You might be asking yourself, “So, what is this chick up to now?” If you’ve been following alongside me for any decent amount of time, you will know that I am what I call a serial business starter.
My first business was a children’s clothing line named after my oldest daughter, Plum, in 2003. I had no idea what the hell I was doing, but I knew that I wanted to be a clothing designer, and so I would be one. When I get an idea in my head, I am hellbent on making it happen. I drove to Walmart at 11:30 p.m. on a Friday night because it was the only place open and bought myself a $200 Brother sewing machine. It was basic. It made only four different stitch variations. To me, it was perfect. I returned home, read the manual, and taught myself how to sew at my kitchen table. Two hours later, I was trying on my first shirt, which I constructed using old clothes that I had in my closet. I was instantly hooked. I literally ate, slept, breathed the assembly of clothes, both for myself and my tiny daughter. That, and janky website building from stolen snippets of code my mother taught me how to lift, in my garoffice, while fueled by a diet made up of mostly thin crust, delivery pizza, Cup O’Noodles, and Red Bull. I successfully sold the fruits of my labor on eBay before branching out into the scary and crippling world that is wholesale. My first season was promising and landed the line into over 40 stores worldwide, and my designs were featured on the covers of two popular children’s fashion magazines. I was convinced I was on my way to becoming the next top designer and was strategizing my plans to launch my woman’s collection, which would debut at New York Fashion Week, sandwiched between the Marc Jacobs and Chloe runway shows. But the reality was, I was broke, my factory dropped me in the middle of developing season two, and I was left in a ton of debt.
Fast-forward to business two, which was created as a result of spending my depression-filled days as a failed fashion designer combing thrift store racks and hitting up neighborhood garage sales. I started styling and photographing myself using a tripod and self-timer with my Sony Cybershot point-and-shoot, and slinging vintage on eBay to pay off my debt and fund a divorce and move to Texas as a newly single mother of two. That business successfully supported my family of three, and over the years, morphed into a token “mommy blog” documenting life, a second marriage, and two more cute kids, while navigating the ins and outs and ups and downs of social media. Biz four was a slow exit from bloggerdom and a deep dive, head-first into the fast-paced world of journalism and throwing events for millennial moms, which wasn’t for me because small talk with strangers is not my strong suit. I would find myself glued to the minibar, pounding mimosas and sneaking outside to smoke cigarettes to calm my newfound anxiety. Five was what I thought was a dream come true, opening up a brick-and-mortar complete with namesake clothing line in partnership with friends that turned out to be one of the greatest stresses and heartbreaks I have faced in my lifetime. I have since sold business four and exited number five, which eventually closed its doors — retail is hard, guys. Biz six is still an idea that hasn’t launched yet and is a wild and crazy venture into a completely new territory that my husband and I are taking our time market-researching and business planning with the goal of starting over the next few years when we’re good and ready. Which brings me to lucky number seven — a multi-faceted media company and platform loosely titled after my OG name Bleubird and current social identity. Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to introduce you to my latest project: Bleu.
“So, is Bleu just another glorified blog in a sea of mostly unread blogazines?” Let’s hope not. The site’s main objective is to bridge the age-gap between women and spread the very important message that females of all ages are equally beautiful, interesting, successful, and influential. We live in a social media world, which can, at times, be ugly, aloof, exclusive, and often times soul-crushing. Most media sites, blogs, and social platforms are aimed highly towards young women in their target market, which falls somewhere between the ages of 18-34. I wanted to create a site that empowers women, young and old, that covers a slew of topics that women share a common interest in during all phases of life, be it fashion freedom and personal style, learning how to cook fail-proof, yet intimidating recipes like cioppino fish stew, testing and reporting on the latest beauty finds from women with various skin types and conditions, approachable and realistic wellness, sex, travel — the list goes on. It’s an interview hub that gives an intimate look at women in their homes when they’re off duty and most vulnerable. It’s about meeting new people and one-on-one conversation. It’s a site focused on celebrating, sharing, and being inspired by all the commonalities that bring us together as females, regardless of how many trips we’ve taken around the sun. With our seasoned team of editors and writers who vary in age and backgrounds, we hope to deliver a diverse range of content and relatability. Not only that, Bleu also offers a unique editorial shopping experience which allows readers to shop directly from women’s closets, homes, and interests without having to ask, “Where’d you get that?”, in the comment section of Instagram.
I built Bleu to provide a therapy-esque break in your busy day. It’s a place where women can be themselves, explore, and find like-minded comrades and content that resonates on more than one level. It’s a place where we can all breathe a little, unwind, and not take things too seriously. So here we are, all fresh and new, with very big plans to roll out over the next year. I’m excited to watch this baby grow and flourish and evolve into something really great over time.
I hope you’ll stick around. xxJames