The power of a noun.

AJ Schulz // Your Stylist AJ I’ll never forget sitting in Mrs. Metzger’s 8th grade English class that day.

“What are you waiting for? I said go! My goodness this generation is slow. Get up to that board!”

Just moments before, we were asked to choose a word that described ourselves. We all popped right up after Mrs. Metger’s scolding demand, and took turns writing our word, and passing the torch.

Once settled back in our seats, the world’s longest acrylic nail tapped on the side of the world’s thickest glasses while studying our words. “Whoooo chose passionate?” she howled.

I was so proud. I knew it was a good one! I knew mine was the best! I’m a Stroud, passion is in our blood. “I did.” I admitted.

“You better keep that passion above the belt missy.” She successfully embarrassed me as the rest of the glass giggled.

I was so upset. Did she REALLY think I was getting frisky with my pre braces expander leaving a ginormous gap in my teeth, the fact that I was wearing a bra I didn’t need, let alone rocking a unibrow. C’mon. My word was perfect! I was passionate.

I don’t remember what the rest of that lesson was, but I give Mrs. Metzger an F.

This story isn’t supposed to spotlight middle school hussies or bad teachers, but that as far back as I can remember, I’ve believed in my passions, and followed them. I’ve failed. A LOT. I’ve learned so much more.

I’m tired and happy. Scared and excited. Undoubtably passionate.

I was eliminated this morning in the fourth round of the Allure Beauty Blogger Awards. I’m OK! I’m maybe even slightly relieved. I’m fine with it because it lit a fire in me just like Mrs. Metzger. It motivated me in ways I didn’t know I had! It pushed me to do things like get in front of a video camera, add even moooore to my plate, allow myself to be judged and voted for or against, and actually compete FOR my passions.

I’m not left with an award, but I’m so proud of myself. I made it to the top 10 Beauty Bloggers in the nation in the eyes of the respectable Allure Magazine! My 13 year old self would be so proud, and more importantly, my 25 year old self is pretty damn proud too.

Learn through your failures, they teach you more than your successes.

Your Stylist, AJ

Photo by Kina Wicks XO

Seeking Balance

Madewell Tote, Fresh tulips, and black heels "I know you can be overwhelmed, and  you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever just be.... whelmed?" -10 Things I Hate About You

Do you remember that silly comment from such a classic movie?

I want to be whelmed. I'm an extremist, and labeled as dramatic by my friends and family often. Everything always seems to be the best ever or the worst ever. I'm typically under impressed or raving about an experience. Nothing is ever just fine. What I'm really saying is, I lack balance, but strive for it constantly.

I started a pen and paper list last week of general goals to help achieve balance. This is my list, but maybe it will help you make your list. We're all so great at setting new goals when newness comes. New year, new job, new home, new relationship... but we don't need to rely on change to create change. 

Who's with me?


READ MORE. I often let my mind believe I have writer's block. Really I think I'm just tired and after a 12 hour day can't creatively write for the blog. I'm determined to read more. Some of the best advice I've ever gotten was, "If you want to be a better writer, be a better reader."

SAVE MONEY. I'm fairly good at this already, but I'm better at spending it. I set a new goal for my savings account, and it's important. We're adults. We can LIVE, but we can also be well prepared for LIFE.

EAT CLEAN. I have such a love/ hate relationship with food. I'm sure it's something I'll forever struggle with. Clean food makes me happier than junk food, once I've established routine. I need balance here more than anywhere in my life. That doesn't mean a kale smoothie followed by Ben & Jerry's. The two don't cancel each other out, (but trust me I've tried believing that).

WAKE UP EARLIER. I'm a natural night owl. The problem is, after working all day, I still have a blog, emails, and life waiting for me. Those things only get 50% of my energy after a long day. I need to be most productive in the morning, so I need to have a bedtime, and a wakeup time, both setting me up for success.

MEDITATE. We're all so busy. The little time that we aren't busy doing something, we're caught phone in hand, Breaking Bad on, and thoughts on steroids. I'm really dedicated to working on meditating regularly.

VISIT GRANDMA. Family is so important, and I come from a damn good one. Living away from literally everyone I love isn't easy, and it's important to make time for family. Laughing is medicine, and my family makes me laugh until I cry. I'm actually laughing out loud thinking about them.

SWEAT 5x A WEEK. I'm so guilty of the "I don't have time" excuse. My body is too important to not make time for. I'm more motivated now than EVER. PS. If any of you wanna work out together I'm always down!

PAY IT FORWARD. If you can afford Starbucks, you can afford to hand the cashier a $10 bill, pay for the person behind you, and leave the rest for a tip. You might just make someone's day. But paying it forward isn't always in the form of payment. I challenge all of us to find little ways to pay it forward, and make someone smile when the need it. We're all in this together.

SCHEDULE DOWN TIME. I work in my down time, I don't take days off, I email from bed when I should be sleeping, and I sometimes feel like time is passing me by. Starting this week, I worked in a little bit of down time. Me time. Without down time, many of the other things on this list aren't possible. Consider it recovery time : )

SHOW THANKS. "Thank you" is one of the most powerful phrases for me to hear. I assume that means it's as nice for others to hear it. Saying "Thank you." and SHOWING "Thank you." are two very different things. I think we can all work a little harder to show how much we appreciate the people in our lives and the strangers that we meet.


The ADORABLE bag above is available here! 



Guess what?! I'm a finalist in Allure's Beauty Blogger Awards!

This year, Allure chose their top 10 picks to compete as finalists in the competition. When I got the call that I was one of them, I just about passed out. I stopped walking, sat straight down on the sidewalk, and tried to act normal. But this isn't normal, this is HUGE.

All my life, I've set large goals, but sometimes, I let the largest ones pass out of fear. Fear is a powerful feeling, and one of my personal goals for 2014, was to ignore fear, and only follow the words "I AM" with words of optimism and strength. I would love to win this competition, but I mean it when I say I already feel like I've won. Challenging myself to even apply for a spot, and putting myself in the vulnerable position of letting America vote either for or against me, is such personal progress. We all have insecurities, and some of mine had to be broken down in order to make this happen. I am so proud of myself for that, and at the very least, I will take that away from this experience.

Beginning this Monday, April 14th, we finalists will compete in up to five challenges, and YOUR votes can keep me in it to win it! And get this- you can win incredible prizes just for voting. Not a bad deal right?

I'll keep you posted each week as the new challenges are released! I'm excited to share my love of the beauty industry and hope you guys enjoy what I've been working on!

Thank you so much to Allure for this opportunity! I'm also just beaming with gratitude, as the close friends and family in my life have shown an incredible amount of support.

See you at the first Challenge on Monday! Until then, you can see my intro video and interview HERE!


Adios February

Sometimes life runs according to plan, and sometimes is doesn't at all. My February was full of surprises. FEB RECAP:

Travel hair I drove down to Florida with Sammy for Spring Training. Hard to believe it's Spring Training when Chicago is getting lambasted with snow right now.

Union Hotel

We stopped in Nashville along the way for a night of live music and authentic BBQ. We stayed at the Union Hotel which I HIGHLY recommend.


Florida was magic. I ate at my same favorite restaurant like four times in a matter of days.


I was back in Chicago for less than a week, but worked two full work weeks in that time. Then, it was off to Vegas for the Project & Magic apparel shows for Bonnie & Clyde. We wrote some fresh new lines, attended seminars, and even had a second to dip our toes in the pool. All good "I miss Sammy" distractions.


While I was out west Kina took some photos of me in the desert! We had too much fun hiking in heels and singing Sara Bareilles as the sun set. Love that girl.


As soon as I got back I spent two days revving up the courage to apply for the Allure Magazine Beauty Blogger competition. Part of the submission asks for a video, so I finally worked up the courage to post a video tutorial after two years of terrifying anticipation.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 9.51.13 AM

The NEXT day I got a call from Goody. They had just seen my video and were interested in shooting tutorials with me in NYC for the weekend. So I refilled my suitcase for the third time in three weeks and headed to the airport with my gorgeous and talented friend Lindsey for the weekend. Friday was a long day of consulting and test shooting, and then yesterday during the awards we recreated looks we saw the celebs rocking and released them right away. You can view them all HERE.


As soon as I was done, I learned my flight for this morning was actually cancelled. I've spent a combined four hours on hold and still won't be getting into Chicago before 9pm. So, I'll make the best of it with amazing coffee and even more amazing spoons. (Photo by #EATPRAYPHOTO)


Ask and you shall receive.

Put yourself out there, you have nothing to lose. Really.

Friendship is weird. In a good way.

NYC has the best latte I've ever had. If you visit check out Happy Bones.

The camera adds ten pounds but I clearly have more than that to lose. Back on the paleo grind effective immediately, but more importantly, excited to get serious about working out. I'm craving that healthy routine and feeling really good and light. Who wants to go to yoga and Flywheel with me this week?

I appreciate Chicago.

My family is pretty awesome. They acted like I was actually a celebrity instead of just mimicking celeb hair.

I'm continuously blown away by Sammy. I have learned so much about life and hard work from that man. So proud of him.

How was your February? Cheers to March!


The Best Advice I've Ever Gotten

Emilia Jane Photography If you know me, you know I take on a lot. I work double work weeks and have my hands in a lot of hot pots!

I work full time at Thomas West, work weddings on the weekends, blog in between, buy apparel for Bonnie & Clyde, and date long distance. I give 100% of my time and attention to my career, because I want to.

I started getting some grief from clients about being too booked and chatted about it here, but it's only gotten worse. And by that I mean better! I have a 4-5 week waiting list, which means I'm doing something right, but clients can sometimes be frustrated that I'm not available.

So when I want to travel, to do something for me, or my relationship, I feel beyond guilty. I feel like maybe I shouldn't be posting pictures of a sandy beach when I know clients are waiting to get their color touched up. In my mind, I work double time to be able to do those things, but I fear that clients following on Instagram or the blog won't understand both sides.

I wasn't going to come down to Spring Training with Sammy this year. This will be our fifth baseball season together, and I almost didn't take the 22 hour road trip down with him. I thought it might look bad.

Until one friend gave me the best advice I've ever gotten.

You must invest in yourself and your relationship as much as you do your business. 

Duh. Why didn't I think of that? I'm so thankful for that advice. An important reminder I really needed to hear.

So here I am. Blogging from Florida while Sammy's at the field. We have two more days together until weeks will pass with only the phone and iChat to feel connected. And then, in about five weeks, I'll probably be traveling again. Only this time, I won't feel guilty. I work my butt off to be able to travel. I'm 25, madly in love, LOVE what I do, and love to be stimulated by variety and adventure. It's healthy, and I have balance.

My career will always be my focus. It's what I live for. That being said, my personal life deserves just as much dedication and attention. Yours does too.


photo by Emilia Jane Photography


Now Hiring: Elle Woods


Your Stylist AJ is growing faster than I anticipated, and I’m ready to hire an intern!

I’m looking to hire a local Chicagoan to potentially become a permanent assistant to work alongside me.

Are you…

  • Organized?
  • Self motivated?
  • Interested in photography?
  • Down to let me play with your hair?
  • Lover of beauty and fashion?

If you’re all of the above, I can’t WAIT to meet you!

You’ll be assisting me with everyday tasks for Your Stylist AJ, helping me execute some amazing ideas, brainstorming with me to create new ones, shipping care packages to brides and giveaway winners, while maintaining office organization. Bonus points for Elle Woods tendencies. (I'm only half kidding.)

YSAJ may be a small business, but it’s surely a sparkly one, with BIG things on the horizon.

I believe in optimism, music, post-it notes and hairspray. I’d LOVE to find someone who believes in the same, who can add a little extra energy around here.

If you’re interested, please email your resume to!



Little Miss Not Perfect

Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 2.13.30 PM Ruts come disguised in many costumes. Relationships have them, as do jobs, health, environment… we’re all able to relate to them. You might even be in one right now.

All my life, I’ve loved writing. It was the only thing I was passionate about as a student, and definitely the only reason I graduated. What I didn’t realize, was that writing always got me through the funks, that is, until I stopped.

I’ve always written. Before I started a blog, I wrote just for me. Not really a “Dear Diary” situation, but still a sort of venting and documenting while creatively expressing my thoughts. When I started the blog, I continued to spend the same amount of time on writing, but none of that time was spent in a Mead notebook anymore.

The problem then became trying to find balance. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t getting too personal on the blog, but also, wanted to share myself.  I write about what’s on my mind, so if that’s Shampoo, so be it, but if it’s the struggles of a long distance relationship, well that’s what comes out too.

Lately, I’ve been in a funk, and I thank goodness, it’s on it’s way out. The thing is, I wanted to blog through it, but didn’t want to write a negative post about being in a rut… how uplifting?? But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I think it’s absolutely important to click Publish on the chaos we all brew over, and not just things held in place with hairspray.

Your Stylist AJ isn’t a tutorial hub, a resource for an outfit-post-a-day, (though more of those things are on the way), and doesn’t follow any set of rules or guidelines. Your Stylist AJ is me. It’s everything on my mind.


photo by Emilia Jane

Growing Pains

Screen Shot 2013-08-07 at 9.42.30 PM Many of my clients have been with me for years, a handful fly in from other time zones, or drive from two states away. Most of my clients have become my closest friends. I've been with a few from their first date to their wedding day. I've been trusted to listen to their most personal stories, and some of them have listened to mine.

I've been struggling with the best problem an independent gal can have, being too busy. But while this is a "good problem" to have, it's still an issue.

When I started at Thomas West Salon, I was working six days a week, and passing out free haircut cards to get busy. Fast forward almost four years, and I'm down to three days a week, while owning a bridal business, maintaining a pulse on this blog, and fulfilling my role in our family business. It's a lot, and I LOVE the juggling act, but I also understand how that affects my salon clients.

Thank you so so much to my loyal regular clients who have stuck by me even though my schedule is harder to get into. I love and appreciate every single one of our visits together! I am not naive to the fact that it was once easy to get in with me the same day, and now you're asking to be "squeezed in" sometime in the next two weeks. Thank you to those who are understanding, and proud of me.

To those who are frustrated with my schedule and not being able to get in right away, please remember that I am a person. A super hard working girl who does what I do because I adore it. If you can't get in with me TODAY, please recognize that as a good thing. If I was still that available after years of building a clientele, it would speak volumes of my talent. I do the best I can to accommodate everyone, and will continue to come in early and stay late when necessary.

Thank you x10


photo by Emilia Jane

Lately's Lessons

xtensions Sammy showed up at our apartment Saturday and totally surprised me so I went four days of forgetting I have a blog, or that anyone besides Sam Palace exists. My bad. Now I'm playing total catch-up and have to move over to my inbox, but first must share some of the lessons I've been learning lately...

Keep a clean house. We're adults, you never know when someone might pop on over, a friend is locked out and needs to crash with you, or your long distance boyfriend surprises you!

Lonely isn't a dirty word. Loneliness is forced upon us and sometimes it sucks, but it makes company so much sweeter.

Wash your face EVERY night. No matter how tired you are. My sheets are sad.

Look cute even on your day off. It's your time to feel awesome, and you won't have an awesome day if you don't feel great.

Dry shampoo is underrated. Shampooing and styling is hours spent you'll never get back.

Extensions, (done right), are also underrated. I do extensions on so many girls and I'm still always shocked by how magical they are. What are you waiting for?

Flower yourself. I've been buying flowers for myself every week of 2013, and it's money well spent.

Flower someone else. Just because.

Listen. No one wants to hear about you as much as they want to talk about themselves. Let them.

SAVE money. So when you find your dream kitchen table and couch in the same week you can get them. Wait, that's not exactly saving then...


Mandatory Monday


Welcome back! I hope you had an incredibly, long, SPF filled weekend!

Mondays are tough. But Mondays are especially tough after a long weekend. I have a mandatory Monday list every week to start my week off on the right track, and hopefully with enough momentum to carry me through my Saturday work week.

  • Blog Calendar- I map out my posts for the week to make sure that when I'm posting, it's with purpose, and not just a scrambled "morning of" mess.
  • Trader Joes- If I don't shop clean, it's Jimmy John's to the rescue, and that kinda really cancels out my personal training. On Monday's I grocery shop for the week, and meal prep for a few days in advance.
  • Deep Clean- Monday is the only day I designate towards "chores". I try to keep up with cleaning throughout the week, but Monday is my deep clean day to start fresh.
  • Workout- Monday workouts are so important for me. If I don't start the week off with a healthy, high energy attitude, 7 fat days come and go.
  • Set Little Goals- Before wrapping up Monday, I set goals for the rest of the week, and revisit them every morning.

What are your Monday rituals?


P.S. My awesome mug is from Ashley Brooke Designs, a fellow girl power entrepreneur.

Getting Organized ...(a giveaway)


Owning a business, working 40 hours a week for someone else's, and working for the family business, all while dating long distance, AND wanting a social life... um. what. 

Here I am, admitting, I have felt a bit unorganized lately. The frustrating part was not being able to pinpoint what wasn't working. I follow a structured procedure with my business and lifestyle, but I'm human, and was overlooking e-mails and rescheduling dinner dates with girlfriends.

I realized that no matter how dated it seems, I needed an old school planner. I tried keeping track of my life with my iPhone, iPad and iMac, and you'd think those three powerful tools would make me feel on top of it. Wrong. I really tried to think back to the last time I felt 100% on top of everything, and it was last year, when I kept everyyyything I needed to know written down. SO, I ordered a custom planner.

There's something magical about physically crossing things off a to-do list, and don't even get me started on post-its!

How do YOU stay organized?

Please leave a comment below spilling your best tip, and one person will win a complimentary BLOW OUT & KERASTASE DEEP TREATMENT, ($95 value) with me at Thomas West Salon!


Nurturing YSAJ

enjoy When I started working at Thomas West Salon three and a half years ago, I was there six days a week. Two years ago I went down to 5 days a week. Now... I'm going down to four.

When I started Your Stylist AJ a year and a half ago, I was kind of setting goals as they happened, and it wasn't until this winter that I really started making YSAJ such a large focus. I LOVE working in the salon, and I plan on working in the salon forever, but going down to part time has been the goal for a while now.

I'm dropping Tuesdays at Thomas West, leaving me in the salon Wednesday through Friday, and the Saturday's that I don't have weddings booked. This will still be a full time schedule, and I will absolutely be able to get everyone in! I'll still be at Thomas West almost 40 hours a week.

Your Stylist AJ is a two part business, the blog, and the bridal. I need the extra day to really nurture YSAJ and give my brides the attention they deserve, while delivering amazing blog posts five days a week. This new schedule means that I'm on the right track, change is happening, and my business is growing!

I'm so excited for this shift! Thank you to all of my loyal clients, (most of you have become friends), for being such a huge part of my life.

Love, AJ

P.S. Thank you for all of the emails and texts regarding my last post. I'm so humbled by the love I received. You guys are amazing.

original photo taken by Joseph Mark