Blake and I were so excited to be featured on rewardStyle’s blog today. As I was reading through it today, I decided to share it on here for those of you who can’t log in to rewardStyle’s blog in case you want a peek at what’s behind Palms to Pines ;).
BEHIND THE SCREEN WITH PALMS TO PINES
Jen Hawkins and Blake Nyman are the #powercouple behind the popular digital lifestyle brand, Palms to Pines. From the sandy beaches of Southern California to the peaks of the Rockies in Utah, the duo has adventured it all. Aside from sharing their adventures together on their site, Palms to Pines also provides a curated look into the latest trends in fashion, home decor and even the kitchen. Come with us as we go Behind the Screen with Jen and Blake to see the world through their eyes, from the palms… to the pines.
rewardStyle: For those of us who are just being introduced to Palms to Pines, can you tell us a bit about your brand, the name and how it got started?
J: Palms to Pines started as a creative outlet for us to collaborate, both with each other and with brands, ideas, and places that we love. I grew up in Seattle, Blake grew up in a tiny mountain town in Utah, and now we live in Southern California. We are constantly traveling back and forth between the coast and the mountains and have a great love of both, so that’s where the name came from.
rS: Jen, we love your uniquely edgy and care-free fashion sense … we have major style-envy over here at @rSHQ! How would you describe your style?
J: Thank you – that’s so nice. My inherent style would probably be very basic and practical, but being in the modeling industry gives me the knowledge and the confidence to branch out from that. Due to the fact that I am a great size for samples I work with several clothing brands to shoot their line sheets and look books, so I often see trends in the lines a full year before they come out. I think that really helps prep me for what’s coming and gives me an edge that is extremely helpful with the blog.
rS: Since becoming digital influencers, what has been your biggest *pinch me* moment?
J: Oh gosh…I hate to say it, but the free stuff never gets old. There have been a few moments where I’ve been “shopping” around a gifting lounge and been so appreciative. And this is an embarrassing thing to be excited about but I’ll share it anyways – the other day I saw a brand that I love post an outfit I really liked on Instagram. I commented that I loved it, and ten minutes later I had an email in my inbox from the brand asking for my address so they could send it to me. I mean, I’m sure that happens to a lot of us as bloggers/influencers, but it doesn’t make it any less cool!
rS: Palms to Pines supports a year round Holiday vertical, with content boasting 4th of July outfit inspo to last minute Halloween Costumes. What are your focal points for this upcoming holiday season? Can your audience expect gift guides, product wish-lists, Thanksgiving recipes, etc?
J: I always like to focus on things that I’d want to read about and posts that would be helpful to me. For this holiday season, that will include recipes, creative holiday decorating ideas, how to budget and shop for thoughtful gifts, and what I’m wearing to various holiday events. I always think to myself, “what would I Google?” and then try to post about those things. For example, last year I included in a post tips I found for the best way to put lights on a Christmas tree, because that was something I had wanted to know myself! We really try to fit posts naturally into our lives in hopes that they’ll come across sincere and authentic to readers.
B: We have family in both Utah and Washington that we visit during the holidays. Whenever we travel, we try to make the blog fit into what we’re doing in those areas or back at home in Southern CA. We usually get some good ski days in while in the Utah mountains or spend some time wandering around Seattle or make a beach day happen at home, if it’s warm enough. I think going back and forth between those areas gives us some pretty diverse opportunities to work with on the blog, so we try to take advantage of that.
” I set my camera down and just stood there, totally overcome by how beautiful it was watching the lanterns float away into the night sky. “
rS: The RiSE Festival in the Mojave Desert looked to be an incredible experience – and you two were lucky enough to attend more than once! Describe your experience to this vivid lights festival – What was your favorite part? What products and pieces were in your weekender totes? How did you explain this experience to your readers?
J: The RiSE Festival is truly a unique and unforgettable experience, which is why we keep going back! Our favorite part is definitely the moment where everyone launches their first lantern in unison – it is a truly moving and beautiful thing to witness. We’ve been able to use RiSE as an opportunity to collaborate in a unique way with brands like Free People and Amuse Society. Brands love to be a part of something so special, and to have the exclusive content to post/feature themselves. The festival takes place in the desert, so it’s very hot during the day and very dusty! I packed my weekender an extra layer of clothes for the nighttime chill, along with extra (clean) socks and shoes to put on at the end of the night and a blanket to sit on. The best way to explain the experience to our readers was through photos and video, but I always tell people they still don’t do it justice so they need to go for themselves!
B: Honestly, the first time we went, was such an amazing experience that I’ll remember vividly. We had partnered with Free People that year and I was helping shoot the event for the blog. The desert venue and setup was pretty rad, but I was focused on shooting, so I hadn’t let myself fully appreciate it yet. Then when the first launch happened, I was stopped in my tracks. I set my camera down and just stood there, totally overcome by how beautiful it was watching the lanterns float away into the night sky. Pretty sure we just started passing out hugs, while shedding some happy tears. As for what I was wearing…not exactly sure, but Jen looked great in her pretty little white Free Peopledress!
rS: Palms to Pines is a unique digital space built on the principals the two of you share. How did you two decide to build Palms to Pines as a brand together? How has Palms to Pines evolved since its debut?
J: We started Palms to Pines as a lifestyle blog, but agreed to leave ourselves open to whatever it could grow to in the future – whether that’s a place for collaboration, digital marketing, or product development. Since we launched we’ve seen growth in our own following and traffic, but we’ve also been able to consult others in their branding and digital marketing efforts and that has been really rewarding.
B: There’s a decent amount of partner blogs, but very few are a husband + wife combo. My role is a little more behind the scenes, mostly supporting with my photography, developing content and design. We’re still going after our original direction of being lifestyle driven. Evolving with our brand partnerships, getting into new verticals, keeping our look/feel updated and continuing to try to put out appealing content to grow the audience.
rS: Palms to Pines’ content, mainly revolving around the topics of fashion and style, is geared toward a female audience. Blake, tell us a bit about your role in Palms to Pines. How did you go from pro-skier to a digital content connoisseur?
B: Over the past 10 years, the snow industry (and pretty much every other industry) has seen the birth, growth and importance of digital marketing develop. At the beginning of my ski career, it was all about creating content for a whole season, that would be released the beginning of the following season. You sometimes didn’t get to see your photos/video for the first time until 6-12 months later, so there was a long delay before your efforts began to be seen or pay off. We started to see that delay shorten each year with camera technology improving and turnaround times for content being quicker. As an athlete, I started noticing a how it was important to have a Twitter account, then Facebook, then a blog, etc. Production companies started releasing webisodes and regular online content to supplement the demand for their annual films. Things just kinda follow that trend and took off. After Instagram came out, because it was so visually driven, people were drawn to all these outdoor, scenic, adventure-centric photos and the industry soon noticed this, so they started putting a ton of importance on the athlete’s social media. I decided to quit skiing professionally around that time, but it was super interesting to see how many of my friends careers were impacted by that change. Some so-so skiers with good Instagram/photo skills were suddenly landing huge contracts with sponsors cause they had large followings. Whereas some other skiers were amazingly talented, but they lacked the ability to market themselves, didn’t get that great of endorsement deals.
But from that history, I really enjoyed working with cameras, developing content, storytelling for brands, marketing products, etc. So when Jen and I moved to California and away from the mountains, I had to continue scratching that itch somehow and working with her on Palms to Pines was an easy fit.
rS: Your travel vertical gives us all the feels and leaves us with a bad case of wanderlust – from exploring Northern California to hiking in the beautiful mountains of Utah, you two have explored every corner of the United States. What is your favorite trip you’ve ever taken? Why? And to make us extremely envious, where is Palms to Pines off to next?
J: As cheesy as it sounds, the trips I love most are when we go “home” and get to be with family. That time is so important to me! Also, I always thought vacations meant sunny beaches, but since I’ve been with Blake I’ve fallen equally (if not more) in love with snowy mountain vacations.
B: Hard to say what my favorite is. We have some good staples that we visit somewhat regularly, like, Zion National Park. In January, we’re headed to Europe for two weeks! Checking out London, then to Switzerland and Austria. We’ve never been to Europe together, so looking forward to checking it out together.
“I love to learn, so I’m grateful be a part of an industry that is always changing, and grateful for resources like rewardStyle to keep me updated on those changes.”
rS: As influencers, how do you see the trends of the digital style industry changing into the future? What are you most excited about?
J: Oh man, it’s changing so fast I’m not sure I’m even keeping up! But that’s why it’s so exciting, and why people look to bloggers and influencers to keep them in the know. I love to learn, so I’m grateful be a part of an industry that is always changing, and grateful for resources like rewardStyle to keep me updated on those changes. Whenever I feel behind or unqualified, I like to remind myself of this quote by Ira Glass – it’s a long one so bear with me: “Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”
B: Bodysuits. I love seeing Jen in bodysuits.
rS: The Palms to Pines’ Eats vertical is completely drool-worthy. From recipes such as Pesto Zucchini Pasta and a fresh twist on Panna Cotta with fresh berries, there is no question that you know how to work the kitchen! Where did you learn to cook? If you were to host a dinner party for your friends and family, what would be on the menu?
J: I didn’t learn to cook growing up, so I still consider myself a rookie! But Blake can attest to the fact that nothing makes me happier than having friends or family over and cooking them a meal. I am learning as I go, so when I find something that works I love to share it on the blog so other people can try it, too! If I were to host a dinner party I would always try to cater to who’s coming over and what I know they like, but my go-to would be a good salmon recipe (there’s actually a great one on the blog that’s super easy!) as the main dish along with some healthy sides. And there’s always, always fresh sourdough bread (except when we are on Whole30 – that’s a whole other beast!)