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Interviews | May 28, 2019

Winding Down with Victoria Smith, Creator of SF Girl by Bay and Author of See San Francisco

InterviewsMay 28, 2019

Winding Down with Victoria Smith, Creator of SF Girl by Bay and Author of See San Francisco

Victoria Smith, Founder of the Design Blog, SFGirlByBay started her blog and photography in the beautiful neighborhoods of San Francisco. She was approached by the Founders of Pinterest to help launch the platform for the blog community and has gone on to write her own book and launch her online Vintage store. See how Victoria takes a break from her day to wind-down and reset.

How did pinterest propel your career and how did it change blogging?

Ben Silbermann, one of the Pinterest founders and I met at the Altitude Design Summit in 2010, and he told me about this “little” site he was developing. He was one of those people with so much joy and enthusiasm for life, I just felt compelled to check it out. And when I did, I could instantly see what a unique tool it was, a great device for sharing, and for me, an insanely helpful blogging tool. I use it to pin things I want to share later on the blog, and I design "rooms" or pinboards for myself from pieces that inspire me and that I might like to try down the road. It's the perfect tool for me, because I can never remember my traditional bookmarks, and this is a visual bookmarking tool, so it's all right there in front of me and it links back to the original site where I discovered it. Back then, Ben and I talked more about introducing other bloggers to Pinterest, and came up with a twist on Blog it Forward, a previous event I’d hosted, and we created Pin it Forward as a way to introduce a whole community of bloggers to this great visual bookmarking tool. For my part of the collaboration, I had a readership to share that was perfectly suited to benefit from what Pinterest had to offer. And Ben had a great platform for bloggers. So, we invited 300 bloggers to each create a Pinboard of what inspired them most, post it on their blogs and then link to, and virtually pass the torch on to the next blogger. Kind of like a blogging chain letter, which was also turned out to be the perfect collaboration for new bloggers hoping to gain more readership and connect with other bloggers. So, it kind of launched Pinterest into the Blogosphere!

What inspired you to get into design?

My mother was an interior designer and I always loved decorating. From a very young age I would decorate and redecorate my room over and over again. It's just always brought me a lot of joy and a great feeling of creativity.

In what ways did San Francisco inspire your work and now, living in LA, where do you draw your inspiration from?

San Francisco is so beautiful and super colorful so I think the colors of the old Victorians encouraged me to want to capture them on my camera. I used to do a blog series called Sunday in the City and document my weekends in San Francisco's diverse neighborhoods. It's the same for Los Angeles, but perhaps in a more edgy, raw form. L.A. may not be as storybook beautiful as San Francisco, but it's got a charm and history all its own that I really love. I love wandering the different areas and learning about new neighborhoods around the eastside. I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles but never spent much time over here so it's all new and inspiring to me.

What ignited your move?

Unfortunately, my mother was ill and I moved to be closer to her and care for her and I'm afraid she passed away in June of 2018. But I also wanted to buy a home and Los Angeles was much more affordable than San Francisco and I also had a lot of friends that lived here and encouraged me to move back. It was a blessing to be here for my mom, and to be surrounded by close friends to support me.

What was your main goal and inspiration behind your book, See San Francisco: Through the Lens of SFGirlbyBay?

I had thought about doing a book and I'd been contacted by another publisher to do a decor book, and it was too costly a production to accept. And then later Chronicle also offered me the chance to do a decor book, but again I couldn't afford to take time off from the blog and travel for photo shoots. It just wasn't economically feasible for me to do that kind of book. But then my editor had the idea for a book based on my blog series Sunday in the City - photos of the city by neighborhood and that I could do because it was local, and I could easily keep costs down because all the work was my own, so I happily accepted.

Walk us through a day in your life. What is your favorite part of your day and why?

A typical day includes taking my dog Lucy for a walk around the hills of Elysian Park where I live, or around Echo Park Lake. We nearly always get coffee at Pollen, a neighborhood cafe we love. Then back home to work -- answering emails and working on the week's blog posts and working on sales and paperwork for my online vintage shop Super Marché. I usually make this giant salad for lunch that I'm kind of addicted to and I try and eat it outside on the back patio to get a real break. I usually spend too much time perusing Instagram and Pinterest but I like to consider it work since it does often inspire a new idea or blog post. My favorite part of the day is when I've come up with a unique idea for a blog post and I get to play around executing the idea.

Do you have a specific wind-down routine?

Evenings are usually another walk for Lucy and either cooking dinner or going to a local favorite for dinner with friends. I've been reading a ton in the evenings lately, too so I look forward to lighting candles and reading in bed on my Kindle. Or, I'm binge-watching something like Dead to Me, or Killing Eve.

How important is your sleep schedule as you run your own business and does it affect your creative process?

I wish I were a better sleeper than I am, but I've always struggled with turning my brain off at night. I'll be reading and starting to doze off but then once I turn out the lights and try to sleep my brain starts thinking of ideas, or even mundane trivial things that just keep me awake. Fortunately, I don't think I require a lot of sleep so as long as I get 4 solid hours I can still function and be creative.

One piece of advice for your younger self and one for your future self:

Younger self: don't date that guy, he's a waste of your time. Older self: Open your heart and don't let that guy from your younger past stand in your way anymore. ;)


Hayley is the Social Media Coordinator at Brooklinen. Formerly a journalist at Inside Edition, she has a background in news, and editorial journalism. Hayley is also a photographer and has had her work featured in Disfunkshion Magazine & Misadventures Magazine. This California native loves to be outdoors in her free time and loves to surf and dance. Follow her on IG @hayhayhill

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