Know Your Neighbors – Michelle Elfvin of Chicago Mom Goes Suburban

I haven’t taken a formal poll but I think of everyone I’ve met in OP/RF/FP, the majority of them came from “the city”. Maybe they moved here in search of a bigger house, great schools, a love of architecture or to be closer to work. The reasons are often different but in the end, it’s often the same – they came, they settled in, they love it.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to miss about living in Chicago proper. Today’s “Neighbor to Know” – Michelle Elfvin – knows that feeling well and it actually inspired her to become “Chicago Mom Goes Suburban” on social media where she makes a living exploring OP/RF/FP and sharing it with her followers. Read on to find out how she got started, her advice around passion in your work and the lessons she has learned along the way.

AOP:
We found you on Instagram (@ChicagoMomGoesSuburban) through your great posts about the area, your kids, life as a mom, etc. While you make it look fun, it’s also part of your work as a blogger/writer/photographer. Tell us more how you’ve turned your hobby into you work.

Michelle Elfvin:
I create content. I first started doing it for my own creative outlet. I’ve always been a writer and photographer, but social media has allowed me to help other people tell their story. I’ve helped local boutiques with photography, original content, and creative direction for their blogs and social media pages. You can find me regularly blogging for ChicagoParent.com and as a shopping editor for The Wednesday Journal.

I also advertise on my social media pages. I am extremely picky, though. It’s a fine line when it comes to keeping the trust of the moms that read my pages. If I’m endorsing a product it must be 100% something I would buy or use for myself or my kids anyways.

AOP:
What do you like to do when you’re NOT working?

Michelle Elfvin:
I’m always working! Being creative is my job, so I am always snapping photos and gathering inspiration around OPRF and Chicago. The other great part of blogging/writing/photography is that my kids are often at the center of my work. They are with me almost everywhere!

AOP:
Your handle would lead us to believe you weren’t always an OPRF resident 🙂 What brought you here? How has OPRF inspired you?

Michelle:
We lived in the city and moved to River Forest four years ago. We have three boys and they were going to burn down our condo building if we stayed any longer. Part of my transitional therapy for moving out of the city was starting Chicago Mom Goes Suburban (on Instagram).

I was having a hard time acclimating to the suburbs. I was familiar with the city, I loved everything about living in downtown Chicago. I started Chicago Mom Goes Suburban as a way to explore, document, and help other people who might be having a hard time finding their way in the suburbs of OP/RF/FP as well. I thought, if I was having a difficult time acclimating to the suburbs, other moms must feel the same.

OP/RF/FP has a ton of hidden gems. There are local boutiques and restaurants that rival my favorites from the city. I love being able to draw attention to the wonderful people, products, and places in our neighborhood. I have yet to meet a local business owner that talked about how great their store is. While they all take pride in their products and services, most are here for the community. They take pride in being a fixture in the success of the community as a whole.

Michelle Elfvin Photo Credit: Michelle Elfvin

Michelle Elfvin
Photo Credit: Michelle Elfvin

AOP:
What question do you get most often?

Michelle:
I had to look back at some of my Instagram and social media posts for this one! The last few questions were from people wanting to know where they could get a product I featured. For example, I took a photo of my youngest at Lollapalooza, peeking out from a colorful tent. The tent was awesome and I got questions on where to find it and who it was by. Actually, a rep for the brand answered on my page before I did. Maybe I should work on that… lol.

AOP:
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?

Michelle:
I’m still having a hard time with it, but someone told me to post more content about myself. That I should allow people to get to know more about me and my life. I think photos of ice cream, donuts, coffee and kids are way more entertaining, but it’s something I try to be conscious about at times.

AOP:
What do you feel is the most important thing to consider when starting your own business/working for yourself?

Michelle:
It’s pretty simple. If you have a passion for something, you need to explore it. Period. I’m not saying quit your day job (right away, anyways) but pursue your passion as well. The scary details will fall into place, but you’ll never know without making the first move.

AOP:
What has been the most difficult part of the work for you?

Michelle:
Overcoming the fear of letting someone down. What if they don’t like my vision? My ideas? Fear never got anyone very far, so I take it as a challenge to push my limits and go for new challenges.

AOP:
What has been your favorite feedback on the work that you do?

Michelle:
A lot of feedback I get from my readers is that they can relate to my stories. Whether laughing at my bad parenting moments or wanting to know where to get a product I featured, there’s no better reward than connecting to people.

AOP:
And what has been the biggest lesson you’ve had to learn?

Michelle:
Favors can only get you so far. My time is worth more than a 1-day pass, or a free meal.

AOP:
What did you want to be as a kid?

Michelle:
A writer, author, and columnist for a magazine.

AOP:
What is the first app you open in the morning?

Michelle:
Instagram.

AOP:
And finally, what inspires you?

Michelle:
There’s very little that is off limits in this category!

To learn more about, connect with, or work with Michelle you can find her at:

Instagram: @ChicagoMomGoesSuburban

Facebook: @ChicagoMomGoesSuburban

Twitter: @MomGoesSuburban

For freelance inquiries, creative content and collaborations, email Michelle at:

ChicagoMomGoesSuburban@gmail.com

About

Kelli is a contributor for Around Media Group. She also (intermittently) writes about the restoration of her 100 year old Oak Park house (and other stuff) at downwithop.com. In her ‘real life’ she works as a Marketing Research Director. And in her free time she loves hanging out with her husband/friends/family, wine, comedy, design, biking, organizing, traveling, meeting new people, taking classes and exploring OP/RF/FP – not necessarily in that order.

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