You know when you meet someone and you’re instantly blown away by them? I mean, as a whole. Their talent, their insight, their beauty (both inside and out)? Well that’s kind of how I feel about Cassandra of Coco + Kelley. I’ve been reading her blog for longer than I’ve even been blogging myself (which is totally nutty when I think about it), and it’s girlcrush central over here. In my books, she hold celebrity status and and I’m so, beyond, over-the-top, incredibly excited to have her here today. Captured by the incredible Katie Parra , see all this and more right here.

SMP: Some words you live by?

Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” I love this quote because it gets at the heart of what we all crave as humans – respect and kindness. We have the capability of truly hurting or healing each other, and that’s a powerful thing. I’ll also throw in there “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Wise words from Theodore Roosevelt and very appropriate for today’s culture where we have such an open window into each other’s lives. Just remember – there’s also a lot we don’t see.

SMP: Any guilty pleasures?

Probably too many! I love ending the day with dark chocolate and wine, splurging on shoes for special occasions, and have a serious pillow addiction. I probably have enough pillows to change them out every month!

SMP: What did you think your dream job was before your dream job found you?

I’ve always loved style in every form – fashion, and interiors. If you had asked me when I was five what I wanted to be, I probably would have said ‘rock star’. In high school, though, I really got into writing and that’s when I decided I wanted to be a journalist or editor. Aaaaaand, here I am! I’m incredibly lucky that blogging is basically a form of that dream job.

SMP: What’s your favorite quote that describes your creative process?

When I first started coco+kelley, I had this quote from Coco Chanel in the footer of my blog: “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” My designs and blog posts are always about being different. I can take something that has been shown a million times and put my own spin on it, or I can create something that is truly original and boundary pushing. But if it’s not different somehow, then it’s not worth doing.

SMP: If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?

To be the best, truest, kindest version of the person you are as much as possible. Imagine if we all lived a bit more that way, instead of allowing everyday worries, comparison, or want to weigh us down. If we all just did a little bit more than we ‘feel’ like doing that day – going out of our way for one friend, doing a stranger a quick favor, dropping one more compliment to someone who needs it – these little things go a long way. People remember the little things.

SMP: If you could do it all over again, would you change anything?

Like… LIFE!? All over again? Maybe. I would have paid attention more to my passions a bit more. For example, I didn’t realize in my history class in Jr. High, when I was the girl who insisted that I write about history through the eye of fashion, that there was anything remarkable about that. Or that I was the only one of my friends who cared so intensely about the shade of lilac I would paint my bedroom at 13. If I had recognized those passions sooner, I feel like maybe I would have been on a different path. Not necessarily better – just different. It’s a gift to recognize not only what you want to do at a young age, but what you’re GOOD at doing.

SMP: What is one piece of advice you would give to a blogger just starting out?

Do it for the right reasons. If you’re trying to get into this game now because you think you’ll be rich and famous, stop. If you’re in it because you want to try and get free stuff, stop. But if you’re doing it for the love of sharing ideas, of design, or whatever your passion is, then be consistent, don’t give up, and stay true to your vision. Those are the bloggers we need more of. And guess what – if you do it for the right reasons, the rest will fall into place.

SMP: What is your favorite item in your home?

My art and a few small pieces of sentimental value. Everything else is replaceable.

SMP: What’s your best tip for balancing work and personal life?

I’m not sure I’m the best one to answer that, but a little over a year ago I started actually making rules for myself. Not more emails after 8pm. One day off on the weekends where you get to do whatever you want and don’t you dare pick up that laptop! Of course, I break these rules from time to time when I have to, but it’s helped quite a bit. Also, saying no and asking for help – quite possibly the two hardest things for any entrepreneur. But essential.

SMP: What was the tipping point in your business that made you feel like your blog was going to thrive?

I feel like there have been multiple tipping points. The first came when I got a call from Lucky Magazine waaaay back in the beginning of the blog. I think it was 2008 and I had been around for about a year or so. They wanted to shoot me for a small feature. I was like, “Woah. Something is happening here.” Even I had no idea the time how big blogs were about to get. That was the first of many moments where I knew that I was doing something right.

SMP: What is the hardest lesson in business you’ve ever learned?

Don’t ever make decisions based on fear. Fear of failure, fear of losing money, fear of whatever – don’t let it control your decisions, It’s bound to lead you in the wrong direction or hold you back from what you could truly be.

SMP: Stranded on a desert island question… what’s the one cocktail you would take with you?

Does the island have a freezer? Because without ice, there’s just no proper cocktail to be had! If you’re asking what’s the one cocktail I can’t live without though, I’d probably say a good, dirty martini. Although I’ve been sipping a lot of whiskey on the rocks lately too. I don’t do fruity drinks, which is probably a shame on a desert island.

SMP: Oh, the island totally has a freezer, we’re not animals! What color do you think will stand the test of trend time?

Trends and time are oxymorons. I’ll go with black. Always, black.

SMP: One thing every style savvy homeowner should have?

A stunning chandelier.

SMP: If you could buy yourself a single gift of any cost, what would it be?

My current car is absolutely on its last leg and I’m driving it into the ground, so an upgrade would be nice right about now! Or maybe a trip around the world. Yes, that would do quite nicely.

Psst… Keep your eyes peeled for Cassandra’s home tour, coming up next!

Photography: Katie Parra | Interview/Blogger: Coco + Kelley