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Inspiring Stories, Inspiring People

Jordan Ferney, Blogger

Jordan Ferney, Blogger

Meet Jordan Ferney, an event planner, letterpress printer, and blogger whose site, Oh Happy Day!, is one of the most-read blogs in the country. You don’t want to throw a party–or start your day–without a dose of Oh Happy Day! Follow her on twitter and Instagram @ohhappyday, or check her out on facebook.

PPF: When you were little, what did you tell people you wanted to be when you grew up—and how long did that dream last? 

JF: I wanted to be a Marine Biologist. Doesn’t every kid go through that stage? Then I wanted to be famous, even though I had no evident talents. When I was a teenager, I wanted to be a writer, but I wasn’t very good.


PPF: Tell me a little bit about what you were like as a child—and what parts of your childhood spirit are most alive in the adult version of you?

JF: I was number seven in a family of eight children. So that was a huge part of who I was as a child. I was very opinionated and stubborn. I would put up a fight to get my way. From an early age, I would get a clear picture of what I wanted, and nothing else would do. There is a lot of that in the adult version of me. I still like to get what I want.


PPF: What was your first real job?  

JF: When you grow up in a family of eight kids, you always have a job. My first job was a paper route at age four. My dad would drive my brother and me around, and we would deliver newspapers. When I turned 12, I got a job taking tickets at the movie theater. And I always had a job after that, whether it be bagel maker, typesetter, restaurant hostess, camp counselor or working at a climbing store. I only named one third of them right here. My first real job out of college was for Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco. I was the office manager and eventually helped plan events. I also did a short stint with the event planner Stanlee Gatti.


PPF: Was there a certain person or mentor who gave you a chance, or changed your professional life with a bit of wise guidance or belief in you? 

JF: Eleanor Johns was my supervisor at Willie Brown, and she was really good at helping me navigate the ropes. I still feel really grateful to her for giving me a chance. Getting a good job where I worked around competent people gave me the confidence to be ambitious. It helped me realize that anyone could be successful, you just had to ask for it.


PPF: What was it that drew you to event planning? 

JF: I’ve always had a passion for parties. I remember planning the specifics of my 5-year-old birthday party. I have lots of ideas in my head; event planning was a way to get them out.


PPF: When did you first have the idea for Oh Happy Day!, the blog that has, well, made you famous? 

JF: Most bloggers that started when I did weren’t trying to be famous. It is an outlet that gives you validation, and it was really fun! I started blogging in 2006. It was more of a personal blog back then. It took me several years to gain the skills I needed to get better at blogging. As I grew, it was really easy to pinpoint my strengths and to focus mostly on those.


PPF: What is the blogging life like? You have to be pretty dedicated to have a blog as long-lasting and successful as yours. 

JF: In the beginning, my schedule was really casual. I posted about whatever I felt like. Then there was a sweet spot in the middle where I was making a little bit of money, but had a completely flexible schedule. Now I have employees and office hours and what once was an easy-going kind of job is more like a 9-5, plus nights and weekends kind of job. I love it, but it isn’t for the faint of heart.


PPF: Do you have an idea of how many people read your blog a month? 

JF: My page views are at about 1.5 million per month. It fluctuates up and down, depending on how hard I’m working.


PPF: That is amazing. You reach more people than many magazines. You’re your own boss, and you’re married to an amazingly talented artist. What’s the best thing about working for yourself?

JF: We were able to move to France and keep our same jobs, which was a pretty amazing experience. It is really nice that we are both self-employed, because we can cover each other when the other person’s schedule is heavier. It’s a true partnership.


PPF: What’s the hardest thing about working for yourself? 

JF: I’m going to name three. 1. If you don’t do it, it probably won’t get done. 2. If you fail, there are no excuses. 3. Taxes and bookkeeping.


PPF: You mentioned moving to France. I followed your adventures in Paris with such wanderlust – moving there is something I’ve always said I’d do. How did that decision come about? 

JF: You should do it! I’m really proud that we made it happen. It felt like we had to move heaven and earth. We didn’t have a good reason to go; neither of us speaks French, and we didn’t have jobs over there. It had just always been a goal of mine. At one point, I was writing for enough other websites that I was making a steady monthly income. Paul was still working 15 hours a week for his old firm as a graphic designer. He asked his boss if he could do the same remotely, and she said, “Yes.” Having a bit of steady income made us confident enough to take the risk to move. I think also worth mentioning is that my son had health issues the year before. It was one of those things in life that shakes you and makes you realize no one is going to give you anything. You are in charge of making your life good.


PPF: Did the journey and time there live up to your expectations? 

JF: It paid off a thousand fold. It was so good that sometimes I was embarrassed to share it on social media because it was too perfect. I think we will look back on that year as one of the best times of our lives.


PPF: Were you excited to come back to San Francisco? Or was it a little difficult to readjust? I remember that was when rents skyrocketed because of the boom. It may have been cheaper to stay in Paris! 

JF: Rents are definitely much cheaper in Paris. It’s funny though, the groceries in Paris are much more expensive than in the U.S. We joke that it was preparing us for our move back. We ended up moving into an apartment next to Bi Rite Market, and the prices of the groceries there didn’t shock us, because we were used to paying French prices. We were very happy to return to San Francisco, and the adjustment was easy. I did show up overdressed to every social event for the first few months, but reverting back to black stretch pants comes surprisingly easy. I remember looking around, a month after being back, and feeling like Paris was a dream.


PPF: When have you been most daring in your life? 

JF: Definitely the move to Paris, it was terrifying.


PPF: When have you been the most afraid? 

JF: The unknowns of my son’s health problems. We had just become self- employed when we found out about them, and it was a scary curveball financially. There are a lot of holes in the insurance plans for single payers. A lot of the problems will hopefully be addressed in 2014.


PPF: What’s been the highest point in your career? 

JF: One year I made a goal to make a certain dollar number from my blog. My dad was a schoolteacher, and with eight kids, we grew up poor. So it was satisfying to reach that goal. Hopefully, I haven’t hit the highest point yet. I have big goals for the future.


PPF: What’s been the lowest point in your career? 

JF: I took a few months off to travel in my mid-twenties. Jobs were plentiful, and I was planning on getting a product development job. Some of my friends had been recruiting me, so I figured there would be something there when I returned. The housing crash started during that time, and there were no jobs. Looking for a job when you don’t have one is a pretty depressing thing to do. I’m generally an optimist, but that was a really depressing time for me.


PPF: What is the best advice you ever got? 

JF: Ask for things.


PPF: What’s your version of the perfect day? 

JF: Wake up, run to the top of Bernal Hill, eat soft-boiled eggs with avocado toast with my family, work on something where I feel challenged and creative, pick my kids up from school and go to the farmer’s market, make dinner with my husband (we love to cook together) and have friends over, get ice cream from Bi Rite and sit on our stoop.


PPF: What’s on your bedside table? 

JF: An underused Diptyque candle–I bought one because I was curious, but I don’t use it enough. Getting to Yes, a book about negotiations. I’m trying to get better at that stuff. My iPhone and some bobby pins.


PPF: What trip do you keep talking about taking one day

JF: I would like to spend six months or so sailing around Europe.


PPF: What was your first concert? 

JF: The Jets! I was 13.  


PPF: What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to? 

JF: I went to a really good Sufjan Stevens show a few years ago. It was so beautiful I cried.


PPF: If you could choose a song to sort of represent you—what would it be? It could be a song that your close friends hear and think of you….

JF: I don’t have a good answer for this one. Maybe a Feist song? I like happy things.


PPF: What are you really good at that would surprise a lot of people? 

JF: I used to be a wilderness guide. I lived outside, on and off, for over a year and a half. I can start fires with sticks!


PPF: If you could interview anyone and ask them these questions, who would it be? 

JF: I would ask my grandmother.


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