The Birth of Tootsie: A Photo Essay Extravaganza

I am pretty sure it’s a human being prerequisite to really mega intensely enjoy getting the behind-the-scenes story of basically, like, everything. We all want to know how anything went from nothing to something and we want to know now.

So Imma tell you.

This piece is dedicated to showing the story of how my sweet little Tootsie came to be.

It took 9 months of literal labor to pop this sucker out. I want no one under the impression that beastly beautiful dreams just happen. They do not. And around here we do not just show off shiny finished products. We show raw. We show real. We show stretched out screen shots and grainy iPhone 4 photos and unflattering photoshoot fails and pet cats sitting on all the things.

Because that’s life.

Expect to bust ass. Expect it to take way longer than you want. Expect to doubt yourself and expect to need daily reminders that you’re ok and you’re gonna freaking kill it.

Because you will.

And then – expect amazing results.

Welcome to one badass dream chasing broad’s real life journey.

WHAT IF…

1-march-selfie-

It’s early March 2014. I just spent over a year veering off a long dark road out of hell and want to document the light that has come back into my eyes and how my new found energy, spirit, and sass is manifesting itself. Obviously, a selfie is the only way to go.

2

I remember that I’m a writer, damn it, and writers need tools of the trade. So I find the best journal possible and vow that I will only write my ideas in it in Prismacolor pencils because I value quality, color, and the melding of the aforementioned with my craft.

3-March-6-2014

I let myself wonder what it would be like to blog for a living and decide that the only way to find out is to get in touch with my inner child, break out the crayons, a huge pad of art paper, and let myself dream.

Gracie gives no f*cks about any of this. She sits where she wants and I am forced to get over it.

4-polled-friends-on-fb-asking-what-they-want-to-get-out-of-a-blog-and-how-theyw-ant-the-aesthetics-to-feel-wrote-down-in-huge-colorful-word-collage-March-9-2014

I decide to take an informal poll on Facebook and ask my friends what they want out of a blog and how they want the aesthetics to feel. For some reason, it’s always been more intuitive for me to breathe life into the visual – the house and vibe and feel of it all – before deciding on content.

I also realize the only way I can do any of this and have it make sense to me is to do it big, in color, and sprawled out on the kitchen floor.

5-bed-desk-copy

My bed quickly becomes my office and by this point I’ve realized that I have absolutely no damn idea what I’m getting myself into. Obviously, I research obsessively and print way too many articles out on blogging, business, and living out passions.

I’m now working in Prismcolors, crayons, and markers and highlighting like a co-ed cutie hopped up on coffee and uppers.

6-life-coaching-success-worksheet-

I’m working weekly with my friend and life coach, Lindsay, and am filling out the self improvement worksheets she gives me like a beast. I decide on my own definition of success and break down in tears when I realize the freedom it ushers into my life that I’m not sure I’ve ever had.

7-thought-of-tootsie-march-8

I private message Linds on Facebook my very live-and-in-the-moment thoughts on everything I’m learning and what maybemightpossiblycouldbe what I’d like to write about. She’s also the first person I tell the stillswirlinginmygut name of this idea to.

8-grammy-grandpop-me-small-

This is my Grandpop. His name is Joe. He called me Toots or Tootsie and always geared up the bellowed pet name with a “HIYA!” I always loved it and I still do. Standing next to him is my Grammy. Her birthday is at the end of February and she’ll be 102. Oh, and that’s me showing a little leg.

9-thought-of-tootsie-2-march-8

I continue pouring my guts out over Facebook private messenger, start crying, and tell Lindsay that I think this is really it. I also coin the word “sniffy.”

10-bought-tootsie-march-8

An hour later, I buy hiyatootsie.com. Because obviously an hour is totally enough time to sit on the most important part of the entire project and make sure it’s right. I then promptly email my supersmartguy friend from my old job to make sure I didn’t completely screw it up and lose out on the url that has reduced me to a sniffy mess.

Lindsay does her thing encouraging me. I also find out that I, in fact, did not screw it up. The heavens rejoice.

11-March-18

A week later, Linds schools me on how to not suck at life or pre-blogging. I’m struggling because even though I’ve veered off the long hard road out of hell, my adrenal glands are still in adrenal urgent care and I’m exhausted.

Also, I’m an ENFP and at this point, the concept of taking a collage of ideas out of my own head and writing them down is legitimately revolutionary.

12-March-19

The next day, I decide to make an action plan. This action plan exists only over text message. I count this as writing it down, because, ENFP.

13-plan-of-attack-order-March-20-copy

The day after this I decide to write things down for real and put together one giant brain dump of everything I can think of that might need to happen in order to start blogging professionally. I email the list to Lindsay.

We do a coaching call where she literally sits on the other end of the phone with me and waits as I come up with three main categories and then put colored dots next to each point of the brain dump in order to categorize, organize, and prioritize.

Hashtag, I find out months later that this list is adorable and not even close to exhaustive.

14-intention-of-blog

I start sinking down into the who, what, and why of my blog idea, but it is still wildly undeveloped.

It’s around this time that I ask Lindsay if she thinks a name like Hiya Tootsie! is exclusionary or unwelcoming to men. She tells me that she assumed the whole time that my target audience was women and that when I first told her the name, she thought it was hilarious and perfect – for chicks.

I am initially completely resistant. I want my writing to be for everyone, regardless of gender. And then, very slowly and stubbornly, my mind starts to change.

I start sinking further down into my who and it starts to feel right. I do want to write for women. Dudes can read my work if they want. And they probably should. I still have no idea that this project is going to turn into a home for dream chasers.

15-March-30

It’s the eve of April 2014 and I’m laying in bed at 12:30 in the morning in my underwear, still obsessively doing research. I stumble on Bloglovin for the first time. And then I find Gala.

I shoot bolt upright in bed and say out loud “Who the hell is this?” I scope her out. I fall in love. I feel a whole lot like I’m staring at a Kiwi version of myself. I see her link to The Blogcademy. I click it. I think I have legitimate heart palpitations.

I write Lindsay immediately. It’s a hell yes. I’ve already decided that I’m going.

16-March-30-these-are-the-women-teaching

A half an hour later, I write Linds again directly after I find The Blogcademy promo video and promptly realize that I’m in love with 3 perfect strangers. I’ve found what I didn’t even know I was looking for. My people. My heart. My untapped potential. It’s 1AM and I am wide awake.

17-header

After basically memorizing the entire Blogcademy website and realizing there is a scholarship to be won, I make up my mind that it is mine for the taking and that hell yes I am going to win.

Of course, I find out about the damn thing 4 days before it’s due. So obviously I work for 4 days straight to put together the most polished, honest, professional submission I possibly can.

18-share

By the end of day 4, I’m disgusting and satisfied and dangerously close to not being in control of my bladder when I see that The Blogcademy likes my scholarship post on Facebook. I have my fangirl moment.

And then I wait. And I really feel like I’m going to get it. But I’m nervous. And I really feel like oh man, what if I don’t get it? And I wait. And I take a well-deserved shower. And I wait.

19-acceptance-email

Six days later I wake up to an email saying I FREAKING GOT IT.

The two girls I was most worried about as my competition ALSO won the scholarship. I cry. For all of us. Because we did it. And how badass are Gala, Kat, and Shauna for giving away more than one scholarship?

This solidifies my respect for them as women, creatives, bloggers, and business owners. I realize that, holy damn, this is really happening and I can feel in my bones that something big is about to shift in my life.

THE BLOGCADEMY

1-typewriter-

At this point, even though I know, I also genuinely have no idea that the rapidly approaching adventure laid out before me is about to change the trajectory of my entire life.

2-May-9-Road-trip-announcement

I decide to announce publicly that I’m doing something very special and just for me. This seems like a risk because I’m still very much in the center of my previous job and I’m worried people with think I’m screwing around.

I decide to risk anyway. People are genuinely stoked for me and I see for the first time that when I take a step toward doing something I love, people are for me. Me. Not what I do. Just me.

3-on-the-road

It’s a 7+ hour drive of boring nothingness and I’m traveling solo. I pull over into a fancy restaurant rest stop parking lot and think, “Self, it is a fabulous idea to drop into down dog and point your ass at every person who walks by. This isn’t awkward at all. Seriously though, stretch or die a slow painful death.”

4-class-

The next day, I’m the first to arrive. I stand outside the door and wait in overachiever anticipation. Fellow Blogcadettes start showing up. We all introduce ourselves to each new girl who crowds the sidewalk. We laugh and compliment compulsively on each other’s outfits and talk about where we’re all from. Basically, we’re all stoked as hell to get in there and start learning.

5-class

The women of the hour, Kat of rocknrollbride.com, Gala of galadarling.com, and Shauna of nubbytwiglet.com and wearebranch.com, welcome the most colorful, glittery, genuinely kind and joyful tribe of women I’ve ever had the privilege of instinctively belonging to.

We paw through our tote bags of goodies and position our pens and laptops for note taking action. But before we start, we go around the room and introduce ourselves, share one weird fact (mine is that I had wine with Journey on their tour bus once from Jonathan Cain’s – the keyboardist who wrote Don’t Stop Believin’ – own vineyard), and give a quick snippet of what our blog is about.

I do not have a blog at this point. But I have a name, a story, and an idea. So I share that. I mimic my grandfather’s voice when he’d greet me and everyone laughs. Multiple women come up to me during the first break and tell me how excited they are to read my eventual blog and that they love the name.

6-class

Every moment is like a shockwave of life straight to my heart. Clearly, it’s written all over my face. I feel genuinely happy – like legitimately thrilled – for the first time in a long time.

7-class

Gala takes a photo of the class to post to Instagram. We are all super jazzed. Especially the hyperactive smiler in the middle there.

8-class

There is opportunity after opportunity to sit down one-on-one with any one of the girls and get personalized feedback on our blogs. Angela is a badass baker and we are all obsessed with her skirt.

When I sit down with Kat later the next day and show her my typed and color-coded plans, she UK accent’s her way into my heart by telling me my writing is “punchy” and asks me if I was a super nerd in high school because of how organized and prepared I am for not even having a blog yet. I tell her I have a life coach and she tells me that I’m more prepared than any of them were when they first started.

I immediately count my lucky stars for Lindsay and feel like a basic badass.

9-class

I discuss color schemes with Gala, have a literal list of 15 different colors I love best, am pretty well convinced that they obviously all work together, and show her a Pinterest board I’ve put together of the general visual vibe I want to go for. She tells me that Shauna would be the best person to talk to about the aesthetics and that as a designer, she’d probably have me cut that list of 15 colors way down. She’s right.

Later when I sit down with Gala to get her opinion as a fellow writer on some sample copy, she’s also impressed with my this-is-not-my-natural-mode-of-operation organization factor and says my writing is “snappy” and that “people need to hear this stuff.” When I ask her if it’s ok to launch digital products immediately, she straightens up and says “Go for it!”

I suddenly feel validated and think, yeah, why the hell not, and mentally chest bump her in a clear display of I-would-never-do-this-in-real-life-but-my-mind-is-a-different-story gratitude.

10-class

After Shauna and I have our initial meet and hug from earlier in the day when she walked up to me, extended her arms, and said “My Marilyn Manson girl!!” (we’d bonded over our mutual inner goth online prior to the workshop), I pull her aside after class and ask if I can show her my Pinterest board.

We sit on the couch together (just pretend I’m Erin pictured above), I show her my board of 452 this-is-not-an-exaggerated-number pins, ask her if she were my designer, would the vibe make sense to her, and experience the first of what will be many professional moments where she basically guides me to pull in the damn reigns.

She tells me that if she were working with me, she’d have me take that number down to 10.

10 though.

I tell her that I’ve actually been thinking about working with her and really love her work. She pulls up her design studio’s media kit, asks for my email, says “Wow, you’re really prepared!” when I tell her it’s heather@hiyatootsie.com, and emails me on the spot.

I walk out not quite realizing just yet that I just found my designer and the woman who would also become my baby mama.

11-class

The next day I make friends with more women including Paula, Dina, Nicole, Esmé, and Alyson. They are fashion designers, yoga instructors, wine country lovers, mental health advocates, and go green or bust mavens.

12-class

I’m literally on the edge of my seat basically the entire time we’re in class and have my game face on because I realize that, hot hell, I really think I’m about to take this seriously.

Not to mention, practically sitting on top of a roomful of 30 other women who are there for the exact same reason you are and who genuinely want to see you succeed feels like you’re 5 again and just got a pony for your birthday.

13-class

We all get keychains in our goodie bag totes. Mine says “Take a risk.” This becomes the hunk of wood I stare at for days that taunts me in the best way possible as I weigh my options and think about taking the plunge.

14-class

This is Hannah. She’s the face painting extraordinaire who won one of the other scholarships. Basically, this outfit is my heart on display. Clearly, we all feel a deep, abiding love for what is going on here this weekend.

15-class

This is Theresa. She’s the self-tattooing gal pal in our scholarship winning trio. I’m thankful for her because she serves as a reminder to me that my go-big-or-go-home tribe is out there in force kicking ass and taking names.

16-class

I get a little Dashboard Confeshsappy in front of the selfie wall because I really am this happy, and damn it Blogcademy, you are the reason.

17-class

We go outside at the end of day 2 and take a very nice, normal, ultra sophisticated group shot to commemorate the weekend. It continues to sink in that I am finally home and have found my tribe of glitter encrusted wild women who clearly don’t give a damn about nice, normal, or sophisticated.

18-class

I’m officially part of the Blogcadette crew. A high need or desire to belong to any particular social group has never been my thing, but this is different and very much my thing. I legitimately feel proud and semi-giddy.

Also, my grandma necklace is large and in charge and scoffs at my inner goth. So many things are changing so rapidly.

19-class

We all get a chance to take a group shot with the women of the weekend (note the all black solidarity between me and my future designer).

Gala likes my grandma necklace.

At one point during a break prior to this shot, I’m standing in the back of our studio space talking to Shauna and Kat about tattoos. I decide it’s probably a good idea to bare half my ass cheek and show them my peppermint tattoo. A split second prior to the half ass display, I decide to be half a lady and ask if they actually want to see it. Kat stares at me and says, “Obviously.” I bare ass, they laugh, and love it.

I realize that what I just did would be ridiculous in any other setting other than this one. This is the moment that crystalizes that I am in the right place with the right people at the right time.

20-class

After class is over, my friend Hannah who I’m staying with and who recently witnessed me lose my mind publicly when we saw Tom Waits perform live a few months earlier, tells me to meet her at one of her favorite spots.

We crash a wedding photoshoot and make our own memories because IT’S THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. And I still have my ears on. So basically, move over lady.

21-class

I drive 7+ hours home, revel in the fact that I just graduated from the coolest thing I’ve ever graduated from (sorry college), and have approximately 8 kagillion phone conversations with my mom, dad, bffs, and roommate discussing if I’m really-omg-like-REALLY going to hire Shauna on as my designer.

Mom and Dad are ultra supportive and BFF Megan is especially helpful because she’s a realist, has known me since preschool, and her ability to help me consider both the big picture and the minute details is consistently on point.

It’s a big decision and takes me a good 3 weeks to make up my mind, mostly because I just spent the last 9 years in ministry work, am kind of poor, and would have to cut my savings account in half to make it happen. And oh yeah, the funds in that account, which were barely hovering above double digits in the first place, took me 10 years to save.

I decide that the time has come to make a change, though at this point I still think I’m going to continue on in my previous job while blogging, like a sane person who wants to not starve and die in the street.

I decide to go for it. I don’t realize until 3 months later that sanity has never been in the cards for me and I am 3 months away from actually transitioning careers… with no foreseeable income… because I believe my dreams are worth it… and because I’m smart enough to figure out how to make it work.

Somehow.

OMG IT’S REALLY HAPPENING

1-Media-Kit-from-Shauna

I stare at Shauna’s media kit for weeks. This is the email she sent me when I was sitting next to her on the couch in San Fran. I finally decide to write her and tell her it’s a go.

2-Email-to-sign-proposal-

She writes me back with official documents attached. I have a crap attack and can’t believe I’m really going to do this. I can’t remember the last time I was this excitascared. I don’t think I’ve ever been this excitascared.

branch-contract

I sign and date stuff. I freak out a little more. I probably cry. No, I definitely cry. It’s really happening.

4-mission-vision-position

I have my first assignment to fill out a semi-lengthy questionnaire about my business, what my brand stands for, the visual inspiration for my brand, my mission statement and tagline, my ideal customer, and my goals. This is a finalized page from my branding guide many months later describing my mission, vision, and position.

5-mood-board

Now the fun part starts. This is both legitimate and sarcastic because while I get to play with pictures (!!!), I also get to hone down the aforementioned 452 pins to 10. Shauna’s a basic badass though and lets me get away with 12. God bless her.

This is the many-months-later finalized mood board in my branding guide. We discuss at length that I’m all about juxtaposition and my visual baseline for all things Tootsie is “rock & roll in pearls.”

6-color-pallette

Now the obsessive compulsive part starts. Colors. Mixing. Matching. Sending to the color graveyard when they don’t make the cut. Resurrecting like Lazarus when I change my mind 3 days later.

This part takes legit forever because OMG-I-just-don’t-KNOW-and-all-I-want-to-use-is-GLITTER. I discuss at length with BFF Yvonne because she was a Fine Arts major and knows what she’s talking about.

Shauna placates me and lets me pick twice as many colors as we’re actually going to use – including two glitters instead of just one. I’m too green to know any better yet. I also love her for this.

7-tagline-brainstorming

I start brainstorming taglines and come up with a whole lot of nope.

8-tagline-day

After the nopefest, I have a moment of breakthrough when the tagline manifests in sass attack brilliance.

I tell no one for days.

I let myself sink into it, unlike the naming of the blog itself, and finally email Shauna the news that we can stop ripping off Tom Waits lyrics as a placeholder. Yes, “she’s a swan and a pistol.” But she’s also an offbeat broad with no façades.

9-original-logo

This is our very first already-decided-upon and frankly gorgeous effort at the logo before I go diva status and decide it’s awesome, but not quite there yet. The stars. The banner. I just… Sorry Shauna.

10-blonde-before

I decide I’ve had enough of any semblance of normalcy once and for all and that my artist heart needs to be displayed directly on my head. Obviously, decisions of such nature happen best when in your favorite hair wizard’s hair chair.

11-hair-dye

Exhibit A.

12-purple-hair

Exhibit B.

I now have the best hair of my life and subsequently feel like all the pieces of all the things are coming together. Because good hair does that.

I later use my hair as an on brand reference point with Shauna as we finalize our colors.

13-audience

I keep busting ass on writing and rewriting, honing and rehoning, and finally come up with who exactly my target audience is. This is the final version in my branding guide. For the first time I’m able to picture my crew.

14-me-and-kj

They taught us at Blogcademy to get crystal clear on our target audience and to even picture a particular person who typifies this crowd. It’s around this time that I decide Kelly Jo, my friend and personal hair wizard, is the obvious choice of muse perfection for Hiya Tootsie! All I want is thousands of KJs in this band of wild, misfit broads. The picture keeps getting clearer.

lipstick-kisses

Shauna and I keep plowing forward in the design department and I ask her about a lipstick print graphic. She finds a great one, I’m totally satisfied, and then the lightbulb goes on and I want to know if she can turn my own lipstick kiss into a graphic.

She says yes.

It takes me 90 this-too-is-not-an-exaggerated-number tries to get it right. I scan her my top 5 options. We narrow it to one because, well, we have to.

14-lip-creation

We go back and forth for a few days on the lips alone because I now have in my head that these babies are my signature. And every solid brand has a signature, right?

15-Papadontpreach

I text my dad when we have our final graphic of my lips. He responds in true dad fashion and channels comedy giants for the sake of the occasion.

16-lip-stamp

Shauna then continues to blow me out of the water and has my lips made into a freaking stamp. A STAMP. A stamp.

17-logo

By this point, we’ve come to an actual final decision on my logo, unlike that pretend final decision we started with. It’s clean, bold, feminine, and exactly what I want.

18-lock-up

We also put wind beneath the wings of our primary lockup and I have a meltdown over how much I love it.

19-original-design

And now starts design time. We make our first attempt at the skeleton of the design.

20-emails-for-days-

We send approximately 8 billion emails back and forth over the course of 6 months. (Not pictured – 3 billion emails). I realize fully for the first time that I am a pinch of a perfectionist. But Shauna is too which is one of the many reasons I hired her.

One of the more obscure but no less significant reasons is because she has a pet squirrel named Chubs who has a pension for stealing Mac lipstick. This is a fact.

21-hole-for-my-niche

I email Shauna (who’s surprised?) and tell her that I’m doing research and trying to find, like, anyone in my niche to network with since I’ve now decided I want Hiya Tootsie! to be a home for dream chasing.

This is what she writes me back. Basically, it makes my whole life and I again feel like a basic badass.

Hashtag, Shauna for president of my heart.

22-learning-photoshop

I quickly realize that starting a blog is not all just fun and games or coming up with witty, inspirational crap to write about. There are a lot of things I have to learn that I don’t know how to do that people literally go to school to get degrees in.

Case in point – Photoshop. Also, photography. Also, WordPress. Also, everything.

I decide that playing with actions that were gifted to me from two different friends is way more fun than learning an actual program.

I am also really thankful I switched majors from Music to Writing back in the day because at least THAT piece of the puzzle is in my back pocket.

Unlike, you know, Photoshop, photography, and WordPress.

23-Business-Cards

After an initial order of business cards that were designed beautifully but printed on card stock that made me want to swallow glass, we reorder.

Shauna handles my mini I-hate-these-so-much meltdown like a pro and I get my brand new sexy, glossy, rounded Tootsie-in-the-flesh cards in no time.

Seeing the title Writer after my name is a big heart deal.

I am also convinced that I have the best business cards on the planet and am simultaneously smug in a yeah-what-now kind of way and unbelievably grateful, excited, and can’t believe it’s all really happening.

24-ktrout-biz-card

I mail a business card to BFF Kristin, who has already helped me multiple times with Photoshop nonsense, and she snaps a Tootsie selfie a few days later.

I can’t quite describe the feeling of opening up a text message and seeing someone you love holding something only you and one other person on the planet have seen before.

It’s all suddenly very surreal.

25-signature

We’re getting extremely close to the final revision (7 revisions later) of the website and I need to scan Shauna my signature.

You’d think this would be an easy task. It’s not. It’s a repeat of the lipstick kiss fiasco.

26-makeup-profesh

A few days later, I go to Sephora and become instafriends with a girl named Dre who plays with my makeup for 2 hours because I need to do a photoshoot soon and don’t want to look like a 12 year old who doesn’t know how to wield an eyeliner.

Dre gives me eyebrows for the first time in my life, teaches me how to repeat history, and I max out the gift card my mom and dad gave me for Christmas the year before.

27-JR-Shoot-set-up

I write my sassy East Coast pastor friend JR who “used to pay the bills like this” and set up a shoot.

28-weird-art-kids

We get some really fantastic shots. We also get shots like this because we’re both weird art kids at heart and it just feels right.

29-Jordan-fence-climb

My buddy Jordan agrees to help me out with a photoshoot too. We lock ourselves out and he is forced to scale a wall.

Basically, he is Spiderman.

Basically, Spiderman is taking my picture.

30-unlearned-angles

Basically, this is what it looks like when you don’t know your angles.

Sorry Tyra.

Go go gadget hip!

Broadifesto-Website Tag-WEB

Around this time, Shauna and I decide it would be incredibly cool to make an art piece out of my Broadifesto and open the About page with it. I deploy my week old Photoshop action skills and she lays out the copy.

Also, I now have my third repeat of something that probably should not take so much time taking so much time.

I want The Broadifesto title in a font that looks like paint stroke handwriting. Shauna tells me to take my booty to Michael’s and buy a jumbo marker to write with because she’s seen one of her designer friends do something similar.

I go. I buy. I take 5 years writing out The Broadifesto after The Broadifesto after The Broadifesto until I finally have the one.

Shauna makes it pink and my love for her once again knows no bounds.

31-business-license

It’s December now and I just can’t put off taking care of all the legal crap I don’t want to take care of any longer. I spend an entire day being very confused and hoping I did everything right. I also take a short jaunt to city hall not realizing that I am about to get my business license that very day.

HIYA_TOOTSIE_SHOP_DETAIL

I spend a solid week writing the copy for the MP3 I want to record and sell in my shop.

Jordan Spiderman is a sound engineer and offers to record me. We record in his living room because he has all the profesh equipment we need. His wife is napping upstairs, the fridge is in a constant state of hum-threat, and his iMac keeps stopping the recording. Oh, and I realize halfway through that there’s a remarkable difference in how the recording sounds when I’m smiling.

It’s all extremely glamorous and I genuinely can’t imagine making this thing anywhere else or with anyone else and am so, so happy.

I ask Shauna if I can use a picture I found in a magazine as my image for the MP3 to throw up on the site. She tells me I’ll be so much happier if I take my own photo.

I drive to Target to find the most glittery, glossy, on brand pink lipgloss I possibly can. I go home and proceed to sprain my face trying to recreate the original photo in the magazine.

I then have my friend Mike combine the two best shots so my upper lip snarl is Billy Idol high.

31-weekly-badassery

We’re really getting into the home stretch now and I think it’s probably a good idea to actually listen (for once in my life) to all the knowledge all the professionals from all my research are trying to drop on me about needing to build an email list.

I decide I’m going to do a special weekly link round-up post for my email subscribers called Weekly Badassery for Wild Hearts & Rebel Women.

MailChimp obviously does not have my branded font at its disposal so I get creative, open up WordPress, type my title copy in there, size it accordingly, screen shot it, and upload it as a photo into MailChimp so my branding is consistent across all platforms.

I feel like a freaking rocket scientist.

32-legal-zoom

A few days later (ok, this part actually happens after we’re already live, but bear with me for the sake of the story), the doorbell rings and I have a parcel from UPS. I have no idea what it is, rip it open, and there are my legal documents. Hiya Tootsie! is a registered, legal business.

I feel extremely official and decide the best way to celebrate is to sprinkle the pages with magenta sequins and share the exciting news on social media.

33-first-insta-post

I discover that I absolutely love Instagram. Like, seriously, how did I miss this before? This is my first post under xohiyatootsie. I figure opening with a cupcake in any shape or form is a strong move.

34-branded-phone

Christmas comes and so does the replacement for my half dead iPhone 4. I also decide that I need to bling brand my case because I’m a business woman now and branding consistency is important. Branding consistency is also gem encrusted in the land of Tootsie.

star and jamaica

Mid-December, Shauna has finished the final design and passes it off to Star (left), her developer. I am especially jazzed over Star because she’s an artist, musician, and spoken word poet.

I pretty much believe I have the coolest lady duo in the universe working on my project until I realize a couple weeks before launch that it is actually the coolest lady trio working on my project.

I finally get to go into the back end of WordPress to poke around and wonder why my sample posts say Jamaica. I know why some of them say Star, but are we planning a trip to Jamaica that I don’t know about yet or what?

I email (one of the final 8 billion) Shauna and ask what it all means. She tells me that Jamaica (right) is Star’s assistant, also happens to be a completely badass illustrator, and has been working on the project the whole time!

star shauna jamaica

Hiya Tootsie! would not exist without these three women. My heart of hearts is unfathomably thankful for each one of them, the hard work and many hours they put in, and the on-the-spot trouble shooting even on weekends that has gone down on their watch multiple times. They are the epitome and embodiment of my Offbeat Broads. No Façades. tagline and I couldn’t be prouder to have each one of them in my corner.

35-late-night-gracie-pre-launch

3 nights before launch, I’m working on content and Gracie decides to be a lap cat for the first time in 8 years. Clearly, things are looking up.

36-curtain

We put the “curtain” up on the dot com and make all of our last minute revisions before going live!

37-be-who-you-were-created-to-be

I take to Facebook with an inspirational quote that’s more for me than anyone else.

38-do-it-scared

30 minutes later I break down in tears because I can’t believe it’s really happening. I’m 1 day away from a brand new career that actually breathes life into me and makes me excited to get out of bed in the morning.

I’m also terrified because I have no idea how it’s all going to iron out or if the Patreon page I set up will keep me from starving and dying in the street on the path toward pursuing my own dreams and hopefully inspiring other women to do the same.

It’s all very new, very transitional, and very emotional.

39-no-sleep-til-tootsie

5 hours before launch, I do actually watch an episode of SVU over my spaghetti dinner, have a pomegranate and almond butter snack, and wear my cupcake jammies.

I don’t take a bubble bath, curl my hair, or have a Michael Jackson dance party in the living room because that’s all very romantic, but ain’t nobody got time for that on the eve of life change.

40-gone-liveHiya Tootsie! goes live at 12:29 in the morning because I don’t realize prior to trying to push the site live that WordPress runs on military time and I have no idea how to schedule something based on military time.

It takes me 28 minutes to figure out that this is the issue in the first place and one minute to fix, schedule, and push live. And then, CELEBRATION!!!!!!

41-live

I document the moment compulsively and throw pictures up everywhere.

42-started-working-at-HYT

I change my work status immediately. I also freak out with the few people who are actually still awake and sober on New Year’s Eve, and then fall into my deepest sleep of the last 9 months.

43-gumroad

I wake up the next morning to my very first sale.

44-we-did-it

I also wake up with a HUGE smile on my face and still kind of can’t believe this just happened.

45-insta-celebration

I am a weepy mess as per usual and Shauna emojis me like a beast in pride and excitement solidarity.

46-JR-fandom

People are sharing links left and right on social media and I can’t even believe it. I reload Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter compulsively the entire day.

47-battered-women's-shelter-story

Later that evening I get a private message from the same girl who I sold my first Rebel Yell to and she tells me a story that, again, makes me a weepy mess.

Weeps for everyone!

Three cheers for weeps!

Weep! Weep! Weep!

48-who-is-going-to-stop-meThe quote on my new lady boss calendar couldn’t be more on point for this very special day in my life.

Truly, today I am unstoppable.

Blogcademy images from: Ingrid Chang of Jerry Yoon Photographers jerryyoon.com

Images of Star, Jamaica, and Shauna from: Jamaica Dyer


Follow Me on Instagram