The End of an Era (!) + Life Update

geri hirsch
BIG changes are happening in my life! But before I get into what that is, I wanted to share some news and give a little backstory in case you’re new to the blog or aren’t familiar with what led me to where I am now and what I’ve built along the way. So here we go…

In college, I had big dreams of building what I explained to be “the next Martha Stewart” type brand. I wasn’t exactly sure what the brand looked like or how I would do it, but I was laser-focused with a burning passion.

Summer 2005, I moved back to LA after graduating and I got my first job, a very serious first job. With long hours and limited creativity, as time went on I grew further and further away from being the girl with big “Martha Stewart” aspirations, and closer to the reality of the 9-5 world (only my job was more of a 9-9).

As I sat at my desk struggling to grasp this thing called a career, an email came in from a girlfriend with a link to what she called a “blog,” a term I hadn’t heard of. Now remember, Facebook launched on February 4, 2004, Google hadn’t yet acquired Youtube (November 13, 2006) and blogs were brand spanking new. Lots was happening in the digital space and everything was new.

There on “My Next Ex-Boyfriend” she wrote short funny stories about her dating life in NYC while in law school (the same girl would later create the beauty app known as GlamSquad). How did she do this? How was she freely publishing info on a website, aren’t those hard to build? I needed to understand so I clicked on “create blog,” typed in ‘because im addicted’ and boom! There it was, my own little corner of the internet. My very own blog! Or as my grandfather called it, “blob.”

The blog was simply a way to pass the time at work, creative outlet if you will. I had fun designing a header, playing with the layout and posting content I never thought anyone would read. As the year went on, I found other girls with blogs (Fashion Toast, Karla’s Closet, Style Rookie, et al) and ebay stores (Nasty Gal!). Then, before I knew it, Lucky Magazine emailed me asking if I would do a photo-shoot with them to be featured in-book for blogs they love. ME?!!? I thought when I got the email. People read this?! I immediately added analytics to my site, and low and behold, there it was. Pageviews to the tune of hundreds of thousands starring me right in the face. I genuinely had no idea that anyone other than my grandmother looked at this thing. From that point on, I got a little more serious about my pet project and worked on it every single day from my serious day job.

A year later, when YouTube was acquired by Google, my Martha Stewart dreams became crystal clear: I needed to make video. And so it began. I registered for an LLC under LEAFtv which was an acronym for living, eating and fashion, and started playing with formats on the weekend. I ended up landing on the idea of no talking in the videos, written text instructions instead, because I assumed most girls would be watching from their 9-5 potentially without sound. Music video how-to’s became our thing.

Around the same time, I switched jobs and started working at a fashion start-up. My boss, Erin Falconer, was super cool and we became good friends. She too had a blog and bigger dreams and so I shared LEAF with her. She not only got it immediately (YouTube video was not something everyone understood back then) but loved it. We partnered up, created more and more video then collaborated with Barney’s New York where we made a shoppable video series. It was a wild success in terms of sales and this was our nugget, we knew we had a bigger idea. We put together a business plan where we outlined the vision for the brand – a how-to video platform where you learn from the best and coolest people out there (think Monica Rose for styling videos, A Cozy Kitchen for cooking, etc.) and explained our theory on the intersection of commerce and content.

We took the business plan door to door to a handful of VC’s in town and ultimately raised a million bucks. We hired our first employee, built our site, filmed our content library, designed our technology and most importantly, established a real pulsing community. We’d arrived, and my little girl dreams where now a big reality. Nothing had ever felt better.

Over the years to follow, we worked with countless brands and creators on all sorts of collaborations, creating thousands of videos, millions in revenue and garnered over 10 million unique people to our site every month. In 2015, we were approached about an acquisition. We had our reservations, after all this was our baby, but decided to sell in August 2015. The transition from running our own company to being part of a large corporation was an adjustment, but we were excited about the prospects of being part of something much bigger. We spent the next year and a half redefining what the new LEAF looked like. We expanded our team and our content, launched a monthly subscription wellness box program which was named a favorite by Forbes, Erin and I were honored as 2 of the most influential girls redefining the work space by Create & Cultivate on the C & C 100 list, and the company that acquired us would go on to adopt our name; they are now publicly traded under LEAF Group. My little brainchild is now part of the New York Stock Exchange – wild!

It’s been a great run and an incredible learning experience full of failures and successes, ups and downs and SO many videos. But as the saying goes, all good things must come to an end.

As of today, my LEAF journey ends.  The baton is being passed and I’m saying good-bye to the company I poured my blood, sweat and tears into. It’s the end of an era which is bittersweet but mostly sweet. Getting to live out this dream has been, well, a dream come true. I’m so grateful that I never gave up on the idea and that I’m not sitting here today kicking myself for not trying what many told me was the impossible. We did it and it’s my greatest career accomplishment.

So what’s next? Something I’m really really excited about. Something that feels right.

Ironically, I’m officially a full-time blogger for the first time ever! How about that?! As I said, I started my blog in 2005 but have had a full-time job every step of the way, including LEAF, until today. New beginnings start now! I hope you continue on this journey with me (as I blog 24/7 and bring so much new content to the site that I’m thrilled about!). Thank you from the bottom of my LEAF girl heart to those who were part of my last chapter including all of you who read, loved, and watched us over the years. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

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39 comments

  1. Congratulations on the start of your new chapter! I can’t wait to see where you go from here, and, as a longtime reader of Because I’m Addicted, very much look forward to following along on your blog.

  2. Such an epic story! Thank you for sharing and I’m happy to hear that you’re moving on. I’ve been a long time follower of both the blog and leaf but stopped watching leaf a long time ago.

  3. I’m a long time reader and first time commenter who just wants to say I really respect your career. I admire the way you built two very different brands. Congrats on all the success and a toast to the future!

    XOXO – Megan

  4. Well done Geri! Longtime fan of your blog and I was craving LEAF type content in my 20s. Looking forward to the next post- your content is always engaging and on trend.
    Cheers,
    Lauren

  5. Congratulations! I have only recently begun reading here and it’s obvious that you put a lot of love and care into your posts. Cheers to the next chapter!

  6. Thanks for the recap…we have just started following you in the last few weeks so we are on board to take the new journey with you! Too many clients for us to blog 24/7 but it does sound so nice. -Laurel Bledsoe

  7. Such a great read and thank you so much for sharing! I haven’t heard of leaf before but really impressed with what you were able to make out of nothing from boring desk jobs. #inspired

  8. I always assumed blogging was your full time job since it’s so well done. I can’t believe that you’ve been keeping this up on the side since 2005! Good luck taking the blogging world by storm girl!

  9. Is it weird that I teared up when reading this? So great and standing ovation for you my friend. I knew in college that you were unstoppable!

  10. I can’t wait to see what you have in store next! Your story is such an inspiration for me as I just started up my blog and to see what you have managed to accomplished not only as a blog but while working full time, is something I hope one day will be able to do as well.

  11. i loved being a very small part of leaf tv! i’m so excited for you and erin! amazing when dreams come true. and good luck on this new exciting journey. i’ve been loving all of the new-style content so far! xoxo

  12. Congrats, Geri! I’ve been reading your blog for years and years and look forward to seeing what you think of next!

  13. You were such an inspiration to me all through university. Your videos gave me so much motivation to better my life. I am so happy for you to be moving on, you will surely enjoy a fresh start!
    All the best,
    Angie

  14. I found your blog in Lucky Magazine and have been reading it ever since. Where it is now is my favorite by far. Congratulations on saying goodbye to LEAF, it was time!

  15. Geri! Wow! I mean, really, wow!

    When I walk past the Demand Media/now LEAF building, past the pit that is the papermate/pen factory site, I point to the name on the wall and always, always tell my husband, I was on swim team with the girl who started that.

  16. Thank you for making those videos at LEAF. It had thought me loads and I found it inspiring. Your life since 2005 has been an inspiration to me itself. You had sure brought blogging and vlogging to another level.
    I wish you well in your new journey.

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