AGE || 24
Company Name || Austen Tosone / Keep Calm and Chiffon
Job TitlE || Freelance writer, editor and blogger
Company Start Date || May 2018 / June 2012
Years living in New York || 5 ½
Social Handles || @austentosone on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest
Company Website || Keep Calm and Chiffon
What did you want to be as a child?
When I was younger, I wanted to be an actor. I loved getting dressed up and pretending to be somebody else. I now realize how well that translates to my career now. As a blogger I get dressed up and take photos of my outfits for Instagram or speak on camera about clothing and beauty products on my YouTube channel, and since I’m a storyteller at heart, that is also what makes me love being a freelance writer.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given when you were starting out?
Say yes to everything at the beginning! Whether it’s a brand who wants to partner with you or a publication who assigns you a story say yes early on so that you can learn what you do and don’t like about a certain field or projects. I knew I wanted to work in fashion and my first internship was with a designer. I quickly realized that being a fashion designer wasn’t for me, but I loved the styling and social media skills I picked up and knew that I wanted my next internship to be at a fashion magazine. Even if an experience teaches you that you don’t want a certain job, that makes it valuable.
What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in starting or running your business?
I guess that would be steady work and a steady salary! Every project or assignment that I take on is something I’ve gone out and found for myself, which makes me really proud, but I totally understand that not everyone is willing to give up the comforts of a 9-5 job.
How do you define success?
To me success is making a living doing what I love, and although it took a couple of months of shaky footing, I feel really comfortable with where I am now.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned since starting out?
The most important thing is to know your worth. There are a few times where I’ve been offered a small amount of money for an assignment or project and even if it seems cool I’ll speak up if the rate is too low for me to accept. Definitely think about whether something is worth your time and effort. Negotiating is a part of having a business and even if it feels uncomfortable to speak up, I always feel better after I do.
What is your go-to motivational quote?
Right now I’m loving “The secret to getting ahead is getting started.” I’m not sure who said it, but it’s so true! People worry about having the perfect company name or the perfect product right when they launch and sometimes you just have to put an idea out there and see how people react. I’ve re-designed my blog three times since I started it and the first photos I posted were blurry and small, but they gave me a starting point that I could improve from over time.
How did you first learn about blogging?
I started my blog Keep Calm and Chiffon in the summer of 2012 because I had just graduated high school and for the first time in my life, I was bored. I figured I could make it a summer project to track my outfits and upload photos each day and once I started college, I just never stopped. I had learned about bloggers from a website called lookbook.nu and was reading blogs like Sea of Shoes, Fashion Toast, BryanBoy and Wendy’s Lookbook.
Do you have a personal motto?
I don’t actually! Maybe I should get one.
Which women inspire you?
My mom, Grace Coddington, Michelle Lee, Coco Chanel, Lindsay Silberman, Caitlin Patton, the list could go on forever!
What is your workspace like?
I don’t have a go-to workspace. Some days I work at my kitchen table, other days I’m at one of my favorite coffee shops, and sometimes I am able to work out of client’s offices or co-working spaces like The Wing.
How do you overcome moments of self-doubt?
I just try to remind myself that I’m probably not alone in whatever I’m feeling and that those moments are generally fleeting. Those kind of moments usually only make me want to work harder so I try to use them as motivation to pitch a new publication or email a brand contact to set up a coffee date and be productive.
What is the hardest part about being your own boss?
Having to handle all parts of the business, even ones that are outside of your comfort zone. If I’m writing an article for a publication I am the researcher, interviewer, writer, and fact-checker. If I’m shooting a new YouTube video I am the director, producer, on-camera host, video editor, and social media promotion team. Thankfully I have an amazing network of people who I can ask for help or input if I’m ever really stuck.
How do you handle situations where you feel overwhelmed?
If I’m feeling overwhelmed, the best thing for me to do is to take a step back and reevaluate my to-do list. If something is urgent, I’ll work towards finishing that but if other tasks can wait I’ll usually text a friend to meet for a drink or a cup of coffee and give myself a moment to reset.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.