When Megan Kristel, BBA ’02, founded her blog The Well Dressed Life in 2015, she did not expect it to become the primary avenue for achieving her goals of connecting with people and fostering a community in the world of retail fashion.
“I had used it [the blog] for traditional marketing. I thought, ‘I wonder if I can just take the concept of helping women navigate retail… from being one on one with someone locally [and] open it up to a bigger audience,’” says Kristel.
Kristel graduated with an understanding of how to take her newfound knowledge and experience into the marketplace.
“I was really focused on traditional retail,” she says. “I was very laser focused on being a buyer, I knew what I wanted it to look like, and how I wanted it to pan out.”
Getting her start in a variety of sales and buyer positions, Kristel gained first-hand experience with the language that goes into product marketing, and how to engage with an audience.
“It’s like you’re just having a conversation with me, and I’m having a conversation with the reader. In the end, there’s always a value added with that.”
Kristel had a large audience to consider while working at QVC, but the prospect of developing personal relationships with people appealed to her. Kristel’s passion for engaging with an audience more intimately inspired her to create a personal styling business in 2012.
“I really loved the idea of working one on one with people,” says Kristel. “I left QVC to start a company called Kristel Closets, and that was based on personal shopping and styling people. I understood retail, fashion and business, so I could put them all together.”
Since starting the personal styling business, Kristel has formed relationships with her clients, many of whom have become readers of The Well Dressed Life.
“A lot of the people who were my first readers were clients,” she says. “They were really instrumental in giving me the guidance of, ‘Okay, this is what we want to read about,’ or ‘These are the events I’m having a hard time getting dressed for.’”
Since 2015, the audience for her blog has grown, expanding beyond the blog itself. A private Facebook group was created and has become a safe space for women of all ages, body types and backgrounds to get together and have honest conversations prompted by Kristel’s writing. Kristel emphasized her commitment to creating an environment that is fun, inquisitive and supportive.
When reflecting on the community that formed around her work, Kristel expressed gratitude and admiration for her readers.
“I spend a lot of time reading the posts and the comments in the Facebook group because they will ask very specific questions. I try to make sure that each post answers a question in some way.”
Incorporating a private Facebook group into the project helped to foster the sense of direct engagement and consideration that had been essential while interacting with clients throughout her career, especially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. This desire for people to connect in new ways has led to an increase in Kristel’s audience.
“Getting a source that’s your trusted source for whatever it is you’re purchasing; I think there’s a really straight pathway to that now that we’re in this ‘new normal’ in commerce,” she says. “What’s been a silver lining is that we have grown the community and people are seeking out that connection.”
Kristel spoke about the role the Fox School played in preparing her for the demands of entrepreneurship, and how Temple fostered a community to network and form lasting friendships.
“In one of my senior marketing classes, I wrote a marketing plan for a boutique. So much of what I learned through the process of doing that, I’ve done in different capacities, creating the blog and figuring out my target market.” She went on to say that, “Temple was so practical. Everything was so down to Earth. The way that things were presented, I always understood it in a deeper way because it was put in real-life terms.”
According to Kristel, forging your own path in a marketplace requires grit. Speaking on the need to think critically and make important decisions she said, “I look at things very pragmatically, and I think that’s been a big bonus in terms of running the business. You can have a big plan, but you’ve got to break it down into really accessible details to figure out, ‘Is this worth doing?’”
When asked to share some advice for students currently enrolled at the Fox School, Kristel offered words of encouragement.
“If you’re thinking of starting something, don’t wait for things to be perfect. Trust your gut, be okay with making mistakes. You have to have an open mind and go with the flow, because it’s such a different world now.”
Check out Kristel’s blog: The Well Dressed Life.