Hard Work, Macarons, and So Much Color

Sugar & Cloth

Almost five years ago, it started as a creative side project and now it’s one of the most popular DIY blogs there is. Ashley Rose, 28, started Sugar & Cloth while she was working at a local seafood restaurant because she wanted to figure out what she really wanted to do and she wanted something creative to work towards in helping her do so. In the past five years, S&C has been named ‘Best DIY Blog’ by ‘Better Homes & Gardens,’ a ‘Top 12 Instagram Account to Follow’ by ‘Huffington Post,’ partnered with Anthropologie and Home Depot, been featured in ‘Teen Vogue,’ ‘Oprah Magazine,’ ‘Real Simple,’ ‘Huffington Post,’ and ‘Martha Stewart Living.’ Oh, and this is just a small sampling of where she’s been featured, who she has collaborated with, and accolades she’s received! However, S&C wasn’t an overnight success; Ashley worked (and continues to work) SO incredibly hard, all the time. She’s extremely passionate about what she does, and it shows through in each and every project she does and post she writes. I’m so excited to feature Ashley here today, so keep on reading to find out what inspires her, her biggest ‘pinch me’ moment of her career, thus far, what a day in her life is like, and lots more. 

Sugar & Cloth has become a household name these days, and you’ve had so many incredible opportunities – what do you attribute all this success to? 

Well I definitely don’t think we’re a household name just yet, but it makes my day to even be considered to be in that realm of success! Putting in the time, dedication, and sometimes sacrifice, to make the dream happen is definitely what I attribute it to.

What has been the biggest ‘pinch me’ moment of your career, thus far?

Getting to style Amazon’s newest party site for their entertaining products. It’s crazy to think that out of everyone they could choose for that, they chose us!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to start a blog?

Be ready to hustle and shrug off the small stuff! There’s a definite misconception that blogging is a super laid bag gig, that pays a lot, and showers you with free stuff. It’s so far from that, that I actually laugh when people say things like that. Remember that nothing is ever free, and if you’re going to stand out enough to get paid to make a living from it, you’re going to have to put in the time and money to make it happen.

What’s your favorite project you’ve ever worked on? I’m sure it’s hard to pick just one, so you can pick a few!

I love quite a few of our DIY projects, and end up hoarding them for faaaaar too long afterwards, but our styled parties are always the most fun because we get to invite people over to enjoy them with. Our recent tropical garden party was a blast!

Walk us thru a day in your life! I imagine no two are the same. 

To be honest, life is still super chaotic for us. We’ve definitely streamlined a lot of things from almost five years ago until now, but as a small business, we’re still a little all over the place and figuring things out as we go. Usually it starts with Jared splashing coffee on my face to wake me up (ha! I’m only sort of kidding..), and then I go through my inbox to make sure all of the most important things have been taken care of. From there we’ve either planned a shoot day to meet deadlines and keep new blog content in the works, or it’s more of an admin day where I spend time on the behind the scenes work. More often than not it’s a behind the scenes kind of day. We spend more time on that than the fun stuff!

You’re coming up on your 5 year ‘blogiversary’ – WOW. Can you even believe it? What’s been the most challenging part about running S&C all these years? Most rewarding? 

The learning curve of running a small business is by far the most challenging. Between accounting, marketing, content creating, social media strategies, etc. you basically have to be a jack of all trades, plus a master of some! I like the challenge, but it can definitely feel like an uphill battle some days. The most rewarding by far is getting to read the immediate reaction from readers that love what we’re creating and sharing with them each day!

What inspires you?

Observing new things. I love snapping random, horrible photos of things that I see and love, whether that’s unexpected color combinations, or cool architecture or furnishings from places we’ve traveled. When you put new inspirations together, you can always make something fresh and new for people to read.

If you could get coffee and macarons (I know you love macarons!) with one person, living or not, who would it be and why? And what flavor macarons would you order?

Dorothy Draper! She was totally someone who broke the mold and stepped so far out of the box that she’s still recognizable even after her passing. And I’m a red velvet macaron girl all the way!

What motto/quote do you always try to live by?

Do the right thing, even when no one is looking.

What’s coming up for S&C? Can you share anything that’s in the pipeline?

A product line!!! We’re feeling all the feels over here!

Thanks, Ashley!

Photography by Jared Smith 

Be sure to follow Sugar & Cloth on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Read past interviews here.

If you or someone you know might be a good fit for this series, reach out to me and tell me why!

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Changing the Course

A photo by Stefanus Martanto Setyo Husodo. unsplash.com/photos/GKR1tBkmW3M

I was born in Florida, and lived there until I was about 2. I’m sure if I knew what was happening at my ripe old age of 2, I would have assumed we’d stay living in Florida forever, but we moved; to Houston for a year. Again, I’m sure if I was comprehending what was going on, I would have assumed we’d stay living in Houston forever,but we moved; to Cleveland for 5 years. 5 whole years somewhere; we must be staying here forever, but we moved; to Chicago for a year. At this point, I imagine that I kind of just assumed we’d move every few years, but I think there was still that little feeling that this is now my forever home, but we moved; back to Houston for about 7 years. Ok, this has to be it, right? We’ll definitely stay in Houston forever, but we moved; back to Cleveland for a year. Ok this REALLY is it, or so I thought, but then we moved; to New York where I finished up high school. Alright, so now I was off to college. I went off to University of Miami, and I figured I’d be there all 4 years of college, but I transferred; to UMASS Amherst. I then figured I’d stay there the remaining 3 years, but then I transferred; to Lasell College, where I graduated from. I stayed in the Boston area for about 2 years after I graduated, and I then moved back to New York. Ok I really thought I was going to settle in New York, but I moved; BACK to Houston, where I currently reside. Where next? Who the heck knows!

The point of me giving you my life story is to give an example of when things don’t necessarily go according to ‘plan.’ So often in life things do not go the way you had initially thought they would. So often life throws curveballs, and so often, we have to change our course, in one way or another, and adapt to the new situation. This can be scary. This can be frightening actually. However, it can also be really exciting and really incredible.

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The Lineup // 8.19.16


Despite the rainy weather all week long, it was still a REALLY productive, good week. First, a massive THANK YOU for all of the incredible feedback on my new site. It means more to me than you know. As well, THANK YOU to those of you who came out to Market Street on Wednesday night for the Blogger Crawl. It was really fun and I loved meeting so many of you. On Tuesday, I took an incredible yoga class. I know a lot of people tell me they don’t like yoga because it’s ‘boring,’ but you guys, it’s seriously changing my life in the most amazing way. I urge you to give it another shot if you only tried it once or twice and didn’t like it. Let’s see, what else? I have a breakfast and a lunch Friday with friends I haven’t caught up with in a while, so I’m very excited for that. Hoping to get out on the boat this weekend, but the weather isn’t looking all too promising, so we shall see. Hope you all have a GREAT weekend, and enjoy some of my favorite reads and finds from the week! 

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Sales, Patience, and Networking

Danny 2

He’s probably the hardest working guy I know who somehow always has an incredible attitude no matter the situation. He’s climbed the ladder in the radio industry quite high, and he’s only 33. I’m not only saying all of this because he’s my brother. Danny Bortnick, VP Sales CBS DC, thrives when others succeed. He leads his team in a way that makes them want to do better and makes them want to show up each and every day ready to kick ass. In sales, there are the highest highs and the lowest lows, and my brother has figured out how to navigate both ends of the spectrum in a way that truly inspires me.

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Like a Daydream

Elum Designs

What’s more relaxing and peaceful than drifting off into the most amazing daydream? I think of it as a form of meditation. Even though, technically during meditation, you’re not supposed to think about anything beyond focusing on your breath, how your body feels and such, when you daydream it’s another form of meditation, at least to me. My mind wanders to a tranquil, happy place. Whether it be a memory or something I envision happening, I love a good ol’ daydream.

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Matchmaker Matchmaker Make Me a Match


With the popularity surrounding online dating these days, it’s hard to think about dating any other way. However, I love a good old set up. Not that I’m currently dating, BUT when I was, my favorite types of dates came from set ups. One thing I never did during my dating heyday was work with a matchmaker. It’s not that it never crossed my mind, but it just never happened. If you were to ask my mom, when I was dating up a storm, she always joked about (or maybe she was serious?!) those ‘arranged marriages’ circa the ‘olden days,’ but honestly, I would have jumped on the matchmaker bandwagon in half a heart beat. This brings me to today’s interviewee, Brooke Wise, 38, Founder of Wise Matchmaking. This girl left Wharton, NYU Stern, and Wall Street in the wings in the pursuit of connecting people, and she’s one of the best in the industry. Keep on reading for her story, and if you’re based in NYC or South Florida and you’re on the market, you might want to consider becoming one of Wise Matchmaking’s next success stories.

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Welcome to My Brand New Website


It’s here, it’s here! My new website is here. I am SO excited to introduce to you my brand new website. It’s been a work in progress for a while now, and I’m SO beyond thrilled with the final results. A massive THANK YOU to the a-mazing CKO Digital team who helped bring my vision to life! In the short video below, I explain everything about the new website, but in a nutshell, I had three websites for a while (company, book, blog), and I finally decided to put them all under one roof (www.julielauren.com)! I hope you enjoy the new look, and I’d love to hear feedback in the comments below or via email. Thanks so much, as always, for all the support! xo Julie

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The Lineup // 8.12.16

DeathtoStock_CreativeSpace10 11.45.06 AM

It’s the weekend, baby! This week has been a mix of super productive, extremely busy, but also fairly relaxed, if that makes any sense at all. Wednesday was a non stop day, as you saw if you follow me on Snapchat (jlb4567). It started with a Great Day Houston segment in the morning, followed by a fall trends brunch at Neiman Marcus, and that evening was rewardStyle School Night. I tried a rowing class for the first time on Tuesday, and yesterday I did yoga at a studio I hadn’t been to before. And TODAY I’m doing Jazzercise. Yes, you read that right…Jazzercise circa 1987. I did it a few times a couple years back, and I really liked it! So, hopefully you’re following along with the #ClassPassChallenge and trying some new things on your end. Anyway, what do you have going on this weekend?! Whatever you’re up to, have a great one! 

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A Writer, A Comedian, A Speaker, and A Dope Ass Mom

Andrea Levoff

Ok, here’s the deal. I’m not a mom, not even close to being a mom, BUT if I were a mom, I’d want to be a dope ass mom (aka Andrea Levoff). While I do have nephews and a niece, I can’t speak to being a mother, but I can see that, at times, it can be stressful and a lot of work (totally worth it, I know, but a lot of work). However, Andrea, 34, makes it look like SO. MUCH. FUN. This woman is HILARIOUS, and she honestly makes motherhood look pretty damn fantastic. She’s not only a writer, performer, comedian, and speaker, but most recently launched a web series aptly named Dope Ass Mom, and you guys, I promise, you’ll practically be peeing yourself laughing while watching. I was so excited to get to ask Andrea about her life, her kids, what inspires her, and so much more. Keep on reading…

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Blogger Crawl


You’re all familiar with what a bar crawl is, I assume. You know, when you go from bar to bar to bar to bar until you can’t stand up anymore. Well, let me introduce you to the Blogger Crawl. This is where you go from store to store to store to store all while shopping and visiting with the bloggers who are partnered with the individual stores. Sounds fun, right?!

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