2019 marks my 9th year creating content on the Internet. And as I recount my steps and years this also marks the 9th year doing something consistently. I’m realizing this is the longest time I’ve done any one thing in my life…besides be my son’s mother (and well, once you start that it’s kinda frowned upon if you stop or quit). This experience has been an absolute whirlwind of successes and failures. There have been so many joys and unthinkable blessings. I’ve been in rooms I would have never thought I would be in. As the former style and beauty editor for one of the top Black Women’s site, I was able to interview your favorite celebrities and even dined with a few of them too. I’ve had 6 figure income years. I’ve received the kind of checks that make my local semi-racist bank teller girl double question how a Black woman makes the money I make (that’s a conversation for another day because…why are we still questioning this!). And OMG, this gorgeous face of mine and this aspirational grey hair (your words not mine) has been plastered on billboards, magazines, and even on the security stands as you enter CVS.
I often ask myself, how did I get here? Let’s do a quick recap, shall we?!
In 2010 I launched a blog for the second time. My first blog was originally a gossip blog. Think Necole Bitchie or Concrete Jungle (who remembers that?). I quickly saw that gossip blogging was taxing on your soul and your wallet. I was attending NYFW with my boyfriend (for reference I married him, 😜) when the revelation to start blogging again came to me. Together we had started a fashion magazine, Iconography Magazine and we would go up to New York each season and cover about 70-80 fashion shows in a week. You could say that I’ve always had that certain hustle in me. One day we escaped the chaos of the tents to relax back at the hotel and catch up on what was happening outside of Bryant Park. A headline popped up across the TV screen during The Today Show – Gorgeous And Grey. The segment was highlighting women who had greyed early, like me, and how gorgeous and healthy their hair was, like mine. All of the women featured were under 40 with a full head of grey hair. We both turned to each other in an aha eye stance and I screamed, “that’s what my blog will be, Gorgeous and Grey”.
Well in true “I can never make up my freaking mind” form, I debated about the URL for three weeks and when I went to purchase the domain name Gorgeous And Grey wasn’t available.
Insert Gorgeous ‘In’ Grey.
Within the first year and a half, my blog really soared. Like I got popular super quick! I attribute it to just starting at the right time and having a unique thing about me. My grey hair was obviously noticeable and there was absolutely not a single blogger who looked like me. That was the luck part. But I worked my ass off. At the time I was still working full time at Baltimore City Child Support. But in each spare moment I had I would blog. I didn’t even have a computer at first. So I would use my lunch breaks to write or take pictures. I would stay late to put up my blog posts. I was hungry. And to be completely transparent with you I didn’t even know what I was hungry for. No one was making any real money from blogging. In fact, you had to have an insane amount of traffic going to your blog to even clear $100. Back then there were no brand deals or sponsorships.
Locally people started to know who I was. Social media become this thing that wasn’t going away. I would go to events around town and tell people I was a blogger. Not a soul knew what that was. Hell, neither did I. When Twitter became “a real thing” I started to meet a lot of other bloggers in different cities. This was a validation for me. I’m not alone and this could be my thing. So I focused on meeting other bloggers mainly the ones who lived in New York. I started to forge digital friendships. We’d be up all night talking about the culture before we knew that’s what we were doing (who remembers Twitter After Dark 👀).
Bloggers like Danielle from Style And Beauty Doctor, Christina from LoveBrownSugar, and Jessica from GlamazonsBlog (she’s now an editor at Teen Vogue) would let me know when events in NY would be happening. I’d grab a $19 MegaBus ticket and sneak away for the night to New York and pretend to be a local blogger. I even changed my phone number to a 917# so I could fit the part. No one would question it. I did this for about a year and then…I decided it was time to move.
The move was rough. Like real rough. I lived on a few different couches before I found my own groove and settled in Flatbush. In the beginning, I got put out/off of two couches. Destroyed two friendships?! How do you get put out/off of a couch? Everyone wants their personal space though. I get it. Even I do. On top of not having a stable place to live when I first moved, my mother was going through chemo. Then we found out the devasting news that she was terminally ill and had just a few months to live. All of this was just horrible timing I thought. I was packing up to leave Baltimore and head to New York all while my mother was basically dying. How selfish of me!
I’ve since unpacked and resolved that guilt and trauma. But please know it was the hardest thing to do.
Oh but let me back up and tell you the good part of New York. The part that made me stay despite my personal circumstances.
As soon as I got to New York I applied for a job at Hello Beautiful, thanks to my good girlfriend Danielle Young who also worked there (she works at Essence now 🥳). I was hired at the Editorial Assistant but I worked my way up to become the Style and Beauty Editor all while still keeping up with my blog. My boss at the time (who is now writing scripts in LA, #GoLeigh) worked with all of us to help improve our writing. She really challenged me to become a better writer. I took classes. I read a lot of books. I studied other people and their writing styles. When I was promoted to sales copywriter I realized that maybe this writing thing was what I was supposed to be doing. I took more classes and really started to put more effort into my blog. I paid for a design upgrade. Started doing more professional pictures. And with that, I became even more popular. Instagram became a thing thing and I got to 10K followers (👈🏾 be sure to read how I grew my following!) and the game changed.
After that, it was on and poppin’.
When it was time for me to renew my contract with Hello Beautiful we decided it was time for me to move on and focus on my blog. I had gotten all that I could out of that job and it was time to see if I could make it as a writer.
As soon as I “quit” the freelance writing jobs and brand deals started coming in like clockwork. Dove, Uber, Shea Moisture. Even though I had never pitched myself or my blog, everyone wanted to work with me. I was bringing in 5 and 6 figure deals. I started modeling again. Like who did I think I was?
Umm, talented that’s who.
Then the unimaginable happened.
A publisher found me on the Internet. I had written a few posts about a blogger who committed suicide. Cosmopolitan and a few other sites picked up the story. Then I went viral! The publisher asked did I have a book in me. I immediately said no. Hard pass. Even though I had been dreaming about writing books since I was a kid. I just didn’t think I could. I was just a freaking blogger. Who did I think I was doing all of this unheard crap? But they kept emailing me. And I kept them on read. Staff changes happened and someone new emailed me and asked if it was still an option. I said F%CK it, let’s try.
So in 2016, we published my first book, Things I Wish I Knew Before My Mom Died.
This is where I first thought I didn’t wanna be Gorgeous In Grey anymore. If you have my book it reads Ty Alexander from Gorgeous In Grey. I hate that! Hate. Hate. Hate! Hate it! I wanted to just be an author. For once, I wanted to just be me! I’ve read the comments about my blog and people who are not into reading blogs automatically dismiss it. Unfair as hell!
At the time, my publisher felt the popularity of my blog would help drive sales so they wanted to highlight that on the cover. We soon realized via sales that y’all don’t care and y’all know me know me. Like y’all know my name!
But in true “I can never make up my freaking mind” form I sat on the idea of changing my name for three years. I kept wondering if I’d still be popular without my moniker. It was my crutch. And then something happened.
We (bloggers) all started to feel the same way.
The first blogger I remember ditching her moniker was Gabi Gregg (GabiFresh.com). She was originally, sh%t, what was she originally. See, I’m proving my own point. Lemme think. Oh yes! Her blog was Young, Fat and Fabulous. Soon bloggers started to realize that our brands weren’t our monikers, we are the brands!
Fast forward to 2019 and now the trend is awakened. You can start to see that a lot of bloggers are moving away from the former needed moniker and instead just being themselves.
The love letter
Love, Ty Alexander is the new name of my blog and is also my name across all social media platforms (go follow via the icons in the sidebar 😘). The process of changing my name was a huge undertaking. Like my insides hurt. And I felt uprooted and crippled while it was happening. So I literally created NOTHING!
I hope I answered all your questions but if I didn’t leave me a comment below.
In the meantime, if you are not apart of the tribe, go ahead and get down with the get down!