Kim Mitchell-Stokes of J’Adore Couture Has Perfected Tomboy Chic

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You may know Kim Mitchell-Stokes from our 2013 list of bloggers over 40 who everyone should be following. Or, if you happen to be in San Francisco, you might know her friendly face and amazing style from fashion events. If you're anywhere else, you've perhaps glimpsed her beautiful fashion blog J'Adore Couture, which is one of the longest-running (and consistently-updated) fashion blogs around.

Even if you answered yes to all of the above, there are probably some things you don't know: like the fact that athletics has always been a huge part of her life (her dad and brother were a big influence), and that she's an avid runner and snowboarder. “I probably watch ESPN more than any other network!” Mitchell-Stokes says.

In addition to blogging, she has worked hard for an enviable career in fashion, and has perfected the tomboy-meets-glam aesthetic. We wanted you to get to know Mitchell-Stokes even better, so we asked her lots of personal questions. Lucky for us she agreed to answer them! Read all about it below.

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1. You’ve been blogging for more than 10 years! Congratulations! What are the three biggest changes you’ve noticed in fashion blogging over the past decade?
“It's definitely crazy that I've been blogging for that long. Sometimes I think I should be more accomplished with it than I am, but then I remember that we're all where we are supposed to be.

One big change is fashion has become really fast, not only in terms of the shows and collections, but in terms of newness. It seems you always need to anticipate the next big thing and getting the next thing, and I'm honestly not sure how I feel about that. I do love shopping, but there is also a huge amount of waste that goes along with it. I also want to be responsible and not go into debt to buy clothes to keep up with the Jones's.

Second, blogging used to be very anonymous. For the first 6 years of my blog, I hardly wrote about myself or had photos of myself. I did follow a few women who were doing personal style, but now pretty much all blogs are like that.

Third, my blog is a hobby and for me it always will be. Now there are girls who start a blog in high school or college and have made it into a career where they've never had a full time job. I never imagined that blogging would be a career option, but here we are!”

2.  Can you tell us a little about where you're from originally and how you first became interested in fashion?
“I'm originally from Philadelphia and I first became interested in fashion because of my maternal grandmother. She was one of 10 children and used to sew many of her own clothes. She was always very stylish and looking good was important to her. My aunt was also someone who influenced my style. She's lived in New York since I was young, and I'd go up there in the summer. I learned about larger designers and vintage shopping from her.”

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3. You have a pretty badass day job. Can you tell us about it?
“I am the art director for Banana Republic Factory Store. I concept, design, and execute all of the creative you see in our stores, and oversee the digital marketing of our brand as well. Each day is completely different and challenging, from designing a promotion to concepting for a photoshoot, to developing strategy with our creative director and marketing team. I've learned so much about the fashion and retail industries, and I love how my part of that ties into the overall strategy of the brand.”

4. What was your path to your current gig?
“It was a long one for sure! I have loved design as long as I can remember, but never thought of it as a career. I majored in civil engineering and urban planning in college, but switched to advertising and design during my junior year after attending a summer session at Parsons. From there I worked at agencies and freelanced on the East Coast, then decided I wanted to go to graduate school to learn even more. I moved out here, finished my degree, and kept connecting with people about my desire to combine my love of fashion and graphic design. Eventually I freelanced at a company where one of their clients was Gap, and someone recommended me for a job there.”

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5. How do you manage to balance your full time responsibilities with blogging?
“It is a challenge to balance blogging, my job, and having a life, but I don't force myself to blog every day. I believe it's much more authentic to write when you want to and not be dictated to a schedule. You want your writing and posts to feel real, not that you're doing it to make a buck or push a sale on your readers. I'm also honest about trying to juggle everything on the blog.”

6. Have you ever been tempted to quit blogging? (if yes, why?)
“Of course! I think we've all had feelings of being low on energy or inspiration, and I usually find that stepping away from the computer (especially for me because my day job involves sitting in front of one most of the day) and exploring the city. Overall I have been feeling like there is a lot of ‘sameness' in blogging and the blogs that brands work with, and that has been frustrating. We all have our story to tell in our unique way, and I feel there is still space out there for a 40-something professional African-American blogger.”

7. How does living in San Francisco influence your style?
“I've added much more color to my wardrobe, but in a pinch, I can't resist reaching for an all-black or all-gray look. I've also become much more into wearing heels here, which seems odd since I'm from the East Coast. I have become more open to trying new things too, but I also think that has come with getting older and feeling more sure of myself.”

8. Where do you shop?
“I try to shop local when I can, so I love shops like Curve, Rand + Statler, Elizabeth Charles, and Ethos. Barneys is one at the top of my list, as well as Nordstrom, Club Monaco and of course Banana Republic!”

9. Do you monetize you blog? What works best for you?
“I don't have any ads on my site, so I mainly monetize via affiliate links from RewardStyle and ShopStyle and through collaborations. I'm happy to work full time and that is where I get the majority of my income and whatever I earn from the site is a bonus. I want to focus on working with brands that speak to me and my readers.”

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10. How would you describe your style?
“It's more on the tomboy side although every now and again I like to dress super feminine. I love mixing more masculine pieces—even shopping in the men's department—with girly ones. I also can't resist a high heel and statement accessories.”

11. What made you recently join IFB?
“I remember when Jennine started IFB, and I went to the very first IFB conference. I have seen it develop over the years along with how blogging has changed, but one thing that has always been at the core of blogging for me is the people you meet. IFB is a great place to connect with other bloggers, share stories, challenges, learnings, and more. I am excited to see where the future takes IFB.”

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3 Responses

  1. Shaniece Jones

    This post was very inspirational. I have started a blog a few years ago, scrapped it and then started another, scrapped it because I thought I would never build an audience and that there weren’t many African American bloggers, but thank you for this as it has inspired me to go and pick up the pen again and start typing.

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