme throughout all I do here.

I’ve been able to test out both new and trusted brands, styles, fabrics, a few trends and a lot of other ‘fashion’ elements that have not only been quite useful, but a ton of fun to experiment with. This has also given me the chance to be a guinea pig of sorts for my audience to show how things fit and share why I chose them.

I can say definitively that without many of my brand collabs, my personal style would be neither as refined or as unique as I feel it is now. But there’s a flipside to that, which I’ll elaborate on later.

2 | VALIDATION

I think this is both a) an internal and b) an external factor for sure.

A) Meaning that having certain brands interested in working with me has reaffirmed that the work I put into Style Bee (which is a lot) has not gone unnoticed and that it is of a certain caliber worth investing in. When popular brands have shown interest in me it’s like a little pat on the back that says keep up the great work, which is in it’s own way, highly motivating.

B) I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked ‘What brands have you worked with?’ at social gatherings and even though I hate the question, it’s nice to be able to spout out a few names that get a positive response. It’s also great to receive congratulations or such sentiments from friends and readers after announcing a new partnership etc. But this external validation factor is one I’m beginning to rely less and less on.

3 | CREATIVE COLLABORATION

There are A LOT of incredible designers, craftspeople and brands out there and getting the word out is no easy task. This blog has afforded me the opportunity to work with and give exposure to some very worthy creative spirits that might have otherwise been unable to reach potentially loyal customers in this unique and authentic way.

Through these partnerships, whether it is simply gifted goods, a collaborative product launch or a paid sponsorship I’ve made very meaningful connections with many women running small business, who I truly admire and feel honoured to support and work with. In all honesty, this is one element of the blog that I’ve begun to miss a bit more than I expected during the last month or so.

Circling back to how free product has been a plus in this context, the fact of the matter is that I wouldn’t be able to personally buy all the items I’ve had the pleasure of styling and sharing. Nor would I be able to support every responsible brand or small business I’ve been able to through this blog. Many of the pieces I’ve acquired through collabs have become personal favourites that I use repeatedly, so I don’t believe it’s false advertising or that the integrity of the product has been compromised, in fact I feel the opposite! I do think the frequency at which these items are added to my life needs to be monitored and made as deliberately and thoughtfully as possible.

4 | FINANCIALLY

This one is plain and simple. Collaborations, free product and paid features have had a positive fiscal influence on my blog. They’ve not only inspired a lot of content but allowed me to invest in Style Bee in many ways such as a better blog design and user experience (new look coming in 2017!), new camera equipment, software, professional photography and products that I’m excited to share. I think this is also where the line becomes a little blurry in that I need an income to create the content I want to but in turn, that income comes at the cost of creating content not just for me, but for brands. This is a line I’m working towards defining more and more.


Style Bee - Thoughts On Gifted Goods
4 ways in which free product has had a not so positive influence on my style and blog.

Maybe this is a given but I’d like to preface the following with the fact that I feel very fortunate to have had opportunities to work with so many great brands and designers. The point here is not at all about undermining the trust and confidence they’ve put in my work nor is it meant to seem as though I take any of it for granted. So not the case. I just feel that it’s important to acknowledge some of the often unspoken growing pains, if you will, of building a style blog into a business. A few of which are:

1 | DILUTION 

Free product, no matter how responsibly made, beautifully designed or sought after it may be, still has a mildly diluting effect on my personal style and blog content. Certainly not in all cases but in the grand scheme of things it has led to some concessions. I think it has had a particularly palpable impact on me because I truly believe in this whole lean closet idea. If I was OK with having tons of stuff and multiples of everything then it probably wouldn’t feel like such a compromise. But because I want less, and believe that it’s the best course for style satisfaction I have occasionally accepted product in place of the item I’d otherwise really want or feel truly fits my personal style 100%.

2 | SKEPTICISM

Readers don’t always know what to believe. I hate the idea of someone looking at my blog and thinking, ‘Oh she only said that because she was paid to.’ or ‘She’d never actually buy that.‘ because I honestly strive to never feature products I don’t believe in. But I know I think it ALL THE TIME when I’m scrolling through instagram or perusing my occasional blog haunts and even though the content may look awesome, I somehow feel emptier after consuming it.

Alternatively, blogs like UnFancy, Reading My Tea Leaves, Wit & Delight and Good Bones leave me feeling refreshed and inspired to pursue my own creative endeavors, not to try living up to fabricated ideas of what my life should look like. That’s what I want Style Bee to leave people feeling too.

3 | LESS TIME FOR PERSONAL CONTENT

I strive to do an exceptionally good job on every project and honestly, if I hear anything less than, ‘That was the best blog collaboration experience we’ve ever had!‘ I feel like I’ve fallen short. I pour my all into my partnerships and do my best to ensure the content they’ve paid for (in one way or another) is going to deliver. Churning out too many collaborations at a time takes a lot out of me, creatively and physically (remember this all happens on nights and weekends), which has left me, on more than a few occasions, too drained to muster the inspiration and drive to create my own personal content. Perhaps this is the story of anyone trying to forge their own path!

4 | PRESSURE TO POST FOR COMMISSION

It’s certainly no secret that a major avenue of income, for fashion bloggers particularly, is affiliate commission. For example, in today’s post I can make a small percentage of commission on the sales of all the products I’m wearing. The more readers I have, the more people will shop, the more money I stand to make. I absolutely think that bloggers are entitled to a sales commission on the products they feature. It takes a TON of time to build up a readership that will even translate to any sales at all not to mention the work and effort that goes into every post. So to me, if the product is something I truly believe in, then it’s entirely justified. Emphasis on IF.

Where it gets a bit tricky is when I’m feeling like I need to include something just to earn commission or if I’m reluctant to buy it because I can’t make commission on it. For example, it’s basically impossible to make commission on anything vintage!

To balance that out I like to include product options when I can, especially if something is no longer available (vintage) and I make a point to only link to responsibly made goods (unless the product is old and still available, ie: these jeans). So at least that’s a way in which I feel I’ve added value to a post, through affiliate links, so everyone wins.


 Style Bee - Thoughts On Gifted Goods

The Best Path Forward

With all those things considered, I’m currently evaluating the way I want my blog business to look and how I can best marry the creative passion with the professional elements. I definitely don’t have all the answers, nor do I think I ever will but regaining this perspective has been a very worthwhile exercise. So here’s a few things I’ll have in mind, moving forward:

1 | POST FROM THE HEART 

I know this one is obvious (and super cheesy) but it’s all too easy to get caught up in the snowball effect of running a blog as a business. You can lose sight of what you started the whole thing for especially when the opportunities are rolling in and you’re just trying to keep up!

So whenever I’m brainstorming new posts (sponsored or not) I’m going to do my best to ask myself, ‘Why does this matter to me?’ because if I have a valid reason, there is a good chance someone else will appreciate it too.

2 | FEWER COLLABS/GIFTED ITEMS IN MORE MEANINGFUL WAYS

I have every intention of continuing to collaborate with select designers that I love and who resonate with my Lean Closet Mission and mindset. Many of you have mentioned how you’ve discovered some of your favourite brands through Style Bee and I love to hear that!

It always so rewarding to know that a post has resonated with someone, whether it’s a personal one or a sponsored one. With this in mind I’ll be limiting my collabs to only a couple a month in 2017. This will hopefully leave me more time/energy for Closet Mission and personal style posts, which are my favourite to develop.

3 | CONTINUED FULL DISCLOSURE

I always make a note when a post has been sponsored and will continue to do so. Some blogs make a big deal about it up front but I don’t like that, so I’ll just continue to note whether it’s sponsored or not at the end of each post.

4 | GUT CHECK

I learned this one from Caroline Joy Rector, of UnFancy, and it’s become my go-to method for deciding if something feels right, whether it’s a collab, an outfit or just an idea. It’s hard to do but by momentarily ignoring the dollar signs or the prestige of an offer and trusting my intuition I can make a very quick decision about whether something is the best fit and not just a good fit or a cool opportunity. It isn’t always easy and I’m sure a misstep or a few are bound to occur but trusting my gut has rarely failed me before.


Style Bee - Thoughts On Gifted Goods

So that’s my take on gifted goods/collabs/partnerships and how they’ve impacted my personal style, blog and lean closet living. Maybe I’m reading into things way too much or maybe I should just shut up and be thankful anyone even wants to work with me, but my gut tells me there is something bigger in the works here. Perhaps the industry is shifting, or maybe it’s just my point of view that’s changing.

I’d love to know your take on this topic:
  1. – What do you think when you see that a post (on a blog or social media) has been sponsored?
  2. – Is this type of ‘influencer marketing’ sustainable or fleeting?
  3. – Does it propagate the mindset that overconsumption is OK?
  4. – Are you more or less likely to buy something that an influencer was given for free?
Feel free to chime in below with your thoughts if you care to!

Cashmere Square Turtleneck – c/o Everlane ($155 USD) – I’m wearing a size M but I would recommend you take your normal size as it is a bit oversize by design. Lighter weight option here ($88 USD) and here ($140).

Perfect Summer JeanMadewell ($115 USD) – Almost identical but made responsibly in the USA here ($210 USD) and here ($258 USD has knee rips). Wearing a 25 instead of my usual 26 in Madewell denim.

Mars BootsRachel Comey ($426 USD)- Responsibly made in Peru. Take your normal size. Very similar made responsibly for less by Fortress  of Inca ($240 USD).

Eloise BagThe Stowe ($375 USD) – Handmade in Montreal! Personal favourite.



This post is not sponsored but contains affiliate links. When you shop via the links above I may make a small commission from a sale. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Style Bee! All opinions are always my own.

Leave me a comment here!

  1. Zara says:

    Great post! I dig the openness about your blogging/styling journey.

    I think it’s awesome that bloggers can support themselves by writing about topics that they’re passionate about – power to them. However, I think that they need to be very transparent, honest, and work to maintain the integrity/original spirit of their site when they are monetized.

    I’ve stopped reading several blogs because of back-to-back sponsored posts, sneaky affiliate links, or the sense that they’re generating posts for the sake of jamming in sponsor content. (Interesting that you mentioned Reading My Tea Leaves, as that’s a blog I’ve ditched for those reasons).

    Anyway, my two cents. Wishing you the best of luck and continued success!

  2. Whitney says:

    Hi, Lee!
    I want to say that I think you’re so pretty. 🙂
    Also, as far as blog sponsorship goes, ‘my feelings are split. On one hand, I know these posts take a lot of time and energy to create, and we don’t pay to read them, so someone should be compensating you for your time if you are creating beautiful content that is resonating with an audience. I think it makes sense for the fashion industry to be providing that compensation, just as it would if you were working in advertising or marketing.
    On the other hand, I kind of wonder if all of the sponsored posts are slowly killing the blogging industry, or at least changing it into something it wasn’t meant to be. After all, didn’t we all start reading blogs because they were honest thoughts from real people, rather than advertisers? But now it’s easy to feel as though blogs have become just another cog in the marketing machine. Fashion and style blogs (and interiors) for the most part have been replaced by shopping blogs. It’s beautiful to look at, but is there really any substance there?
    I read blogs like yours and Unfancy because it’s more than just lovely photography of beautiful outfits. I read them for the kind of thoughtfulness, introspection, and honesty that you shared in this post. Keep up the good work, I think your desire for balance with regard to sponsorship sounds like a wise path forward.

  3. Eva says:

    I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to address an awkward issue amongst bloggers and youtubers. In general, I approach sponsored posts with a dose of skepticism but also with an open mind depending on the content creator and the partner. I’ve found some of my go-to brands through sponsored posts/collaborations (Tradlands from whom I’ve bought all my favorite button-ups and the jewlery brand Young Frankk – though I actually discovered them through the site ofakind.com which features emerging designers) and often utilize blogs as a way of vetting certain products (like Everlane, especially as they don’t have customer reviews on their site). Recurring use of sponsored items also lets me know that the appreciation of a product is real or helps judge if an item will hold up over the test of time (“Oh those cute pants you raved about had a freak accident? HMMMMM”)

    Whether sponsorship affects anyone’s buying habits also depends on their appetite for shopping in general. I’ve been able to cut down on a lot of purchases and shop more thoughtfully by only buying (and more importantly, keeping) items I truly love. If I’m ambivalent in any way, it goes back.

    I also wanted to complement you on the depth of your posts. A lot of blogs are mostly photography with only a sentence or two of text, which can look pretty but comes across as a little vapid. The time you take to talk about the individual items, how you’ve put them together, and the details that make them special for you, are really what allows this blog to shine and a pleasure to read. Keep it up!

  4. Martine says:

    I have never read such an honest post regarding gifted items and how a blogger deals with that.
    I appreciate it very much.
    You are the only fashion blogger I follow because of the way you handle your blog and the gifted items that you write about.
    I got so tired with all these fashion bloggers who show up in different outfits every day, shouting out loud the name of the brand.
    I got the feeling it was all about the outfit nothing more.
    No thoughts about ethical issues or sustainability, quality….just all about brand.
    So boring!
    You feel authentic when I read your blog and you have inspired me a lot.
    Some clothes that I cann’t buy here I have them made by a couturière and that works out great.
    Thanks to you!
    You also need to pay your bills in the end of the monthe so the concept of gifted items and affiliated links I understand.
    It’s the way the blogger deals with it, that makes the difference.
    You think about it all the time so it’s not at all enoying me.
    You don’t consider the readers as just good to buy, but you protect the integrity of your blog.
    And that’s why I keep coming back.

  5. Sarah says:

    I think your blog and content are beautiful! Collaborations mostly make me jealous, because you are given beautiful clothes. There’s also a little bit of frustration to go on and read about the value of sustainably made clothes vs. cheap, fast fashion. It’s like, “Easy for her to say! She was just ‘gifted’ a $300 sweater!”

    I really do think you deserve to get both payment for your work and nice, free things, though. This blog must be hard work, and I love reading the content at no cost!

  6. Jane says:

    Thank you so much for addressing this important issue! I wonder why we never consider simply paying makers and artists for content anymore? I would happily pay a subscription fee to a blog like yours and support the blogger’s hard work directly if it freed that person from reliance on advertising. Thanks for all of your work!

  7. So appreciate this post, Lee! I am absolutely more likely to consider purchasing something you wear and talk about here – but that’s because it resonates with my current style and intended direction with style. Also with my practice of keeping a lean, tailored-to-me closet.

    Another blogger I follow because I find her funny and adore her spunk does sponsored clothing posts once a week featuring things I’d NEVER buy – because they totally don’t resonate with me and are very fast, cheap fashion. I still enjoy reading the posts, but that has nothing to do with the clothes. We just have totally different tastes.

    Other bloggers (including minimalist/slow fashion ones with compelling pictures) who do one sponsored post after the next without, well, quality content, turn me off – even if I like the clothes.

    Anyway, you and Caroline over at Unfancy and Erin at RMTL are my three favourites. So far as I’m concerned, you’re doing everything perfect! Thank you!

  8. Kat says:

    – What do you think when you see that a post (on a blog or social media) has been sponsored?
    “Ughhh”- Sometimes. I’ve seen fashion bloggers advertising ice cream or cleaning supplies and that’s just puke, but when it’s something true to their style and there is a “c/o” I don’t mind or even notice. It’s when they’re pushy, like this is the best thing ever!! Then you never see it again, that’s annoying.
    – Does it propagate the mindset that overconsumption is OK?
    Absolutely. Seeing bloggers with hundreds of pairs of shoes and nine cream cableneck sweaters can make it very easy to justify buying more.
    – Are you more or less likely to buy something that an influencer was given for free?
    Umm, realistically probably less likely. Just because I probably can’t afford it.

    • Hahaha, “and that’s just puke.” SO true and I know exactly what kind of posts you’re talking about. Like all of a sudden they’re loving air fresheners…hermmmmm?? Thanks for sharing your genuine thoughts (and for the laugh) Kat! xo

  9. Mica says:

    Thank you for posting this. I never comment on blog posts, but this is something that has been bothering me for some time. I’ve followed various style blogs for years in an attempt to find new ideas and define my own sense of style and in the last couple of years have become very disappointed with bloggers I used to follow because they feature so much sponsored product now (really, all of these high fashion bloggers suddenly love to wear Banana Republic and Loft??).

    I found your blog after I started to move away from them and started looking for ethical products that focus on quality over quantity. I’m so glad you are mindful of the balance between partner/sponsored posts and remaining authentic. I also appreciate that sponsorships that I have seen on the site still seem to fit with your overall style. I have found several new brands through your blog (some of them sponsored posts), and have even come back to brands like Everlane because I had forgotten they are also aiming for social responsibility.

    So I guess my two cents is – keep up the good work and keep thinking about the right balance. I don’t mind a sponsored post now and then, as long as it isn’t all the time and as long as it fits with your style and values!

    Thank you!

    • Mica, I’m so glad you decided to comment and really appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this topic. I’ve had those very thoughts about high fashion bloggers suddenly ‘loving’ much lower price point brands and it’s a major red flag. One day you’re wearing Chanel and the next Old Navy? I mean I get the high/low thing but it sometimes seems like a total disconnect.

      Thanks for reading and for the very helpful feedback! xox

  10. Kat says:

    Hi Lee!
    I have to admit that lately, I’ve been reading Style Bee a bit less, precisely because of the sponsored posts. I live in Europe so pretty much 100% of the brands you work with are unavailable here (or I’m not willing to increase the cost of an already super expensive item by import taxes). I’ve always loved your 10 x 10 posts and closet mission posts and of course outfit posts. And posts like this one.
    I think it’s great there is even an option for bloggers to collaborate with brands and earn a bit of money, but when every week I see a post that is a collaboration it makes me question the blog’s integrity. I do know there is a lot of work behind each one which I can appreciate, but most sponsored posts are just not relevant to me.

    There’s always the looming moral question about whether the new lean/minimalist/capsule closet is actually a new way to trick people to spend money. This is where there’s a lot of grey area. If I’m trying to be a minimalist myself and I’m pushing some products through collaborations and thus getting my readers to buy the products, aren’t I the one who supports overconsumption, too? On the other hand, I’m introducing people to my more conscious way of life, new way of thinking about things, etc… I honestly don’t know what to make of it.

    I don’t really care if a blogger is given something for free, as long as, like you say, it’s authentic. I’m cheering on the bloggers with authentic sponsored posts/collabs, I just might not read them all. I mean, I don’t have to press the buy now button 🙂
    In a roundabout way I’m saying: authentic sponsored posts are great. Ultimately, if something is sponsored but still an interesting topic, the sponsored thing is only a secondary information. If something is sponsored just for the sake of being sponsored, that’s a different story. I’ve unfollowed blogs that keep pushing their own products all the time too – just stop cramming it down my throat! It actually does the opposite for me than what it intends to. Lots of irrelevant or inauthentic sponsored posts and you lose my trust and I’m way less likely to buy anything you feature.

    I hope you are well and I hope you can find the way that works for you best.

    Have a lovely day,
    Kat 🙂

    • Thanks very much for your honesty Kat. Hopefully future posts will give you good reason to come back more often but I totally get that it’s hard when the products featured are inaccessible. I love a few European blogs but find the same thing. Plus the CDN dollar is basically dirt right now. UGH.

      Interesting that you brought up the idea about lean closets/capsule closets actually being a trick or ploy to spend more. I’ve heard a few people mention that before. I think the ones (blogs, brands, people) that promote and ‘overhaul’ idea definitely teeter into that zone. Get rid of everything and start shopping again, wait, what! But when it’s promoted thoughtfully and a SLOW approach is emphasized that’s much better. I try to take it all with a grain of salt because when it comes down to it, it’s clothes and fashion, not life or death. xo

  11. Charissa says:

    In the way of Canadian blogs I am fan of Hot for Food and Oh She Glows, but I read those more for recipes. Those are the only two I can think of atbthe moment…

  12. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on a tricky, often hushed, subject. I appreciate your willingness to be open and honest.
    Over the past year, I’ve been building a lean, mostly-ethical wardrobe from scratch after a 50 pound weight loss. Awesome? Yes. Difficult to shop for and borderline budget busting? Heck yes! So I will be honest and say it has been extremely frustrating to see post after post of sponsored posts with gifted items. I have stopped following several blogs that predominately feature gifted items and sponsored content.

    I think sponsored posts should genuinely resonate with the blog, blogger, and the readers. Without this element, sponsored posts come across like a greasy salesman. I stopped following a blog/Instagram after they featured a random company in a very round-about sort of way. This was clearly done for the income and was very off-putting. I don’t mind sponsored content and gifted items as long as it makes sense, the blogger would be willing to spend their money on the item, and isn’t every single post. It was very refreshing to see your acknowledgment in the uptick of collaboration posts and decision to take a step back for some time.

    I have been introduced to many independent brands that are in my closet or on my wish list through sponsored posts/collaborations. I have come to trust your recommendations due to our shared values and thoughts on ethically produced clothes. My likelihood to buy something isn’t influenced by whether or not it was gifted – though an eyeroll may occur if the post feels too forced. I just ordered this Everlane sweater. Seeing it featured here gives me more images of it and feedback about the fit. If anything, it confirms that I chose the proper size for my preferred fit.

    • Thanks for your hoenst opinions Stephanie! Good for you for making such a big changes to your life. That is seriously SO commendable and takes real determination. I can definitely see it being a big shock to your budget and wardrobe too. Try taking it slow, although it’s easier said than done I know!

      Glad to hear that you’ve had some successful finds through this blog. I hope you love the sweater! It feels freaking glorious and I’ve already worn it a few times. The cuffs and the deep hem are amazing. xoxo

    • Stephanie says:

      Thanks, Lee. Definitely taking it slow (so hard, but so necessary) and am coming in right at my 2016 clothing budget. Yay! I ordered the sweater a few days ago and am so ready for it to get here. Now I just need colder weather to arrive in Texas as well! 🙂

      Keep up the good and honest work! We all appreciate it.

  13. Thanks for this well thought out post! It’s really nice to hear things from your perspective on sponsorships and how to ‘monetize’ a bit of what you are doing. You do an amazing job of putting together posts that really resonate with readers regardless of whether it’s sponsored or includes affiliate links. I think the amount of thought and effort you put into increasing transparency so readers understand why you do what you do is so refreshing. Best of luck moving forward !

  14. Lexie says:

    So happy to read your refreshing thoughts! And I love the format of your post — very honest and constructive.
    – What do you think when you see that a post (on a blog or social media) has been sponsored?
    I find it most annoying on Instagram, and generally skip through without liking the photo as my way of saying, hey, I would rather you not post sponsored content on something that (to me) is meant to be personal. I have unsubscribed from people who post too much sponsored content. I have come to expect it from blogs, and most of the time, as long as it’s an authentic post, I don’t mind.
    – Is this type of ‘influencer marketing’ sustainable or fleeting?
    I think it is sustainable — people were asking the same thing about blogging, and we’re still doing it 10+ years later!
    – Does it propagate the mindset that overconsumption is OK?
    I think it depends. Blogs that peddle a “minimalist” wardrobe that regularly receive free product annoy the hell out of me because that’s not minimalism — you’re still receiving goods, you’re just not paying for them! Otherwise, I just expect it as part of the business now.
    – Are you more or less likely to buy something that an influencer was given for free?
    Generally I am less likely, only because most of the brands bloggers work with are out of my price range. I’m a teacher and cannot afford even to “splurge” on a single item of clothing that costs more than $100.

    A lonnnng time ago I used to follow Pioneer Woman, and she was one of the first bloggers I ever read that received sponsor revenue and free gifts. She used to use a portion of that revenue (maybe she still does!) to BUY something for her readers and host her own giveaway. I thought this was one of the most thoughtful ways to walk the line between monetizing a blog and still honoring your readers.

    • Thanks Lexie! I agree the amount of #ad and #spon posts on instagram is totally out of control. It seems the moment I unfollow one person for it, another favourite takes their place. But c’est la vie I suppose. At least we can choose to tune out.

      So glad you feel it’s sustainable! I believe it is too. It’s pretty crazy how the blog industry has evolved isn’t it?

      Yep, here you on that! I was following so many minimalists when I first got interested in it a couple years ago, but found so many always had a new outfit or a new versions of the same thing. Had to let them go too!

      Hear you on the budget restraints. That’s the toughest thing I’ve found about switching to ethical/responsible style. Affordability.

      So that idea is genius! Totally going to work on something like that myself. Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply and inspiration!

  15. Alice says:

    I’m fine with the sponsored posts and the link commissions, to be honest. I totally get that a blog is a big time commitment and it’s expensive to produce a high-caliber blog. There are some blogs I’m turned off by when it seems like every other post is sponsored, or like the website is hiding the fact that something is sponsored, but this is not the vibe I get from stylebee at all. The transparency is part of what makes it seem like not a big deal to me. The fact that I see the same items over and over also makes stylebee feel authentic even with gifted items (not to mention more relatable — I have no interest in bloggers that seem to have a bottomless closet!).

    And just as you said you’ve discovered new brands by being gifted items, as a reader I’ve discovered new brands from those reviews. Also, I don’t have a big budget so to have someone else extensively wear an item (at least, once it’s been washed and worn for a bit) and review its pros and cons is really useful to me before deciding to invest in an item.

    So, basically, your thoughts on a path forward sounds like something I’m interested in continuing to follow!

    • That’s really great to hear Alice! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this topic. Your insights are much appreciated and I totally get where you’re coming from about blogs being elusive when it comes to sponsorships and the whole bottomless closet thing! It’s sketchy and just totally impractical. xo

  16. Sophie says:

    As someone who has her own reasonably sized blog with a decent readership, I find the issue of gifted items and sponsored collaborations a tricky subject to handle. I often battle internally with the idea that I do not want to be shilling products to people and encouraging them to spend money; on the other hand, people do buy things and they always will, at least my blog can be a place that encourages people to shop responsibly and as a conscious consumer.

    – What do you think when you see that a post (on a blog or social media) has been sponsored?
    I’m guilting of seeing “ad” or “this post is sponsored” and part of my brain shuts off. Very few bloggers handle sponsored collabs well and although I have zero issues with sponsored posts (everyone has to eat!) I much prefer it when these posts are handled with grace and with a natural approach that fits in with the rest of the content. It’s tough to get that balance right. For that reason it’s rare I accept sponsored collaborations.

    – Is this type of ‘influencer marketing’ sustainable or fleeting?
    It’s so cheap compared to traditional retail.. well, in some ways. I see some “influencers” asking thousands for a single Instagram post and I think that type of marketing will be fleeting, it’s definitely not sustainable. But I do believe influencer marketing is here to stay.

    – Does it propagate the mindset that overconsumption is OK?
    I mentioned in my comments above that I do worry my content is encouraging overconsumption but at the same time I think it’s silly to pretend people don’t buy things. While I feature various items I’ve purchased or been gifted, I also present it in a way that encourages people to shop respectfully; be mindful of the brands they support and I do try my hardest to pass on the concept of “buying less, buying better.” We can share material goods without encouraging overconsumption.

    – Are you more or less likely to buy something that an influencer was given for free?
    It’s irrelevant to be honest. If I like an item, I like it. I definitely don’t purchase anything on a whim; photographs can be deceiving and reviews (however much the blogger argues their opinion is honest) are bias. It’s easy to like something you got for free even if it isn’t perfect. I always thoroughly research anything before I buy it so it makes no difference to me whether someone was gifted an item or not.

    • Thanks so much for chiming in Sophie and for sharing your candid thoughts on this tricky issue. It’s very reassuring to know I’m not alone in this conundrum! I 100% know what you mean about not wanting to be ‘selling’ all the time, but you’re totally right, people shop and they’ll probably buy something whether we’re blogging or not so at least we can help steer to a worthwhile brand or product.

      I really appreciate your experienced take on the questions I posed. I’m guilty of shutting off when I see #ad #spon #liketkit most of the time too. I’ve even found I scroll through instagram without liking or engaging with anything most of the time because it all feels forced. I’m usually procrastinating anyway!

      I feel the same about free product. If I like it, I like it. I do like to see it on different people and if it ticks all my boxes (price, responsibly made etc) I’ll go for it regardless. Thanks for the candid opinions lady!

  17. Helen says:

    Thanks for such an honest post about a sensitive topic! I’ve been reading blogs for a long time, but only follow a handful of fashion blogs, I found your blog via instagram and I also thoroughly enjoy Unfancy. The reason I only follow a handful of fashion blogs is because I feel (or it seems) so many blog’s content are driven by collabs and sponsorship, each outfit is made of ALL new clothes. This feeling of all new all the time makes me feel disconnected to these blogs. As a person with a paying job and a family, I can’t see myself buying that amount of clothes, especially knowing I work better with a lean closet filled with pieces I love.

    Back to your questions, I’m totally OK with the way you are letting the readers know about sponsored items/collabs. And the simple fact that you actually put these items in rotation and wear them in different outfit is a great thing. And I love the fit info you include in your posts.

    I know enough about how these arrangements work (thanks to bloggers like you and Caroline) that it doesn’t influence if I’m buying a piece or not. I actually think the influencer marketing will be staying because like you said, it allows various groups of targeted consumers to see other people, who are not models, wearing the brands’ clothes.

    On a slightly different but related note, the other reason that I’m not prone to buying pieces from sponsored posts / affiliated links is I’m very petite (XXS in Aritzia size), so most of the brands including independent ones do not produce sizes that fits me. It’s one prohibiting factor for me to buy local and ethically made clothes. In the meantime, I try to be creative with tailoring and mending to use existing pieces I have in my closet, so I’m not rushing to buy new pieces when an existing piece is a little worn.

    Anyway, thanks again for the post, and looking forward to more outfits from your winter 50 pieces!

    • Thanks so much for the lovely note Helen! I don’t follow many fashion blogs either, for that exact reason, but I found it was becoming so easy to fall into the same rhythm. I really appreciate your responses to the questions I posed, and it seems we’re definitely on the same page.

      I think sizing range is a big limitation for ethical brands but hopefully as they evolve and their audience expands they’ll be able to accomodate more sizes. I know Elizabeth Suzann (a personal fave) just broadened her size offerings but I imaging the smallest size would still be too large for you. Hang in there, a good tailor is so clutch! xox

  18. Hannah says:

    I’m fairly new to your blog. I heard about you from Unfancy when Caroline did the 10×10. I was drawn to your blog for 2 reasons: 1) Caroline recommended you (I’ve been a reader of hers for a long time and I trust her recommendations), and 2) your move to ethical/responsible clothing. #2 has become very important to me recently, and I love reading blogs with this mindset so I can find brands I feel confident supporting. I generally have the opposite problem of over shopping, in fact I normally hate the process. But I’ve found inspiration from you & Caroline, so thanks for taking time to blog and inspire!
    Regarding your questions:
    1) I don’t mind sponsored posts in general. I find cool brands that way! But I only read Unfancy and your blog, and I’ve never felt you’ve been “over sponsored”. Caroline had a post about sponsorship awhile back, with feelings similar to yours. I appreciate the honesty, and your hesitation towards sponsorships. That hesitation makes me trust your recommendations more since you’re so picky!
    2) Over sponsorship is hopefully a fleeting trend. There’s too much bombardment for “stuff”, and we need more contentment with what we have. But as a marketing tool for small/ethical companies, sponsorships/partnerships with like-minded bloggers has got to be one of the best/low cost way for them to get their name out. My dad ran a small business, and it’s hard. So I’m all for supporting ways for companies to get their name out in a meaningful way. Plus, it’s a way for you to make income doing what you (hopefully) love!
    3) With yours and Caroline’s convictions about wanting lean closets, I don’t feel like your blogs promote overconsumption at all. You do the opposite! Less quantity, better quality. But with the wrong blog, I can see that going very differently.
    4) My likeliness to buy doesn’t usually depend on if it’s a gifted item or not. It’s based on the item fitting my personal style, a company I agree with, and an honest review from the blogger. I am an avid review reader before I buy anything, and I like having an opinion to help me decide if the item is right for me.

    • Hannah, I’m so glad you found your way here and happy that you’re interested in shopping ethically/responsibly. It’s hard to know where to begin with it all but so far it’s been the best decision I could have made for my style, conscience and blog. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on those questions, I really appreciate you taking the time to do that and totally agree with your sentiments. My Dad, who I work with, runs a small business and so does my fiance Dave so I definitely appreciate the hurdles that face independent and creative entrepreneurs. Thanks for keeping me in good company with UnFancy! xo

  19. Tina says:

    Hi Lee, what I love about your blog is your heart and soul in it. To me, living in Europe, the product suggestions are pretty much useless anyway since I am not willing to spend money on overseas postage and customs. I like the outfit posts as an idea what items to look for and ideas on how to shop my closet. So I hope to find your heart and soul on Style bee in the future. Please keep it up.
    By the way, one of my personal goals is to shop in real stores instead of online so I don’t leave as many tracks on the internet. Unsubscribed from any retailer mailing list already, and it feels great!

    • Tina, first of all, thanks for tuning in from Europe! Totally hear you on the customs and shipping fees. Even just shopping from the US can be seriously gauging for us here in Canada. You’ve inspired me to do a big subscription purge too! I usually just delete them before opening it (because who needs that temptation!) but unsubscribing is much more effective. xo

  20. I love your blog and your style. You have influenced me in finding my own style tremendously! I am very happy with the things that I have purchased that you suggest, and I have purchased a lot of things at your suggestion. I am also happy to have found a few designers I would have never heard about. I love how you show us the beauty in elegant simplicity.

    What has made all of that possible is your honesty and integrity. Without that, I would not trust and would not try, especially the more expensive items. An important asset you have created is the trust you have developed with your readers. In addition to enjoying minimalist, modern dressing as a long-term investment, I think the kind of person that your style attracts is someone who highly values the trust you have cultivated and respects you very much.

    You are doing the right thing to think about this deeply, be transparent and walk a fine line. Too much in the direction of sponsorship will impinge your credibility — but some makes sense for all of the reasons you say above. It is a delicate balance, particularly because the pieces you suggest are not inexpensive. So, for example, if you tell us a piece is a great investment for a wardrobe and then we see it in your sale a few seasons later, that would be disheartening. Rather, I enjoy seeing how you use the pieces in which you have made investments and watch the ways you utilize them over time.

    Thanks for all that you do! 🙂

    • Jill thank you for the wonderful feedback and thoughtful note, I’m so very happy to hear you’ve had some successful purchases through my blog! Your thoughts on trust, transparency and being mindful about maintaining credibility really hit home and I so appreciate you taking the time to read this post (and many others!). xo

  21. Jodie says:

    This was wonderful and thoughtful lee.
    I personally don’t follow a lot (only 2 fashion blogs- you and Caroline) because I don’t like everything sponsored and feel it takes away from your voice, and authenticity.
    I am glad you are taking a sponsored break. I love your remixes, wearing clothes again in different ways, lifestyle and style mission posts. I really love your monthly vibes.
    I would totally love if Everlane sent me free stuff! It must be a hard thing to say no to cute clothes.
    Thanks for being honest. Thanks for taking a break. I am no blog expert but I really appreciate your thoughtfulness and think a lot of women follow you because you do things differently, not because you’re like every other blog.
    Best luck with this going forward!
    Xo!

    • Thanks Jodie! I know we’re on the same page with a lot of this stuff and I always appreciate your take things. Your positivity is such a spirit booster and I hope you know that! Lots of love to you lady! xo

  22. Emily Mahi'ai says:

    I love your take on this. I’ve been wanting to pursue blogging for a while (managed to post once so far…lol), and your clarity and authenticity is such a good example to me. And your blog is in my top favorites along with Un-Fancy and RMTL, just fyi. ☺️ Keep it up.

    • Ah that’s great Emily! I’ve made a note to give it a look tomorrow morning (blog reading is my daily pre-work ritual) and I can’t wait! Really appreciate your support and kind words so thank you very much! xo

  23. Alex Chua says:

    It takes real courage to write about this honestly and tactfully. Your blog has been a tremendous source of inspiration for me and has helped me define my style in immeasurable ways. Sometimes I buy some of the items you feature and it’s a win, win situation because you’ve done the homework and taken the risks – sort of test driving the product. When I see and purchase something from one of the blogs I follow, I know I can trust that the intention behind the marketing is good, that you really believe in something at that moment, and that you’re not just trying to sell the greatest number of units. You seem like responsible and caring human beings and you understand that we’ve placed our trust in you.
    It would seem obvious that people who follow blogs like to shop, or are trying to make the most of what they already have. That’s the primary reason we visit these blogs initially. All this is just to say that we understand that the marriage between honest sponsorship and collaboration is a tricky one, but we’re hoping for a good outcome nonetheless. Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t work out or doesn’t feel right in hindsight and know that your work has gone a long way toward reducing the number of mistakes we make as consumers. XO

    • Alex, thank you so much for being such a positive force in this space. I know I’ve said it before (or I hope I have!) but I really can’t express how much your support and good vibes mean. Safe to say A LOT!! I like the term ‘test drive’ because that’s exactly what it’s about. Trying the product out at minimal expense so that more people can make an informed choice. I think in some ways this method actually helps avoid over consumption and prevents clothes from ending up in a corner collecting dust. I really appreciate you acknowledging that I can’t win them all so to speak. It is important to remember it’s just fashion, it’s not brain surgery, and it’s meant to be fun and experimental. Thanks again lady, you’re the best 🙂 xoxo

  24. Lauren says:

    Thanks for sharing Lee! I think this is such an interesting topic, and as I’ve begun to see growth in my blog, it’s one I’m thinking about more and more. It’s interesting for me because I feature a lot of second hand and vintage items, so commission has been a challenge. I’ve realized though, that Etsy is compatible with rewardStyle, so I’m able to link to very similar or even the same vintage items which I love! Not only does it mean I get to support shopping second hand, but I get to support shop owners as well. In terms of gifted items, right now I don’t get very many, but when I do I’m so thankful because it gives me ideas for content to produce without having to spend on my end. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some eco-friendly beauty brands whom I love and really believe they suit my audience.
    Now in answer to those last questions:
    1. Maybe this is different because I blog myself, but I have absolutely no problem seeing sponsored content across the different platforms. Of course there are the collaborations that don’t seem genuine, but most of the bloggers I follow are very choosy about what they feature.
    2. I’ve recently been studying the history of early Hollywood as well as early television, and the parallels between these industries and the blogging industry are so fascinating. I see blogging and influencer marketing growing and evolving with the industry.
    3. This one is tricky. I’ve struggled to come to a place where I feel like through blogging, I’m not just promoting consumerism. I honestly don’t do much shopping, and I like to think that the products I do share simply provide better resources for when someone is looking to make a purchase.
    4. I don’t think it really sways my opinion either way. If I like the item, I would be more likely to purchase it whether or not it was gifted.
    Thanks for promoting such an interesting discussion! I truly think you are doing an excellent job in this area!
    -Lauren
    http://www.chic-ethique.com/

    • Thanks for such an insightful reply Lauren, I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this!

      That’s awesome that you’re able to link via ETSY and totally agree its ideal for supporting all parties involved. So often the links don’t work for me, something to do with location I believe, but I’ll keep trying! I also, totally get that gifted product helps to inspire posts and content. Sounds like you’re finding your blog stride really well!

      So fascinated by the parallels between blogging and early hollywood! That makes so much sense. History sure loves to repeat itself!

      Thanks for reading and joining in lovely lady 🙂 xoxo

  25. Tess says:

    I really liked reading this. I find that reading about sponsored clothing is a double edged sword. On the one hand us readers get an honest review of the product (on the right blog) but on the other hand it can be highly unrealistic. Most of the clothes featured on fashion blogs are very expensive and when you add up the costs of one outfit it can range from $500 to over a $1,000. In that case it can be hard to say sure I love the outfit but who can afford it? I do believe in shopping from small ethical shops and have made a significant effort to stop shopping from big box stores but at the same time, I find it hard to achieve budget wise. Most people probably can’t afford to spend lots of money on clothing and it can be hard to read blogs with people featuring clothes 3x a week with each article over $100. I love your blog and I love your styling and I really like when you show us how you use your clothing over and over. It’s also nice you offer a reader discount or giveaway when you do sponsor. Not just overwhelm your reader with sponsors like lots of other blogs. It’s misleading and can be frustrating. Just my two cents! Keep on doing what you are doing!!

    • Thanks for chiming in Tess! I think you’re right about how it has a double edged effect. I used to follow many blogs where the bags alone were worth $2500 and I just felt like it was absurd! Alternatively, I found myself not loving ‘cheap and cheerful’ blogs either because I knew the products were likely made un-responsibly and were totally trend driven.

      Hear you on the remixing and restyling of items 100%! I’m planning to incorporate more offers like discounts etc with collabs in the new year so I’m glad you mentioned that! xo

  26. mary says:

    i absolutely love this post! thank you for your transparency and honesty about the collaboration process. it can be so confusing and frustrating when you see other bloggers feature goods that you know they don’t really support or wear on their own. i so appreciate that you want to do meaningful collaborations, not only for yourself but for your readers. i have discovered many wonderful brands through your blog and whenever i decide to make a purchase i know i can feel good about the information you have provided and your honest feedback on the products. i have not been disappointed yet and i know that is because you are being straightforward about your recommendations.

    in general, i find your blog to be a breath of fresh air! other local bloggers i follow continually disappoint with their vague, short, mundane posts about products or makers. you always provide detailed information that i find invaluable as a consumer – why you personally like something, how it fits, how it feels, how you would style it, etc. i have enjoyed watching your style evolve over the years and you have taught me so much about how to shop responsibly and how to dress my best while supporting sustainable, small businesses that are run by some incredible people.

    thank you thank you thank you!!!!

    • Mary, THANK YOU lovely! I was very nervous about sharing this post but your note was so reassuring and uplifting to read. I couldn’t hope for any better feedback than to hear this space has had a positive influence on someone! Your support is very much appreciated 🙂 xo

  27. Stefanie says:

    Long post -> long reply. I’m not even sure how I stumbled onto your blog, but maybe a year or two ago found you and thought your style was definitely unique and refined. It was something I hadn’t really seen much of in my day to day life and that intrigued me. I’m always fascinated by different cities and the different vibe and style that can go with each one. Most of my life I’ve always blended in to my surroundings, but 3 years ago when I found Un-Fancy I started down the capsule wardrobe path. For the first time, I was finding myself getting rid of the majority of my closet feeling like that’s not how I wanted to express myself anymore and getting excited to choose what I did want to send into the world as my style. I felt like many of the clothes I had were ones I was holding on to because they were still in great condition and was obligated to keep and wear. In the past year, I’ve found myself drawn more and more to your blog and hearing what you have to say and look forward to your posts.

    While reading this post I keep feeling like your words were so welcomed in this world of chaos and sponsorship. No one talks about it – so thank you for opening up about it. I find that refreshing and so genuine. There is another blogger I follow who is a photographer and she recently opened up about trust and being genuine. Something along the lines of someone telling her she shouldn’t be friends with clients, and to keep things professional and only give so much. She wanted to be able to have people find her/relate to her because of who she was. If she didn’t, then what’s the point – she’d have a business that wasn’t true to who she was. I feel like your words have a similar underlying tone. I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that many people appreciate your honesty! 🙂

    It really depends on who is posting, but bloggers who are kind of saturated with sponsorships, I find it hard to take anything they say seriously. They have kind of lost any clout they may have once had. But, when people don’t do it often, I feel like it is easier to believe what they’re actually saying. Especially if it seems in line with what their mission is, or if it’s totally off then that’s kind of a dead give away. When brands and bloggers connect that are equally yoked, I think it can be advantageous for both parties involved.

    It makes me a little sick when I see things for sale that were “worn once for a photo shoot” and am finding myself shying away from bloggers who I know are a little more focused on quantity vs quality. Sure they look cute, and I may like a random sweater they are wearing, but it’s so against why I even started pairing down my closet in the first place. It does seem very wasteful and I can’t imagine I would ever connect with someone in real life like that, so why follow or support them online?

    In terms of supporting something given to an influencer for free – it really depends on what it is. If the influencer has done a good job at maintaining their integrity, and there is a collaboration where the item is free and it’s a new designer I’m not familiar with, I’d totally check it out. However on the other end – someone who I don’t trust and know their image was probably paid for, I don’t think I’d give much weight to it.

    It’s definitely a fine line as you said about trying to support yourself with this full time, but I think in the long run, if you keep your integrity, you will get supporters who are very much in line with where you want to go. People like that I think can be way more influential than just another number. This is totally just my opinion, but I want to encourage you to be who YOU are and who you WANT to be! Then once you’ve made it to that point, you will still enjoy what you’re doing versus losing yourself along the way. People can sense your authenticity. Keep up the great work! 🙂

    • Stefanie, you’re amazing! Thanks so much for sharing such a thoughtful response. I keep coming back to one saying which is, “The better we know ourselves the better our choices will be.” I might have heard it somewhere or I might have jammed a few sayings together but I really feel like that one applies to so many things in life, in this case style.

      I’d love to know who the photographer is that you follow (if you’re open to sharing). Always looking for creatives that are stirring the pot and fostering authenticity. I’ve heard the same thing about maintaining a ‘professional’ distance from clients, and I totally get that, but for me it depends on the person. Sometimes it’s a very business interaction and other times it’s like meeting an old friend. So I think there is room for both approaches.

      I think you bring up a really good point about connecting with them in real life. Instagram Stories and Snapchat have really helped me see the personality of certain people I follow more and sometimes I’m like damn you’re funny and amazing and other times I’m like oh right, just a pretty face in pretty clothes.

      I agree that is depends on the situation with free product. What it is, whos wearing it and what the brand is about.

      Thanks for the positivity and encouragement! So very much appreciated 🙂 xo

  28. Nancy says:

    Hi Lee,
    I’m a relatively new reader of your blog and I just want to thank you for the incredibly thought-provoking post. As a new blogger, it really resonated with me as I learn how to forge my own path. As your reader, it’s great and definitely comforting knowing that you’re weighing the pros and cons in such an objective way. I do feel a little uncomfortable with the way the blogging industry is now – since I’d definitely consider myself more a minimalist. I think something that has been holding me back from pursuing a blog for so long (and maybe you feel the same way) but it’s difficult to grapple with the idea that to earn income I would have to sell things to my readers. I don’t really know how to reconcile that in my mind, but you’ve done a good job laying it out – and I agree, that so long as you’re mindful of why, what, and how often you’re featuring free or sponsored content it is a good step in the right direction. It’s refreshing seeing a blogger that is transparent and honest about sponsorships. Thank you for the wonderful post and happy hump day!

    • Nancy, first of all, I just read your post on permission and it seriously spoke to my soul, so thank you for sharing that! I absolutely believe there is room for more simple living, I can’t get enough 🙂 I definitely heard the same thing when I started Style Bee though so I get it.

      I’m so glad this post resonated with you. I’m a little envious of your position, in that you’re starting fresh. That’s so exciting and there is so much room to steer things in a way you’re excited about. Looking forward to seeing where Smaller/Slower takes you! xo

  29. sydney richardson says:

    I have no issue with sponsored blogs when it feels authentic and is something that fits with what I like about the blog/style. If you started discussing something that was way off then I’d get suspicious. I follow you because I truly love your style and trust the thought process you’ve put into posting about something. I love learning about local options as well as ethically made options, so if one of those that you like gives you something, I say lucky duck and go for it.

    I’m not a huge blog follower, but I used to follow one, unnamed, that were a couple of mom’s from Toronto. At first thought they were funny and fresh but then the stuff they were pushing and constantly pushing totally turned me away. I have never once and can’t imagine your’s would get there. The fact that you’ve put so much thought and care in to the topic and writing about it says enough for me right there!!!

    • Thanks so much for the great feedback and kind words Sydney, I really appreciate them!

      I’ve been turned off of a few blogs over the years that just kept pushing more and more ‘stuff’. I was sad to say goodbye (and confess I check back now and then) but I know they’re doing what they feel is right and if we don’t see eye to eye that’s fine. I’m sure lots of people think I lament way too much and just wish I’d get on with the outfits haha. xoxo

  30. Linda says:

    Thanks for the candour it is appreciated. I definitely tend towards skepticism when I see c/o and this post came so timely as I noticed some of the c/o items being sold in your closet sale (double skepticism?). Not a criticism I love your Closet Sale and the repurposing idea, but the thought did cross my mind that the endorsement is kind of lost for the makers of the items sold…? Maybe not.
    Regardless, I think that reading honest reviews about fit and quality is always useful to consumers especially at this age of online shopping and your sustainable choices are helping to guide my purchases and my lean closet goals.

    • Thanks so much for sharing those thoughts Linda! I’m glad you brought up the Closet Sale items that were previously gifted. I have struggled with the right approach to dealing with that. Ultimately, I think it means saying no to free product much more often, but since I can’t go back in time I’ve figured the best approach is to help it find a new home, where it will be better utilized. This year the sales were considerable because I was bringing in way too much and it was a wake-up call. I worried about whether I was undermining the brand by letting it go but ultimately I felt I had fulfilled our partnership agreement. Sometimes I think that an item attained through a collab will be get a lot more use than it does which is just a hard to avoid aspect of personal style.

      Glad you feel the fit and quality reviews are worthwhile! I love doing them and I always look for them when I’m going to buy something. I can rarely trust the size charts on websites because they never seem entirely accurate. Thanks for reading! xo

  31. susyolivia says:

    I think it’s so, so great that you’re addressing this sticky subject. I imagine it’s something that’s in the back of everyone’s mind when they’re reading blogs– I know I personally get turned off when I see that a post has been sponsored. This was part of the reason that I stopped following blogs and kind of turned off from the blogosphere for awhile, I felt like I was seeing less authenticity. And I would say DUE to that perceived loss of authenticity, I shy away more from buying a product that had been gifted to a blogger, because there really is such a difference between the way we regard things that we’ve been gifted versus things that we have to save our hard earned cash for (don’t get me wrong, I respect the fact and agree that bloggers work hard to get those gifted products, but I think it’s that lack of immediacy, the lack of a solid cash transaction that kind of tricks the mind into regarding those things differently). But it’s so true as you say, with consideration given to both parties and if it’s a fit for both brand and audience, partnerships can be a good thing for everyone. It’s such a delicate balance, but for what it’s worth I think you’re doing a great job navigating it!

    As for the overconsumption topic, this is def another murky area. It’s why I love how you do the 10×10 challenges and some other bloggers encourage reworking and rediscovering your own closet before going out and buying new items. It’s difficult because the fashion industry as a whole is based on consumption, and unfortunately because of that, the blogging side of it is rooted in consumption too. This one I’m more lost on. I think through the very act of checking blogs to see new products, new partnerships, new styling ideas, etc., is inviting myself to want new things and want to try all these new products that aren’t necessarily a good fit to my closet and my life. It’s all about picking and choosing, and choosing carefully. Thanks for a great post! Lots to think about 🙂

    • Ah Susy, Thanks for such a thoughtful comment. I think we’re on 100% the same page about the intrinsic value behind something you’ve saved and paid for vs something you’ve been given. So glad you added that! I would say I’m not entirely dissuaded when I see something is c/o or sponsored but I am much more convinced when I see it’s not.

      I hear you on the overconsumption side of things and how blogging is totally tied up in the fashion industries seasonal cycle of ‘new’ and ‘more’. It’s hard to break it! I agree too, that we need to take some ownership as blog readers and content consumers and acknowledge why we’re looking and wanting to see all the ‘new’ and ‘more’. Being conscious of it is so key!

      xox

  32. Charissa says:

    This is such a thoughtful post. I can tell you did some real soul searching. I am a relatively new reader and I don’t read a ton of fashion blogs, but I first learned about your blog through Unfancy. Your blog does have the same authentic feel as Unfancy and that is something I really enjoy about it. Also, I am a fellow Canadian so it is great to read content that is local.

    For me, sponsored posts are not a problem as long as they feel authentic and fit with the character of the blog. If there is something that feels forced I actually stop reading the post. I have found this to be the case more often with fitness/wellness/lifestyle blogs.

    There are a few brands I have learned about through your blog that I would have never heard of and I see that as a plus.

    Keep up the good work. You put out excellent content.

    • Thanks so much Charissa! Im so happy to hear that and appreciate your feedback. Isn’t UnFancy a gem!? That’s one of my daily reads for sure and Caroline has been a huge inspiration for me (and so many women!).

      Totally agree about sponsored content being a welcome thing as long as it makes sense. I can barely bring myself to visit most fitness blogs because I find the majority are overrun with ads and distracting nonsense. Plus, I’m not exactly huge on working out haha.

      Question for you, Do you have another other Canadian based blogs you enjoy (in any category)? I’m always on the lookout but find they’re few and far between 😉 Thanks for reading! xo