We had the good fortune of connecting with Ashlee Hightower McHugh and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Ashlee, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I launched Cobalt Chronicles, a Houston based (originally, D.C.) lifestyle blog and brand, in July 2015. I had recently moved to Washington, DC from Birmingham, AL and transitioned from a practicing attorney to a more corporate legal role at Bloomberg News. My hours were very traditional, 9-5, and my job was a lot less demanding than my law firm days. With the extra time on my hands and with a new city at my fingertips, I decided to launch my own personal lifestyle blog. In the beginning, I wrote about everything. Restaurant reviews, neighborhood hot spots, my favorite pieces of clothing, trips I was taking … anything really! Over the last 5 years, the content has shifted, and I mainly focus on style, travel, and wellness with a little bit of home content sprinkled in. I always knew that one day I wanted to own my own business, I just didn’t know what it would look like. I’ve always enjoyed writing and taking photographs and blogging opened up a way for me to monetize both while building a community. I didn’t start my blog and brand with the intention of making money, but I always treated it like a business. From the beginning, I consistently published new weekly blog posts. At first, I published posts every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, never missing a day. I’ve changed up my editorial calendar over the years, and now you can find me publishing new blog content every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. I also publish weekly newsletters and daily social media posts to support my blog and brand. When I started my own blog, I wanted it to be a resource for women to come to for everyday style advice, travel tips, and clean living inspiration. I’m so proud of the community that we’ve built around Cobalt Chronicles over the past five years! I feel so lucky to be able to share my life with my Cobalt community!

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I graduated from law school and did what any good newly minted lawyer does; I took a job at a large, national law firm in Birmingham, Alabama. After practicing law for three years, I transitioned into a more corporate legal job in Washington, DC at a global publishing company where I worked as a legal editor writing and editing legal articles. While working as a legal editor, to scratch my own creative itch, I launched a style, travel, and wellness blog, Cobalt Chronicles. As I dove deeper into the blogging world and began to meet creatives in different fields (photographers, graphic designers, event planners, etc.), I realized there was a hole in a lot of my peers’ businesses – they weren’t utilizing contracts to protect themselves and their businesses. With my background in the blogging world and my legal expertise, I launched my Contracts for Creatives business where I help creative entrepreneurs and small business owners with all of their legal contract needs! Today, I run Cobalt Chronicles and Contracts for Creatives full time in Houston, Texas. Cobalt Chronicles is a Houston based lifestyle blog and brand celebrating everyday style, attainable travels, and wellness. Contracts for Creatives is a consulting business where I consult with clients (mostly solo entrepreneurs and creative entrepreneurs) on legal contracts. I also provide intellectual property services such as filing trademark applications on behalf of clients. The most challenging part of starting both Cobalt Chronicles and Contracts for Creatives was gaining traction and growing both businesses. It’s an ongoing task that really never ends. I’m always looking for different ways to keep my Cobalt Chronicles community engaged and keep providing value to my community. With Contracts for Creatives, I’m always brainstorming more ways to get in front of potential clients, whether that’s pitching workshops to established conferences or connecting with podcast hosts in an attempt to secure an interview on a new episode. My advice to any other women just starting out and trying to build their own businesses would be to say yes to everything in the beginning. That’s how I first built such a solid community around Cobalt Chronicles and then was able to utilize that network in building out Contracts for Creatives. I’ve met so many amazing, creative, and driven women pursuing their passions and side hustles just by saying yes!

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I’m still pretty new to Houston as I moved to the city in March 2019. I hit my one-year anniversary right as Covid-19 forced most everything to shut down. But with that said, in the short year that I’ve lived in the 4th largest city in the U.S., I’ve had time to explore some pretty cool spots! Two highlights of Houston for me have been professional sports and the restaurant scene! It’s hard to beat a springtime Astros game at Minute Maid park! We also are home to the Houston Rockets (NBA), Houston Texans (NFL), the Houston Dynamo (MSL), and the Houston Dash (NWSL). The restaurant scene in Houston can easily stand up against any other major U.S. city in comparison. Just to list a few of my favorite restaurants … for coffee and breakfast, Common Bond, Golden Bagel, A 2nd Cup; for lunch, Tiny Boxwood’s, Local Foods, B.B. Lemon; for dinner, Hugo’s, Giacomo’s, One Fifth Mediterranean, UB Preserve, Eunice; and for drinks Anvil, Julep, Goodnight Charlie’s, and Eight Row Flint.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband has been my number one fan since I initially told him about my dream to start a blog back in 2015. He has been supportive in every way and even shoots the majority of my photos for me! My mom, dad, and sister and my in-laws are also some of my biggest supporters in their own ways! What I never expected to gain out of starting my own business in the blogging industry was true friendships of fellow content creators. Some of my very best friends today are bloggers, photographers, and content creators that I have met through the blogging world and because of it. For that, I’m eternally grateful!

Website: http://www.cobaltchronicles.com/
Instagram: https://instagram.com/cobaltchronicles/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashlee-hightower-9b424ba/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/CobaltChronicl
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cobaltchroniclesblog?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

Image Credits
Allie Provost Lois Campos Michael McHugh

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