DP Spotlight: Kileen Valenzuela

DP Spotlight is a special monthly feature that highlights successful women entrepreneurs in the creative industry sharing their experience and career advice.


Kileen Valenzuela
Fashion Blogger & Lead Software Engineer
Cute & Little Blog

kileen cute and little blog

We're so thrilled to feature, Kileen! Can you tell us about yourself?

I am 36 years old and live in Dallas, TX with my husband and 2 kids. I am from Austin, TX originally and miss the quirky, weird city but love all the big-city options that Dallas has! I work full-time as a lead software engineer at an online banking company headquarter here, and love the mix of a structured corporate job and a creative blogging side hustle!



What inspired you to start your fashion blog and how long have you been blogging?

I first discovered blogs back in 2010 when I was googling reviews and loved the fact that there was a petite fashion blogging community! Finding clothes that fit when you’re 5’ tall has always been a struggle for me yet I love fashion and getting dressed up! I started taking pictures of myself on my rooftop patio and soon my blog was born. My blog has grown up quite a bit since then and I’ve now been in the blogging world for 8 years!

kileen cute and little blog

What are some challenges you had to overcome when you first started? Did you hit any bumps along the way?

Initial challenges included figuring out camera settings and how to best edit my pictures. Back then I used Google Picasa as my photo editor and had no idea what to do as far as photo edits were concerned! Now I’ve invested in Lightroom and Photoshop and can say I’ve definitely learned quite a bit along the way.



When did you decide to turn blogging from a hobby into a full-blown business? What changes did you make to make this happen?

Blogging is still my side hustle although there are times when I think about it being my only full-time business. But, part of me enjoys the stability and benefits of a corporate job and I have to say that I love the instant gratification of writing code as well. There are times when my schedule is so hectic trying to manage both businesses and my family life, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!

kileen cute and little blog

Social media has changed the blogging game so much. What advice would you give to a new blogger who wants to be successful?

Focus on what where your readers are. There are so many different social media outlets now (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram stories, Snapchat, Pinterest) and it’s not realistic to put 100% effort into everything. For me, the majority of my readers still follow me on my blog and Instagram, so that is where I focus the majority of my efforts. My recommendation is to not be afraid to try all the different ways to share your content, but at the end of the day, focus your efforts on where it makes the biggest impact!

 


Do you notice any trends and where the fashion blogging industry is going??

Fashion blogging is an industry that changes overnight. Lately, it seems like readers are wanting more of the raw, unfiltered phone pictures instead of the professional, glamorized photoshoots. For me, I try to mix in a bit of both – iPhone selfies that are relatable along with aspirational professional images. I find that it fills my need for creativity as well as my readers’ desire for real-life images.

 kileen cute and little

How do you manage to stay on top of your blog, being active on social media, being successful at and raising a family? It seems a lot but you’re doing it all. What are you your secrets?

I constantly feel like I’m falling short on juggling it all but it’s a matter of priority. With limited time, I cannot get to everything on my to-do list so I make sure that the important tasks are addressed first. For me, that means taking care of me and my family, staying on top of my full-time job responsibilities, and blogging during the nights and weekends. It usually means I’m sacrificing a few hours of sleep but I love all the connections and friendships I’ve made from blogging too much to give it up! I’ve also found shortcuts to streamline my work including using Lightroom preset from Dreamy Presets that make my work so much faster!

 

So, we know who photograph yourself. Your photos are stunning and effortless. Photography is such an enormous part of fashion blogging and can be costly if you need to hire a photographer regularly. Can you share what it takes to professional photos of yourself? How do you overcoming the feeling of awkwardness when being stared at?

For me, I would say start by taking pictures of yourself at home – possibly in your backyard where you have privacy. Experiment with camera settings and figure out different angles/poses. I usually like to set my photos so that I’m standing several feet away from my background so that my camera doesn’t have as much trouble determining the focal point for the photo.

As for awkwardness, I feel like it’s not as much of an issue these days as there are so many fashion bloggers now that people usually can guess why it is that I’m taking a photo of myself. For me, I just own it – I feel like as long as you’re confident in yourself, you can get away with so many things in your life in general!