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How I’m Crushing It

Lauryn Evarts, The Skinny Confidential

IG: @theskinnyconfidential

Lauryn is the willowy, sassy bombshell behind and in front of the lifestyle site The Skinny Confidential. When asked to describe her passion, she says it’s about building community and bringing women together. But she also chafes a bit at the question.

I can’t stand when people are like passion, passion, passion. It’s so much more than passion. Execute. I see a lot of people in my generation talking about ideas and saying what they’re going to do. I hate talking about what I’m going to do. I don’t think I talked about The Skinny Confidential once for the whole year I was building it until it was here. Because I like to show.

That’s probably why her father, also an entrepreneur, thought to give her a copy of Crush It! for Christmas the year it came out. At the time, Lauryn was still a TV broadcasting and theater major at San Diego State. She was bartending, teaching Pure Barre and Pilates, attending class, and getting bored out of her mind. A creative, independent spirit, she felt that college was a waste of time, yet with no alternative in mind, she felt she had no choice but to do what was expected and get a degree. Along the way, however, she had noticed something that piqued her interest. With Crush It! fresh in her head, an idea started to form.

There were not a lot of platforms online that were inspiring women to be unapologetically themselves. There are a lot of men like Gary and Tony Robbins and Tim Ferriss, all these strong amazing men, and I didn’t see a woman in that space. I wanted to create one. And it wouldn’t just be about me, me, me and the outfit I was wearing, but a place where I could bring models and moms and everyday women together to connect and share their secrets. I wanted to provide value, which is something I definitely learned in Crush It!

Lauryn used her iPhone notes and a binder to collect a tremendous list of ideas for content. Then, although she was dead broke, she hired a Web developer, paying him in ten fifty-dollar installments. For a year, she refined her craft and built her credibility, continuing to teach and earning her license online as a fitness and nutrition specialist. “Another thing that Crush It! said that resonated for me was, ‘Always put your money back into your business.’ So, I was like, work, work, work for tips and then put it back right into The Skinny Confidential. And then work, work, work for tips and then right back to The Skinny Confidential. I had zero dollars in my bank account for the longest time.” When she finally did launch, she kept her content narrowly tailored to health-related topics. “Find that niche that you’re so good at and ride it, and ride it, and ride it until you can slowly expand out.” In retrospect, she might have been able to start diversifying her brand within three months, but her brutal schedule would have made that difficult.

I would shoot all my photos from 2:00 to 3:30, bartend from 4:00 to 12:00, come home, write my blog post from 12:00 to 2:00, wake up, teach Pure Barre, teach Pilates, go to school, rinse and repeat, five days a week. And then on the weekend, I would do Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and the e-mails and all the other little stuff that comes with it.

Slowly, methodically, she started expanding the scope of her brand into other categories: wellness, beauty, home décor, and clothes. But she didn’t make a penny for two-and-a-half years. “The biggest mistake I see influencers make is, they’ll work with every brand on the planet. It’s all about how many brands can they work with, not about the audience, not about the readership. I see no longevity there. I’m more focused on building my own brand than other people’s brands.” She finally monetized after being approached by a brand that she wore all the time anyway, and today she earns “definitely a very good amount,” which translates to enough to provide a comfortable life, as well as employ a graphic designer, an assistant, a project manager, an editor, a photographer, and a back-end developer to help her with the day-to-day operations of the business. But she continues to turn down brands every single day, even offers of $10,000 to $15,000 to collaborate for a single blog post.

Nothing was off-limits on The Skinny Confidential: “Storytelling is so underrated.” Lauryn wrote about essential oils and diet tips, but also boob jobs and Botox. She began introducing new characters from her life, mining her relationships for deeper content and fresh stories to share with her readers. Her beloved grandmother, known as The Nanz, became a fixture on the site, giving Lauryn a way to offer an unexpected perspective on her chosen themes. She unveiled her boyfriend, Michael, when they became engaged; the blog now has a whole Michael-dedicated space called Him, and the couple produces a podcast together.

Naturally, readers were privy to all the details of Lauryn’s engagement and wedding. But they’ve also been invited to share the darker moments. Lauryn’s sad, tender ode to The Nanz following the matriarch’s unexpected death invited a flood of empathetic replies. When jaw surgery left her face grossly swollen for two years, Lauryn, who admits that until then “I led with my looks,” showed the pictures and talked about how the disfigurement affected her self-esteem. Readers raced to support her when she shared the story of how she had listened, stunned and hurt, as two brand executives, unknowingly still connected to her by conference line, sneered at and ridiculed her following what she thought had been a promising phone call. The moment also gave her a chance to explore the hypocrisy of brands who claimed to empower and champion women, but only so long as those women fit a certain mold.

I took all my hurt and I put it into this blog post. And I could not believe the response. Women from all over the world were writing in with stories about how they had heard someone talking about them or been bullied or put themselves out there and been bashed for it. It was really cool to be able to bring everyone together and lift each other up.

Everyone says put yourself out there, be your authentic self, but when your authentic self is not what they like, they talk back. It was a very weird experience. But instead of silencing me, I’m just going to continue to put myself out there even more. And I hope that I responded in a way that can make me a good role model if my readers, especially younger girls, ever find themselves in a situation like that. If I can change someone’s mind about being catty . . . if I can use the platform to call that out and say there’s nothing cool about being mean, whether it’s cyberbullying or bullying or talking shit about someone, then that’s a good goal.

While it’s unfortunate that she didn’t document that first year when she was gathering her ideas and strategizing the trajectory of her business, in her case the process does seem to have sharpened her ideas so that she wasted less time and was able to act more purposefully once she did launch. She is an admirable model of speed and patience.

This is something that I’ve been working on for six years every single day, seven days a week. There’s been no day off. If I’m on vacation, I’m working. And I still have so much work to do. I just did what Gary said in Crush It!, which is constantly hitting it day after day, never giving up, keeping my blinders on, focusing on my own shit, and really, really doing me. Doing me to the best of my ability. Crush It!, and his other books too, allowed me to just be who I am and not be sorry about it.

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