Sooo as you can tell from the title of this post…I quit my job at Google! I’d been there for just over five years, and it was truly such an incredible experience. To work for a company and a brand like that is pretty special. If you asked me in college what my dream job would be, I’d have told you it was to work for Google. I remember for the first year, whenever I overheard people talking about Google or using its products (which was pretty much every day), I’d think, “Dude. That company they’re talking about? I work there.” Google continually tops Fortune’s list as the #1 company in the world to work for. And I couldn’t agree more. That’s why I’m not leaving Google to work for another company. I’m leaving to start my own.
I launched What The Fab during the summer of 2012. I was working at my first big girl job out of grad school at a communications agency in San Francisco. I was learning how to manage an editorial calendar, email newsletter, blog posts and social. I loved it. The agency focused on employee benefits communications, so I was writing about things like how to get employees engaged in their wellness programs and 401(k)s. So I thought, I’m having so much fun writing about HSAs, what if I started my own blog and wrote about things in my own life that I love? Imagine how fun that would be. And so I launched What The Fab (then spelled WTFab), which was mostly focused on fashion and beauty. I had no idea what I was doing. But I just kept writing, and posting. Slowly, traction started to gain. I remember my very first gifted collaboration, when an independent designer emailed me asking if she could send me one of her rings so that I could style it in a blog post. When my package arrived, I opened it to find a plastic ring, with buttons hot glued on it. I was thrilled. My first sponsored collaboration was for a fashion app. They paid me $20, cash to post about them. Again, I was thrilled.
Over the last six and a half years, I continued blogging during nights and weekends. What The Fab became not just a hobby, but a side hustle. And I hustled hard. I grew my audience, worked on SEO, improved my photo editing skills, took classes about Pinterest, invested in better photography equipment…the list goes on and on. Omied continued to hone his craft of photography over the years too, and I’m so proud of what an incredibly talented photographer he’s become. What The Fab continued to grow and over the last few years I’ve made an intentional shift to focus more on actionable and helpful travel content while still shooting plenty of fashion and lifestyle content. It was a ton of work, but I loved it, which is the only reason I was able to put in the long nights, and decline impromptu happy hours because I knew I needed to get home to work on a blog post to go live the next day. People would always ask me how I managed to work full time and run my blog. It really just came down to prioritizing the blog during my free hours, and working my ass off. Sometimes when people see me getting free product or trips they say, “You’re so lucky! I should start a blog.” I smile to myself and think, “Sure, if you want to grind on it every night and weekend for years.” Luck has very little to do with it.
I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur and run my own business. Both my parents had their own businesses, so I saw this modeled for me at a young age. I always thought, wouldn’t it be cool if I had my own company someday too? I just wasn’t sure what that would be. Last year was a break out year for What The Fab in terms of revenue, and that was with only working nights/weekends on it, and having months at a time where I was so busy with my work and travel for Google, that I didn’t touch the blog. At the same time, over 2018 I was having a lot of honest career development conversations with my manager at Google. I had been in my current role doing events for three years (by the time I left it would be four), and while I loved it and adored the team, I was starting to top out in my role. I had taken on a big stretch project for ~6 months, leading our global team in our International Women’s Day event series at Google offices around the world. It was a huge opportunity for my personal and career growth, and I was absolutely honored to play the part. But after wrapping a successful event series, my manager and I weren’t really sure where I could go from there to keep engaged. Bless his soul for being open with me and allowing for these candid conversations. A good manager should create space for those types of conversations, but I know not everyone has that kind of support. I spent the rest of the year searching our internal jobs page looking for what could possibly be my next step within Google. But I just wasn’t seeing anything that sparked a sense of joy and excitement within me. And so I took some time over the holidays to reflect and think about what it is that I truly, truly wanted to do next. I thought about the question, “What would you attempt to do, if you knew that you could not fail?” The answer was clear to me—I’d run What The Fab full time. I talked it over with Omied, and he was incredibly supportive. He’s known that I’ve always wanted to own my own business some day, and he told me that the timing was right. We don’t have a mortgage to worry about, we don’t have kids to worry about, and we’ve been able to save a nice nest egg over the years. The timing was right, and it was now or never. So I made the decision to put in my notice at Google after the New Years holiday.
Leading up to the day I was planning on putting in my notice, I was such a mixed bag of emotions. I’d go through waves where I felt excited and confident. And then the next minute I’d feel slightly nauseous, incredibly anxious, and like I was an insane lunatic for leaving my stable, well-paying job with every perk you can imagine (bye massages, free food, and ridiculous amounts of Google stock ?) that many people would kill for. But I knew in my heart what I wanted, and if I didn’t do this, if I didn’t try, it’d be something I’d regret for the rest of my life. So I delivered the news to my shocked manager, who despite his surprise was gracious and supportive of my decision. Immediately after that conversation, I felt like a weight had been lifted. This was happening, and there was no turning back. No wondering what I should or shouldn’t do, or if I’d made the right decision. The only path left was the one forward.
I was curious to see how my coworkers would react as the news spread, and I was admittedly nervous about what that reaction would be. But I reminded myself of a quote that I’d recently read, that no one who had achieved their own dreams would ever judge you for chasing yours. And as the pings and emails started to roll in, I realized I didn’t have any reason to worry. Everyone was happy and excited for me, and some were positively ecstatic. My favorite response from a coworker was, “As your coworker, I’m so sad to hear this. But as a WTFab reader, I’m SO excited to see what you do next.” ?
Over my last week at Google I had so many coffee chats, lunches, and happy hours to catch up with all the wonderful people I’d loved working with over the years. My colleagues had a lot to say about what I was doing. They called it a lot of things. Brave. Bold. Courageous. Inspiring. And while it was so, so nice to hear their support and incredibly flattering, it almost felt like they were talking about someone else. It was like I’d have to remind myself mid-conversation—Oh! You’re talking about me. It was like an out of body experience, and we were talking about some girl who had chosen to leave Google behind to forge her own path and work for herself. Good for that girl! Oh wait. I’m that girl.
One of my coworkers told me, you’re literally reminding everyone here that they have a choice. We get so caught up in Google, and it’s such an institution, it can feel like this is it. What could be better than working for the best company in the world to work for? And for some people, staying at their company is the right choice, and they’ve hit the holy grail. But for others, you might have a yearning for something else. And while from the outside looking it, it may seem that Google is #goals and the end all, be all, it may not be the end all, be all for you. There’s a certain prestige that comes with working for a company like Google. When strangers ask you what you do, and you say you work at Google, their eyes widen and they’re immediately impressed. I’ve already experienced some blank stares in the last few days when I’ve responded to that question with a new answer: I write a travel and style blog, and I do digital marketing consulting. Some people don’t get it. ? But that’s ok, they don’t have to. Because I’m doing it.
Last Friday was my last day working for Google. It feels so surreal to say that I am running my blog full time. I’m also planning on launching What The Fab Media, a digital marketing consulting agency, where I’ll focus on content creation for other brands, social/digital marketing strategy, and influencer events. Stay tuned for the launch, coming soon! I’m so excited for this next chapter that I’ve been dreaming of for so long. I know it will come with its own challenges, but I’m here for it. One of my friends recently told me, “There’s going to be ups and downs in your business, but no matter what happens, I want you to thank yourself for allowing yourself to have this experience. You’ve given yourself the gift of this experience, and not everyone is able to do that.” I thought that was so beautiful and such a great thing to remember as I take the leap into this new journey.
Thank you to each and every one of you for reading. Without your support, through pages viewed, posts liked, and links clicked, I wouldn’t have a viable platform and business. I can’t wait to share with you more content, conversations, and discoveries. Be sure to subscribe to What The Fab’s weekly newsletter so we can keep in touch!
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.