I’ve been so fortunate lately to have chatted with some wonderful bloggers. First, I talked to the fabulous Greetje from No Fear of Fashion. Then, we had the lovely Nancy from Nancy’s Fashion Style. And today I’m talking to a lovely lass who has become a firm friend over the past year. Sadly, with her in the States and me in Europe, we have yet to meet. But it is on my bucket list! Shelbee, from Shelbee on the Edge is perhaps one of the quirkiest bloggers I know. One of the many things I love about her is her varied sense of style. She loves to play dress up and dress up she certainly does! Without further ado, please say hi to Shelbee…
Hey Shelbee! Welcome. Tell me, how would you describe your style?
I consider myself very much a style chameleon of sorts. I dress based according to my mood most days and view my clothing as a way to become whatever I feel like being on any given day. I love bohemian styles but am totally in my comfort zone in witchy Gothic styles, too. I am as comfortable in a preppy outfit as I am in some crazy off the wall sartorial concoction. I do not discount any style genre from my wardrobe as I love to combine whatever feels good in the moment whether it be vintage combined with modern pieces or punk rock combined with feminine details. My personal style is very much an expression of me. I do not fit into any boxes anywhere and so I just live in between the boxes pulling inspiration from everything around me.
How has your style evolved over time?
My style has definitely evolved over time especially since I began blogging. While I have always had an affinity for eclectic and unique styles and always wore whatever I liked, I didn’t really learn how to piece everything together to look like an actual, real, on purpose outfit until I began blogging. Blogging has taught me how to add accessories in meaningful ways as well as how to mix prints and combine unlikely colors together.
Do you have a style icon? (Or icons)
My list of style icons might be about as eclectic as my personal style. Some of my favorite fashion icons include Diane Keaton, Gwen Stefani, Helena Bonham Carter, Sarah Jessica Parker, Stevie Nicks, Debbie Harry, Audrey Hepburn, and Iris Apfel. There are also so many blogger friends who have iconic styles that I look to often for inspiration. But there are too many to name and I don’t want accidentally omit someone!
What’s your favourite item(s) of clothing?
That is a really difficult question because I have so many favorites! I do love my kimono collection more than most things in my closet. But I also have some really wonderful sentimental pieces as well like my grandmother’s hand crocheted shawl and tan winter hat. The shawl doesn’t get much wear, but the hat is in constant rotation. I also cherish my fabulous vintage faux fur coat that my husband surprised me with for Christmas a few years ago. I also frequently wear my wedding shoes these 11 years later. Granted they are amazing leather knee high combat boots which can be worn with all sorts of outfits.
What’s your wardrobe like? Do you have a photo?
In one word, my wardrobe is obnoxious. An embarrassing representation of over indulgence. But my closet room is my playground and so I just embrace the abundance with gratitude for the space to store it all and the money that purchased it all.
When did you first start Shelbee on the Edge? What’s the meaning of the name? And why did you start it?
I published my first blog post on August 24, 2015. My husband was deployed to Afghanistan at the time and my children were only 2 and 4 years old. I had so much free time on my hands after they went to bed at night that I started reading lots of blogs that focused on fashion over 40. And then my sister planted the idea in my head that I should start my own blog. It was a brilliant way for me to combine seemingly unrelated passions, fashion and mental health advocacy. Since fashion has been a healing hobby for me, it was a great way to combine these two interests into one place in the hopes that I could inspire and help others on their own mental health journeys.
The story behind the name Shelbee on the Edge is a silly one. I liked the idea of using the word “edge” in my brand name because I wanted my focus to be edgy fashion combined with the edginess that is implied by mental health issues and the stress that comes along with the parenting struggle. So I had determined the “on the edge” part rather easily. Finding the right name to go with it was a bit more challenging.
My given name is Michelle but “Michelle on the Edge” just wasn’t working for me. My whole family has called me Micki since birth so I figured I would try that, but still “Micki on the Edge” just didn’t sound right either. And then I recalled my life back in my 20’s. As a recently divorced young woman working in New York City, I would get into all sorts of shenanigans with my single friends. I have one friend in particular, Alicia,who was always keen on reminding me of my drunken escapades. When I didn’t like what I had done under the influence, I would simply reply to her, “That was not me, that was Shelbee.” It became our little inside joke, this unknown alter ego of mine, and was long forgotten over the years of distance and life happening. The name Shelbee resurfaced during my brainstorming for a brand name and “Shelbee on the Edge” was born. Now I answer to all three names without hesitation…Michelle, Micki, or Shelbee…all are just fine.
Do you think your confidence has grown since starting a blog?
I think my confidence has definitely grown since I began blogging. I never ever liked to have my picture taken and would go to extremes to avoid cameras whenever someone suggested that we take a photo. In fact, there is a period of about 15 years where I don’t think a picture of me even exists. Putting myself in front of the camera was one of the most liberating and empowering experiences of my life. I still am not totally comfortable with it, but I have way more confidence in how I look and present myself to the world now because of it. In fact, I highly encourage others who struggle with their self confidence and the way they look to start taking photos of themselves even if they keep them private. I think it really helps to view yourself through a different lens, even if it is just a camera lens.
What is it about blogging that you love the most? And your least favourite thing?
The community of people with whom I interact on a daily basis is my favorite thing about blogging. It is such a wonderfully tight knit community of people who are kind and inspiring and supportive of one another. I literally cannot even imagine life without blogging at this point. It is my way of staying connected in a physically distanced world. I also really like being my own boss. I realized long ago that I am not properly equipped to work for other people, so blogging was the ideal thing for me to generate some extra income.
My least favorite thing is all the annoying little behind the scenes things that blogging requires. Negotiating with brands and dealing with how incredibly undermining some of them can be is like a constant bombardment of people devaluing you. Being able to value yourself and then put an actual dollar amount on it is super challenging made even more so when you are told point blank that you are not worth that amount. It requires thick skin to get through all the negotiations and know when to tell someone to f*@^ off! I also despise editing photos! It is my least favorite task.
Do you have any advice for women over 40 thinking of starting a style blog?
I think for anyone who wants to start a blog, I would say that if sharing your journey is important to you then blogging is an excellent platform to use for that purpose. I would also let those interested in blogging know that it is much more work than it appears to be. You have to be diligent with time management and consistent with posting. You have to learn how to navigate a million different things that you never would have thought, but at the end of it all, you have so much new knowledge that can never be taken away. The connections and the community are priceless extras that come along with this gig. And opportunities that you never expected can arise from it. I have modeled for a brand new sleepwear campaign and have worked with some incredible brands over the years. I have traveled across the country to meet other bloggers and I was featured in an art show in Los Angeles. The experiences are absolutely the most wonderful benefit that I have gained from blogging. It is not for the faint of heart, but it is the most fulfilling work I have ever done.
You started #spreadthekindness, can you explain it?
I started my #SpreadTheKindness campaign back in 2016 in the wake of Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States. Not being a very political person at all, I had no real feelings on the topic; however, I was getting very upset with how brutal people can be when they don’t get the results that they want. And so I wrote a post that was neutral on the political spectrum and merely stated that the man was elected to office following the constitutional guidelines of our country and we should maybe just give him a chance. As you can imagine, I came under extreme fire for my stance on the issue and was receiving so much hate mail calling me things like a fat disgusting whore not worthy of life. I mentioned before that blogging is not for the faint of heart, and when the trolls start attacking you, you have to be strong.
So I took it upon myself to use the horrifying comments as an example of how NOT to act and it launched my #SpreadTheKindness movement. My blog space is a place where all are welcome to share their stories without judgment or ridicule. If we can all treat each other with respect and kindness, can you imagine what a wonderful world it would be? So I am on a mission and will always be on a mission to create an unbreakable chain of kindness. Our world needs it now more than ever.
What advice would you give twenty-year-old Shelbee about style?
I would tell my 20 year old self to never compromise who I am for any other person on the planet. I have been on the receiving end of all sorts of negative comments about the way I dress literally for as long as I can remember. I was sent to the principal office’s in 5th grade because my teacher found my bold and bright style “too distracting” for my classmates. I have been told that I look funny and dress weird for such a long time that I now consider it all to be compliments, thank you very much. To my 20 year old self I would say, “Rock on, girl, with your crazy style. It will pay off in the end.”
Suzy, thank you so much for including me in your interview series. I am so honored! You are an amazing human and friend and I am so grateful to have met you on this journey. Hopefully, one day we will meet in real life!
Shelbee, it is my absolute pleasure, and I couldn’t agree more. I firmly believe we will meet and it won’t be too long in the future. I’m sure of it. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to be here today!