A few weeks ago, I wrote that my goal was to keep the content on Capitol Hill Style light and close to normal. Normalcy felt like the right response at the time. Like many, I thought the pandemic would slow, offices would reopen, and, if we were lucky, things would start to return to status quo by May. That was naive.
So I thought it was time for a frank and honest post about where I’m at, some questions I have about how to be a blogger in this uncertain time, and how I intend to handle things moving forward.
We’re all struggling right now. As the meme says: You’re not working from home, you’re at home, during a crisis, trying to work.
I cry every day. Every.single.day. At video clips. At news reports. Because Kyle grew a quarantine mustache.
I find gratitude and joy where I can, but it’s fleeting because this crisis seems to have no bottom. Sometimes taking a moment to laugh or disconnect feels refreshing, sometimes it just deepens the grief to know how rare those moments are.
I can barely sleep. I have nightmares every night. I’m grinding my teeth so hard in my sleep that I can barely open my jaw. My anxiety and depression are constantly barking at the door, held back with carefully rationed Xanax.
My contract work has dried up since the courts are closed. The domestic violence legal clinic is shuttered, just when clients need it the most. Campaigns are in a holding pattern, so consulting is too.
My family members are all experiencing various levels of professional upheaval — from furloughs, to new jobs that no longer exist, to workplaces that are still open and can’t social distance, to a family law industry in turmoil because some clients think that now is a great time for a serious custody dispute.
My mother’s health is a constant source of worry that never leaves my thoughts. And after almost a year spent trying to have a baby, I am overwhelmed by the mixed emotions that come with being upset that I got my period, grateful to not be pregnant right now, and unsure whether we should keep trying.
But even with all of that, I am still among the privileged classes of those with an income, with health insurance, with a little bit of savings, who isn’t suddenly running a home school/daycare, who has the ability to socially distance in a warm home, and who (most importantly) is not sick.
I give money to charity where I can, buy takeout when prudent, consider every purchase more carefully, support small businesses when possible, and stay the f**k home. But I, like everyone else, is just living hour-by-hour, day-to-day trying to get through this as best I can.
As for where things stand with regards to Capitol Hill Style, I’m still figuring that out. Like many people who have a business or side hustle that isn’t “essential,” I’m sorting out how to move forward in socially responsible way while maintaining some income.
I intend to keep posting. This blog has always been an outlet for me, and a source of support and consistency in uncertain times. Many of you have said that you need the levity, but it’s hard to know what to write about or what people find helpful right now.
First, there’s a question of whether it’s okay to promote products at all. Writing about blue-light glasses seems vapid, but if you’ve had a headache caused by too much WFH screen time, they serve a purpose. I’m searching for a balance between promoting items I love, and knowing that all purchases, except food and medicine, are non-essential right now.
Second, while retailers are hungry for business, whose items should I promote and whose explanations can I trust? A brand that calls a 15%-off sitewide sale “a gift for you?” A brand that laid off most of its customer service people, allegedly using declining sales to union bust? Retailers who mark up items and then discount them to full price? The list of questionable behaviors grows daily and it’s hard to separate smoke from fire.
Then, there are questions about whether we should be buying items that require warehouse employees, customer service agents, and delivery people to keep working. Some workers want to close so they can stay safe at home, others want to keep working to keep their paychecks coming and the economy moving. And there seems to be very little leadership on how to protect and compensate these essential workers.
And lastly, there’s the question of how much is too much. We all have various thresholds for what we consider necessary, ethical, and helpful during this crisis. There are some obvious bright lines, the dark onyx of a black-and-white world — don’t flee to the Hamptons after testing positive, don’t make fat-phobic memes about gaining the Covid-15, don’t sell wellness products that purport to cure virus patients — but beyond that, there is so much grey.
I am bound to do something that some of you think is fine, and others find distasteful. So after a lot of thought, here are some guidelines I intend to follow going forward. But this situation is fluid, and things can change at any time.
Sale Content Will Be Minimal. When big sales weren’t typical, I shared them, but that doesn’t feel like the right move when every retailer is using discounts to entice people to shop. No more sale roundups or posts detailing weekend sales. I may mention if something I’m already promoting happens to be on sale, but that’s as far as it will go.
More Balance. Sharing the items that fill holes in my wardrobe, improve my life with their utility, and spark joy is the foundation of my content. But everyone’s world is changing, including mine, so I need to balance my old content with our new (hopefully temporary) reality. I hope you can be patient with me while I sort it out.
No Panicked Promotions. CHS provides 30% of my monthly income (more in August and November) and watching that revenue dry up is scary. But I wrote this blog without compensation for years simply for the love of doing it, so I promise that I will not start creating panicked content, constantly seeding my Insta Stories with swipe ups or over-selling mediocre items to generate sales. Everyone has financial worries right now and will for some time to come.
New Content. Because my professional life has been a bit of a roller coaster these past few years, I got out of the habit of discussing work topics or giving advice, now feels like the right time to bring some of that back in a different format. It also feels like the right time for more tutorials (like the Beauty at Home series) and some new features where the primary focus isn’t shopping.
Fashion bloggers/influencers flourished in the days of wine and roses, the entire business model is based on consumption. But what’s important now is community, and I’m grateful for this community of women who support each other, teach me new things, offer great advice, and sometimes frustrate the hell out of me. We’ve spent almost 12 years together through life changes, war, recession, new Administrations, new Congresses, and now an honest to God global pandemic.
I don’t know what tomorrow, next week, or next month will look like but I’ll be here for as long as you are. Take care of yourselves. Stay safe. Stay sane. If you need someone to talk to, you can find me on Instagram. See you Monday.