I'm a proud Millennial, and I'm tired of people always ripping us apart as if we are a generation to be pitied. People say we don't know how to connect personally and authentically because we are addicted to our phones and social media. And, while I would agree some of us could very well struggle in that arena and we can do a better job, these generalizations have my panties in a knot. What people often forget is that we made a way for everyone to have a voice to share what they are doing and how they are feeling to those that would listen. we created social media and adapted quickly to it because we have been raised by generations that hide their emotions and feelings as if there was a medal to be won for never crying or arguing in front of kids or saying you didn't like something. 

We were parented by the Baby Boomers that created the 50% divorce rate - the generation that grew up seen and not heard by The Greatest Generation. And, sadly, The Greatest Generation didn't have the luxury of emotions. They were just happy to be alive, so, of course, they told their children to just "be thankful and be quiet." 

Did you know that marriages of Millennials are lasting longer as reported by Bloomberg. We are actually putting hope and meaning back into marriage. Hooray! We are having emotional intimacy in our marriages and fighting for it. And I would bet a million dollars that it's the lack of emotional connectivity, expression of empathy and sympathy that the is culprit of the Baby Boomer generations continued decline of marriage (yes, they are still getting divorced according to the stats). 

But, we need to be careful how we're using our new found way of connection. We adapted quickly to social media without taking time to be intentional with it. We are sharing and liking and double-tapping so fast that we are just making noise now and not listening to each other anymore. Let's get back to that! Here's a challenge for us to help us continue to lead past and future generations in emotional connection. 


1. Say what we mean, and mean what we say. No more posting to post as if we're slaves to algorithms or imaginary Joneses. Be mindful that each post has the potential to influence people for good or bad, and take a moment to ask yourself, "Is this worth posting and will it hurt or help someone?"
2. Avoid mindless affirmations. When you double tap, like or repin something you are affirming a person, thing or business. Make your actions meaningful and not a twitch of your thumb. You may even accidentally like a post that you completely disagree with just because you didn't take time to read the post.
3. Read the captions. Take time to read and hear what people are saying. That's why they are sharing to begin with. If you don't want to hear what they have to say then maybe you shouldn't follow them. Let's have meaningful connections and interactions with the people we have chosen to invest in. 
4. Unfollow accounts that you don't enjoy or may go against your principles. People say that depression and self-esteem issues are on the rise because of social media. Part of that problem is the content we put out there and part of it is what we choose to consume. If something is leaving you feeling crappy take it out of your life. That doesn't mean we have to shut down our Instagram accounts and do the all or nothing approach. It means we should take inventory of what we consume.
5. When you see someone hurting or having a rough day please tell them they have been heard even if even you don't have advice or can't relate. Many times we take to social media with our problems because we want someone to listen or we're trying to find out if we're not alone. Take a moment to help.
6. Set limits and boundaries on what you share. Think about who reads your posts and who can potentially read them in the future. One day your children will read what you write and potentially future employers. Oversharing can be damaging when you don't set limitations.
7. Risk sharing some flaws in the midst of the beauty. Sharing a perfect life isn't helping anyone. In fact, it's causing harm because it's setting an unattainable standard for your peers and children.  There is plenty of beauty and happiness to be had, but there is always sadness and mistakes. Showing people you make them also allows you to show people how you overcome them. And that's just as beautiful as your sunsets, cocktails or outfits you post.
8. Pick a person to love on this year. Just one person that you go out of your way to encourage and be intentional with on social media. Who knows of the impact you can have.
9. Turn off your phone when you're playing with your kids or having a conversation with people. I have to put my phone upstairs far from where I can pick it up, but it works. It keeps me engaged. When I am meeting with someone I don't pull it out of my bag. You can hear your babysitter's call if there is an emergency. ;)

Photos by Rennai Hoefer


I had no idea that I would become a blogger and social media influencer when I started AVE Styles six years ago. The idea that people could make a living blogging and pinning on Pinterest wasn't conceivable. In fact, Pinterest just started six years ago. I'm so thankful that I get to share my ideas and thoughts with the world for a living, but with that power comes great responsibility, right? (Yeah, I totally borrowed that from Spider Man). 

Because this industry is so new, how to responsibly operate your business is a bit gray for us. We have Federal Trade Commission guidelines to adhere to and social media platform policies to obey, but how we choose sponsored projects with brands, whether or not we put ads on our sites, using affiliate links to make commission on sales all way down to doing Instagram giveaways to grow our following varies from blogger to blogger. So, I wanted to share with you my guidelines for AVE Styles, so you know what exactly to expect from me. 

1. AVE Styles first and foremost exists to positively encourage readers to find beauty in the messy world me live in. I do not want to cause harm, slander or portray anyone negatively in this space. If I find that any comments are hurtful I will delete them. If comments are simply different then they will remain. The fact that I get to make money as a blogger is amazing, but it comes second the purpose of my business. I only started making a living at blogging three years ago, and I would continue to blog and create even if I wasn't paid. 

2. In 2015, I decided that 95% of the image content that I share on my blog is styled and created with my hands along with my photographer. Any image that I share that is not mine I will cite and credit the owner of the image. I believe in the power of imagery and telling a story, and I plan to keep this value through my time as a blogger. This 95% rule also applies to Instagram.

3. I do not take brand sponsorships unless I personally enjoy the brand/product. All sponsored posts will state they are sponsored in the beginning of the blog post. Any sponsored social post will say it's sponsored in the hashtags of the post.

4. I have chosen not to place any ads on my site because I don't want them to detract from the conversation I'm hoping to have with my readers. 

5. I do use affiliate links when there's a product that is shop-able. 

6. I have chosen not to have any contributors on my blog, so that all words and ideas come from me. I do have an assistant that helps me draft my look for less posts and fashion trend features. However, they are all edited and reviewed by me personally. My assistant will also share on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn articles and videos that I find interesting. Again, everything is reviewed and approved by me, personally.

7. I do not use any third party networks to boost my traffic. I do not even paid for boosted posts on social media at this time. The only time a post has been or will be boosted will be at the request of a sponsor using their marketing dollars. 

8. I believe in organic growth on social media, and I have chosen not to participate in Loop giveaways or any other scheme to rapidly grow my following. If there is a giveaway on the blog or on social media it is only in conjunction with a brand partnership. I do have a group of 25 bloggers that regularly update and share what I'm doing on AVE Styles. We often comment and share each other's posts with our communities only if we genuinely enjoy the content and find it helpful to others. 

9. I feel that it's important to be honest and personable with my community. Authenticity is king. I'm still trying to find a balance of making sure my loved ones are protected and letting readers into our lives, but I never, ever want my community to get a false view of our lives. 

10. Blogging is my business, and I strive to do it with integrity. I'd rather forfeit dollars to maintain your trust and relationship than to make money. If you see or read anything that you find annoying, frustrating or distasteful please tell me. I want to know.

There is more to say on this topic, but I wanted to make sure these values and personal rules of operation were written down transparently for you to to know. Please feel free to ask more questions in the comments if you have them. 


Did you know that 75% of the users of Pinterest are accessing the inspiring social tool using a mobile device (more stats found here).  That means they are seeing everything through their phone or tablet. If you haven't opened your Pinterest app lately you probably should because things look very different from your desktop.

Gone are the days of your cover images. Instead, the first thing that a user sees is your name, photo and your recent pins. Then you'll see the board that you most recently pinned to with the rest of your boards descending in order from what you most recently populated down to the last.

So, what does this mean for you? 

1. You MUST be a good curator now more than ever. If my first impression is a series of pins that have terrible styling, content and photography I'm going to pass on following you.

2. Concise titles matter. Tell me what your board is about in two to three words. Ex: Recipes to Try. People scroll fast, so you need to be able to tell them about your content in a second.

3. Be active. Pinterest tells the viewer when you last pinned down to the minute. If you haven't been active in a week I'm going to pass.

4. Make sure you are pinning to boards that are relevant to the season. If the first board that pops up is your Christmas board because you last pinned to that and signed off, well, that's unfortunate because I don't care about Christmas right now. Sign off on a relevant note. Bonus tip: That said, it's usually best to keep general, evergreen titles to your boards so you can always populate them. Example: HOLIDAY vs. CHRISTMAS. I can pin to a holiday board year round, but I can only pin to my Christmas board once a year. 

Like these tips? See more here and here. Also, be sure to sign up for my newsletter so you can get this information before anyone else!


As a blogger and Pinterest influencer, people often ask me with a surprised look on their face, "Do you get pid to pin?" I reply, "Yes, and it's the best job in the world!" But as Pinterest has evolved over the years, you can no longer be given money from a company to pin their products from their site. You also can't use affiliate links to make commission on sales. In fact, if you go about making money on your Pinterest account that way you're violating Pinterest's Terms of Service Policy. Yikes! 

Here are three ways I monetize my account that are well within Pinterest's terms:

1. CREATE & SHARE ORIGINAL CONTENT - Recently, I partnered with Coca-Cola to create original imagery that featured their products. This imagery was shared in a series of blog posts on featuring recipes and style inspiration, and it was also shared on my Pinterest account linking back to Coca-Cola's website. This is acceptable to Pinterest because the content was completely generated by me and has my signature touch to it. It's an organic, non-invasive way of promoting a brand because you're most likely staying true to the aesthetic that is represented on your Pinterest account. 

2. SPONSORED BOARD - It is acceptable to Pinterest for a brand to pay me a sum of money to create a *new* board on my account that states the brand's name in the title and declares it is sponsored in the description of the board. The board can also host a sum of sponsored pins from the company's website. I am currently working with Shane Co. on a sponsored board that features item's I'm crushing on, which also includes 10 products from their site. This is within the terms because you are declaring the campaign to your followers, which they can easily opt out of. Note: It's important that these boards be brand new ones and not repurposed boards. You cannot take your board with the biggest following and change the name and subject of that board to accommodate your sponsor. That is viewed as misleading to your followers that initially followed the board for "x" and is now receiving "y."

3. CURATING FOR A BRAND - I also curate boards and accounts for brands on Pinterest. This would be similar to someone doing an Instagram takeover or guest posting on a blog. Sometimes a company will share an existing board with me and I will curate content for that board for a month. I also have been paid to take over an entire Pinterest account and curate on behalf of a brand as long as I stay within their brand guidelines and style. Not too long ago I did this very thing for Glamour and Woolite where I curated a board on their account all about washable style. 

If you're interested in learning more of the in's and out's of how to monetize your Pinterest account, don't forget to subscribe to my newsletter. That's where you'll be the first to hear about my Pinterest classes, as well as exclusive Pinterest tips. 


Remember back in 2011 when everyone was just joining Pinterest and it was the most addicting, beautiful place on the internet? Though I use Pinterest every day being a "power-pinner, pinfluencer, pin ambassador..." whatever you want to call me, I'm getting tired of all of the pushing and self-promotion. 

It's still the place for many people to go to find helpful advice, IKEA hacks, and tasty recipes, but not for the pretty. When I want to find inspiration I open up Instagram or Tumblr because those seem to be places where people care much more about curating beauty. I'm tired of seeing text over images with "How to" phrases or "5 Ways to Style Short Hair" just because it generates clicks. 

So, I'm resolving to going back to the pretty this year. I've always been picky about what I pin, but now I'm ready for my Pinterest to feel more like an art gallery and less like a marketing platform - making my Pinterest-universe a place of beauty like it once was. Some people say that they hate their feed now because it's cluttered with pins they don't even like.  Here are some tips to cleaning things up:

  1. Make sure to only pin what you really love. Pinterest learns what you pin, so it's going to suggest you content that looks similar to what you add to your boards. So, it's your own dang fault if your feed starts to look ooogly (that's super ugly in "alex language"). 
  2. Make sure you follow and possibly unfollow the people who curate their accounts to your liking. When I follow new people with great taste Pinterest, again, learns what I like.
  3. Clean up your own boards by deleting the pins you don't love. (Note: Don't delete boards though because you may end up removing followers. Deleting pins won't hurt you though).

Photo by Rennai Hoefer