A Clothes Horse
Today we’re sharing a look into the life of Rebecca, the owner of A Clothes Horse blog. Her blog features snippets of inspiration and slow-living in her tiny gate-house in Northern Ireland. In describing her blog, she says it best: “think of this blog as a soothing tonic made of ground chestnuts and golden leaves, with a pinch of tweed.” So, cozy up Gurl Crushes, and hear her story on how she began her career, and where she's going next.
You've been blogging for 10 years now! That's a lot of content to create! How do you stay motivated with new ideas?
Oh goodness, I don't know how it is done! For me I start with the pictures -- that is easy for me since I'll usually be inspired by the outfit I'm wearing or some bit of nature I just saw that has been changing -- I think nature is endlessly inspiring because it is in constant flux. The woods look completely different in spring (here they're filled with bluebells and white heads of wild garlic) than they do in autumn, although winter is usually a bit of downer! But because nature always looks different there's always something new to capture; I struggle more with writing content for the blog, even sometimes just what to write in a post I have pictures for. For me it helps trying not to keep the blog too niche but opening up to a variety of topics; instead of just talking about fashion (since my blog is typically classified as a fashion blog) I also talk about books and movies, nature and travel, etc. So keeping your topics wide and varied definitely gives you more to talk about and while it is good to not be repetitive, you can talk about the same things from time-to-time. I published a list of my favorite books over a year ago, but by the number of requests I get for such a post it's easily something I could write about again since new people are finding the blog all the time and not everyone is going to dig one year (let alone 10 years!) into your archives.
We really love the #quietinthewild movement. How and why did you decide to start it?
It started last December and then became a hashtag in January. I was trying to think of some sort of phrase that described most of the content I was creating--that blend of portraits and nature--and I came up with "finding quiet in the wild." So at first I thought of it as a tagline for my blog, a way for me to kind of sum up my vision for my photography/imagery and then I thought, "well, maybe this could be a hashtag." I was actually very terrified of making it into a hashtag because if I said, "hey why don't you guys start using my tag on your images" and no one did it, then it would feel like a failure in a way. Like, sorry, no one cares about your tag, lol. It was actually slow at first, but it's really grown a lot and now it's just so fun to scroll through the tag and see what different people are posting all over the world. While it was a tagline for my blog, I knew it was also a description of a universal experience--so many of us find moments of quiet or wonder and awe when we find ourselves in stunning/isolated landscapes and so it's really fun to see different people's moments of quiet. I like to think it might encourage some people to venture outside too; to find a bit of wilderness and feel that connection with nature again for a few minutes, since our lives are usually so busy and more urban.
Your blog is quite popular, and you occasionally work with brands. What was it like when you realized you could start making a bit of money on your blog?
It was very surreal! When I started it was just a hobby for me and I was a college student; all of the blogs I followed were written by girls with other careers/day jobs, even the biggest ones I knew weren't getting paid for anything although they'd get the occasional freebie. So when money started coming into the scene I think everyone was very surprised by it; it was so new and no one at that time was going into blogging with the idea of making money at some point, everyone was very surprised when they started getting offers for even the smallest things. For me it came at a really good time as I finished up with college and was trying to figure out what to do next--I really loved this blogging hobby and was slowly able to keep it going and make it my full-time gig.
That's awesome that you blog full time! Do you do any other side projects?
I do blog full time, although I usually downplay that! I do also work at jobs off the blog on occasion and see myself as a freelancer since I also have regular income from other little gigs, like wedding photography. For me it's still very odd to say "I'm a blogger" and just leave it at that.
Let's imagine the Internet didn't exist for a moment (I know, terrifying!) what career route would you have taken instead?
After college I took some Criminal Law courses and the LSATs, my plan was to go to law school. I even went so far as to getting accepted to a few and decided to defer my acceptance at once and postpone enrollment for a year whilst swearing to my sister that I would definitely attend after one year, but ended up not attending at all! My sister had a bit of an "I told you so" about that, since she knew that deferring meant I wasn't actually so sure about attending. Without the blog that is definitely the path I would have taken so I'd probably be a lawyer right now, or at least someone with a law degree lol!
Five years from now, where do you hope to see yourself?
I don't really have a five year plan or goal. For me I just want to keep doing what I love and if what I love changes then evolve with that. When I was younger I had a more set idea of what I wanted as a career and the type of place I'd like to live, but as I've gotten older I've really relaxed a lot and it's much more important to me that I'm just happy where I am. I'm even flexible what country I'll live in; Northern Ireland is fantastic but I've never actually lived anywhere for more than four years consecutively so it seems odd to see myself here in five years!
How would you self describe your sense of style?
The two terms I have come up with that seem to describe it best are "quirky ladylike" and "romanticism meets realism." I tend to like quirky touches to my clothes from unique prints to animal brooches and rings, but also lean towards more classic ladylike styles with a vintage inspiration from the 1940s-50s. And then I think I also have this balance of liking really romantic styles--flower crowns, tulle skirts, etc--but usually with a balance of the realistic. I might wear a flower crown and velvet flats in autumn, but I also have a trusty tweed coat and sweater on because I don't intend to be entirely frozen while indulging in a bit of "woodland fairy" style! I'm pretty much always walking that line of more theatrical pieces with the more practical; I don't want my outfits to feel like a costume or to be completely uncomfortable (I'm much more often in flats than heels, especially in wooded areas!)
Do you have any favorite places to shop?
I really love vintage stores, although the good ones usually are more expensive since they know what their clothes are worth! But a day exploring antique malls and vintage shops is one of my favorite weekend pastimes. I do most of my clothes shopping online though and hit up Modcloth and ASOS quite a bit. I sort of shop all over though, even the kids sections at some shops (since I'm petite) so it's had for me to have a declarative list of favorites since it could easily be a mile long.
Describe your ultimate Saturday afternoon to us.
I just love a relaxing weekend afternoon exploring somewhere new with my husband; I think ideally we'd go on a short road trip to somewhere new to us, like some secret castle ruins or a quirky manor house for a long walk and the finish up our day with a nice meal out at a cozy pub restaurant with a open fire. I wish I could have all of my evening meals in front of an open fireplace!
With 114k followers on Instagram, it's safe to say you are definitely an influencer! What would you say is the best part of being an influencer is? What's the most difficult?
The best part for me is connecting with people with a similar interest. I'm a HUGE introvert and since I move around a lot I honestly don't have many friends I get to see or connect with on a regular basis. At the same time, I'm super shy in social gatherings so even when I have the chance to meet or hangout with people I can be awkward or find a party really exhausting; the online world and Instagram takes a lot of that awkwardness out of interactions for me. I get to "meet" loads of other women who are passionate about the same things as me--books, nature, fashion, etc--and talk to them in a channel/way that I find very comfortable. Lol, I think Instagram was invented for introverts.
The most difficult for me is the occasional negative criticism, I mean sometimes it's just someone saying they don't like something you're wearing but other times people speculate you look pregnant because of a slightly unflattering photograph! So it can make you a bit paranoid and obsess a bit over what you put online, when I'd like to relax and not present a super perfect/curated image. We'd all probably be a little happier and less dissatisfied with our lives if we looked at social media and saw more natural/less posed images, but I also see the appeal of making everything look perfect when your images can get quite picked apart--sometimes it feels like everything you put out is being look at under a microscope.
For the women who would like to follow in your footsteps, what advice would you give them to get started?
I think the way to follow in my footsteps wouldn't necessarily be start a blog or develop your photography and such, but rather let your passions drive you where you go. For me I've just kind of been taking things one step at a time and letting these creative interests/passions that started as hobbies lead me to where I was meant to be. Even moving to Ireland happened because my job was pretty flexible and my husband was from here, so it was sort of "why not try living in Ireland" than some part of a big plan or strategy. I feel that if you are true to your passions and you let them guide you then you will end up where you are meant to be. Don't worry too much about the big picture or another person's journey, but let all those things that make your pulse race take you down an interesting path.
Finally, it's no secret that you an inspiration to many of us online. Where do you gather your inspiration from? Do you have any Gurl Crushes yourself out there?
That's so flattering to hear and yes, definitely! Actually part of the reason I started my blog was because of all my girl crushes; I was following a number of outfit bloggers and I felt a bit creepy leaving anonymous comments on their blog like every day so I thought if I started a blog of my own with a picture or two of myself my comments on their sites would be less weird!
A lot of the blogs I was obsessed with back in the day (Liebemarlene Vintage, Elinkan, etc ) have stopped blogging. But I still follow so many inspirational women, it's hard to make a complete list but I really like Hannah Metz, Keiko Lynn, Brigitte Bardot, Dita von Teese, Klara of A Robot Heart, and Juliette of Kitsch is my Middle Name. I read so many blogs though, so many!