If you’ve been following bloggers for the last 10 years, chances are, you already know the OG Emily Schuman of cupcakes and cashmere. To us, she’s one of the trailblazers of lifestyle blogging. We’ve been following along since the beginning and we’ve watched Emily build an incredible brand over the years. Today, cupcakes and cashmere is so much more than just a blog. Not only has it become a go-to resource for so many things like outfit inspo, recipes, ideas, and DIY — Emily has grown it into a brand that now houses her own fashion line, which is available on her site, as well as Shopbop and Nordstrom among other retailers, add in ‘author of two books’ and mama to the cutest daughter Sloan… there’s no stopping Emily (and quite frankly, we’re really happy about that).
To top it all off, Emily just launched the cutest collection of calendars and planners at Target with Blue Sky — and we’re in love. If you follow Emily on IG (if you don’t, you should), you’ll understand that paper goods are kind of her thing. If you haven’t already got the point, Emily is killing it–and we’re honored to have sat with her to talk about all things biz, hustle, and work-life balance. Go ahead and take a seat with Emily Schuman!
You are one of the OG bloggers. We know it, because we’ve been fans since Day 1! Tell us about your entrepreneurial journey and how you’ve built cupcakes and cashmere to everything it is today.
My background was in advertising – I worked at both Teen Vogue and Domino magazines and left to work at AOL where I managed online media campaigns. I started Cupcakes and Cashmere as purely a passion project – I wanted to hold myself accountable to writing and documenting things that I loved every day, everything from fashion and food to interior design and beauty. Over time it grew to a place where I was able to support myself based on the banner ads that ran across the site, and after about a year and a half, was able to leave my full-time job to try and make it on my own.
From there, my audience continued to grow and I explored other partnerships – like a bag I designed in collaboration for Coach and a spring capsule collection for Club Monaco before launching my own clothing line in 2015 (which is sold at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Shopbop, Revolve, and several hundred boutiques across the country). I’ve written two books and most recently started an e-commerce platform, The Shop, which is curated with all of my favorite things, including our own line of jewelry. My team has grown substantially over the years. It started with just my husband, Geoffrey, and myself and now includes ten other incredible women who help manage everything from fulfillment and e-commerce operations to email marketing and editorial.
What inspired cupcakes and cashmere? And what continues to inspire the creative of the brand?
It’s funny, because back in the day when I first began (2008), lifestyle blogs weren’t really a thing. Most of them focused on one main thing, but I knew I’d tire of just one topic, so I chose an alliterative title that would encapsulate speaking to both fashion and food and eventually broadened the scope from there. Luckily the creative of the brand continues to shift and evolve over the years, which I love because I’m certainly not the same person at 36 that I was when I started it all at 24. But ultimately, I’ve always been guided by the same principles of writing about and documenting things I’m genuinely inspired by.
What have been some of your biggest challenges while running the blog and shop? How did you overcome them?
Honestly, it’s less about the business side of things and more about managing things internally. I went from being an assistant to a CEO, so I lacked a lot of the experience that’s frankly quite imperative to being able to run a company properly. Luckily, I now have quite a few years under my belt and have learned a lot along the way, but that was and still is the hardest part of my job. I look to others for help whenever I’m in a bind – whether it’s one of my mentors, talking to Geoffrey (who’s managed large teams in his previous jobs), and reading up on the best way to manage a team.
What’s something you’re most proud of since starting this company?
The community of women that encompasses the brand. They’re passionate, informed, and intelligent women who inspire me and make me proud of what we’ve created.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, either professionally or personally?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I consider myself to be a very proactive, independent person so, at the beginning of my career, I assumed I had to do everything by myself in order to find success. But the reality is, you can’t grow without leaning on other people occasionally and that’s been an important lesson for me to learn. I now cherish the relationships I have with other business-minded women and look to them for support and try to offer the same to them. And that also certainly rings true in my personal life as well, particularly when it comes to motherhood.
What advice would you give to someone feeling stuck in the career?
That you’re not alone! Everyone has those moments where they doubt themselves, feel uninspired, or torn about what they want to do (I call that period of time my early 20s). It’s just about what you then make of a situation that will set you apart and help determine what you do with your career.
What keeps your hustle going every day? What motivates you?
It’s funny, I never have to gear up to motivate myself to work and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I truly love what I do. I realize though that’s not the case for everyone and assuming that we all get to work on our passion projects simply isn’t realistic. At the end of the day, I like feeling as though I did the best I could – from a professional and personal point of view – and when I don’t get there, I’m motivated to do better the next day.
What’s the most challenging thing about motherhood to you? How do you overcome it?
My biggest challenge is tied to the ever-so-elusive idea of balancing it all. I think there’s a stigma around it that is unfairly placed on moms and I certainly feel the pressure to try and do everything perfectly. What I try to remember when I’m feeling overwhelmed, particularly when it comes to my daughter Sloan, is that all she cares about is quality time with me. I try to be really present – so if we’re playing a game of Candy Land before bed or coloring together before school, that I’m not trying to multi-task and answer emails and cook dinner – and that just being together is enough.
What are your thoughts on work-life balance? Do you think it’s attainable?
The work-life balance is possible, but it’s not necessarily something we should strive for since it happens so rarely. In fact, in the past four and a half years since I had my daughter, I think I’ve hit that ideal balance maybe twice? You know those days where I killed it at work, made an amazing dinner for my family, played with Sloan, and went on a long walk with friends. Most days I try to just hold it all together and be kind and patient with myself when I don’t squeeze in a workout or get around to calling back my friend. I think as long as our priorities are in line – for me, it’s always going to be family first, then I think that’s what’s most important.
What’s a daily ritual you can’t live without?
Coffee! I’m actually a morning person and don’t even need it for the jolt of caffeine, but we only make one cup of day and make sure it’s a good one.
What are five things you can’t live without right now?
A good sweatsuit, my tumbler with a straw (I never realized just how dehydrated I was until it came into my life), a bright lipstick (Laura Mercier ‘Fire’ is a go-to), my Bose noise-canceling headphones (for podcasts and particularly for tuning out loud noise on planes), and Lanolips 101 ointment which I slather on my lips, fingers, and pretty much any dry parts of my body.
What’s next for Emily Schuman?
Just this past week we launched a line of planners and agendas with Blue Sky that is available at Target! Even though the partnership has been in the works for a while now, it still feels so surreal to have products at Target since it’s been one of my pie-in-the-sky goals for pretty much my entire life. I’m such a fan of paper goods—I write out my to-do list in a notebook every morning, send hand-written thank you notes, and manage my schedule in an agenda, and I’m beyond proud of how the collection came together!