Because, in addition to being your resource for practical and inspiring lifestyle content, Mon Amye is your friend, your sounding-board, your motivator. She’s the one you turn to for advice and to share your successes, and that’s just what the Founders + Friends series will be doing each month. [Plus, I love hearing from entrepreneurs and now I have a reason to ask after my favorite success stories!]
Today we’re talking to Kathryn and Desiree, the co-bloggers behind House of Marbury. Mes Amies may not know that my job involves lots of interacting with lawyers, and so I’m always on the hunt for attorney-appropriate-attire. I came across House of Marbury in my search for inspiration and they’ve become a go-to resource for office-appropriate yet stylish wardrobe ideas. Read on!
[Amye] The Basics: Tell us about House of Marbury.
[Kathryn (left) and Desiree (right)] House of Marbury is a blog dedicated to fashion & lifestyle topics for the professional female. We are both practicing attorneys, and so the blog has a real focus on career and professionalism – what clothing to wear to a formal business meeting, professional email etiquette, how to organize your desk – while also touching on lifestyle topics that include recipes, health & beauty routines, holiday shopping guides, and more.
Because our audience is comprised of people like us, professional, career-savvy women, we know time is valuable and we try to get as much information as possible to our readers in a concise, efficient manner.
The BFFs: How did you originally meet and become friends?
Funny story. Desiree was actually my professor in law school! She was a practicing attorney as well as an adjunct professor, teaching legal writing at Loyola University Chicago School of Law. I was in her inaugural class, and thereafter she selected me be her tutor during my second and third years of law school. We became great friends during that time, and Desiree has always served as a mentor to me.
After I graduated and we were catching up over dinner, the idea of House of Marbury developed. We were discussing why so many women have trouble dressing for work. We decided a great blog devoted to professional fashion was lacking in the marketplace, would be a fun and creative outlet for both of us, and would hopefully prove to be a go-to resource for professional women in law and across industries.
The Startup Phase: How did you first decide to go into business/blogging together?
Kate and I have a very similar work ethic (untiring!) and share a lot of interests both in our personal and professional lives. Once Kate graduated from law school and we were no longer working together in a teaching/tutoring capacity, we were eager to develop a long term project that would keep us connected, as well as allow us to pursue our mutual passions outside of practicing law.
The Now: Briefly describe House of Marbury as it stands today. Who manages what aspects of the blog? Has that evolved as time passes?
We are so proud of House of Marbury in its current iteration. We post new and original content at least three times weekly, as well as bonus content, interviews, and guest pieces each week. We are also flexible and are striving to find that perfect balance – content that is quick, informative, and functional, as well as exciting and engaging for our readers. We are diligent about our analytics and are working hard to focus in on our most popular content so we can deliver variations on that content time and again for our readers.
Our fabulous intern and blog manager, Yelena Bosovick, handles our posting schedule and controls our social media presence, which is a big component of House of Marbury. We couldn’t run House of Marbury without her!
Over time our content has evolved to best suit our readers’ specific interests and requests. Our working relationship also evolved from face to face to a more remote one as Desiree moved to the Middle East last year for a secondment in her law firm’s Doha, Qatar office. As Kate and Desiree are both self-titled “psycho email checkers,” the remote connection (not to mention the essentially opposite time zones) has not proven to be an impediment. We connect daily about content ideas, House of Marbury expansion ideas, as well as editing and reviewing one another’s posts. And anytime Desiree is back in the States, we make an effort to host live House of Marbury events as well as get together and touch base on all things personal, professional, and House of Marbury related.
The Hard Stuff: What is the biggest obstacle you have faced while in business?
One of our biggest obstacles in running House of Marbury is finding reliable team members to help execute our vision. Kate and I are incredibly committed to any endeavor we take on, and we take a lot of pride in the professionalism we put towards House of Marbury. From time to time, when collaborating with developers and others who we must rely on for certain aspects of our site that we could not manage on our own, we have been disappointed in the quality of the work, the response time with respect to emails and other communications, and more.
Ultimately, Kate and I sat down and discussed the problem, made a clear decision as to how to move forward, including a directive to bring back to the team member who was not working out, communicated our dissatisfaction, and moved on. As with all difficult things in business, these experiences are good ones from a learning perspective, and have made Kate and I better communicators both with one another and with third parties who are assisting us in our work.
The Network: Share the people in your network that have proven to be true friends. Who do you turn to for support?
Desiree: I am a big advocate of reaching out and asking for help when it is needed. This has proven to be an excellent tool in moving my legal career forward, as well as for projects like House of Marbury, Thrive (the book I wrote and published with the American Bar Association in 2012), and other efforts outside of my law firm life. I have been fortunate to encounter people in my law firm life that have turned out to be mentors and lifelong friends. I also turn to my family for support and they are always, without hesitation, there for me. With respect to House of Marbury specifically, our personal friends absolutely got us on our feet, though we’ve found that delivering good content consistently is, in a sense, its own form of reaching out for support – as we prove to be a reliable resource for our readers, they are in turn there to support us when we need them!
Kate: This is a great question, and there are so many people to name. At work, I have a mentor who provides constant support, encouragement, but most of all valuable know-how to help me succeed on the lawyer side of things and keep my stress to a manageable level. Similarly, my father, who is also an attorney practicing in the same area as me, loves his work and is always willing to listen to the cases I’m handling and provide valuable insight.
On the blog side of things, it’s amazing how many women stop me in court or after a meeting to tell me how much they loved that day’s post. Those comments and the fan mail we receive truly provide a lot of support. Before we gained that level of popularity, though, my closest friends from childhood, high school, college, and law school were all extremely supportive and even wrote some guest posts to help us provide more varied content!
The Wins: How do you celebrate your successes?
Lately, because Desiree lives on the other side of the globe, we’ve been celebrating with really enthusiastic emails and Skype sessions. :) When Desiree was stateside over the holiday season, though, we threw a big party for our friends and readers, which was a lot of fun and more than made up for the time we were not able to celebrate together! (This question is a great reminder, though, that we should make even more time to celebrate our successes, both in business and in life. We are so pleased that House of Marbury has done well in such a short amount of time, but both Kate and I are the type to move forward and to build on what we’ve started without much hesitation – we should celebrate more and more often. Hey Kate – cheers!)
Voila! Practical inspiration for your own big dreams, delivered to mes amies.
A huge thanks to Kathryn and Desiree for sharing the unique story of their friendship and how it grew into a blog and brand. As someone who thinks a lot about mentoring, it is amazing to hear stories like this where a chance meeting turned into mentoring and then true friendship.
I’m even more impressed to know that they’re continuing to produce such on-trend and informative blog posts during a long-distance phase in their friendship! (P.S. I spent a few weeks in Doha, Qatar during grad school – I’ll have to share more in a future Bon Voyage post!)
Be sure to follow House of Marbury for style savvy from these smart lady lawyers!
Liked this post? You might also like: