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Becky Hillyard: Sharing her Realm of Fashion, Food, Fitness and Family

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Many dream of it–growing a gratifying hobby into a full-time job that brings financial success.

That’s the reality for Becky Hillyard, the super blogger of Cella Jane, who calls Kansas City home. More than 100,000 people, mostly women, follow her as she shares her views on fashion, style, fitness, DIY and motherhood. She posts updates on her favorite looks and trends and those desired fashion finds that now hang in her closet. As her blogging has evolved, Becky’s brand has grown into personal style, staying healthy and how she keeps it together as a mother.

If you’re looking to keep up on the latest trends and to find where to buy great pieces, you have found the place at Cella Jane,” shared Becky. “My readers or followers are the everyday mother or woman or girl in college. They come to me for style advice or to catch up on my two-year-old daughter, Sutton.”

In the last decade, social media has opened many new doors for entrepreneurs or people who simply want to share their ideas or to take a hobby and turn it into a successful career such as the one Becky enjoys. In less than three years, the 33-year-old has created her own social media whirlwind that has women reading and learning about her style.

Creating a Niche
“Take your idea and start a blog, but be obsessive and be consistent. There is a niche to share your passion and you can become something, but you must work hard and do your research,” Becky shared. “Start by getting your inspiration from other sites. Learn how they’re taking ideas on how to do things such as home décor, food and style. Get inspired by others to create your own brand.”

You could say Becky’s first inspiration came from her grandmother, whom she admired for her great style. In fact, she named her brand for her. “I named my site after my grandma, Marcella Jane, who was my first and most inspiring exposure to fashion. She always had great style–even a purple mink coat–and I still have some of her jewelry,” noted Becky. “When I was dreaming about the blog, I wanted a unique name for it. My mom said that I should name it after my grandma, and it’s also Sutton’s middle name.”

Becky employs a full arsenal of social media tools to share the Cella Jane brand, including a website, blog, Snapchat, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Bloglovin. With video, photography and the written word, she carefully crafts her messages and offers looks to the outside world of her inside realm of fashion, food, fitness and family.

Getting Established
After growing up in South Dakota, she graduated from the University of Nebraska with a degree in psychology and a minor in business. She met her husband, Michael, while living in Omaha. Michael’s job in the laundry textile business, servicing accounts such as hotels, hospitals and large industrial laundries, brought him to Kansas City. The couple agreed to make it their home. “His job requires so much travel that we decided to move to Kansas City,” Becky shared. “And even after six years on the job, he still doesn’t do the laundry at home.”

Becky began her career after college in the marketing field, focusing on social media for different companies. The exposure started her thinking about how she could personally share her own story through blogging. “I enjoy fitness and style, so I thought, ‘Why couldn’t I promote my ideas from a social media aspect and document what I’m doing?’” Becky recalled. “I started sharing on a blog about what I was eating and what I was wearing. From a hobby, it grew into into a business and I began blogging more heavily on lifestyle, beauty and fashion.”

Transition to a Higher Level
When she was getting established, Becky was noticed by Nordstrom Rack for her blogging skills. The marketing department reached out, asking for help to promote a store opening in Iowa. They flew her to San Francisco to discuss the details with her and other influential bloggers from across the United States.

“I talked to those other bloggers and found out this was their full-time job,” she enthused. “I wanted to get to that level, too. After working hard enough and doing it well, I saw Cella Jane blossom into the brand it is today. Most importantly, it started bringing in an income.” She also credits the move to Kansas City as an important piece of the transformation. “When I moved to KC, it was a turning point,” she stated. “We were surrounded by better spots to photograph and that’s when it became a business.”

Cella Jane is truly a family affair for Becky. Not only does she feature Sutton in her work, but Michael is her chief photographer. “The business has grown so much that I just hired a photographer that shoots half time, but Michael has always been my number one supporter. At a Royals game, he hands out my business cards,” she remarked. “As for photography, I’m very comfortable with him, and he shoots me weekly. A good friend in Omaha taught both of us how to take photos. Together, Cella Jane is our dynamic, and he sees the success in it. He recognizes that there are perks in blogging and how fun it can be.”

Today’s Trendsetter
With readership all over the United States, Becky says that her followers in KC are loyal and supportive. She enjoys a strong backing from them by sharing her blog with others or by engaging in online conversations. Last year she was highlighted by InStyle Magazine as a national digital influencer and blogger, guiding women in fashion, style, fitness and motherhood. “Social media plays such a big role in our lives. With it, I can influence people’s style and help them make good decisions,” she said. “For instance, on Snapchat I’ll share my own skin care and makeup routine. I love taking care of my skin and sharing what products work.”

Becky says that the success of Cella Jane comes by focusing on attainable style. She’s conscious of the budget constraints of her readers and viewers. She won’t feature expensive items that are out of reach for the average woman. Even with her immense success, she holds steadfast to her own lifestyle, which can easily be mirrored by others. “I’ve hand selected every item on my website. I’ll feature it in photos or in video. People will then reach out and ask questions about how it fits and what it goes with,” she commented. “I can answer those questions for them because I’ve experienced it.”

Using Tools to Achieve Goals
But her success is so much more than the pretty clothes that she models. Becky is an incredibly sharp business woman, driven by a strategic business plan focused on tying together all of her social media tools to meet her goals and objectives. “I use social media to amplify and drive traffic to my blog. I find that I can reach so many people on Instagram. I’ll use Snapchat to share real-time video of something I’m wearing. I’ll also post family moments,” she noted. “But it all drives viewers to the blog. I use links to generate sales of the various products I’m featuring.”

Her success is impressive; she’s worked with some of the most recognizable fashion brands in the world that have reached out to her. One of her favorite campaigns was being featuring on the Kate Spade website. Nike is also a repeat brand that works with her. While the details of her social media are immense, Becky says it’s really about hard work and the willingness to put yourself in the public eye. “Basically, I taught myself about blogging by reading books and engaging in online forums. Now, I get five requests a day asking how to do it,” she shared. “It takes a lot of work and it won’t happen overnight. You need to figure out how to do it on your own, learn and then apply.”

Keeping the Connection Alive
The future is incredibly bright for Becky as she continues to concentrate on growth for Cella Jane. Even with her success, she maintains a steadfastness to connect with others through social media to share her brand of an attainable sense of self, lifestyle advice, healthy living tips, motherhood discussions and more.

“I turned a hobby into a passion and then a successful job. I never thought I’d get to where I am today, but if you work hard enough, it can happen,” Becky affirmed. “In the beginning, some people thought what I was doing was odd, but you have to put yourself out there to succeed. Now, those same people are saying, ‘Wow, look at what you did and how can I get a part of it?’ Every day I pinch myself because what I have is so wonderful.” HLM