I’m Kristin Luna, journalist by profession, Southerner by birth, boss woman of this here blog. Nice to meet ya! Pull up a chair, have a cup of coffee (or, uh, bourbon) and stay for a while, will you?
THE GIRL BEHIND THE BLOG
I’m a Nashville-based writer and live very close to where I was born; I have held court at this corner of the Internet since 2007, which I’m pretty sure makes me a senior citizen in blogging years. In case you’re brand new to these parts, let me give you a little bit of a rundown on the past decade from C&C’s conception to the present:
Happily ensconced in the magazine world in NYC, I’m a Conde Nast employee by day, red carpet correspondent by night. I work mad hours each week but it affords me to “live” in Hell’s Kitchen (in a converted studio with two roommates but who’s keeping tabs?) and accrue a bit of savings until my next big move…
…which is to San Francisco. My long-distance Californian beau, SVV—whom I met in 2005 while we were studying abroad—coaxes me out to the other coast; obligingly, I follow. We live in a small two-bedroom bungalow but will wind up moving twice in the next two years: first down the valley to San Mateo and then back into the heart of the city.
I make my living freelancing for the first time after holding a string of in-house reporter and researcher jobs at magazines like Newsweek, Us Weekly, Entertainment Weekly and Lucky while in New York. Freelancing is both easier and harder than I expect: easier because I was kind of a baller at networking during my NYC years—and budding writers, take note: it is all about who you know—and harder because, well, what wasn’t made more difficult by the financial crisis of 2008?
Still, I survive by regular contributor gigs to top publications and writing the annual editions of the Frommer’s California, San Francisco and Los Angeles guides, which also enables me to get to know a good portion of the vast state that would be my home for four years. SVV also possesses a journalism degree so he does some freelancing of his own from time to time, but works on fancy homes (like, as in the multi-millions) for a high-end contracting company to make ends meet.
SVV proposes; I am shocked but accept (duh). We celebrate by me leaving him for Europe for three weeks. Hey, best to set the precedent for this pending union now, right?
Fiancé SVV becomes husband SVV: We marry in an intimate ceremony beside California’s Muir Beach. After returning from a three-week honeymoon in Borneo, our first child is born the day we land. Meet Ella, six pounds of sass and the real boss woman around these parts.
SVV and I decide it’s high time for a change—San Francisco, we love you, bro, but you’re getting more expensive than you’re worth—and where better to do that than 2,000 miles away in my homeland of Tennessee? We make the decision to leave in the fall when our lease is up but spend a good part of the year exploring the domain of the country we’re about to abandon: first, by skiing all winter at Tahoe; then, by going on a lengthy trip to Hawaii; finally, by traipsing around the national parks of the West by campground and trailer.
But fate has other plans. During our journeys, I get a call offering me a job for Semester at Sea, a study abroad program I first learned about when my sister did it. So we move Ella and our belongings to my parents’ home and—literally—sail around the world for four months.
We buy our first house, a stately old Victorian in Tennessee. Little do we know, we’re biting off more than we can chew at times, but she is our dream home—and we got her for a steal—so we knuckle down and start the tedious renovation process. (And no, we have no plans of being done anytime soon, in the next decade even, so don’t bother to ask when the housewarming is!)
I also go back on the ship for a second voyage, this time through Central and South America for a month, and when I return SVV and I go through a rigorous, summer-long, state-funded tech accelerator program to establish our micro agency, Odinn Media. Through it, we offer myriad services to companies, from copywriting and photography to consulting and creative strategy.
The call comes again for communications coordinator on Semester at Sea, this time for eight weeks in Europe. My sister and my parents join me on the first half of the cruise, SVV meets me for the remainder. It is an exhausting gig, but I’m glad I do it as it may very well be my last.
I continue to build my reputation in Nashville and pull off a successful media and networking conference, KEEN Digital Summit, at the new Omni Hotel. It’s a whole lot of fun, but man, I’ve never worked so hard in my life. I decide event planning is not my calling, and I go back to being a freelancer when it’s all said and done (though if you want to hire me as a producer for your conference, feel free to contact me here!).
SVV turns 40, and to celebrate, my whole family jets off to Europe for three weeks. When we return, I go back in house at a magazine for the first time in six years while the editor is on maternity leave. My sister, who gets a lot of screen time on this site, gets engaged to Josh, and the two of them move back to Tennessee at the end of the year.
I spend the whole year toiling away at Nashville Lifestyles while juggling a freelance career, copious amounts of travel and my own business, Odinn Media. It’s not ideal, so at the end of 2015, I give my notice, almost two years after being recruited for that three-month position (heh). I forget how much I loved the freedom and flexibility of not having to check in with a staff every day.
In the same year, the Royal Wedding—our name for Kari and Josh’s union—takes place in our hometown, Tullahoma, and putting together a 500-person event on a blank slate, a piece of farm land, is easier said than done. It reminds me of producing KEEN two years earlier, and it’s all hands on deck in these parts!
The year that follows is both the toughest of my life and the most rewarding. Late in the night on Valentine’s Day, my dad has a major stroke. My mom and I spend five weeks in the hospital with him while SVV, my sister and her husband tend to the family business, an accounting firm my grandfather started more than 60 years ago. After Dad is finally out of the woods, it’s clear that he’ll never go back to work. SVV takes this as his sign to leave his job after five years and come work with me full-time, a transition that is natural after he’s served as my manager and agent for the better part of a decade.
And now here we are. While I continue to freelance ad nauseam, a bulk of my freelance work comprises influencer campaigns where I partner with destinations and brands to create an authentic message. I also consult for a number of small businesses, on both marketing and media strategy. I love this style of work, as it enables me to tap into my creative side and it’s much more productive for both the client and me than, say, a press/FAM trip (which I don’t participate in, so please don’t ask me to!).
SVV and I still travel incessantly, but more in small doses: weekend road trips around the South and the occasional week- or two-long sojourn to Europe or the Caribbean, mostly for influencer campaigns. You can see the full gamut of what we do here.
WHAT ELSE DO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ME?
Well, I’m an unabashed Taylor Swift fan, and my wildest career dreams came true when I got to interview her for a cover story announcing the debut of her 1989 album. I’ve interviewed, literally, hundreds and hundreds of celebrities, but she ranks up there as my favorite. Some others I loved who immediately come to mind? Tom Hanks, Bill Nighy, Steven Tyler, Ben Affleck, Russell Brand. Least favorite? Richard Gere—just retire already.
I graduated from the University of Tennessee, though I did half my college years at Sewanee. If you think going to journalism school at a public institution won’t afford you the possibility of a career in magazines, I challenge you to reconsider. My two years at UT were exactly what I needed to kickstart my career, and I am grateful for all my talented professors who sculpted and honed my writing skills.
I’ve written a lot about the journey to becoming a successful writer and how you, too, can pursue a career in journalism. For more information on this click here.
I’m a fitness buff: A college tennis player, I was a marathoner during my California years, and now get by with multiple personal training sessions a month and daily classes ranging from yoga to Zumba to boot camp. SVV and I are active travelers; we love diving above all else, but you’ll also find us skiing, hiking, running to the nearest bar and engaging in a number of other active pursuits when we’re on the road.
What am I not? I’m not a backpacker. I’m not a nomad. I’m not someone who up and quit her job, abandoning her old lifestyle to travel the world without pause. I’m just a girl who has managed to balance a career with a family and jetsetting—and I want to show you that you can do the same.
So…won’t you come along for the ride?