Dianne Boyer learned a lot from her mother. From how to be a determined and tenacious woman to life advice and style and beauty tips. After Boyer’s mother passed away she missed her presence and all the knowledge, glamor and advice she brought to their family. So Boyer and her niece Jennifer decided to start a blog doing just that, The Harper Girls blog, dedicated to sharing wisdom of the past and present through posts on fashion, beauty, travel and lifestyle. Today the Oakland, Michigan based entrepreneurial duo are focusing on growing their SEO and working to get paid advertisers onto their site, all while increasing their loyal readership base.
Boyer’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:
What was your reason for starting your business?
When my mom passed away in 2016, one of the things that I worried about the most was the loss of her advice, wisdom and a portal to the past. I kept a handwritten journal for a year, but that didn’t seem to be enough. I needed a bigger platform and that’s when “The Harper Girls” blog was born, which I created alongside my niece, Jen. We wanted to find a way to preserve the fashion and beauty lessons of the past, but also to move forward and share tips and tricks from the present. It’s all connected. Wearing white after Labor Day has been debated for decades!
What makes us different from other fashion and beauty blogs is that we are a multi-generational duo. One of the things that we learned from our mom/grandma was that you can live your best life at any age and we are here to show you how to do just that. We want to inspire confidence and joy no matter where you are in life.
How do you define success?
If you had asked me this question five or ten years ago, I may have given you a different answer. There was a time in my life where I may have listed a certain position I wanted to achieve but that’s all changed. My definition of success is taking all the things that you’ve learned, both personally and professionally and using that knowledge in two areas. The first is to help yourself move forward. If I hadn’t worked for 30 years in marketing, I may not have the knowledge (or confidence) to start this blog business. Second, and most important, is using that knowledge to help others. What good is that knowledge if it can’t be shared with others? That’s why this blog became a dream of mine – to share knowledge, that, if it helps only one person prevent a pitfall or find a way to get back on their feet, I will consider that to be a success.
Tell us about your biggest success to date
As simple as it sounds, getting started is our biggest success to date. We started the blog in February 2021 and pushing the “live” button on our website was a feeling that I can’t even describe. It’s one thing to dream about something, it’s another to literally watch it become a reality. As I mentioned, my definition of success is sharing knowledge with others, so launching a site that does just that, meets my definition of success.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
At first glance, you might not consider a blog a “business”, but it most certainly is. Just like any other business, you have to find a way to make money to stay around. Monetizing a blog requires a lot more work than just providing content. You have find ways for people to find you and ultimately trust you, just like any other business. So, while we have launched and gotten the ball rolling, a lot of time needs to be spent in finding ways to grow through SEO, partnerships, advertising, you name it.
Have you experienced any significant personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
When we first launched the blog, my father was in declining health (he passed away in June) and I wondered if I should really move forward with the business or put it off. But ultimately I decided that there will never be a “perfect time” to start the business so we moved forward. It was tough to manage taking care of him and launching the business, but now I am glad that I did so that he could see and be a part of the launch!
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
My biggest tip is to get started, as simple as it sounds. You can always find reasons to not get started. Even if you do think it’s the perfect time, something can still pop up and hamper your journey. You just have to continue to move forward the best you can.
That said, I wished I had prepared a little bit more for the ‘after launch’ part of our business. It was shortly after we launched that my dad became ill and I lost a little bit of ground on the things I thought I could figure out after we launched. I have no regrets because I wanted to spend that time with my dad. But I suppose I wish I could have prepared a bit more.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
The best way I find inspiration on my darkest days is to remember my ‘why.’ And that why is remembering the lessons that my mom taught me, not just about fashion and beauty, but also about tenacity and determination. She was the inspiration for the blog so it’s easy to turn to my memories of her to keep me moving forward.
Who is your most important role model?
My role model is my mom. One of the biggest lessons I learned from her is that giving someone your word and being dependable is one of the most important traits you can have. It all comes down to integrity – are you going to do what you said you were going to do? That was something that she always did and I admired about her. And if she couldn’t do it, she would tell you. She never shied away from managing people’s expectations and I truly admired that about her. It’s something I try to emulate every day.