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Rising Stars: Meet Heather Astleford

Today we’d like to introduce you to Heather Astleford.

Hi Heather, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I started Sunflower Magnolia, my blog, shortly after my husband and I got married and moved from the Midwest to the deep South. The heart of Cajun country to be specific. Everything was a new adventure for us. Suddenly we were meeting people who spoke Cajun French, attending crawfish boils in a friend’s backyard and boating over swamps. It was like moving to another country. So I started Sunflower Magnolia—which is an homage to my home state of Kansas and my new state of Louisiana—as a way to explore and share our experiences with friends and family back home.

A year after we moved to Louisiana, we relocated again to Tennessee. There we put down roots; started a family and built a house. Naturally, my blog reflected the changes in my life and became less about the experiences in the South and more about the new adventures inside my house.

A few years later, things have come full circle. We’re back in Kansas City and I write about things that I love; mom life, recipes I love, home decor ideas, personal style on a budget and travel (now that Covid is going away).

I’ve always loved to write and connect with people. I also love that blogging gives me the freedom to explore all of my interests and create content that I love. So while Sunflower Magnolia started as an exploration of the South through the eyes of a Kansas girl, it has evolved as I’ve evolved. If I have my way, it will always evolve to reflect me and, hopefully, serve as a place for connection and friendship.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
For me, blogging has not been without its obstacles. From the very beginning, I have struggled with what the heck this blog is even about! I worked in marketing/advertising before becoming a stay-at-home mom, so I could advise clients all day long about the importance of clear branding and messaging, but I found it incredibly difficult (and still do) when I think about it for my blog. My blog is an extension of myself. And how does one distill oneself to a single idea or brand?! I still don’t have a good answer for that question, but I don’t let it stop me.

When I started blogging, I was working full time but I didn’t have kids. Now I stay at home with my two toddlers, so finding the time and energy to be creative and work on my blog is a constant challenge. However, I love doing it and feel incredibly happy when I do, so the work is the reward.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
My work, in a nutshell, is to create compelling content that is relatable and entertaining. So whether I’m talking about my struggles with postpartum anxiety, a tried-and-true recipe that I love or the process of building our first home, everything I create should be genuine and feel like me. I don’t sell anything on my blog, but I ask for something even more valuable, your time. Time to read, connect, comment or share a similar experience. That’s what I love and it means the most to me when that happens.

I really like to think that I’m an “every woman” and that is what’s compelling about my story. I’m a mom, a wife, a friend, I try new things, mess up, have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m putting myself out there. One of the things that held me back from starting my blog sooner was thinking I needed to be an “expert” in something like cooking, fashion, interior design, etc. Now I realize that’s just one way of doing things. Sometimes the best way to learn is just to jump in and figure it out as you go.

Who else deserves credit in your story?
No one’s story is a monologue. Since starting Sunflower Magnolia I’ve had a lot of people in my corner, cheering me on, offering advice or listening to me vent. My biggest supporter is my husband, Dan. He’s the first person I talked to about blogging and we’ve spent many hours awake in bed talking about my blog. He’s so good at helping me think objectively about a problem and his steady temperament is so calming.

My twin sister Holly has also been a huge supporter. I’ll ask her for her outsider’s perspective on my blog sometimes. Since she’s not as close to it or me, it can be very helpful to get her opinion.

Contact Info:

Image Credits

Heather Astleford, Daniel Astleford

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