let’s start from the beginning.
Saturday, September 4th, 2010:
“Well, here’s my first blog. It’s pretty late at night, but I feel like there’s always a time to talk about fashion. No matter if you’re walking the streets at 5 am, or shopping (of course), fashion is always surrounding you. It’s pretty amazing. Personally, I feel like fashion is my life right now. I like to be unique, and if I’m going to school in the pretty much same shirt and pair of jeans everyday, it doesn’t cut my crazy high standards. Even though the girls in my school really don’t think like that, there’s always a voice in my head telling me when I’m too boring. “
I wrote my first blog post when I was 12 years old. I didn’t know what a blog was or what my blog was supposed to be, but I had an idea. It all started with this idea that I could help other young girls overcome insecurities, through voicing my relatable life experiences. At the end of the journey, if my blog allowed one or two girls to feel more comfortable in their own skin, I’d have succeeded. I never anticipated being able to reach thousands.
I was visiting my sister at her apartment in New York, her (now ex-husbands) beautiful, perfectly organized house, thinking about how to get out of my sheltered CT life, when the idea came. I was stuck in a small town, with people I couldn’t relate to, dying for a different life. The rain was pounding outside, and the world was still, with nothing but a trashy reality show screeching in the background. This girl, Tavi, had recently popped up everywhere, and I googled her. She was a “blogger.” What the heck is a blogger, and why is she famous? My 12-year-old soul was intrigued. I typed in blogger.com to the computer, and up came a website where you can make your own website, for free! So it began. I clicked on one of the random layouts, and started typing.
If you ask me whether I grew up wealthy or poor, I’d lean more towards poor than wealthy. My parents work hard: my mom is a nurse and my dad is a sales rep. They’re average (sorry mom and dad, just being honest) who go to work, come home, make dinner, sleep, repeat. I didn’t want to grow up bored, or be someone who would eventually came home everyday to resent his or her career.
I started blogging daily, trying to write, and pass the classes I was doomed to fail. The first seven followers of my blog was the most exciting moment of my life. They were all girls from my high school, but at least I knew there were 7 girls in my school willing to give me a chance. I convinced my parents to buy me Uggs for Christmas, which I photographed with my sisters old Forever 21 skirts. For a full year, I kept photographing, writing, and clicking “publish”, because I knew this blog was my only outlet out. I never foresaw blogging turning into I career: it was simply a small escape from the reality of my life.
When I turned 14, I came across the word “PR” through a Google search, and realized publicists were the people I needed to get in touch with. On an extremely snowy winter day, where I was stuck home with the flu (and really just looking for an excuse to skip school) I looked up “PR BCBG” and came across a woman named Lalena. Lalena was the woman who put on the BCBG New York Fashion Week runway show. I sent her an email, explaining my desire to attend Fashion Week. I began each email the same way. “My name is Alexa Curtis and I’m a teenage blogger with a massive passion for fashion, and I’m a huge fan of your brand.” Lalena emailed me back within the hour, inviting me to the runway show the following month in February. She wasn’t even going to charge me!
I brought up attending Fashion Week to my parents, and they were strongly against the idea. My mom despises the fashion industry, since all she sees are the anorexic models and sketchy photographers that grace the covers of Vogue and Seventeen. They said no. I cried. I ran upstairs, slammed my wooden door, and bought a bus ticket on a prepaid gift card my uncle sent me for Christmas. That’s right Mom and Dad, I’m not the girl to say no to. When they found out I went, they weren’t exactly smiling with glee. That was the moment my parents realized I was beginning to follow this dream they couldn’t prevent me from chasing…
Fashion Week gave my blog some needed publicity. I began to grow my LinkedIn profile little by little, accepting each connection as it came. Handling social media wasn’t something I ever considered, until a woman with a small glove wear company out of Los Angeles messaged me on LinkedIn. She asked me if I wanted to take over social media/public relations for her company. She would pay me $50 per week, for about 40 hours of work. Here comes the word PR again! I knew my prior research on that word was going to come to use. I explained to her I didn’t exactly have a massive amount of connections in the editorial/TV world, and she seemed optimistic I would figure my way in. I began working for Solfingers a week later, researching how to build a brand around Twitter and Facebook, as well as how to get editors and producers to reply to your email. Teaching myself how to use platforms like Hootsuite was necessary, so I could have posts scheduled during the school day, or if I wanted time off on the weekend to catch up on homework. When they wouldn’t reply within 2 days, I would follow-up until I got a reply. Frequently, the reply was a “no, we aren’t interested, but keep in touch!” which lit up my face. Knowing that the editor of Teen Vogue had seen my name in their mailbox forced me to keep pushing. I was hooked.
I had a conversation with my dad following my first client, where he asked me why anyone would have “an immature, 15 year old teenager run their business for them.” I adore my dad, but I slowly began to realize how sheltered half of the world (or at least my town) was at this point. Him putting me down like that made me thirstier to succeed.
I was full of ideas. They couldn’t stop coming. I woke up in the middle of the night, constantly jotting ideas and blog posts down in the notebook that stayed at my bedside. Through another internet search, I came across the producer of Fox Connecticut news, and excitedly emailed him about an idea for a school style segment. The producer called me an hour later, asking me to go on the show 2 days later. On the morning of my freshman year of high school, I appeared on Fox News in a $30 Gap Blazer and $40 pair of Aldo sneakers.
Throughout my freshman year of high school, I was running out of biology class, taking phone calls in the school bathroom with my clients (I now had 7 clients whose social media I ran 24/7), skipping school with the “flu” to take a bus to NYC for Fashion Week (which my mom refused to help me pay for) and attempting to pass my classes. Yet, my report card repeatedly showed a “D” in every class, besides English. Soon, I was getting emails from small companies who wanted to send me clothing to feature on my blog, which I gleefully accepted. Why would I worry about school, when I could get free clothing!
Fast forward to today: I’m sitting on a train heading to Delaware to speak at a conference tomorrow. Two days ago, I returned from Los Angeles, where I sat in an office overlooking the entire city, discussing the next steps for my career. One of the top managers in the industry said she wanted to work with me so bad, she was willing to sign me on the spot if I canceled my following meetings with different managers. A few months ago, a producer emailed me about producing a reality show, with me as the lead.
I’ve decided to hold off on college. Since I grew up being told I’m too ugly, too stupid, or too insecure to be successful, I’ve decided to once again, deter from the usual path. It’s led me this far, why not allow being different to keep paving my life for me?
Over the past four years, I have built a brand based on the platform of a dream. At 14 years old, I was managing 10 social media clients, as well as my own website. I was forced to ignore the bullying and my sinking grades, because deep down, a part of me knew this would pay off. I wanted to give young girls a reason to wake up each day and fall in love with who they are, something I struggled with (and still struggle with) daily.
I’ve been asked, quite frequently, how I’ve come from nothing, and made myself something. Hiding in the library became lunch meetings with editors, front row tickets to Fashion Week, and daily meetings with my clients discussing how I can help them build their company. 3 months ago, I moved out of my small Connecticut condo, away from my family and friends, to Manhattan. And, no, my parents still don’t financially support me. Living on my own at 17 isn’t easy, but being able to afford a lifestyle I’ve only dreamed of being able to lead shows me how far I’ve come. In a few years, I’ll probably be able to buy my parents a house, and send my mom to New Zealand to visit her family. I never started blogging with the intention of becoming rich, or famous, and I guarantee you, success is born and bred with that mindset. I’ve come across too many girls who are desperate for private planes and designer clothing, with no intention of making the world a better place. There’s no point in happiness if you aren’t looking at the bigger picture.
Last year, I hired my first paid intern, and received 15 applicants, one being a Harvard grad. It was that moment I realized an insecure, sheltered, teenage girl could take over the world.