ed note: this post originally ran in November 2019, and with the events of the past several months, Jessi’s brand of positivity and joy feels more needed now than ever. It’s been inspiring to watch her forge new connections in the digital space this past year, when connection is what many of us need most. Read on for this interview that I loved doing with Jessi…
We all know that social media can be a dark place — or at the very least, one that all too often breeds FOMO and insecurity as images of seemingly perfect lives, bodies, and careers float through our feeds. Thankfully, I’m sensing a collective move away from this kind of Insta-anxiety. We’re wising up to the power of cleaning up our feeds by making a conscious choice to follow only those accounts that bring more joy and positivity into our lives.
Enter Jessi Afshin, the ray of sunshine behind fashion blog The Darling Detail, creator of My Darling Diary, and faith-based entrepreneur behind her inspiring clothing line. It’s quite an evolution, and Jessi captures it best:
After years of chasing the world of blogging, I felt a true void and had a heartfelt desire to pursue, create, and pray into a platform with more purpose… Our mission is to talk about a purpose greater than ourselves, encourage others by wearing our hearts on our sleeves, give back to those in need, and spread the message of joy and grace.
Early in her career, Jessi worked on the Camille Styles team, and it has been incredible to watch her own platform explode as she’s used her influence to spread so much good in the world. I can say firsthand that the girl you see on the ‘gram is the real deal Jessi, and she’s amazing. A few weeks back, I spent the morning at Jessi’s cozy abode and we caught up on life while she walked us through the morning routine that sets her up for the happiest, most energized day ahead. Scroll on for Jessi’s AM in action…
Tell us the story behind My Darling Diary.
The inspiration came from my grandmother, Helen. An avid reader and writer, my grandma journaled every single day for most of her later years—filling up countless journals with handwritten moments, letters and daily plans. Never missing a day, she recorded every little detail you could possibly think of. In the midst of her writing, she ministered to young women and gave them journals so that they could do the same. The idea of creating another Instagram account – a faith-based online diary or journal – stemmed completely from her. My goal is the same: to encourage, lift up and minister to young women across the world.
The account has been the biggest blessing. My Darling Diary has grown steadily from its inception; it’s introduced me to incredible people, new friends, opened up huge opportunities, and become the platform on which I released an online shop and clothing line. It’s truly changed me and the way I operate my business and blog.
What are your best tips for building a brand online?
1. When it comes to building a personal brand: don’t sell your soul to the internet—specifically the algorithms. I’ve watched social media change not only myself but people around me.
I like to say: the less you have online, the more you have offline. And people can tell. Genuine joy shines and radiates, and people can pick up on deception better than we think.
It’s good to stay focused on your present life, and let the real joy radiate into your social world via the real real. It’s much more effortless than the effort it requires to fake or pretend when creating a personal brand.
2. Define the brand you want to project and don’t veer to the left or the right. Social media can be a dark place and can be filled with comparison, judgment, assumptions and more. It’s a good idea to cut the outside noise, put on the blinders and remain focused on where you want to be going, not where everyone else is. Tips: Use platforms like Pinterest secret boards, keynote presentations, and Unum to plan out content and get a visual idea of your brand—significantly in advance of creating one.
3. Work with the best. Successful content creators create the best content, but there’s so much out there and it’s hard to stand out in the crowd. It’s important to find people who will be on your team no matter what. And surround yourself with people who are more gifted and talented than you in certain areas and delegate out the tasks. Remember, we can’t do it all (this is coming from an enneagram 3 personality!)
What are your favorite books?
And your getting-ready soundtrack?
Taylor Swift – all of it. I know, it’s basic.
What time is your wake-up call?
6:30 am! I’m a dreamer, so I wake up all night in the middle of a million dreams. Sometimes I think I hardly sleep at all (haha); but I strive for a constant 8 hours.
What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?
What gets you excited for the day ahead?
Coffee. Writing. Journaling. Praying. #1 can’t live without it. I could be across the world and this morning routine would not change.
What do you eat for breakfast?
I practice intermittent fasting (minus coffee) and don’t eat breakfast. I typically eat lunch at noon!
What are your morning media rituals?
Gosh, it’s my goal to stay off media in the mornings. Aside from a quick scroll on Instagram in bed, I stay focused on a calming playlist during quiet time until I start work around 9am.
Bath or shower?
BOTH! I love a good natural bath bomb from Whole Foods – or just plain and simple Epsom salts. Between strenuous spin classes and working on the computer all day, Epsom salt baths are essential.
Describe your morning beauty routine from start to finish.
On a typical day-to-day, I keep it simple:
I also use a ZDATT Hot Air Hair Brush & Volumizer and it literally works wonders. Most of the time I pull my hair half-back with a tortoise shell clip and tie the rest of up with a scrunchie.
I never leave the house without _____________.
A crop top tee and wide leg pants. Sneakers.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
I start at a coffee shop every single day. So much of what I do has to do with what’s on my phone or laptop, so looking at a screen is where I spend most of my time. In the afternoon, I either head to my office in South Austin (which houses most of our inventory for our online shop – Shop Darling) or I stay in central Austin for meetings, phone calls, or more coffee shops.
Most of my time right now is spent working on my clothing line. Shop Darling features casual comfy cute clothes – aiming at 50% faith and 50% fashion. We’re launching our next line of clothes soon and I’m currently working on other small social media projects, as well as writing my book!
If you had one extra hour every morning, how would you use it?
Morning strolls outside at dawn or daybreak. It’s so beautiful and quiet, no matter the season.
Describe your mornings in 5 words or less.
Peaceful, espresso, quiet, centered, restful.
5 favorite spots in Austin:
- Mattie’s. My absolute favorite spot for birthdays, team dinners, or treating out-of-town guests. It’s my favorite spot in the summer to sit outside and sip rose and admire the peacocks (and biscuits).
- The Line Hotel. The retro and bougie downtown hotel and hang that sits on Austin’s iconic Town Lake.
- The 360 Overlook. Favorite public view in Austin and worth the small hike.
- Pool Burger. Easily my favorite burger in Austin.
- Suerte. Favorite vibes on the east side with amazing Mexican bites.