Payton Sartain & I met via Instagram years ago, & I immediately knew she had big things coming her way. She created quality content & continues to do so. She’s beautiful, talented, has a fucking sense of humor, & ‘gets it.’
There are just some influencers that have the special recipe- & Payton has it. If you’re unfamiliar with Payton shes’ the creator of Hustle + Halcyon, a blog where she shares healthy recipes, beauty secrets, fitness tips & tons of other lifestyle content. Her aesthetic is insane ( follow her on Instagram if you don’t already @paytonsartain ) & you’ll really get to know her through this post if you don’t know her already.
You’ll learn how she got into blogging, how she overcame intense bullying, her morning & nighttime routines ( my fave! ), & what she thinks it takes to be a successful blogger these days.
Of course I couldn’t be more excited that we’re doing a blog swap today. You can head over to her blog to read what I wish I knew in my 20s, how I handle working with Michael ( like it’s a struggle, ya know? ), & the small habits that make me the best version of myself.
Anyway, what I like the most about Payton is that she doesn’t waste your time. She gives you all the details, all the juice, and so much VALUE. Those things are really important when it comes to influencer culture.
With that, let’s welcome Payton to The Skinny Confidential.
♡ Introduce yourself & tell us how you got started. Give us your whole life story! The more info the better!
Payton Sartain: Hi loves!! My name is Payton Sartain, & I’m the blogger/influencer/human being behind Hustle + Halcyon, @PaytonSartain on Instagram, & my YouTube channel. What you can find on my blog & socials are helpful tidbits like cute outfits, healthy recipes, & beauty tips, but also the trials & tribulations of a 20-something single girl, living in LA, working for herself.
I tend to over-share & push boundaries, but it’s all in the name of good FUN. I want women to read a post on H+H, watch a vlog, or look at an Instagram post, & think, “oh, well if she’s doing that, so can I!” or “I guess that crazy thing I do, or think, or say, isn’t so crazy after all.”
I’ve been a The Skinny Confidential reader for years, so I’m beyond thrilled to chat with you today! This intro is a tad long-winded, but I PROMISE, there’s a POINT. Grab a glass of wine, & let’s get real for a second.
Let’s start at the start: I came out of my mother’s vag on an air force base near Panama City, FL 26 short years ago, to get specific.
My dad was a fighter pilot, & my mom was a stay-at-home mom. We moved around the Florida coast, & finally, to Texas ( the state my parents are from & the state I claim as my home ) over the course of my father’s military career.
My mother was 21 years old when she had me ( later popping out two more babies, my younger siblings, throughout young adulthood ). She made a home out of every house we lived in, & dealt with the harsh realities of being a fighter pilot’s wife, despite being a baby herself!
When my dad was called to the Middle East ( which happened numerous times ), my mom made sure we were WELL taken care of, loved, & led, all on her own. My dad may have been Superman, but my mom was Superwoman-and-beyond.
My father was an incredible fighter pilot ( among the best in the world, from what I’m told ), but my mother was the family’s fearless leader, even when dad was home. Our family very much adopts the “always make the man carry your bag” mentality. Even Superman has to follow the rules.
I was the typical first child: Type-A. A perfectionist. Full of anxiety. Detail-oriented & disciplined to a fault. I planned my days out in 2- to 5-minute increments starting at 8 years old, to ensure I was using my time wisely. Like?? Someone get this kid some help??
I was a competitive gymnast growing up, & I also worked as a model for companies like JCPenney, Abercrombie Kids, & Neiman Marcus in my youth to mid-teens. Modeling never appealed to me for the “glamour” the outside world assigns it ( which is largely a facade. Shooting e-commerce is NOT glamorous ), but the money appealed to me in a big way. Some 10-year-olds were interested in things like Nintendo & playing with Barbies; I was interested in generating an income.
My point in explaining all of this: my childhood, though occasionally chaotic with all the moving & my dad being gone to fly missions over war territory, was one founded on discipline & focus through sport, work & military lifestyle. I’ve never known any other way.
My family’s exit from military life brought about an entirely new lifestyle, as my dad became a commercial airline pilot & began working for my grandfather’s oil company. We moved into a ritzy golf course community & I started late middle school at a fancy, private prep school.
I went from hanging out on military bases to living in the confines of high-society ( I repeat: CONFINES ), which was quite a shock to the system ( but not something to complain about ). My adolescence took me from gawky beach kid, running barefoot around our Destin, FL cul-de-sac, to Texas débutante real fast.
My teens ( through my early 20s ) were a rough time for me in terms of dealing with mean girls. I was a reserved kid, not one to adore attention, & I’ve always surrounded myself with a small group of friends. I was never great at speaking up for myself, especially when it came to doing so in groups of my peers. So, the mean girls had their way with me. For YEARS.
My inherent troubles with anxiety & depression, coupled with the feelings of shame & guilt that came with being openly disapproved of by angry, jealous, prep-school girls ( the WORST ), led to my severe lack of confidence. I walked around with my head down, avoiding eye-contact with people at school, trying to make myself small.
My issue: it’s difficult to hide at a small private school, especially when you’re the only student in the grade working as a model. I was a tall, thin blonde. I didn’t need braces & I didn’t have terrible acne ( though that came later, in my early 20s of all times ) so I, admittedly, didn’t have a severely embarrassing awkward stage ( annoying, I know. Trust me, I wanted nothing more than to have braces, LOL. ) This is a recipe for absolute disaster in middle & high school, especially when you add in a heavy dose of introversion & a fear of socializing beyond my small group of friends.
I was labeled a “slut” for the first time at 12 years old, & that label has been affixed to me ever since by the people in my hometown, & later those at my college. I didn’t have my first kiss until I was nearly 18 years old, later exploring my sexuality in ways most young adults do, but that didn’t matter. I looked like a “slut,” so I was one.
Throughout these years, I became obsessed with my online presence. I spent hours a day perfecting my Xanga / MySpace pages ( the SIMPLE times ). I loved that I could, through an aesthetic online experience, tell the world who I was that day/week, & I could do so from the comfort of my own home. I could control the narrative, unlike I could elsewhere.
I went to college at Texas A&M University ( a massive state school fueled by football, where I was a 3rd generation legacy ), to study Political Science ( & sociology! ) with plans to go to law school like I was “supposed to.”
During sorority recruitment, I was shunned by the houses my friends were getting into, as a particularly popular older girl from my hometown ( whom I didn’t know personally ) made sure to phone-in her negative opinions of me to girls she knew at my college. When I say I got it bad, I mean it ( but that’s a subject for another day ). Because life is oftentimes a huge game of follow the leader, the girls did as they were told, &, though they later claimed they liked me when I met them during rush, I got black-balled from the houses my friends were all joining, finding out on the very last day of recruitment.
Admittedly, I wasn’t a perfectly-behaved woman. I drank. I went to parties. I had sex ( but like?? Sue me for having sex at 18 years old? ). But, I also wasn’t doing anything different from absolutely everyone else around me. Nonetheless, there were the “ins” & there were the “outs,” & those in power hurled me out.
Initially, this crushed me. I cried in bed, as my roommates & friends celebrated their initiation into their special “groups.” I felt those same feelings of shame & guilt. I felt like I needed to hide myself, make myself small. I tried my best to fit into the mold those first two years of school. I had lots of fun in college, but much of it was spent treating my body like shit, following what others were doing, dressing in the exact same clothing as everyone else, drinking too much Keystone & trying to fit in.
That is, until I started my blog. Much of my initial inspiration for starting a blog came from reading blogs like The Skinny Confidential, actually ( TSC has always been one of my favorites! ). Also, by my second year in college, studying politics & the justice system made me want no part in it. While it interests me, it also stresses me out to infinity-&-beyond.
My sophomore year, I decided I wanted to get an internship in fashion PR & marketing in Los Angeles. I’ve always felt a strange pull to sunny LA, & fashion had always interested me. The issue was: what did a political science major want with an internship in fashion PR? And what proof did I have that I could perform effectively in PR? The answer is: I had nothing on my resume to show I knew anything about public relations or marketing.
So, I started my blog during an intense moment of inspiration, at 3AM, sitting alone in my college home, out of both pleasure & necessity, as I knew I could use a platform like this to show companies I could create content & use social media to drive people to a website.
At first, I didn’t tell anyone about it. I was embarrassed & worried I’d get made fun of, again.
I began writing about lifestyle topics my friends were already asking me about constantly: my healthy, quick recipes, where I shopped for affordable-yet-fashionable clothes, what beauty products I was loving. The typical stuff. I researched how to improve constantly. I became addicted. For me, blogging made so much sense. I’ve always been drawn to writing, expressing myself aesthetically, sharing any & all helpful knowledge, & I was already extra-comfy in front of a camera.
One day, one of my best friends found my blog, & posted a link to it on her Facebook, because she was too proud not to. “People have to know about this!” she said. Initially, I wanted to run & hide. The conservative Texas crowd doesn’t love when people do things that are different or off-beat, & this, at that time, was WEIRD, to say the least.
But, I didn’t run. With each post on the blog, with each post on Instagram, I put myself out there for scrutiny ( & LET ME TELL YOU, I got A LOT of that ), but I sincerely loved what I was doing. I began to chase the rush I got from being afraid to do something & doing it anyways. This set me FREE.
I realized, every single feeling of guilt, shame, & weakness I ALLOWED other, small-minded, insecure people to let me feel gave me the freedom to push through fear with purpose. It wasn’t exactly easy, but I had already made it through years of being disapproved of, labeled, scrutinized, & I was still here, living, right? I could do it again, & I wanted to.
Of course, the shit was talked, the jokes were made, but I ended up getting an internship with one of my favorite clothing brands, For Love & Lemons, & I spent the entire spring & summer of my Junior year in Los Angeles, immersing myself in a rather newly-founded world of influencers on the west coast. I blogged my little heart out,& there wasn’t anything any of the idiots from home could say or do to make me quit.
During my last year of school, after returning home to finish my remaining course load, I remember calling my mom to tell her I knew what I wanted to do with my life: I wanted to be a blogger. My time in LA showed me that it was possible to make a full-time living blogging. It was relatively normal out here, in fact.
Controlling the narrative of my life, sharing my stories, sharing what inspires me, and connecting with other women online changed my life, & I wanted MORE. I cried actual tears on the phone with her that day, because it was an important moment of clarity for me.
After school, long-story-short: I moved to LA, a place I feel very much at home. I’ve worked my ass off basically every single day since to turn my vision into a reality, & to make money doing it. I’ve met some of my best friends in this little world of blogging. I’ve been able to travel the world, connect & discuss REAL topics with other women seeking guidance or inspiration, & I’ve had the freedom to do what I want, when I want, how I want. I wake up in sunny Los Angeles every morning, make my coffee, & remind myself ( especially when fearful, 14-year-old me says to run & hide ) to trust myself, & to never let others tell me how my life is going to be lived. My blog, Hustle + Halcyon, & social platforms helped me to gain that freedom over the course of the last 5-6 years.
So, that’s me, & that’s what I’m ALL about.
Everything I share through social media & Hustle + Halcyon has an undertone of this unapologetic nature I’ve come to thrive off of ( which serves as a reminder for myself, too! ). So, yeah, let’s talk about exfoliation, 3-ingredient pancakes, a girls’ trip to Miami, morning routines, cute outfits, skinny cocktails, & where to buy throw pillows for a bargain, but let’s also talk about freedom, confidence, being a female force, expressing yourself, & doing what you want with your life!
I know that was a LOT, but I know for a fact there’s someone out there reading this right now who feels something similar to what I did ( & sometimes still do! ). This story is something I would’ve loved to read when I was in that headspace. Sharing is POWERFUL & I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to do it!
♡ How have you seen the most growth in your entrepreneurial journey? What are some things that you feel like you’ve really done right?
PS: For me, staying focussed on the back-end work has been key in the success I’ve so-far achieved ( though I have a long way to go, still! ).
As a bloggers/influencers, it’s easy to get caught up in the “networking” ( i.e. events, parties, happy hours, etc ), the brand trips, & all the other activities that we showcase to the outside world so often. I’ve definitely gotten distracted from what I consider my purpose while focussing too much on these more social or “cool” aspects of the job.
While events, parties, & traveling have their place in my schedule ( they’re great for growth + content creation! ), I like to be picky with how much time I allocate to those activities.
I’ve realized my time spent at home, keto coffee-in-hand, XXL t-shirt on, doing all the unglorified back-end work has been essential in being successful. I guess this is what people would consider focussing on your craft or going back to the basics. It’s not pretty or glamorous, & it can be pretty boring at times, but taking this time to consistently learn, research, brainstorm, & execute in all the little ways is irreplaceable if you’re trying to be successful, in my opinion.
Also, & this is often considered a negative thing ( & is something I’m trying to get better at managing ), I have a really tough time with work-life balance. Most of the time, my work is my life & my life is my work. Because of this, in the beginning, it’s almost like I worked my ass off without having to intentionally do so. I couldn’t stop myself from learning, accomplishing to-do’s, sharing, writing.
This is a blessing & a curse, & while I’m trying to get better about being psycho & “on” all the time, I do think that level of commitment & effort, at least initially, accelerated my success early on!
♡ What’s a day in the life for you, diet & eating-wise?
PS: Well, for starters: food is an incredibly important part of my life. I understand the food-is-fuel sentiment completely, but I also HAVE to enjoy eating it.
My diet is generally pretty high in protein, as I’ve found that works best for my body. Eating a high-protein diet helps me combat inflammation & bloating ( two things I’ve always had issues with ) while keeping me lean.
I know we like specifics on The Skinny Confidential, so let’s get specific with this one.
I wake up in the morning & drink an XL glass of lemon water. Then, I make my coffee. I’m obsessed with Rapid Fire’s Caramel Macchiato Instant Keto Coffee right now. I don’t follow a keto diet, but I like to make sure my diet includes plenty of healthy fats. Also, it tastes SO GOOD. I put the instant coffee + a teaspoon of coconut sugar into a mug, & mix with boiling water to create my perfect morning coffee.
Note: I drink LOTS of water throughout the day. I’m a hydration fiend.
Around noon ( or whenever I get hungry ), I eat my first meal of the day. I share plenty of quick, healthy meals & recipes in my “healthy food” instagram story highlight, btw! Lately, for lunch, I’m doing breakfast-for-lunch: scrambled eggs ( 1 egg + 3 egg whites ), two pieces of multigrain toast with half an avocado, & a handful of strawberries.
I always have a small dessert of some sort after lunch, usually a decaf oat milk latte with cinnamon & coconut sugar.
Then, around 3pm ( or whenever I get hungry again ), I eat a snack. In normal, outside-of-quarantine life, I work out in the early evenings, so I like to eat some sort of pre-workout meal. I’ll have fruit like mango, banana or an apple with more toast or some oats. OR I’ll make a fruit smoothie with oats in it, for an added boost pre-workout.
Post-workout, around 6, I have a chocolate protein shake. My favorite shake is made with 1 banana, a scoop of chocolate plant-based protein powder, a spoonful of almond butter, a handful of spinach, ice & water.
Because I tend to work out on the more intense side, I’m often hungry again 1-2 hours after my protein shake, so it’s time for dinner! Lately, I’ve been eating chickpea pasta ( my favorite is Banza spaghetti ) with roasted veggies ( broccoli, zucchini, tomatoes ), Rao’s Arrabbiata sauce, & some avocado. DELISH.
The night always ends with a small dessert, usually a little bit of dark chocolate melted over strawberries ( or another fruit or on a toasted multi-grain freezer waffle ) & a cup of chamomile tea with lemon & a dash of honey.
In general, I just eat when I’m hungry & I try to live a nutritionally-balanced lifestyle. That being said, I have been known to take down a box of Oreos in one sitting, or you can spot me at the Chick-Fil-A drive through about once a week. On the weekends, I go out with my friends & I’ve spent many-a-late-night at the local 24/7 diner.
♡ What’s your favorite cocktail? Get specific!
PS: My favorite cocktail EVER is a really good espresso martini. It’s kind of my thing. It’s the most perfect, indulgent cocktail to close out dinner before going out with friends, or to sip on at a boozy Saturday brunch.
My current at-home espresso martini: 1-2 shots of chilled espresso, 1 shot of chilled vodka ( I like Tito’s because it’s a Texas brand… yes, I’m that kind of Texan ), & simple syrup to-taste. & ALWAYS in a chilled martini glass.
On occasion, I’ll add a dash of almond milk or creamer if I’m wanting more of a dessert experience. DELISH.
♡ What are your tips for someone who is starting out in the blogging industry?
PS: There are two very distinct lessons my parents taught my siblings & I growing up, & those are 1) you are entitled to nothing & 2) don’t half-ass anything. These two things have been drilled into my brain since birth, basically.
& I think those are two important mindsets to adopt when it comes to starting out as a blogger or influencer ( or really anything else ).
If you want something, you work for it. Simple. End-of-story. The world owes you nothing.
In my family, if you’re told to clean the kitchen counter, it BETTER not be half-assed. It better be the most spotless, sparkling counter-top in all the land, or you’re going to do it all over again ( with Mom watching ).
In terms of blogging, you can be pretty, you can be well-connected, you can be wealthy & own all the trendy new things, but that will only get you so far! You aren’t owed or ensured success based on these things alone. Though you can probably build a following because your life looks “cool,” I think the real success comes when you can get people to give a shit about you or to buy into what you stand for.
To communicate that, you have to put in the WORK! Like, real, intentional, effort. Get clear on your vision, focus on how you can be ‘of-service’ to your audience, & work daily ( consistently ) to execute! Consistency can be difficult & will test ( & build ) your endurance ( it’s definitely something I struggle with! ), but it’s invaluable.
So, don’t half-ass it. Always use your whole ass. Commit to the process. And, know that your success isn’t something anyone owes you, & therefore ( most-likely ) won’t happen overnight. I connect & re-connect to these two lessons as often as possible!
♡ What’s your morning routine?
PS: I’ve been VERY specific about my morning routine lately, as it’s giving me some much-needed structure during this social-distancing period.
Every morning ( at least, during the week ), I wake up, drink my morning water, roll out my yoga mat in my living room, & follow a 15-20 minute yoga video to get my body moving. This is my favorite yoga sequence to follow right now.
Post-yoga, I make a cup of keto coffee, turn on some music ( the Brain Food playlist on Spotify is what I’m loving right now ), light some candles, & head out to my balcony for my morning journaling & reading.
Next, I set my phone timer for 20 minutes, hide my phone away ( no distractions! ), & journal until the time goes off. I either use a list of prompts ( here are a few I frequent ) or just start writing about whatever it is I need to get off my chest. Sometimes, I’m inspired to explore my thoughts on a particular feeling or idea, in which case I’ll do a “brain dump” with that in mind. Journaling first thing in the morning allows me to focus & get clear on my priorities, as well as get my brain working ASAP!
Also, I find writing free-form to be intimidating ( I’m a perfectionist, so I’m always judging myself & expecting TOO MUCH ), so forcing myself to face that initial discomfort early in the day gives me confidence & inspiration, which is such a positive hurdle to clear in the morning.
Then, I set another timer, hide my phone away, and read for 20 minutes. Right now I’m reading Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D. This book has been absolutely transformational & I’d recommend it to ANY & ALL women. It’s a dense book, so 20 ( sometimes 30 ) minutes of reading in the morning is the perfect amount of time to spend on taking in information, & then I reflect on it & sit with it for the rest of the day ( sometimes reading more in the evening ).
Having spent some time moving/stretching, some time reflecting & challenging myself, & some time learning & feeling inspired, I’m ready to start my day!
♡ What’s your nighttime routine?
PS: I’ll admit, I’m not the best at putting my work away at night ( though I’m trying ), so sometimes I’m working late into the night, if need-be. It’s not necessarily healthy, so I’ve been attempting to create my ideal nighttime routine. It’s been easier to practice this during quarantine! Here’s my ideal nighttime situation:
Generally, I work out in the late-afternoon or early evening. Then, I’ll make dinner & eat while watching some Netflix or a YouTube video or two.
I’ve been setting the sexy, nighttime vibes around 7pm-ish, turning off the bright lights in my apartment, flipping on my lamps for soft light. I’ll also light a few candles, turn on my diffuser ( I diffuse eucalyptus or lavender at night ), & get my bed-side humidifier up & running.
I’ll take a shower & go through my nighttime skincare routine. This usually ends in me covered in coconut oil, sweats on, face moisturized x100000, & hair tamed & braided ( I sleep with my hair away from my face to prevent acne! ).
Then, I’ll put on my blue-light-blocking glasses, & do some sort of nighttime activity until I’m tired. Sometimes I’ll watch more Netflix ( I just finished the series called White Lines, highly recommend ). Sometimes I’ll FaceTime my friends or a cute boy ( *yes, while I’m greasy & wearing my glasses, we aren’t putting on fronts around here, LOL ). Oftentimes I’ll gather inspiration for projects, my home, or future outfits on Pinterest ( I’m a Pinterest FIEND ).
Then, I’ll head to bed around 11pm-ish. I like to read something light before bed, usually poetry ( I love Charles Bukowski’s poetry! ).
Lastly, I turn my humidifier to MAX intensity, set my alarm for the morning, & turn on relaxing music to doze off to ( search ‘sleep music’ on YouTube for TONS of options! ).
♡ What’s your favorite beauty product in the world & why?
PS: My favorite beauty product, hands-down, is my go-to natural foundation: Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua Ultra-Light Skin Perfecting Sunscreen Makeup ( to be exact ). I’ve been wearing this product for about 10 years now!
Honorable mention to Chanel’s CC Cream as well.
I have both of these products in 2-3 shades to match the various levels of tan I go through. These are both a bit pricey, but a little goes a LONG way, & it’s where I choose to splurge a little in my makeup routine.
I apply my Vitalumiere Aqua with a damp beautyBlender for light, natural coverage. It’s buildable, so I also wear it at night, building up the coverage a bit to match a more glam makeup look.
My skin tends to dry out easily ( ESP here in Southern California! ), so a product like this is necessary for me to maintain that dewy glow I love! Plus, it contains an added sunscreen boost. It’s truly my RIDE-or-DIE.
♡ What’s your best life hack?
PS: My favorite, most-used life hack is using my ability to center myself as often as possible.
By “center myself,” I mean to remind myself of what I value, what I consider a priority, & who I am/want to be. It’s important to me to connect with my soul ( I’m very spiritual & connected to what I call the universe ) & inner-light as often as possible. It’s entirely too easy to get distracted by the craziness of daily life, so taking a moment to center myself on who I am & what I want brings me much-needed clarity.
I center myself by doing things like journaling, reading ( aka: my morning routine! ), exercising & stretching, intention-setting, meditating, or just sitting & breathing for a bit.
Calming my mind & connecting with something deeper always brings me peace & clarity, which drastically improves my life on a daily basis. It allows me to work smarter, be more creative, & take things much less seriously.
♡ What’s a book, podcast or resource you recommend & why?
Right now, like I said before, I’m reading Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Ph.D. I am in literal AWE of this book on a daily basis. Curling up with this book, pen in-hand, has been the highlight of my morning routine for the last few weeks.
Basically, this book is all about what Estés calls the “wild woman,” referring to our soul-selves, who we are naturally. Through myths & archetypes from modern & ancient cultures, she explains how we can better connect with the wild woman ( aka: ourselves ), where & how we occasionally lose her, & how to get her back.
It’s a deeply spiritual book, & it’s a pretty dense read, but it’s something I think all women can find value, tranquility & power in reading. It basically reminds you that you’re Superwoman, & I can get with a message like that.
I find that reading this book in 20-30 minute intervals works best for me, so I can sit with, relate to & better digest the information throughout the day, rather than reading too much at once.
♡ Where can everyone find you? Pimp yourself out!
Shameless self-promotion?? I’m here for it.
You can find my everyday life on Instagram, @PaytonSartain. I post daily! I share useful, inspiring, or at the very least, entertaining, tidbits via stories on a daily basis, too.
You can visit my blog, Hustle + Halcyon, for a couple posts a week, where I get more in-depth than I do on Instagram.
I post weekly videos on my YouTube channel ( here ) from daily vlogs of life in LA, to travel vlogs, to What I Eat in a Day videos, to sit-down, tutorial-style videos. I LOVE YouTube lately!
I’m also a fan of TikTok ( @paytonsartain ) and Pinterest ( inspo-JUNKIE ).
& finally if you ever find me IRL, make sure to come say hi! And those who follow me know, if you bump into me IRL after 5pm, we will be taking a tequila shot together. Those are the rules. Cheers, loves!
+ check out the 7 C’s of success.
++ scope the best productivity hack to take control of your day.
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