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Haute in the City
This article originally appeared in the Bentley Magazine.
One perk of Grace Atwood’s job at online fashion jewelry boutique BaubleBar is the dress code. Or rather lack thereof.
“At my first job we had to wear suits three days a week — and I wasn’t making any money, so my suits weren’t very nice,” she says with a laugh. “I threw out every single suit that I owned when I started here.”
As social media director for BaubleBar, which is based in New York City, the Class of 2003 alumna is virtually required to follow her fashion instincts. The choice might be a breezy lace dress from Tribeca fashion house Sea, paired with silver heels and a stack of charm bracelets. Or skinny jeans and a striped T-shirt, accessorized with a bold necklace.
“You can also always count on Grace to look put together, even when she thinks she looks like a mess — which is never, by the way,” says Atwood’s colleague Elanah Entin. “I don’t think a day goes by without someone asking her where she got her shoes, top, bag, etcetera.”
Atwood’s fun with fashion has serious purpose. The 32-year-old has steadily built her passion for style and design into a personal brand, centered around the popular blog TheStripe.com.
“I started the blog just as my little corner of Internet, where I could be myself and write about things that inspired me,” she says. Four years later, TheStripe.com boasts 300,000 page views every month: a bonafide business that also got Atwood the day job she loves.
A finance major at Bentley, Atwood began her career as a buyer for Filene’s in Boston. After Macy’s bought the department store chain in 2005, she moved to New York, working in marketing at Procter & Gamble and in brand management at Coty, the international beauty products company. It was valuable experience. But her creative side — stoked by a childhood full of dress-up games and craft projects — was underemployed.
“Marketing and brand management sound like they’re really creative,” she says. “But a lot of the time I was just creating PowerPoints and going through analytics and creating spreadsheets.”
TheStripe.com tapped her imagination and ingenuity. An illustrated series of do-it-yourself projects, ranging from jewelry and accessories to budget-friendly imitations of runway trends, caught on with readers. Before long, fashion and beauty brands began to seek Atwood’s endorsement.
“I loved writing about brands and designers that I thought were cool,” she explains. “I came across BaubleBar and fell in love. I started wearing their stuff and talking about it on my site.”
At the time, BaubleBar was a scrappy startup with a tiny staff. Founders of the now 100-person company were excited to see Atwood featuring their jewelry, and emailed their thanks. She replied with tips for marketing BaubleBar products to other bloggers, and the correspondence soon led to an invitation.
“We went to drinks and we had a great time,” Atwood recalls. When they mentioned a job opening, she was ready to suggest likely candidates. “And they were like, ‘No, we actually think you’d be great at it.’”
Life at Warp Speed
In the three years since Atwood joined BaubleBar, TheStripe.com has only grown more popular. Once a week before work, she hits the streets of her Manhattan neighborhood with a photographer, modeling her latest fashion finds and how-to projects for the week’s blog posts. Throughout the workday, she develops strategies for engaging with BaubleBar customers on social media platforms like Pinterest and Instagram, and manages partnerships with other fashion bloggers, including a rewards system for those who drive traffic to BaubleBar’s online store. Evenings find Atwood on the town — often for something work-related — followed by a few hours creating blog content for the next day.
“You can tell she loves what she’s doing,” says friend Alex Dickerson, whose public relations firm has worked with TheStripe.com. “Grace never has a night off — she’s always going to an event, coming up with new content on the weekend. But you’d never guess that she’s doing it for work.”
In June, the personal and professional converged in what Atwood calls “one of my proudest moments.” Her newly launched TheStripe.com collection at BaubleBar features bracelets, rings and necklaces inspired by her childhood on Cape Cod and her grandmother’s jewelry box.
If a dream career is the ultimate DIY project, Atwood has fashioned hers with hard work, careful relationship building, and savvy self-marketing.
“It’s important, while you’re building another brand, to also be working on your own personal brand,” she says. “I tell everyone to start a blog … now!”
The Yawkey Foundations have recognized Bentley University’s longstanding commitment to service-learning and awarded the university $500,000 to educate students to effectively lead nonprofit organizations and expand student efforts to help community groups.