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Who:Amanda Gluck
Where: Coconut Grove, FL
What: Brand Evolution; Creative Process; Working with a Photographer
Occupation: Decor Expert, Event Stylist, and Mom of two (with a third on the way!)

Party stylist, blogger and fashionable entertaining entrepreneur Amanda Gluck has been building the Fashionable Hostess brand since before Instagram came on the scene. She discovered a love for home goods while developing her own wedding registry and channeled that passion into building a successful business. We had a cup of coffee with Amanda at one of her favorite spots in Miami to learn about what it really takes to produce those picturesque tablescapes she’s so well known for on Instagram today.

Your blog was born after getting engaged and curating your wedding registry – how did that experience inspire and help organically shape the vision for FashionableHostess.com?
When I got engaged, I was incredibly overwhelmed by the registry process. How would I choose what I needed? What quantity? What price?! I searched online for answers to these questions and found very little information, so I began to share my experience and learning’s along the way online. I also began to document and share the really fun part – entertaining and decorating with my new kitchen and home goods as it all slowly arrived. I never saw this as building a business {I was actually working in Fashion PR}, I was simply a gal sharing a peek inside her home!

Throughout the process, I discovered that I love entertaining at home and I continued to share and really began focusing on tablescapes. It wasn't until over a year later that Fashionable Hostess really started to take form. I started to share more about my life… moving and decorating my apartments {and later homes}, hosting holiday parties {what I was cooking or wearing to match} and then having kids. These life experiences kept evolving and shaping Fashionable Hostess. I love that it continues to grow and change as my life does. Currently, I am on home #3, baby #3, and dinner party #2,589 {just kidding! but probably close!}.

How would you describe your ‘content niche’, and how has that expertise worked in your favor for securing long-term brand partnerships?
My two key niches are “entertaining” and “home decor” but I don’t keep myself too boxed in because entertaining can be everything from the table to the recipes to the cocktails! I have always found that while people love my “work” they also like a glimpse into my life, so my home, kids, fashion, husband etc. make appearances within my content. I think the one thing though that holds it all together under this Fashionable Hostess umbrella is the aesthetic. My aesthetic is always consistent in color and style, and I think brands love when they know what they are going to get!

The term ‘lifestyle blogger’ or ‘lifestyle influencer’ is used generously today – do you consider yourself to be either one?
I have actually never thought about it. I am a blogger in the sense that I document my daily parties and decorating adventures and share them on my channels, but I would like to think I am influencing people’s purchases, decorating, and more! So… both?!

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What does your creative process look like when styling a photo shoot? If a glassware brand asks you to style a table setting for them, what questions do you ask yourself, and the brand, before getting to work?
Well, choosing to work with a brand is a big decision. I think of my readers as “me” or “my best friend,” so I really want to test things before sharing on my blog. I check to make sure things are actually dishwasher safe or outdoor-friendly, before claiming they are! Usually, this requires having a brand send me some inventory to sample first. If a brand isn’t keen on sending, I may just need to pass. Then, for brands I know and love, it’s completely different. It’s more about the fun stuff: creating a vision for the shoot, browsing Pinterest for floral arrangement inspiration, and developing cocktail recipes. I make a mood board and head to the grocery store and florist with a list in hand!

What’s your recipe for creating sponsored content that will meet, or exceed a brand partner’s expectations? What advice would you give to content creators who are just starting to seek out paid partnerships?
Whenever I style a shoot I really try to make it FABULOUS!! There have been times I have created a display, done the photo shoot and then just had to toss the photos. If I’m not obsessed/proud/can’t wait to post on my site, then I know it’s not going to be good enough. And something to keep in mind… it’s a small industry! I can’t tell you how many times I have done a project for a company, and afterward, their PR team recommends me for another project. Oh and keep in mind how easy you are to work with as well. No brand wants to repeat business with someone who doesn’t respond quickly or isn’t easy about feedback!

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You work with a professional photographer for your shoots. In your opinion, what are the benefits of working with a professional photographer - are there any cons?
I LOVE my photographer because she totally gets my vision, my aesthetic, and me. Every time we start a shoot, I walk her through the key featured items, angles I am hoping to achieve, etc. Over the course of the shoot, I check to see how her photos are looking and make sure she's capturing my vision. My personal opinion is to know your strengths and weaknesses. I am great with an iPhone camera so I take my Instagram photos with my phone, but I am horrible with a real camera. So, rather than stressing, I found someone who is amazingly talented to take my blog photos so I can spend more time focusing on the part I love: the styling. If you feel like you aren't able to get the photos you want, try I would recommend working with a photographer. For me, it’s worth the money for sure! The only con here is that you don’t get the photos the second you are done with the shoot, but I usually tell my photographer how quickly I need them turned around and she’s willing to work with me on my timeline.

Let’s talk about Instagram Stories and real-time social channels. Does your posting cadence and strategy differ between real-time and static main feed?
Yes! Truthfully, I am still working on getting Instagram Stories up to par. I am such a perfectionist when it comes to sharing photos on Instagram and I hate the idea of sharing anything that isn't beautiful, even on Stories, which means I don’t post nearly enough. In reality, I know people want to see more of my day to day, so I try to find a middle ground. Long story short? My Instagram is totally planned and color-coded etc., while my Stories strive to show a real, behind the scenes look into my life.

What does the future of FashionableHostess.com hold? You have always been the sole contributor, but have you considered building a bigger team?
What does it hold? I would love to know - and that unknown is kind of the beauty of it all. Ultimately, I hope to expand into the world of products, having a Fashionable Hostess curated line for some of my favorite brands or retailers. As for contributors… I recently added the FH Dinner Party Series guest post where once or twice a month I show how other influencers and bloggers entertain in their homes. So far it’s gotten a good response, but in terms of actually expanding to more writers on the site, I am not sure. We’ll see though because there are only so many hours in the day!

Coffee with Collaborators is an interview series featuring the incredibly talented, creative voices in our community. Interested in having coffee? Email us.