Chrystina Cappello is an engineer, blogger, and Philadelphia community leader. She uses her project management skills to plan parties, host events, and get stuff done. On her blog, Chrystina Noel, she writes about hosting parties, handmade greeting cards, and how to stay in touch with people. In addition to blogging, she hosts two podcasts: Gatherings and Party Ideas & Logistics.
Chrystina is also the founder of PHLbloggers, a 400-person Philadelphia blogger community. On October 27, PHLbloggers is hosting Social Media Saturday at Saxbys on Chestnut Street. The event includes workshops on Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook. You can learn more about the event here.
Flat Circle: You established your blog in the same month that you began a day job as a construction consultant to find “peace of mind.” Have you found that such an involved side gig produces work-life balance?
Chrystina Capello: Absolutely. Most of the time. Work-life balance is a term I keep redefining as my career has grown. When I was right out of college, it worked for me to travel all week for work, come home on the weekend, and blog all day Sunday to be able to write content through the week. That creative outlet at the time was just what I needed.
When I stopped traveling so much for work, my side gig evolved from being focused on my blog, Chrystina Noel, to my blogger community, PHLbloggers. At that point in time, what I really needed in life was people, folks who understood what I was doing on the Internet, and more friends to hang out with on the weekends.
Then I used the opportunity to work with some really great friends to plan The Blog Connect Conference, which was something I was always interested in doing. I loved getting that experience under my belt. This year I turn 30, I’m at the point in my career that I need to decide if I want to go for my next promotion soon, and I’ve been working really hard to figure out what work-life balance looks like now that I’m traveling again for work and have so many close relationships in Philadelphia that I’d like to maintain. We’ll see how it goes.
FC: What are some of the challenges you face as a blogger?
CC: I love people. I love connecting with them. I love hearing their stories. My biggest problem has always been that I’m great at creating in-real-life communities, but not necessarily Internet Communities. That’s why, when I had the chance, I started PHLbloggers. It played to my strengths a little bit better.
I also have the challenge of trying to balance blogging with traveling for work. It takes a lot of weekend preparation to be able to keep up with content during the week, and recently I just haven’t had the time for that. Earlier in my career, and when I was single, and didn’t have a dance class that I really love going to, it was definitely easier.
I think this is that balance thing you were asking about before.
FC: You also make cards. We are in the era of Hallmark and e-cards, but a personal touch like that can be refreshing. What are some ideas that you try to implement in your design of each card?
CC: I always try to keep it simple and heartfelt using words that I would actually use in person. For example, I’ve made cards that say “I think you’re cool” on them. When I write messages I try to make sure I let the person know how great I think they are. And then, when I can, I like to try to put something else in the envelope besides just the card. (Not confetti, hate the confetti thing.)
Most recently I sent face masks out to congratulate people on their promotions. I realized that they were flat enough to make it through the US Mail increasing the stamp value only to accommodate the additional weight. Other things could possibly include tea bags, lottery tickets, affirmation cards, and small pieces of jewelry.
FC: You have hosted two podcasts: Party Logistics & Ideas and Gatherings. Do you prefer blogging or podcasting to communicate your ideas?
CC: I love talking. I think that spoken word can really help get a point across. You can hear inflection, you can share in deeper feelings with the presenter, and you can really pull someone into a story with the right pauses.
That said. If I had to classify my talking type, it would be ‘word vomiter.’ This makes talking a little bit dangerous because I say all the things before I get to a point and/or have been known to talk myself in a circle. For that reason, I tend to be more eloquent when I write because I have a chance to go back and edit.
My solution to this dichotomy is to write exactly how I talk. I try to put in extra punctuation when necessary, I use formatting appropriately (and inappropriately when necessary), and I use words that mimic the ones that would come out of my mouth. This has worked pretty well for me and I always find it to be one of the highest compliments when somebody says, “you write exactly how you talk.”
They just don’t realize how many drafts I went through before I got there.
FC: Have you found any significant differences between blogging and podcasting, or are they more or less different platforms that deliver similar content?
CC: I’ve tried to make these two options as similar as possible. That said. It’s a lot easier to be tired and write a blog post than it is to be tired and record a podcast.
Are there common factors for creating a successful event or party?
Absolutely. It’s all project management. (That’s the engineer in me.) You just need to make sure that you invite the right people to accomplish the objectives, stay on budget, and on schedule, and you’ll be great.
FC: If budget is not an object and you could host a party in any one spot in Philadelphia, where would you choose?
CC: I appreciate you giving me the chance to consider this question. After 12 years of being in Philadelphia, there’s still one venue that makes me lose my breath when I walk inside. That venue is Verizon Hall in the Kimmel Center. From the stage, from behind the stage, from the seats – there’s not a bad seat in the house, and you’re constantly hugged by the warmth of the colors, textures, and sounds.
Now, you might be thinking. Chrystina. What event could you possibly hold that needs a 2,500 person concert hall as the venue? What an excellent question. Since I’ve been told money is not an issue, I’m going to fly in my favorite singers from around the world for a private performance for my 2,500 closest friends and family. Some a cappella, some broadway, some barbershop, and a heck of a lot of singer songwriters.
New life goal, right there.
FC: If you are traveling and find yourself marooned on a desert island, what book, movie or TV box set, and luxury item are you taking with you?
CC: Book – The Happiness Project
Movie – Princess Diaries 2
TV Box Set – Boy Meets World
Luxury Item – An always-in-tune piano
This is the fourth post in a recurring spotlight series on some of the best Philadelphia bloggers to follow. You can check out the most recent interview with Travel Blogger Julia Dent here.