Houston has its own bona-fide social media star in Caroline Harper Knapp.
The 33-year-old Corsicana native launched her blog, House of Harper, as a weekend hobby when she worked in corporate fashion in New York City. As Knapp’s life evolved—she and Fred, a Houston native and her husband of seven years, have two sons together—so, too, did her blog.
House of Harper became a full-time gig once Knapp left her 9-to-5 as a buyer for Gilt Groupe after having her first child. Three years ago, Knapp’s husband’s job brought the couple back to Texas, which Knapp said was the fulfillment of “our ultimate goal.”
Today, Knapp is navigating Houston as a mother, wife, fashionista, and entrepreneur—she’s partnered with brands like Kate Spade and L’Oreal Paris and has been lauded as a top blogger and an “it girl,” earning mentions in Glamour, PEOPLE, and The Huffington Post, to name a few.
House of Harper has become a lifestyle destination for a certain set, and Knapp has earned fans–and friends–for her regular posts infused with a winning combination of city chic and Southern sensibility. She boasts more than 150,000 combined followers on Facebook and Instagram.
Earlier this month, Knapp sat down with us over lattes at La Table to discuss her brand and contemplate that perennial question: Can women really have it all?
"It’s so underrated by the rest of the world. I feel like Austin gets all the credit for the music and the tech and [being] the cool place to go for tourists, and then Dallas is more cosmopolitan with fashion ... I just think the food [in Houston] is incredible, and obviously the arts and the theatre and the culture, and it’s such a diverse city. It’s so welcoming. I’ve just loved it, and it’s been really fun. Even in the last three years since I’ve been here, it’s changing so fast and growing."
On how moving back to Texas has changed House of Harper:
"Houston [readers] have become my largest demographic. The content obviously has changed now that I’m a mom and we’ve bought a home and we’ve been sharing that process, and it’s been interesting to see the readers respond so much to it. ... I think their interests have grown outside of just personal style and fashion, which is what the blog started as. Now they really want to see the whole lifestyle component. It’s been fun to share more with them. We’re growing up together, tackling these new challenges together."
On balancing motherhood and self-employment:
"I’ve been blogging for seven years, and it’s changed a lot in seven years ... now with Instagram and Instagram stories and YouTube and Snapchat, there’s this pressure to always be present. I’ve just had to find a way that works for me personally to draw the line. ... I work in the mornings, then at 2 when [my oldest son] is out of school and the nanny leaves, I’m home with the kids. ... Whatever it is I’m doing, I’m trying to be 100 percent present at that."
On maintaining a level of privacy when your personal life is central to your profession:
"One thing that I think makes it easy is that my husband has always had his own career in something different. ... The kids, I never make them do it if they’re not feeling it or if it doesn’t feel right or if it’s too personal. I never put anything [on the blog] when I think they would get older they would be embarrassed by it or maybe wouldn’t want me to share. ... I do share my own personal struggles and things like that about being a mom. After I had [my youngest son], I wrote an article about adjusting to life with two and the truth of what it was like going from one child to two, and that resonated with my readers, so it’s personal in that sense."
On the challenges of blogging as a business:
"It can be very competitive. It can be very isolating because everyone’s working for themselves, right? It’s not like you’re going to an office. You really have to make an effort to make friends and network and have these relationships [with people] that you can ask questions–'how are you doing this?' Literally, I have blogging friends where we can talk about what accountant we’re using, how much we’re charging for this, or what’s going on behind the scenes and all these questions that are kind of taboo or personal."
On how people perceive bloggers:
"When I moved here three years ago there wasn’t really a blogging scene in Houston, and I was really self-conscious about even telling people I had a blog because of the response I would get. It wasn’t meant to be negative, they honestly just didn’t understand that it was a business ... we have deadlines and drafts, and it’s very much like any other job. People just didn’t understand. I think that’s changed a lot over the past three years, but it’s a very new industry, and I don’t blame anyone for not understanding."
On the future of House of Harper:
"I’m really enjoying expanding the content and seeing where peoples’ interests lie. If I’m having these conversations with my friends and with other women, it’s something we’re interested in, so we should be talking about it on House of Harper."
On being a woman in the workplace:
"Hopefully giving people a voice and a platform [on social media] has helped. ... I feel like right now is just this movement of women supporting women, where before maybe they would have been shamed–even by our own gender. It just seems more supportive right now. I’m sure a lot of that stems from having a woman run for president, no matter what side of politics you’re on. That was an exciting step for women ... It’s definitely going in the right direction, but of course there’s always going to be challenges, and new challenges. It may be easier, but we still have the payroll issue: Yeah, maybe you can get the job, but are you making as much money as your male counterparts? ... I think there’s this whole movement with women in general now, not just in our industry, less about competition and more about cultivating relationships and helping each other."
Do you know a woman worthy of our next #WCW? Send suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.