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Women in Business Q&A: Jordan Reid, Founding Editor, RamshackleGlam.com

02/10/2015 06:11 am ET | Updated Apr 12, 2015

Jordan Reid is the founding editor of the style website RamshackleGlam.com and the author of Ramshackle Glam: The New Mom's Haphazard Guide To (Almost) Having It All and Carrying On (coming from Running Press in Fall 2015). Reid grew up in New York City, studied cognitive neuroscience at Harvard University, and worked as an actress for over a decade before turning her focus to fashion, beauty, entertaining, home décor, parenting and relationships

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Two words: epic failure. We're not talking your average not-so-hot career moment; we're talking a total ball-of-flames-style departure from an industry that I thought I'd spend my life in. I was a professional actress since the age of 13, and when I was 22 I co-created the show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia with my ex-boyfriend and two of our friends. When my relationship ended and I exited the show, I was immediately fired by my manager, and soon after by my agent...and then I started being asked to audition for Ron Jeremy vehicles (really), and there you go: good-bye, acting.

What this taught me: how to let go of what I thought I "should" be doing with my life and figure out rather what I actually "wanted" to do...and what I was best at, because let me tell you: it wasn't acting. I had just been too frightened to admit that, because I had spent so long pouring all my energy into the idea of becoming an actress. Once I was forced to confront the reality that I'd have to do something else with my life, I realized that acting wasn't what I really loved at all; I had just never thought seriously about doing anything else. I knew I was interested in everything from writing to photography to entertaining to marketing, but mostly I knew that I hated the idea of narrowing down what I did to the same thing day in and day out. I wanted to do it all...I just didn't know how.

As it turned out, I was tailor-made for what I do now, and it took a forced departure from what I had thought I should be doing to make me realize it. I think it's so exciting to acknowledge that you can change direction in life and that it doesn't devalue everything that came before. It's all part of your story, and your story is allowed to evolve.

What I've learned in these years that I've been writing Ramshackle Glam is that one of the most important qualities you can have - regardless of the industry you're in, or your position in it - is a willingness to be open about your shortcomings and honest about the ways in which you can improve. And what I write about more than anything is that: all the ways in which I want to get better.

How has your previous experience aided the development of Ramshackle Glam?
Blogging these days - or at least the kind of blogging I do - has become truly interdisciplinary. It's not just writing, or photography - it's those things, of course, but it's also styling. On-camera work. Marketing. Event hosting. Storytelling. In past years, I've worked as a professional actor, model and writer, so that experience definitely made me comfortable with some of the more niche aspects of being a blogger - the ability to host shows, for example, or to tell a brand's story in a way that I find personally interesting and that I think my readers will find interesting.

An even more fundamental way that my previous experience made Ramshackle Glam in its present state possible: the massive career shift I underwent in my mid-twenties - from professional actress to professional blogger - made me realize that you don't need to be perfect at something to try your hand at it. Being brave enough to give it a shot - and then to follow through on your plans rather than just talking about them - is what makes all the difference. I always wanted to write a book, but was intimidated by the sheer size of the project; starting Ramshackle Glam with virtually no knowledge of what blogging for a living might entail was what gave me the courage to just write the thing. Jump in with both feet, get it done, and then try another thing, and another.

What have the highlights and challenges been throughout your career?
In terms of career highlights, I think having the chance to direct, produce, write and host my own show, Jordan In The House (which aired for two seasons on the DIGS Channel), was really up there, just because I came from the sector of entertainment where you don't have a ton of say over...well, anything, and to all of a sudden be handed the reins to a show and given full control over everything from its aesthetic to its message was incredibly exciting - not to mention one of the single best learning experiences of my life.

A major challenge (as anyone who puts themselves into the circus of the Internet can attest to) is the pervasive negativity from commenters that, at times, veers into outright attack. I'd be lying if I said it was easy for me to deal with this; of course getting an email or a comment slamming my work, my life choices, or my marriage is upsetting. Of course I wish it didn't happen. But when it comes down to it, it's my choice to do what I do. And everyone is entitled to their opinion. I can't control what people think or what they say; all I can control is my response to it, and so what I try to do is find the lesson that's usually hidden somewhere inside the anger. People just want to be heard; if you take the time to listen you might be surprised at what you learn.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking to write their own book / start their own site?
When we were working on Sunny, the one thing that stunned people more than anything else was that we'd just gone and done it. We'd had an idea for a show, and instead of talking and talking and talking about how cool it would be to shoot it...we shot it. Same with Ramshackle Glam: I had no idea what starting a website (or maintaining it on a daily basis) might entail, but instead of spending months circling the idea (and possibly never working up the courage to hit that "publish" button), I just did it. And figured it out as I went.

Today's culture of oversharing and seemingly overnight success stories creates this inflated set of expectations that opportunities will just get handed to you because you're you. And while talent matters, even more important than ability is a willingness to show up. The very best thing you can do to put yourself in the way of success is to just get it done. Do the job, do it well, give credit where it's due, and you'll blow everyone away.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I'd say that's one of the most significant challenges that comes along with this industry - my life in many ways is my work, and so sometimes it's hard to separate the two. But since I've had kids it's become especially important to me to make sure that they don't feel burdened by my job: my site documents my life, but it is not about my family; it's about my experiences as a woman and as a mother who's trying to figure out how to do stuff she doesn't necessarily know how to do.
I think it's pretty remarkable to be working in an industry that's almost entirely populated by women, and one that actively helps women accommodate those parts of their lives - family, most importantly - that aren't especially well-supported by many more traditional lines of work. It's a real gift to be able to spend as much time with my children and husband as I do while still running my own business.

Also, I definitely work on weekends and holidays and vacations. Of course I wish I didn't have to, but that's the reality of a job like this where immediacy is everything, and there are so many tremendous advantages to self-employment that the fact that I don't really get days off pales in comparison.

What is your main goal through your site?
To me, one of the negative side-effects of the rise of social media is the fact that people are kind of curating a picture of what their life looks like for public consumption...and what's more interesting, of course, is what their life really looks like. It's very important to me to not just share a cute bag or an easy recipe or a fun beauty product, but to also talk about all that less photogenic - but far more interesting - stuff that happens in between.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I started Ramshackle Glam about five seconds before the industry basically exploded in terms of possibilities, so I can safely say I never saw any of this coming. Credit for being prescient about the potential of social platforms to influence fashion, beauty and media goes to Karen Robinovitz, the founder of Digital Brand Architects, and my manager at DBA, Reesa Lake, who have helped me take on projects - writing two books, curating a line for DKNY, hosting beauty shows for Allure, speaking at conferences - beyond anything I could have imagined.

I grew up acting in commercials, and so have essentially been in the advertising and marketing industry since I was a teenager, but what Karen conceived of is something else entirely: utilizing real women with real stories to bring brands into the real world. The ways in which I've had the opportunity to work with major companies - actually sitting down with them to personally create and execute content that isn't just about message delivery, but is actually about education and entertainment - is just extraordinary, and is a testament to DBA's imaginative, forward-thinking approach to the industry.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
One of my big personal heroes is Linda Wells, the longtime editor in chief of Allure - I remember reading her letters from the editor years and years ago and being so struck by the fact that this accomplished, elegant woman was so willing to be forthcoming about her insecurities. It made her more relatable, and somehow even more authoritative.

I also very much admire women who own their past mistakes without apologizing for them - Angelina Jolie and Reese Witherspoon are two examples who come immediately to mind. And as writers go, it doesn't get better than Joan Didion and Ann Leary; both women take on deeply uncomfortable topics with bravery and honesty.

What do you want Ramshackle Glam to accomplish in the next year?
Five years ago, when I started the site, I couldn't have even begun to imagine the directions that it would go in. A year ago, I would have said the same thing. Sometimes it seems like every day brings a new opportunity that I never saw coming, and that's my favorite part of what I do now: the constant evolution. The truth is I don't know where all this is going...but I'm excited to find out.