Carly Heitlinger has more than just prep pumping through her veins. Known for her online personality “The College Prepster,” the MSB senior displays enthusiastic energy and passion for every endeavor she pursues and isn’t afraid of a risk. What started as a blog to escape the stress of college has branched into “Prep Talk,” “a weekly online newsletter, and “Sweet Lemon Magazine,” an online magazine. With graduation on the horizon, Carly took the time to talk about her inspiration behind The College Prepster brand and the girl who lies behind it all.

How did you become interested in preppy fashion and lifestyle?

I lived in Massachusetts, then moved to Florida and live in a very coastal place. Everyone wears Lilly Pulitzer and Jack Rogers, and we go to the country club. I wasn’t really into fashion as a child — I just wanted to wear stuff you could play in —, but when we moved to Florida, I saw Lilly Pulitzer for the first time and saw this [classic] Florida look. I went to a very preppy high school and stuck with the style. I realized it was kind of like a cult: a very small, tight-knit group of people who like the same stuff. You can instantly relate to someone when you see that they are wearing a specific type of brand like Vineyard Vines or Lilly Pulitzer.

What inspired you to start Prep Talk and Sweet Lemon Magazine?

The minute something becomes routine, I get really bored and want to add something new. At first it was a challenge to sit down and write three or four blog posts a week, but I was doing it for myself mostly. I started blogging every single day, which was a huge challenge because it meant I had to write 7 posts a week. Eventually, even that became routine, and I knew that I needed to add something to my repertoire because I was getting bored with what I was doing. I came up with the newsletter name and went from there. After six months, I decided that there was something else that I needed to be doing, which is when I came up with the idea of the magazine. It is something that has been more difficult than the blog or the newsletter. We are now in March and it finally has begun to feel more natural. I feel better and ready to start something new, I just don’t know what it is yet.

What challenges do you face with The College Prepster brand?

I work a lot. I give up a lot to do everything, but I gain so much, which makes it completely worth it. I love doing it; I love what I’ve built. Another challenge is dealing with negativity. Having people say things about you online hurts your feelings. The more it happens, the less it bothers me. I learned that I can’t be everything to everyone. Another challenge is sharing my life. I have to balance what to share with how much to share. I keep personal things to myself like my relationships with close friends because they didn’t sign up to be on the blog.

What are some common misconceptions people have of you based solely on your online presence?

People assume that I put every single bit of myself out there, and it is really easy to attack someone when you think you know them, but it is only a sliver of my life. People make misconceptions that I am super materialistic. I like clothes, but this is just one aspect of my life. Meeting companies and new people, forging relationships with them, being able to write creatively and everything like that is where my passion is. I am really passionate about learning and developing myself and finding out what interests me.

What opportunities has The College Prepster created for you?

I have met so many people across the country, and building that network is so important to me. It’s incredible that I can connect with these unbelievably passionate people. I have been able to connect with brands and I’ve really learned how different aspects of various industries work. I’m seeing it through my own perspective since I’m learning to do what they do in school. It has also allowed me to share my passions, interests, advice and story with so many different people. It’s nice to know people are reading and connecting with the story I share.

Do you ever catch people checking your websites in class or in public?

It’s funny because people will pretend to not know about “The College Prepster,” but in class I will see people open new tabs on their browsers and see “The College Prepster” listed in their top sites.

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