spotlight: jennifer palpallatoc

Hey there! Did everyone have a good weekend? My weekend is still going right now actually. I have a few vacation days left for the year, and I wanted to use one before Baton Rouge’s social season really revs up at the beginning of September. Once that happens, I’ll pretty much remain in Baton Rouge for the duration of fall as I cover events for work. So for a last hurrah, I’m enjoying a long, relaxing weekend at one of my favorite places in the whole wide world: Lake Bruin.

But I love you guys so much that I couldn’t leave you without a Monday morning blog post. Last week, I sat down with  Jennifer Palpallatoc, freelance fashion editor for DIG Magazine and founder of the Haute Off the Rack blog. Jennifer’s love of fashion and determination to share it with others has really benefited her both personally and professionally. See photos of Jennifer and pieces of our Q&A below…

REBECCA: When did you start Haute Off the Rack?

JENNIFER: My first post ever was February 1, 2012.

REBECCA: When and how did you discover your passion for fashion and styling?

JENNIFER: I’ve always been into fashion, no matter what else I was doing in life. I really can’t pin point a time when it became more important to me than any other time. People have always come to me for fashion advice. Even when I was little, I would get $10 a week for my allowance and I would save that up and go buy a bunch of makeup in the store or I’d buy a pair of shoes that I wanted from Old Navy or Gap or something.

REBECCA: Is there a celebrity or fashion icon that you particularly identify with?

JENNIFER: Blake Lively is one of my fashion icons because she really exemplifies that looking confident is key to your outfit. She always looks so elegant and poised on the red carpet. There’s no doubt that she’s totally confident in what she’s wearing. I also really like Charlize Theron. She always looks really cool and laid back in all of her outfits. She looks very sultry.

REBECCA: Switching to a different subject, what encouraged you to change your major from fashion merchandising to creative writing?

JENNIFER: DIG Magazine really. And also, when I was doing fashion merchandising, they don’t teach you how to be creative. You’re either creative or you aren’t. They don’t teach you how to style an outfit or anything like that. I just felt like I was learning more by actually working in the fashion industry. And that’s what I was doing. I was working for Park Lane as their marketing coordinator; and plus with my blog, I work with a lot of different designers and brands. I just felt like I was learning more doing this than I was in school. So when I got the position as freelance fashion editor for DIG, I realized, “Oh shoot! I need to get back into writing all the time.”

REBECCA: So you’ve acquired a lot of skills on the job?

JENNIFER: Yeah! When I was at Park Lane, she [the owner] gave me a lot of control. I was in touch with a lot of designers and the reps and I got to do more than the average sales associate for a store. I’ve been to market with her as well.

REBECCA: How did the opportunity to freelance with DIG come about?

JENNIFER: The editor in chief was looking for new ideas for the fashion pages because they were losing a fashion editor. She came across Haute Off the Rack in her search, and she was like, “Oh my gosh! What a clever name.” She started looking through the blog, figured out what it was, and when she realized I lived in Baton Rouge, she was like, “Oh my gosh! She needs to be the fashion editor.” She emailed me about the position and I went in and interviewed.

REBECCA: What do you like most about your new job with DIG?

JENNIFER: I like that it’s what I love to do! I can’t believe that I get to actually write about stuff that I always want to talk about with people, but they don’t necessarily want to listen to. I always want to tell people, “You need to go to LOFT because they have all these new dresses there. Or, oh this is really going to be in style for the fall.” And I get to put it all on paper for everyone to read and that’s so exciting!

REBECCA: What’s been the biggest challenge so far?

JENNIFER: Once I start, I can’t stop. Every week I have to come out with something new. Sometimes, I get a little nervous, but then I look at my blog and I post something almost every day and I come up with something new, so I think I can do this. And I also think about the fact that big lines have wanted to work with me, so they’ve obviously seen something in me. Because there’s a ton of bloggers out there, ya know? There’s something in me that says I can do it.

REBECCA: When you say “big lines,” can you give me an example?

JENNIFER: Lines that people will be a little more familiar with are AG Jeans, Amanda Uprichard and Virgin Saints & Angels. Amanda Uprichard contacted me because I’m partnered up with a lot of boutiques around here and Rodeo is one of them. I borrowed some Amanda Uprichard pieces from them for a Haute Off the Rack photo shoot and Amanda Uprichard’s PR girl saw it. They loved how I styled it and sent more for me to wear for the blog.

REBECCA: It sounds like Haute Off the Rack has benefited you both personally and professionally.

JENNIFER: Yes! It’s so great for exposure. It has opened doors to so many different things. I’m going to New York this September for the Independent Fashion Bloggers conference and when I’m there, I’m going to meet with the PR rep for Virgin Saints & Angels and Amanda Uprichard. Who would think that I was going to get to meet with them? It’s because of my blog. It’s my working portfolio. And on top of that, I’m getting a lot of feedback from people.

REBECCA: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from Haute Off the Rack?

JENNIFER: If you’re really passionate about something, you can do it. I started something from nothing. It was just me and my love of fashion, but I built a website and I am horrible with computers. When I figured it out, it’s because I wanted to figure it out. If this wasn’t something I liked, if this was just for school, I don’t think I’d be very good at it, but because of the end product that I know will come, I can do it.

REBECCA: So would you say that Haute Off the Rack is worth all the time and effort you put into it?

JENNIFER: Yes, definitely. There were times in the beginning when I was like, “This is a lot of work!” The first few weeks that I had my blog up, I didn’t sleep. It’s not because I couldn’t, it’s because there were things that needed to be done and I wanted them to be done. I put everything into it. I was exhausted, but then, whenever these designers started contacting me and I started making money from rewardStyle, I started to think, “This is so much fun!” People are actually coming to the blog and looking and buying. I was styling outfits in a way that made people think, “Ok I need it.” It’s been really rewarding and I’ve only gotten positive feedback.

Learn more about Jennifer by visiting Haute Off the Rack.

*Photos courtesy of Jennifer Palpallatoc

Quote of the day: 

“Never let life impede on your ability to manifest your dreams. Dig deeper into your dreams and deeper into yourself and believe that anything is possible, and make it happen.” –Corin Nemec