5 Lessons in Business I Learned from Lifestyle Blogger Alicia Lund

This week on Grit by Design, I sat down with Alicia Lund, founder of wildly successful lifestyle blog Cheetah Is The New Black. I was blown away by Alicia’s ability to adapt her career to life changes with a fearlessness and ability to innovate. Here are five things I’ve learned from my conversation with Alicia:

1. Be prepared to pivot.

The word “pivot” may go down in history as the most overused buzzword of 2020, but it’s appropriate for a reason. When life throws something unexpected your way, the only way forward is to adapt and respond. 

When life brought Alicia back to California when she wasn’t quite ready to leave New York, she was able to lean into her side hustle — her blog — to build something that’s both passion-fueled and profitable. It began as a hobby in 2009 during her time working at Pixar Animation Studios, but 90,000 Instagram followers and a deluge of brand partnerships later, it’s clear that was a great move.

2. Authenticity is the key to success. 

It’s my firm belief that authenticity is paramount to success in all things. In my work as an interior designer, it’s my mission to help my clients find an aesthetic that feels authentic to their personal preferences and lifestyle. This approach creates a space where they truly feel like the best versions of themselves. 

During our conversation, Alicia said something that really resonated with me: “The longer I’ve been in this industry, the more firm I am on actually saying ‘no’, because I value my audience and I only want to partner with brands that feel truly authentic, or that I know my audience would love, or that I would genuinely recommend to a girlfriend.”

Being authentic builds trust. Trust builds long-term relationships. It’s really a no-brainer why this is so important.

3. Whatever time you have, make the most of it. 

The most relatable, universal point Alicia made during our discussion was about finding balance between work-life and home-life, which — during a pandemic — haven’t been clearly delineated spaces. Alicia noted that building tools has been the key to success (hiring a nanny to come to the house a few days a week to provide coverage, or sneaking in some work while her littlest naps, for example).

Then, when it’s time to switch off that part of your brain, remember to actively put down your devices and be present for your partner, your family, or for yourself. It’s not easy for us all to do, but it’s really important to try. 

4. Create an environment where you thrive.

Alicia spoke about how she creates a high-performance environment for herself by embracing how she works best. For Alicia, that means music, so she makes sure to put on headphones and crank through her work. Whatever makes you focus most, run with it. 

5. Be gutsy. 

Perhaps the most important thing I learned from Alicia today is to be gutsy: don’t be afraid to go for a job that may not be a total match for your resume, for example. Even without a formal degree in journalism (Alicia actually graduated with pre-med degree), she still applied for a job as a fashion editor at ELLE magazine. And, she got the job. 

If you can translate your own experience and demonstrate that you can meet the challenges of the job based on the experience you do have, chances are good that the hiring manager will be receptive. 

In my mind, that is the very definition of grit. Alicia essentially said, “Look, I’m going to try this, and it may work, and it may not.” But the point is, she believed in herself and wasn’t afraid of failing. And that we can all learn from.

Listen to the full episode here. 

Photo courtesy Alicia Lund.

About Alicia Lund

Alicia Lund is the founder of lifestyle blog Cheetah is the New Black. Born and raised in northern California, Alicia graduated Santa Clara University with a pre-med degree in Combined Sciences. After realizing medicine wasn’t for her, she spent time at a few start-ups before landing her first job in the creative world at Pixar. 

While looking for a creative outlet in 2009, Alicia founded “Cheetah is the New Black” as a side-hustle during her time at Pixar. What began as more of a hobby led to styling opportunities and enabled her to secure a position as a fashion editor for ELLE magazine. 

Over the years, Alicia’s content has expanded beyond fashion to align with personal milestones: the purchase and remodeling of her California home and the birth of her two children, Rex and Willow. Her highly successful blog has garnered the attention of over 90,000 followers on Instagram and more than 150,000 followers on Facebook.