Interview with Novella: Starting A Business + Asking For Your Worth


Interview originally appeared in Novella’s March 2019 Newsletter.

Photography by Hanna Yowell for Novella

Photography by Hanna Yowell for Novella

I recently sat down with the lovely ladies of Novella, a women’s writing club + storytelling salon here in NYC.

We talked about how I started 5th Floor Walk-Up and my recent leap into entrepreneurship with the launch of my social media advertising consultancy, Cornerlight Digital.

Here’s an excerpt of the interview below:

What made you start 5th Floor Walk-Up?

I’ve been blogging since 2011 — the heyday of blogging, if you will. I had a blog called “The Caffeinated Closet” but post-grad, I outgrew it. For a few years, I was searching for a new creative project and nothing felt right.

A few months into moving to New York from LA, the night before the election, it was a weird, depressing day. I had been really challenged at work and I wasn’t liking what I was doing. But the lowest lows brings the highest highs and that night, I remember washing my face and I was like, “you know what, I think I want to start a new blog based on my experience in New York.” A few months after that, it manifested into 5th Floor Walk-Up.

You recently left your corporate job to running start own digital consultancy. How did your blog helped you get there?

Having my own website allowed me to differentiate myself in terms of my personal brand, and I’ve had clients or prospective clients see my website and tell me they like the way I think and the way I put things together.

Also, 5th Floor Walk-Up is one of the things that pushed me to start my own business. I wanted more time and freedom to be able to work on my creative projects, but having a full-time corporate job restricted me in terms of flexibility and creativity. So those two things got me to this stage where I’m now self-employed and make my own hours. 

At Novella, we like removing secrecy around being self-employed and making money. Do you have any learnings about how you’ve monetized your business?

The way I get almost all my income is from my consultancy and that’s allowed me to fund my creative projects and keep them more pure in a sense, because they’re not dependent on income. That’s something I’ve had to grapple with because I think in ideal world, I’d love to get paid for being creative.

But I think one of the reasons why I still really like being creative is because I’m not worried about whether it’s going to bring me a paycheck. I’ve sort of taken the “two separate worlds, let’s find a way to integrate them” way. 

Any advice for women looking to get paid their worth?

The pricing game has been a learning curve. Over the past year, I started off with a certain price and then I realized I was undervaluing myself and so from there, I started to talk to other women freelancers but that was an echo chamber because a lot of us are undervaluing ourselves! So I started talking to my boyfriend and his friends and other men and learned they were charging 50% more than I was! 

Read the full interview in Novella’s March 2019 newsletter here

Thank you to Sandy Sanchez for the story, Hanna Yowell for the lovely photos, and Novella for creating a space for women to tell their stories.