Listen to this interview with Christina:
#4: On this episode, we’re joined by Christina Vidal or Jetset Christina, as she’s known on the ‘gram. Christina holds the coveted job title of luxury travel blogger and content creator. She left her corporate job in marketing behind to run her blog full time in 2017, and she now has her own swimwear line, Watercolors swim. We chat about:
– The life-changing events that led her to take the leap into blogging full time (we both used to work at Google!)
– How she utilized her blog and brand to launch and catapult her swimwear line Watercolors Swim
– Challenges her businesses have faced with the pandemic, & how she pivoted to overcome them
Make sure you subscribe to the podcast to stay up to date on the latest episodes and interviews.
Quick Links from the Episode:
Read more about how Zara ripped of Christina’s first Watercolors Swim design in her post, here. >>
E: Today I am so excited to welcome my very first guest on the, What The Fab podcast, Kristina Vidal, or Jetset Christina, as she’s known on the ground, Christina holds the coveted job title of luxury, travel blogger and content creator. She left her corporate job in marketing behind to run her blog full time in 2017. And now she also has her very own swimwear line, Watercolors Swim.
In today’s conversation, we get into the life-changing events that led her to take the leap into blogging full time, the challenges she faced, how she overcame them and so much more. With that, let’s welcome, Christina, to the show. Hey, Christina.
C: Hi, I’m so honored to be your first guest. I’m so excited about the What The Fab podcast. You’re gonna kill it.
E: Oh, gosh, thank you! I’m so excited to have you on today, so jazzed that you are the first guest. We have so much to dive into. Thank you so much for being on. Well, I have a ton of questions to dive into with you. We have a lot in common. We both start our blogs in 2012. We both used to work at Google. Tell us about taking your blog from your side hustle to your full-time business and that whole decision.
C: Yeah. So I was a journalism major in college at the university of North Carolina at chapel Hill. I always loved to write, it was just something I did as like a creative outlet. And so when it came to like my first corporate job at Google, I felt very like, I mean unchallenged, but the corporate world, like I felt, I felt very bored every day. I was like, Oh my gosh, I am just doing the same thing every day. And I, that’s just not me. Like, I’m always wanting to like be on the go and I’m always like want to have like 20 projects on my plate and it was just not for me. And so I started my blog as purely a creative outlet, to write and because all my friends knew I love to travel and they were always asking me for recommendations. And I was sending these huge emails, like every recommendation for every place. And I was like, there has to be a better way to do this, like I want to have a place that I can send my friends to that is like Christina’s top San Francisco restaurants. Boom! Like there they are and that kind of thing. And so it really just started like that and I started writing about places that I had traveled to in the past and places I was going on weekends and on my paid time off. And that was back in 2012, 2013. Like, so I remember like, I just remember it being such a hobby. And I remember like having to make a conscious effort to like, keep at it because it was just such a hobby. Like I was like, no, I have to like, keep writing. I have to like build this out because it’s going to be so great to have it just as this big library of my travels and that I can share with other people. And then Instagram rolled around and I had this blog for a couple of years at that point, and I was like, Oh, I should start an Instagram for my blog because I also love photography just naturally, like, I just love to write and I love taking photos, so it was very natural that I became a travel blogger. But yeah, and so it was like 2015, maybe when I started my Instagram account, like aside from the blogs, the blog had, it’s like, you know, steady small following of people and then started off and it was, that’s kind of what led me over the years to then be able to quit my job. And I know you just recently quit your job, which is like, I feel like I quit my in a million years ago, you probably do too.
E: It’s actually been two years. And I feel like, well, one was a pandemic year, so there was like one year, lots and lots of travel. And then there was a year of like, okay, now I’m a home decor blogger.
C: Yeah. I ended up quitting in 2017. It just kinda got to the point where I was I remember being on my way to work one day at like 8:30 in the morning, and I get a call on my cell phone and it was the Singapore tourism board. And it was a Monday morning, mind you. And they were like, we want to fly you on the SFO to Singapore, like they were just launching that flight on Singapore airlines, to launch this flight and promote Singapore travel. We want to fly you on Wednesday morning. It was Monday 48 hours. Like, are you insane? I have to like go into my job. Like what, what am I going to tell my boss? But also I can’t say no, I’ve never been to Singapore.
E: How do you say no to that??
C: So I literally like walked into work. I had to set up a meeting with my boss and like, beg him to let me go to Singapore the next, like in the next 48 hours. And he, thank goodness was like the most supportive boss ever. Like, I, I seriously have him to thank for so much of my career as a travel blogger, because he was so supportive and really loved my travel blog and really, you know, cultivated it and let me travel and, because I got my work done, you know, at the end of the day, it’s like, if you’re getting your work done, who cares, where you’re working from, you know.
C: So I did go to Singapore and he let me go. And, but it was just, I just remember that being kind of the moment where I was like, I, I can only do this for so much longer. I had maxed out my PTO.
C: I had none left and here I am just like having to beg my boss and I just really kind of have to cut the cord. Let’s dive into this world, this unknown world of being a full-time travel blogger.
E: That’s so amazing. I love hearing your story. So many parts of this, like make me giggle. I like completely like ran out of PTO too. And was like, I actually started trying to use my sick days on accident, it’s like legitimate, right? And my boss was like, no, but like you’ve already booked your trip. So…
Quick break and a referral link that you are definitely going to want to use.
This episode is brought to you by Airbnb. Now I’m betting. If you’re listening to this podcast, you’re familiar with Airbnb. You can book vacation rentals, homes, condos, and even experiences through Airbnb. I have a great referral link for you so you can get $65 off your next Airbnb booking. Just head to whatthefab.com/airbnb for that link. Now this credit is for new customers only. So if you have a friend traveling with you in the group, who’s new to Airbnb, or maybe you’re creating a new Airbnb account, that’ll be the best way to go about getting that $65 credit. With the penny going on right now, Omied and I personally are really only doing road trips, I can’t wait to travel abroad again, but for right now, we’re looking at booking Airbnbs within California, like Joshua tree, maybe Mendocino having a home away from home so I can travel safely and have my own space is key. So be sure to grab your Airbnb credit at whatthefab.com/airbnb. That’s spelled AIR B as in boy, and as in Nancy, B as in boy. Safe travels and let’s get back to the episode.
C: At the time, Oh My God is so bad, like right at the end there where I like really should have quit, but I was really just maxing out my PTO way more than I should have been. My boyfriend at the time, my now fiance, he was already an entrepreneur, a digital nomad, like he was living in Bali and he was spending a lot of time in Columbia, which is where like we’ll get into it later, but where our business, our manufacturing businesses are. And so he was in Columbia and I, we were long distance at the time, so I wanted to fly down to Columbia to meet him. And I didn’t have any PTO left. So I didn’t tell my boss that I was flying to Columbia. I just was working from home. In new Columbia and I was working. See, that’s the thing. It’s like, I was getting my work done. Like I was working cause you know, my boyfriend at the time, like Kenny was working too. And he… but anyways, my boss emails me. I don’t know. I don’t know how he found out, but of course he knew I was in Columbia and he emails me like a response to something. I emailed him. He’s like, by the way, have fun in Columbia.
So just like not good at lying here. Like he just knew the whole time, but I was working remote. I never said working from home. I said working remote. I never really left.
E: And that’s not a lie.
C: Where’s the lie? That is so many moments like that. So many moments like that, they were like, okay, like, but you know, it makes you really appreciate the people that they just like, they, they know, like he knew that I was working on my blog a lot. I like he supported it and like, yeah. As long as, you know, as long as I was doing my job, he was very supportive. So it makes you, it makes you appreciate the people that take chances on you and like really help you, fulfill your dreams.
E: Yeah, definitely. That is amazing. Okay. So you, you made your decision, you’re leaving your corporate job behind. Were there any surprises or challenges that popped up that you faced when you left your nine to five?
C: Yes. I mean, I had no business plan. I know everybody goes at it at such different ways, you know, like I’m not the type of person that needs like a a hundred page business plan. This is exactly how I’m going to make money. This is exactly how much money I’m going to make. This is how I’m going to retire. Like I am not that person. So. I, but I wanted to make sure I could make money, of course, but like, I, I knew I was making some money from the blog already. I knew that if I like put all of my time and effort into it, versus what I was giving, you know, I was giving it such a half-assed effort while I had a full-time job. So I knew that if I like put my time and energy into it, I could build it into something much bigger, but I had no idea like exactly what that was going to look like. I remember I, I was like, I thought maybe I would, you know, have a part-time remote job in like Facebook ads, like, cause I love marketing and I love advertising and that kind of thing. I actually toyed with that for a little bit. Cause I knew someone else that was doing that remotely. And like it’s like kind of ways to make money while you blogged. And then, but then, I just the blog, just took off. As soon as I, as soon as I was putting my full energy into it, all of a sudden I was getting more paid opportunities. I started driving way more readers to my site. I was able to put on ads to my sites that I could make money off of just the more readers I had. And yeah, it was just, it just built on itself over time, but yeah, there were all kinds of challenges getting back to your question. Yeah, the biggest challenge is making that first leap because yeah, I didn’t have a business plan. My decision did not make sense to most people, you know, most people are like, you’re crazy. You are going to quit your well-paid. Corporate job in marketing to go live in Bali. Like why, what is happening? This was in 2017. I know now everyone lives in Bali, but, but my fiance Kenny lived there in 2015. And even before him, his grandmother, digital nomad, she moved there 20 years ago to Bali. And she has all these ex-pat friends that have lived there for decades. Anyways, that’s a side note, but, so anyways, we… We have ties to Bali and I knew that. I knew through Kenny living there that I could live there and be, you know, an entrepreneur. And there were so many other creatives living there, other, not just like other influencers and bloggers, but other, just people running brands and like doing really cool things from abroad and doing it remotely. And so it’s a really inspiring place to live because you’re constantly like impressed by everyone around you. You’re like, woah, you’re so creative. Like everybody that lives there is doing things so differently. Right. So it really attracts a similar type of person.
And, so anyways, but yeah, challenges, let’s see, I quit my job on labor day weekend, 2017. I chose that date because I had set up this like perfectly planned jetset tour of all these hotels that I was working with and all of these tourism boards and stuff all in South Florida and the keys. So I was going to, like, I remember I was working with Ritz Carlton in Key Biscayne. I was working with all these amazing key West places. I was going then to another key, like it was just like this whole, like at least three weeks of just pure Jetset, like cool. What a way to start my travel blogger career. I’m ready to go. I’m going to make money. I’m going to like do my thing. And the reason I was doing South Florida was that Kenny, my now fiance, he had, he’s business is called Kenny flowers and it’s a resort wear line at the time it was just men’s Hawaiian button-downs now we’re in men’s and women’s, but he had a trade show to go to in Florida in Orlando and he needed my help just like setting up the booth selling shirts. Like it’s, you know, a trade shows, basically you have buyers from different stores from resort shops to, you know, like little like boutiques in beach towns and that kind of thing. And they come and they basically shop and they just see what they want to put in their store. And this one in particular is one of the biggest ones. You pay a lot of money to go. It’s a big investment for a small brand like Kenny flowers and it’s, it’s a huge investment and it was, basically all the money he had, he had put into this trade show and then, you know, I’m there free labor, working and we’re just like breaking our backs, like setting up this display. I mean, it was just like, it was so hard, but the hardest part about it was there was, it was 2017 and it was hurricane season.
Hurricane Irma is like in the news right before the trade show. Like, are you sure you want to go to Florida? All of our friends, all of our family are like so concerned about us. They’re like, why are you going to Florida? Everybody’s going out of Florida right now because this huge hurricane is gonna hit. And you’re crazy. You can’t go to Florida. And we were at, we were in Charleston at the time, just doing another little like weekend trip, and we were driving down from Charleston. We were like, well, we have no choice. Like they have to go, like, hopefully it misses us. Hopefully Orlando’s like finding or they know it’s inland, right?
C: So, you know, yeah. People are avoiding the coast and like maybe this Jetset partnerships in the keys and in Miami are going to be shot, but we have to go to this trade show and so we did, and we like bit the bullet and we have this like rental minivan, that were, you know, we go to the trade show and it was like halfway through the first day of the trade show. It’s like a four day trade show and halfway through the first day, which even on the first day, there were no buyers there. Everybody had canceled, halfway through the first day they canceled the trade show. So we had already like done all the set up. We’d already like wasting all this money and they’re like, you need to get out of here. Like the hurricane’s coming, like get out and mind you, we have nowhere to go because we were supposed to go to South Florida and the keys. And also Kenny lives in Bali. I just quit my job to move with him to Bali. And we both have no home. Like, so where do we go? So we’re in Orlando with this rental minivan. Being told, like you better get out of here. And, there were like, there were no flights available. We couldn’t get out on a flight. So we called the rental car company. Like we need to return this car, like, like blah, blah, blah. And they’re like, you can’t return it to anywhere in Florida. Like we’re not accepting any rental car returns in Florida, so you’re going to have to return it anywhere else in the United States. So we had to, so we didn’t have to be just, we had nowhere to go. So we drove the rental mini car minivan, across the country to California.
E: Oh my God.
C: And we returned the minivan there. And, we ended up like, like making the most of it. We ended up like, going down the coast of California and talking to stores in person about Kenny flowers, like basically like telling them our story. Like, yeah, we were in Florida for surf expo and we weren’t able to talk to any buyers because of this. So can we talk to your buyer? And we actually a couple of great little boutique shops and like, it was, it ended up being fine on the side of things on the justice side of things. And I’m like, okay, What do I do? I was like in tears, like I just quit my job for this. Like I, I, you know, what am I doing? Like, I’m, this is crazy. And I definitely felt like I had like hit rock bottom. Just like, you know, what am I doing? And, but it’s, you know, like all the best stories start from rock bottom right?
E: Yeah. I appreciate you sharing that so much because I feel like it’s so easy to obviously, you know, your, your blog and your Instagram is it’s both super successful now, but, and it’s easy to share that side of the story. But I think a lot of entrepreneurs kind of skip over the parts where, like you say, where you feel like you hit rock bottom or you’re in tears. It is not necessarily like the fun part of the story to share, but to me, I think like they’re equally important because like that’s. That’s the truth. That’s reality. And like, if someone is interested in chasing after you know that entrepreneur life, you have to know that you’re going to have both the highs and the lows.
C: Totally, totally. And you have to think on your feet constantly. It was like, we could just give up or Hey, like we can cruise the coast of California and try to talk to people like, and like, just focus on the future. Like you don’t have to be so run down in the moment that you can’t think to the future, like, okay, this doesn’t mean that I can’t be pitching hotels in Bali for when we can get over there. Like for Jetset partnerships. It doesn’t mean my career is over. I need to just like focus on the future. Yeah.
E: Yeah, absolutely. I love that you guys turn lemons into lemonade. You’re like, I mean, when you were talking about the trade show and how it was canceled, like my heart just sank for Kenny, because I can just imagine like the monetary investment and also just like all the time and effort that goes into getting ready for a trade show like that. Like, uh, I love that you guys were like, okay, well, what can we do? We can drive up and down the coast of California and get into some super duper trips.
C: We literally had mannequins in our minivans. It’s like we’ve got all this inventory. Like who can we show it to?
E: I love it. Well, I love that story of just resilience. Let’s talk about, so you mentioned Kenny flowers, but I also would love to hear about why polar swim, because I’m always so impressed when the answers are able to leverage their brand and launch a product line. And obviously swimwear is so on brand for you. You’re always in these amazing tropical destinations. So how, and when did you decide to launch it and what all went into that?
C: Yeah, so I. Just when I decided to quit my full-time job to pursue Jetset, Christina. I always saw myself, not just as an influencer, not just as a blogger. Like I always saw myself eventually creating a product. It’s just, it is like who I am. Like, I am a brander, I’m a marketer. Like I love products and I love creating something and really owning that. So it was written in the stars before I ever knew what that product was going to be. But kind of like, to your point, it was a no brainer for me because I grew up with literally hundreds of bikinis in my bikini drawer. I love swimwear. I was actually a competitive swimmer growing up. So I always was like trying to have the cutest Nike one piece. Like it was like aside from just like vacations, where I loved like having the cutest workout somewhere too. Like I just always loved swimwear. And, when I became an influencer, I, I worked with a lot of swim brands and I was constantly kind of floored because as a consumer, you don’t really, you, you, you know, you’re spending so much money on a piece of software and trust me, I spent all of my salary on swimwear. Like all my friends in San Francisco would be spending their money at like, J crew on like the cutest new coat. And I was like, I had like a closet full of resort wear and nobody really understood it until I quit my job to become a traveler. I’m like, Oh, that makes sense. But all my friends were like, why do you have so many bikinis? Like when do you, where do you do San Francisco? I don’t really want to spend my money on like winter clothes. Like or cold weather like that does, that’s just doesn’t interest me. I’d rather have like so many bikinis, but anyways, but yeah, so I would get sent and these bikinis from all these brands and brands that I really looked up to and had spent my own really harder and money on. And the more I like was receiving so many bikinis, the bigger of a critic I became, it’s kind of like being a lingerie travel blogger. Like the more luxury hotels you go to the bigger of a critic you become. But it’s true. Like I was wearing these $250 bikinis and they’d fall apart after like a few wears and you’re like, or they didn’t fit that well. Or they, you know, something was just off in the fit and things like that. And you’re like what? Like, or the fabric doesn’t even feel good. And so I just became like super critical and was kind of like. I could do this better. Like I like who knows when we’re better than me. Like, it’s definitely not a huge corporation. That’s like sending like one person to manufacture them, like for a couple of days a year. And they’re just like checking in on things and then right. You know, mailing it in, like, it’s me, who’s wearing, who’s like not a corporation. I’m a consumer. And I’m wearing some suits every day of the year. Like I just felt like who knows swimmer a better than me. I can do this better. So I was really determined and it was, I think I literally had the idea in, in like in 2017, like pretty much like right away, but it was like two, it wasn’t until two years later that we launched watercolors. It mean it took a long time of building it out and designing the swimsuits. First of all. And second of all, deciding like, yeah, like, what’s this gonna look like? And one of the smartest things I’ve ever done, it’s definitely build watercolors under Kenny flowers, my fiance’s business, because he already had the manufacturing connections/warehousing/production. So I was able to start our women’s swimwear line, under Kenny flowers using our same like swim factory in Columbia. We, we have like matching prints that we do across men’s and women’s, and he’s designing for the men I’m designing for the women. It’s like. It’s very hands-on. We are there, we’re there a few months, every year. Like hands-on with the factory. Nothing, nothing happens without my approval. Like, I I’m literally like sitting in the factory, like splashing myself with water. I shower in the hotel room, like in swimsuits, like making sure that nothing’s, see-through like choosing fabrics, like it’s, it’s wild, like, but we’re so hands-on. Nobody else is doing this. Like, I don’t, I don’t think that the.. No, I won’t, I won’t name any names, but I don’t think that like the swimsuit designer from X big brand is like sitting in her hotel room, like, like getting in the shower with her swimsuits literally.
E: I mean, I actually was going to ask you and you kind of already answered my question, but I was going to ask what all goes into the design process because you sent me one of your swimsuits last summer. And I was so impressed with the quality you sent me. I don’t know what the, the name of the print is, but it’s the white one with the tie dye.
C: Malibu. Yep.
E: Yeah. And I normally do not go for white swimsuits because every time I have bought one or had a brand send me one it’s so see-through that? I’m like, you can totally see my nipples or like my woohaa through this.
E: Like, Where am I wearing this see-through? So to like where this is like, okay. I think I had, I had seen you talk about, on your stories about how you like splash yourself with water and you, you know, check it. So I was like, okay.
C: Yeah. I run around like, making sure it doesn’t like right up too much. I like run around like crazy down there. They’re like, ella es loca. It’s Columbia, they speak Spanish.
E: But like it’s necessary.
C: Yeah, no, totally. It really is. And it’s just amazing how many people, like don’t realize that from the consumer side, like how much goes into it and I can, yeah, I can give a little more insight into like the process, but like I’ll like start with, like, our first collection was just one style of one piece because I wanted to like, keep it simple and make sure that like, there’s a market for watercolors. Like, so I wanted to create like one, one piece design that like I felt like was the perfect one piece. I loved one pieces. I think that they’re just so classy and stylish, no matter what you’re doing and I love bikinis too. Don’t get me wrong. But yeah, to start, I was like, let’s just design the perfect one piece. And so that just, I focused on the fit first and it was just trial and error. It was so many samples. It was like explaining to the factory, what I had in mind. Here’s what I like. Here’s what I don’t like. Here’s where I want it to like, hit on my body. Here’s, you know, that kind of thing. And so then they’re just working on like, yeah, like a plain white one, because you want to get that fit right. And then when you get the fit, right, then it becomes like, okay, what are our designs? And that’s really fun because I’m constantly like getting inspired by designs, like colors that I see out and about like all, I mean, I am like. I can’t snap out of it. Like if I’m on the beach, I’m looking at everybody’s swimsuit. I’m like, Oh my God, that color looks so good. I love that color combination. Let me write this down. Like, let me, you know, like, like it’s, it’s impossible to snap out of it, but yeah. So I’m constantly getting inspiration. I also tell my friends and my followers like send me like designs that you like, for example, like, I, it was a friend of mine that was like, She was like, I feel like you should make a tie dye swimsuit. And it was just a friend of mine. And I got this text from her on a random day and I was like, yeah, I should make a tie dye swimsuit. And mind you, this is way before the tie dye trends. Like that hit this year, but it was like, yeah, we should. And so then it was just thought. Then I talk, I have a designer that I work with that more does the actual, like. You know, very, like hands-on designing that I can’t do. But I’ll like explain to her exactly what I have in mind. Then she put, brings it to life and then she sends the final files once they’re approved to the factory, they then try to like create them on fabric, but every time you go from like a computer file to fabric, the colors are so different. So that’s where like I have to be there in person with like all the colors, like making sure that it’s like the exact color that we want, because it’s not, it’s so different. Every fabric is different. So, you know, it’s just, it’s interesting. It’s super interesting was something that I never realized that goes into designing. It’s like the colors are it’s, it’s the, it’s kind of the biggest headache, but they matter, like, especially the tie dye, I was like, I want our tie dye be like, I don’t want us to be like bright and ugly. I want it to be like watercolor Z and like pastel and pretty. So yeah, it matters a lot. And so then. Yeah. So then you put the design on the suit, then you make sure like the placement of the design is right and all that. And then you decide like which styles you’re making the design in and then it becomes like, yeah, photo shooting and getting it on the website and then like creating a launch plan. And that’s what we’re like in the middle of right now is we have all the, we have all the designs for 2021 done. I’m so excited about them. I’d like, had so much trouble keeping them a secret, but, they’re launching, they’re starting a launch in like a month. So we’re in the middle of like at launch phase, which is so…
E: So exciting. Well, I can’t wait to see them. Thank you for giving us that like behind the scenes peek at what the design process is like. Cause I think it’s super interesting too. It’s such a like unfamiliar world to me. I’m always, you know, obviously looking at like the finished product and styling and shooting. You know, close with whatever it is, but hearing what goes into it, just kind of like makes you appreciate it even more, especially when you have like a really high quality piece. Tell us about that one time that Zara stole your swimsuit design.
C: Yes. Yeah. So it was our first collection. And, it was like we launched in January, end of January, maybe beginning of February, launched my first collection ever. I was so, you know, it’s like your baby, like I said, it was like two years in the making. I was so excited and about, it was like, exactly, like three months later, this is fast. Like it was fast. It was not like, Oh, a year later, like three months later, I got a text from a friend that was in Zara. And they sent me a photo of a swimsuit and it was my swimsuit. It was, it was the only thing that they had changed. Like they had changed like just enough stuff, stuff that you can’t sue them, but they made it a one shoulder versus a two shoulder. They, it was, but it was to a T. The suit, like it was like the two.. it was our toucan suit and, the toucan placement and just like the whole idea, like, it was just an, our suit is a coral, it was a coral, like, it was just so ridiculous. And then the most, like, ridiculous part about it was you go on their website and you, like, you find the suit and the, like the model is literally posed in the exact same way that I was when I was modeling the one piece. Well, it was like, it was like she was wearing, like, it was so blatantly, like almost like a FU and like a slap in a tiny, tiny brand’s face. Like it was such a slap in the face. It was a rude awakening to the retail world. Like it’s ruthless out there. It’s rude. It’s like you think you have a creative idea. Like just wait until a month later, the Zara is the world we’ll just copy.
E: It’s so frustrating. I’m so sorry that happened to you.
C: Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s, it was a rude awakening. It’s it’s just part of being in retail. And, but I, I mean, I’ve never walked in a Zara since then. I did. So like, if you Google Zara steals designs, every single one of their designs comes from a small designer like me that, you know, they’re totally taking. Yeah, they’re just, they’re just copying people’s ideas. I just, I, I can’t support that with a conscience.
E: That is so sad. Well, for listeners, I will definitely link to your blog posts so they can see the photos. You guys can find it in the show notes, it’ll be at whatthefab.com/jetset. And I will include, it’ll have a transcription from our conversation today and I’ll include links. So you can check that out because it is I’ve, I’ve seen the photos, I’ve seen the receipts and it is blatant. Like you say.
C: Yeah, it’s, it’s just sad that that’s what happens, but, but as long as we keep running our business genuinely and doing the right thing and having high quality products, like I’m confident that our customer wants more than like a cheaply made suit. So it is what it is, but it does. It’s not going to hurt my business that much.
E: Yeah, Like I said, I was super impressed with the quality. And again, just like so excited that I could wear a partially white swimsuit that wasn’t see-through.
C: Yeah. Me too. And it’s like, that’s so important. I hate when white suits are see-through.
E: Yeah it’s so bad. That’s not the look I’m going for. This year it’s been quite a year. How have you and Kenny had to pivot your businesses during COVID.
C: Yeah. In every single way. I had such flashbacks to that hurricane story when we were at the beginning of the pandemic, I was like, we’re basically in the eye of the hurricane right now. This is it. Like we were basically driving our van across the country again, like, because we were, we were on the East coast, when the world shut down and we usually base part of the year in Bali, part of the year in Columbia, where the swimsuits get made, the rest of the year, we’re traveling for Jetset, Christina, so as of right now, we don’t have a home base, like in the States, like we call, we call everywhere around the world, our home base. Like we always like work remotely from wherever we are. We like make places around the world, our home. We always try to like extend trips into longer so that we can really like get to know places more. But as far as having a typical like apartment or home, we don’t have that. So we’re on the East coast. We’re supposed to have our wedding a month from, we’re supposed to have our wedding April 18th. So the world kind of shut down. mid-March we, we didn’t have any travel plans before April, because it was like the crunch time for the wedding, right? Well, we were, I was supposed to have like all these bridal showers and, things like that. So we were, we were going back to Colorado for a bridal shower there and then California for some bridal, because Kenny’s from Colorado and I’m from California. And that was like the plan. And then it was like go to Hawaii where we were going to get married. And so when the world’s shut down and everybody’s like, Shelter in place because we didn’t really know what, where we were supposed to go cause we’re bygones. Oh, we like, luckily we both have family in San Diego area of California, which, which is an area that we love so much. And there was a unit that Kenny’s family owns that wasn’t being used. So we just, like, we thought we were quarantining there for a few weeks at most, and we ended up staying there for six months. But it was great because it was a great place to be. We had, you know, we had a quote unquote home for awhile and it was, it was fine to be honest, but we did have to like completely pivot our businesses. My travel blog went to like 10% traffic of what it was, and that’s how I make my money is readership on the blog. Most for the most part, like I’m not really big into like sponsored posts on Instagram. Like, I, I much prefer to like, like, I much prefer to just like drive people to the blog, like get like with like whatever I want to write about. And then like, versus like forced sponsored posts. So I, so it was like very, I lost all my income very quickly. And then of course you have watercolors, which is swimwear made for vacationing and nobody’s going on vacation. So I was like, okay, what are we going to do here? And then Kenny’s business is very vacation wear, resort wear a lot of like, bachelorette parties will wear like matching Kenny flowers sarongs like bachelor parties. We’ll wear matching Kenny flower shirts. People buy like lots of shirts for like group trips and all that stuff. So we not only like, as the world falling apart, but then we start getting all these emails from customers. It’s like, Oh, sorry. My trip is canceled. Can I return 20 shirts?
E: Oh my God
C: Oh God! I was like, yes you can. I’m sorry like that the world is ending, but also this is really devastating to our business. And, so we did give everyone their money back. Like if they had a trip plan that they wanted to return stuff, but, we just had to hunker down and be like, what do we do? How do we keep going? And like, from the travel side for me, I was like, I think I just need to like focus. Like I said earlier, like focus on the future. People are going to travel again. I don’t know when that’s going to be, but I want to make sure that my blog is like the best place ever for when they are ready to search travel again And, you know, there’s when you’re on the go all the time. I don’t, I don’t have that much time as much time as I want to write. You know, so I’m trying to write as much as I can, but it was awesome to have six months at home where I could be really building out the blog, all these blog posts that I meant to write a year ago. And I forgot, all this stuff. So I really like focused on like building the blog out. And then also just transitioning into lifestyle. Like, like you said, like your home improvement and stuff. Like, I, I think if you’ve built a strong enough brand, like people don’t care what you’re doing, like Jetset, Christina, isn’t just about travel. Like it’s about elevating your lifestyle, where wherever you are and whatever you’re up to like, so for me, it was like, maybe I’m not going to talk to people about like, what weekend getaways, they’re going to go on this weekend, but I’m going to talk to them about what I’m, what wine I’m drinking and my favorite cocktail recipes, and also what wine glasses I’m drinking out of. And like, you know, what, what, what’s interesting me, right. What is interesting to me right now? And I just figured that I will be interesting to my audience as well, because they follow me for a reason and it was, and so that was really reassuring to see people were interested. They were like tagging me in recipes that they were making off my blog. They were tagging me in wines that they were drinking because I recommended them like, and it was just awesome. I was like, this is Jetset Christina does not have to be traveling for like it to be a, you know, a good brand. And so that was to me like, Oh, thank God, thank God. I’m like, not just crying in a corner right now. But and then Kenny flowers, we started making masks and we started making masks out of shirt fabric that was just like excess, like kind of like fabric scraps, and that was awesome because it kept the factory in work employed and working and making money. And it was like, it got us in like Vogue and men’s journal and all these, like GQ, like all these like crazy like press placements about them and like all this stuff. So it was really. That was an amazing pivot on the Kenny flowers side.
E: Well, I mean, yeah, like you were saying, it reminds me a lot about your earlier story about the hurricane and like figuring out, like being quick on your feet and thinking like, where do we go from here? Because you can’t just curl up into a ball and cry because yeah, there was like, it was really interesting to look at the data, but like blog traffic, especially for travel blogs, just like plummeted on a very specific day in March. And yeah, if you’re, if your main source of revenue is tied to that, I mean, that is terrifying. But you were able to turn things around, which is incredible. And you have a really strong readership. I think I saw in your Instagram bio that over on your website, you have 2 million monthly readers.
C: Yeah. I have a reach of over 2 million right now, which is crazy. I can’t believe it, but yeah, and it’s really grown through the pandemic, so that’s like. That’s what was so exciting to me was like, okay, even, even no people aren’t reading about travel, they are still reading Jetset, Christina, like they are reading. So now they’re starting to plan future travel or current travel right now. So the travel is really coming back in a big way, but over the summer and stuff, it was like, it was the most random blog posts that people would be like so excited about. I wrote a blog post about how to celebrate my fiance’s birthday during lockdown. And that was like the best blog post. Like people just like loved it. It’s like my highest performing blog post all year. I think it’s just like, things like that. Like you’re like, that’s has nothing to do with travel, but it’s still me and it’s my voice. And it’s like what I’m up to and people. You know, they, they need ideas throughout a celebrate things during launch. So it’s just like thinking about like what’s relevant right now.
E: Absolutely. I had a really similar experience that I think my top read blog posts for this year is how to celebrate your anniversary during lockdown. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it’s just like, this is what we’re all going through. You know? Like, nobody really wants to read my blog post about top 10 things to do in Cusco right now.
C: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.
E: So you guys have, you had to reschedule your, your wedding. You’re getting married and like one of my favorite places on earth in Maui. So what, what’s the plan now?
C: Plan now. So actually the plan, you know, the plans change like crazy. We were going to go to Bali. In early January right now, as of this morning, they completely shut down borders even to business visa. So we were going on a business visa, and now it’s like completely shut down to everyone. So that, but they’re saying only for the next two weeks, but I’ve heard that before from our government ever, I’ve heard that before.
E: Remember when everything was going to be opened by Easter.
C: So I’m trying not to get my hopes up, but we’re hopeful to go to Bali, this definitely this spring. But we were really hoping to get there and just like January and February, cause like we still don’t have a full-time home base here in the States. It, it like it was open for business travelers to Bali, so we were being allowed to go. But yeah, now it’s kind of up in the air. We’re hopeful, mid January to be heading there. If not, we’re going to have to figure out somewhere else to live, but right now we’re in California and yeah, we, we. Like, we want to settle down sometime in California. We just don’t know when it doesn’t like, like when we look at our travel schedule for like, okay, yeah, settled down. But what happens when you’re gone three, three weeks out of every month? Like, you know.
E: So when you guys are usually based in Bali. Do you have a permanent spot to call home there or do you kind of bounce around.
C: Yeah. So we usually split time. We will do Airbnb for like monthly rental in Bali, which is great, uh, because we get to try different places. And we usually like to split our time between Hubu, which is for those who don’t know like a very Zen, Jungley folly. Uh, it’s where I feel most productive. Like I’ll just like, get so much writing done and new boot. It’s like the most creative place ever. And it’s so beautiful. And then we also like to spend about half the time in Chang GU, which is more like where all the ex-pats live. It’s where all our friends are. It’s like the beach town. So that’s like, that’s like, I would say a little less productive for me because I’m like, it’s going to be, let’s go have fun, you know? But it’s still like, there’s lots of really cool co-working places and that kind of stuff in Chengdu. So yeah, we like to split our time between those two.
E: So cool. I still haven’t made it to Bali, so I’m hoping to, and hopefully, hopefully I can hit you up and the borders will open up and we’ll all be able to go.
C: Oh my God, anytime. I love showing people around Bali.
E: So fun. Okay. I have a few just kind of like quick fire questions for you to round this out. So any tips you can share for jet lag and or tips for sleeping on a plane, because those are things I struggle with.
C: Yeah, sleeping on a plane is the key to jet lag. I feel, it’s funny to give tips for jet lag when I have been jet lagged for a week. But I like it’s like do, as I say, not as I do okay people, but I think it’s like sleeping, making sure you’re sleeping. I usually take ZzzQuil or melatonin. So something to make sure you’re getting sleep. If it’s a long flight, obviously don’t take anything to sleep if it’s not a long enough flight. But if it’s an overnight flight, like I, you have to make sure you sleep. And then, I just like my number one tip is hit the ground running when you get to somewhere, like, even if you’re tired, like break a sweat, walk, run, something like literally get active because it’s going to tire you out for that first night of sleep and your new destination. And that’s like, makes all the difference versus if you’re not that tired and then you don’t sleep well. And then like, it’s like, it’s. It’s hard, but I always find it better if I’m like, if I to break a sweat on that first day. And then besides that it’s like water, just like making sure you’re super, super hydrated. I like liquid. IV too. I feel like that helps me stay really hydrated.
E: I’m going to try all of these on my next long wait trip, I can’t wait.
C: Where are you off to next?
E: Well, I’m starting to look at like fall 2021 because during the pandemic, my husband and I have really just like we bought our first home in Napa. So we’ve been really hunkered down. And then any trips that we have taken have been road trips in California. So I’m looking at falls or later in the year. And I’m thinking like maybe grace. Maybe Bora, Bora. I loved your Bora Bora photos. It looked like such a drink. So those are a couple of ideas that I had for later this year.
C: Yeah, fun, always. So fun to plan. I have guides to both of those.
E: Yeah I know. But I will definitely go over your guides again. Okay. Favorite productivity hack.
C: I drink a lot of coffee, Colombian coffee in particular is like, if you know, I don’t know. That’s like when I’m most productive, making sure you’re just like setting yourself up for a productive day. Like making sure you don’t have any distractions. Like I, some of my most productive days are when I like tell myself, I’m not checking my email until I finished this blog post. Like, cause I’m easily distracted by like, Oh, this person needs something from me. Oh God, I got to do that right now. And if I have something that I need to get done, like I gotta get it done first. And then I’ll check my email and then I’ll like, get this thing to this person or, you know, so I think like making sure you’re just setting yourself up for productivity and not distractions.
E: Yes, I loved the email tip. I recently started not checking my email until after lunch and it’s been such a game-changer.
C: Oh my gosh,
E: I carry email in the morning and respond. Then it just breeds new emails so you have to respond. It’s like a vicious cycle.
C: Totally. And they stress me out. Like people stress me out. I’m like, let me get back in my Zen mode. Let me not look at your stressful emails.
E: Okay. So you you’ve grown your blog to this incredible reach and readership. What would you attribute to that growth? Like SEL Pinterest, like if there’s one thing for a blogger to focus on what has worked really well.
C: SEO and Pinterest, Pinterest has been a hit for me from the beginning. Like Pinterest is so key. And I like, I can’t say that enough. I think like, you need to be pinning every day. You need to be pinning so many different pins for every post like it’s so important. And then SEO. Yeah. Like there’s just like little things with SEO that matters so much. Like, so if you can just like. Pay an SEO consultant, like, you know, a couple hundred bucks to just look at your blog, like help you out. Like, I think that can make all the difference.
E: Definitely. Okay. Last one for you. Any book recommendations for the new year?
C: Yeah. I’m currently reading, what’s it called? Girls? I’m liking it. I’m liking it a lot. I really like her writing. It’s the Eat. Pray. Love. So I really like her writing. I’m into that. And then, my favorite book of all time is shoe dog. By Phil Knight. He’s the founder of Nike it’s, like for every entrepreneur should read it. Like, it’s my favorite.
E: Definitely adding that to my reading list for the day. Also, if have you read big magic? It’s also by Elizabeth Gilbert.
C: Oh no, I haven’t.
E: You would love it. And guys I will link to all these books that we just talked about in the show notes.
C: Yeah. Oh my God. I love it.
E: Well, Christina, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I had so much fun chatting with you today. Please let everybody know where they can find you where they can find watercolor swim.
C: Yeah. So you can find me on Instagram at Jetset, Christina C H R I S T I N A. And on my website, Jetsetchristina.com and watercolors is watercolorsswim.com. So two SS, or Kennyflowers.com.
E: Amazing. Thank you so much, Christina. Thank you so much for taking the time today. This was so much fun.
C: Yeah. Thank you for having me. It was so much fun. I just feel like we just caught up over my phone.
E: Yeah. It so fun to just like catch up and hear more about the behind the scenes of both of your businesses. It’s amazing.
C: Next time we do this, we should, we should do another one in like a year or something and next time we’ll do it in person. That’s sounds so fun.
E: Absolutely. All right. Thanks Christina.
C: Thank you.
E: Bye. Love chatting with Christina. I especially appreciated just hearing her story and that theme pop up continually of resilience and perseverance. I think it’s especially relevant after the year that we just survived. And as we head into hopefully a better 2021 as always, you can find the show notes and transcription and links from this episode over on the blog, the specific URL for this one is whatthefab.com/jetset. I’ve got links to the books that we talked about links. So you can easily connect with Christina. Those photos we talked about from Zara ripping off her design, it’s all there.
And other than that, we will see you next time on the, what the fab podcast. Thanks so much for joining.
Elise Armitage is an entrepreneur and founder of What The Fab, a travel + lifestyle blog based in California. At the beginning of 2019, Elise left her corporate job at Google to chase her dreams: being an entrepreneur and helping women find fabulous in the everyday. Since then, she’s launched her SEO course Six-Figure SEO, where she teaches bloggers how to create a passive revenue stream from their website using SEO. Featured in publications like Forbes, Elle, HerMoney, and Real Simple, Elise is a firm believer that you can be of both substance and style.