How Stefanie Schoen Balances The Style Safari With Raising a Toddler
Stefanie Schoen doesn’t tip toe around the realities of balancing motherhood with her blogging career. “I believe very strongly that the hardest job in the world is being a mother, but the second hardest job is working for yourself,” she said. “Going into an office and being told what to do is much easier than having to self-motivate in something like the blogging world, where every single action has to be executed by you and thought of ahead of time by you.”
Schoen speaks from experience. She launched The Style Safari in 2011 as a creative outlet separate from her 9-to-5 corporate gig. In the years since then, she moved from New York to Marin County, left her corporate job, and turned to blogging and consulting full-time. Last year, she had her first child, a daughter named Marina, sending her already-frenzied work pace into overdrive.
Parenting while blogging has been crash course in efficiency for Schoen, but to really understand it, you first have to know what goes into her posts. Schoen found her niche in sustainability, focusing on sustainable fashion, (including sewing most of her own clothes), and clean beauty. Before a post goes live, she comes up with the concept, considers the imagery she needs to shoot for each of her social channels, and actually creates content. For many of her posts, that includes designing and sewing an outfit. Schoen’s photos make her life look effortless, but there are hours of work that go into every post—and very little downtime.
In the editorial world, there’s a concept known as “banking content.” Whether it’s Vogue or a lifestyle blog, readers expect newness. You can’t take a vacation, celebrate a holiday, or peace out to have a baby and leave folks empty-handed, so the people behind those publications work overtime to write extra articles before a planned absence and make sure posting occurs at a regular pace. If you work for a glossy mag, you have co-workers to help pick up the slack while you’re out. When you’re a solo blogger, you may not be editing your blog post from the maternity ward, but there’s a decent chance that you’re still on Pinterest and Instagram to prevent your engagement from tanking.
It’s not a matter of ego. Views and likes affect a blogger’s ability to secure deals and make a living.
“I would imagine that most people are blogging find it very difficult [to take parental leave],” she said. “It’s not just the blog. The algorithms, Instagram—all this stuff would disappear, and then all the work you’ve done to get to a certain point disappears.” Schoen prepared about three weeks’ worth of blog posts before she gave birth, but she still had to post on Instagram and pin them to Pinterest while she was “off” from work.
Socializing—attending events and product launches—is also an important part of a blogger’s day-to-day job, and one of the more glamorous aspects from an outsider’s perspective: Who doesn’t want to be the well-dressed person at a picture-perfect luncheon Boomerang-ing a glass of rosé? But for new mamas in the lifestyle blogging world, finding the time to attend events is challenging.
“When Marina was a few months old and could be worn on me and was just sleeping all the time, I was able to do a lot more of these blogging events, and I thought, ‘Look at me! I’m doing it all! I can do it,’” Schoen said. “And then of course she gets much more awake, and she’s yelling, and she sees food, and she wants the food, and she’s throwing food, and no longer can I bring her to events.” To keep her business running, Schoen eventually had to admit to herself that she needed to enlist help.
“Most bloggers and content creators, we have been doing this 100% ourselves. Years ago, when we decided this is what we wanted to do, we learned how to operate a camera, we taught ourselves SEO or Wordpress, we learned how to do all these things ourselves. It’s hard for us to say, after all that work, now I have to outsource childcare because—especially with a career like this—you can’t make money if you outsource it all. You have to do [your blog] yourself. For someone who’s scrappy and DIY like me, it was a hard realization,” Schoen explained.
These days, Schoen is fortunate to have childcare at home twice a week and for a limited number of hours at her gym, but she admits that it’s still a juggling act. When Marina’s nanny is at the house, Schoen is usually writing or sewing. When she books childcare at the gym, she squeezes in a workout and email responses in a 90-minute window. Since Schoen’s husband is her photographer, she shoots images for the blog on weekends or in the morning before he leaves for work. “I’ll wake up super early, I’ll get ready, and we’ll put Marina in the car. I’ll drop him off at the ferry to go to work, but we’ll go take a photo in the ten minutes before the ferry leaves. So it’s 7:40 in the morning, and I’m all ready to go. That’s the only way I’m going to get my image,” she said. “It’s hard, but you find all these efficiencies and wonder, ‘How did I do things before I had kids? How much time did I spend doing nothing?’”
As a toddler, Marina can appreciate the bright colors and textures that fill Schoen’s life, but she’s too young to understand her mother’s job. As she grows up, Schoen hopes that her blogging career teaches Marina that she can look beyond conventional jobs. “I hope she learns that there is a path to do what you want to do. It may not be straightforward path, but there is a path to get there. And I want her to learn that she can have more than one interest,” Schoen said. “ I loved my corporate job, but I also loved ten other things. It was hard to choose just one; to be good at just one. And that’s one of the reasons I started the blog. I hope that she learns that if she wants to play guitar and she wants to be a Spanish teacher, and whatever, she can find a way to pursue all of her passions.”
And if Marina wants to be a blogger just like mom?
“I would say sure. I could never be a hypocrite about it.”