Anna James
Style Editor for LaurenConrad.com, Contributing Style Columnist for Vanity Fair. Blogger, merchandiser, brand consultant, wife, Christ follower, and extreme animal lover.  

Fash Boulevard collides celebrity fashion with everyday style in a Vogue meets Us Weekly fashion. Brought to you from the eyes of a former small town girl and aspiring author. Fash Boulevard dives deeper than just the glossy pictures. 

Since the launch of Fash Boulevard in 2011, I have been blessed with some of the sweetest and most loyal followers a girl could ask for. It's because of all of you that so many fabulous doors have opened for me.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Below are a few answers to my most asked questions. 

Life before Fash Boulevard?
Oh lordy, where to start... Picture the embarrassing, un-glamorous, awkward flashback scene in every other romantic comedy and you'll have a somewhat accurate visual of how I spent my youth. Growing up in a small southern town on the East Coast, I often found myself feeling restricted, physically and creatively. I had a slew of dreams that I thought were too big to ever bother pursuing. Like so many girls, I was bullied terribly in high school for my weight and bad skin. I dreaded lunch hour like the plague; thank goodness for bathroom stalls. Towards the middle of my junior year, the teasing escalated so rapidly, that I began homeschooling. I've always thought of myself as an outgoing introvert. A fighter. Maybe it's the Scorpio in me, but I remember telling myself during those few months of homeschooling, that this would be the last time I ever let others dictate my life. And more importantly... the last time I ever allowed myself to give up. I returned to school at the beginning of my senior year, took my life into my own hands, and decided to start chasing every dream I ever had. 

When college rolled around, Justin (my then high school sweetheart, now hubby) moved to LA to become a screenwriter. In order to survive the long distance, I became as busy as possible. This included losing 70 pounds, nailing my school work, and becoming the graphic design head of a small philanthropic group that designed handbags for World Hunger. The experience was truly life changing and helped me to realize how important it is to find ways to give back through your passion. Discovering a positive way to thrive behind the scenes in the fashion world became my number one goal.

Every year, BCBG Max Azria headquarters picks two interns from thousands of applicants across the country. It's the opportunity of a lifetime and the scout was coming to Auburn my senior year. After a slew of unfortunate incidents that would have normally been enough to cause me to slug away with my head down, I found myself chasing down the scout as she hurried to catch a flight. I don’t know if it was the nerves or the possibility that this might actually work, but somehow the impromptu meeting went well and two months later I found myself driving across the country to start my dream internship in LA with Max Azria himself. 
After a summer filled with ups and downs and enough juicy entertainment to fill a Devil Wears Prada sequel, the real journey began. I landed a job as a visual merchandiser for a multi-branded company, where I oversaw 26 Bloomingdale's and Macy's in Southern California. As someone who has always suffered from social anxiety and pesky shyness, the role of boss-lady over a throng of workers twenty years my senior, was incredibly challenging and painfully isolating. The job was six days a week and entailed constant travel, so I was never in one store for more than a few hours. Making friends was nearly impossible. After a year of insanity, the job came crashing down unexpectedly when the company decided to let all of their out-of-state girls go just days before Christmas. I suddenly found myself jobless and thousands of miles away from my friends and family. It was the best thing that ever happened to me. At the time though... not so much. You know that scene in Clueless, where Cher wanders through Beverly Hills to Celine Dion's "All By Myself"? That was quickly becoming my reality -- only way less glamorous. Think Ventura Boulevard, with homeless people, and sweatpants. 
I needed to find a job where I could be my own boss. Flex my creative muscles. I had so many ideas for my life. So many ventures I knew I wanted to tackle. But in order to get people to listen, you have to have a voice. That's when it hit me... I'd start a fashion blog. At the time, there were only a few dozen, so the industry took notice almost instantly. Six months after the launch of Fash Boulevard, my old employer made an offer to re-hire me. At the time, I wasn't making any money, but I knew backtracking wasn't the right choice, so I politely declined. The next year, I made twice as much as I did while working with them.   

What is your hope for Fash Boulevard?  

The biggest message I hope to give girls is that no town is too small for big dreams. In high school, I would gaze at the TV watching The Hills imagining what it would be like to live a life I never thought was possible. Now, all these years later, Lauren is one of my bosses and I'm lucky enough to work with her every week. My hope is that girls will look at Fash Boulevard as proof and inspiration that anything is possible, as long as you're willing to put in the work and believe in yourself. 

What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? 

Hmm. I think people would be surprised to learn how silly and self-deprecating I am. And that my dream is to be an SNL cast member -- all though I'd never have the guts to actually commit to it. I'm also an incredibly private person. If it's not Fash Boulevard related, I don't really put it out there... anywhere. Not even my personal Facebook page. I think you have to have that separation. Lets see... I was also the president of my Chorus class in high school and the Vice President of Best Buddies. I spend my nights dancing around like a fool and browsing doggy adoption sites, and I'm happiest when planning a future project. I had perfect attendance throughout college and graduated at the top of my class.  I'm obsessed with the ladies of "The Real" and Wendy Williams. My favorite TV show is Super Soul Sunday on Own and almost anything on TLC. My husband writes TV shows, so it's a constant battle between scripted and reality TV in our house. :) 

What is the hardest part about your job?

One of the hardest things about blogging that I think a lot of ladies face, is the perception of blogging. It's a lot more than just iced coffees and strolls on the beach. For a lot of us, it's a real job. I work 14 hours a day, six days a week. This is a business. I have a management and PR team in New York and a team in LA. When I'm not brainstorming with brands and PR teams, I'm writing and editing an article, providing notes on fashion-apps, brainstorming with Team LC on future laurenconrad.com stories, consulting with companies on how they can improve their brands, speaking at colleges, or running one of my husband and I's seasonal businesses. Sometimes, it's difficult to explain to people that Fash Boulevard is only 10% of what I do for a living. I understand where the confusion comes from. Fash Boulevard is the only part of my career that I share publicly. I don't talk about my work with Vanity Fair or Laurenconrad.com or any of the businesses my husband and I run. I try very hard to keep all of those parts of my career, as well as my social life private. I think this is a challenge a lot of ladies that work in the digital world can relate to. 

kTo check out all my wedding post, be sure to click here.

Who takes your pictures?

My incredibly supportive husband, Justin. He's the only person I know with dreams bigger than mine and somehow he still finds time to do whatever I ask of him. I’m a very lucky girl! To give you an idea of how creative and amazing he is, just read how he proposed to me here.

What inspires you?

I thrive best in creative chaos, so working a job where the creative landscape is constantly evolving is a major necessity for me. Working in the digital realm is a dream come true for creative minds in search of an outlet. I always try to bring a portfolio of innovative ideas and fun narratives to every company and brand I work with. There's always a unique way to approach an idea and thankfully, out-of-the-box ideas are celebrated and encouraged in the fashion and digital world. 

What's your favorite thing about blogging?

 I love discovering smaller brands with a purpose. If it wasn't for the relationships and knowledge that I've learned from working closely with up-and-coming dreamers, I don't know if I'd still be blogging today. I've never been comfortable in front of a camera. My passion has always been behind the scenes. Blogging is so much bigger than fashion to me. Nowadays, there's a bigger meaning to buying a bag or promoting a company. I love working with companies like The Little Market, Sseko Designs, and The Shine Project, who travel the world providing jobs and education to talented artisans who handcraft these amazing pieces. It's all about finding that bigger purpose. That's ultimately what drives me.

Work hard and they will notice.

xo, Anna