When I create, I feel infinite.” This statement from Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower is quoted by Stefanie Seifer (co-founder of DirtyAndThirty.com) in her bio and immediately sparked a creative camaraderie with this reporter. Lipstick Sister was able to sit down with Seifer and her business partner, Stuart Brazell, for a brief interview about how they tapped into that infinity by developing an online brand where modern femininity is explored and explained by highlighting the often-hidden hilarity behind it all.
The duo says they first came up with the idea for DirtyAndThirty.com over a random Wednesday-night glass of wine. They were knee-deep in plans for Brazell’s “Dirty 30” birthday party, when the idea dawned on them to transform the makeshift fitness and beauty blog they had already been brainstorming into an edgy, humorous hub where women “in their late twenties and thirties cover everything from lifestyle, dating, self-empowerment, beauty and fashion… to sex advice” (as is stated in an amusingly long- winded banner on their website).
They reflect on the challenges of launching an online brand at the moment right before every single person with access to Wi-Fi was the senior editor of his or her own personal blog. “Nobody had a website then… there were no reference materials,” says Seifer. About half a year of growing pains and a lot of logistical work later, they were able to launch the site, which has since become a sensation across America amongst their target audience.
Seifer and Brazell are clearly intelligent, dedicated and beautiful women – but the most appealing aspect to them for us is the light-heartedness of their witty banter about social structures and what is perceived of as “normal.” Says Seifer about the site’s personality, “We do comedy by taking social situations and real life issues, and we poke fun at them through ourselves.” Brazell adds, “It is a brand, an attitude, more than a website. We have built a community of like-minded women and given them a space to be honest, raw, real and self-deprecating... It’s about girl power. We want to build each other up and be supportive; not cut each other down and be critical.”
Employing a staff of nearly 100 contributing writers who post exclusively original content, DirtyAndThirty.com offers a wide breadth of personalities and insights into any given topic. The duo did not seek after or expect this number of writers, as most came directly to the site requesting to contribute, but the two have grown to know the authorial voices of their staff. Brazell says, “We cover hot social topics, but the writing is very personal. It’s about someone’s actual experience.” Seifer adds, “The site attracts a certain kind of female. Writers continue reaching out to us, and we continue building and building… and building some more.”
When asked how the two manage to balance the socially expected jealousies and competitiveness that can arise between women in business, Seifer says, “It’s not that we have to balance it. It just comes naturally. The reality is… Stuart is who she is, and I am who I am.
We both have different strengths and weaknesses, but there is something about the dynamic between our duo where one makes up for what the other lacks. It’s complementary. It is very similar to a marriage,” she jokes between two quick puffs from her e-cigarette. “We know each other, and we respect each other’s boundaries. We are a natural partnership.”
The two maintain focus on each other’s strengths in building their brand. Says Seifer of Brazell, “[She] is such a hard worker and is extremely business savvy. She is talented and has her finger on the pulse of social media. Her background in journalism has been so helpful with keeping DirtyAndThirty.com up-to-date and trending. When working on a brand/website, all five of those qualities are so important and have helped us become extremely successful. The great thing with a partnership is having two brains instead of one.”
Brazell adds, “When we find a flaw, we try to make it funny. We build content around it, which builds our business. And also, we try and work with other female communities, like Lipstick Sister, where we are able to meet and collaborate with different wonderful women… because we really are all in this together. It benefits everybody if we, as women, support each other. They say, ‘Jealousy is the thief of happiness.’ I couldn’t agree with that more.” Seifer nods in agreement and says, “If we all just own who we are individually, work hard and let ourselves excel, then we all could come together to create something incredible in collaboration.” Brazell adds, “Collaboration is key.”
After a brief pow-wow over the latest Justin Bieber photo scandal and a rumored Jay-Z/Beyoncé split, the two offer some closing bits of wisdom about how to excel in this city. Says Seifer, “If you want to succeed, in general, whether you are a man or a woman, you must first be genuinely comfortable with who you are and always be willing to grow. Be yourself! Listen to your gut, as it is usually right. Support and help everyone around you. Practice being kind. Applaud your strengths and accept your weaknesses… then work really hard to improve your weaknesses.” Brazell says, “It is easy to just get down on yourself in this city because we deal with so much rejection, yet we are living lives (and have the courage to live those lives) that many other people don’t get a chance to experience. It is important to seize every single moment of it and be appreciative of everything we do. Focus on the positive, instead of what we don’t have. Because we have so much, and we have it in abundance.”
Brazell says her main mantra in life is “Carpe diem,” almost to a frustrating fault for her husband. But she emphasizes the importance of going with the flow of your joy and following where your success leads you. She paints a witty parallel when she says, “It’s like when you wake up in the morning, and your hair has parted on the wrong side. You can’t force it over. You have to be open to the change. You will look your best if you just go with what it wants to do that day.”
Outside of work, the three of us agree that everybody needs a vice. Seifer admits even on her site to being an imperfect person: “I am emotional. I am passionate. I smoke an electric cigarette... I go to bed without washing my face almost every night, then buy really expensive eye cream.” Brazell notes how having a glass of wine can act as a ritual of conscious relaxation, like yoga, and sometimes an entire company can be conceptualized over happy hour. And the world may be all the richer and more amusing for it.