If you live in Jersey City, you know of CHICPEAJC - an all things Jersey City culture blog. Founder, blogger and entrepreneur, Lynn Hazan, filled the void and created a platform for not only the city she loves but for herself, too.
Now with 20k Instagram followers and 60k visitors per month, Lynn left her corporate job to pursue entrepreneurship full-time just after two months from launching her blog! Since then, her blogging career expanded into event planning and founding other companies such as a nonprofit mentorship program for youth called Content Creators Academy.
Lynn shares with us her career journey as a blogger and tells us what it's been like creating a platform for her city!
Why the name "Chicpea"?
It’s funny I get that question a lot. I called myself “Chicpea” because I really like hummus! Chickpeas are also very versatile. You can eat them on their own or they work in different recipes, and different cultures eat them. I’m the type of person that can work in different situations and I get along with different types of people. It’s also a cute name! So that’s why I chose “Chicpea”!
What makes Jersey City special? From following you on Instagram is seems like there’s so many awesome community events!
It’s a really tight-knit community. Jersey City is right across from Manhattan but it still has a small town feel. It has a little bit of everything. It’s a great place to live and a great place to raise your family. A lot of great restaurants are here! There’s always something going on and it has a lot of character. People like to compare it to Brooklyn but I find Jersey City has it’s own energy and that’s why I love it!
I read that just 2 months after launching your blog, you left your traditional job to pursue entrepreneurship full-time. That seems so fast! What inspired you to do that so quickly?
When I started the blog I went at it full force. Also, I was working on it for six months before I launched it, so I had a lot of content. So even though I launched it and left my job two months later, I had been working on it for a very long time! I saw that it was doing really well and it kind of blew up. I recognized that there was a need for it and no one was really doing it in Jersey City. I’m also a mom! It’s hard to work full-time, take care of my responsibilities, and also my side hustle. I came up with a plan. I told myself that if within six months I don’t monetize it then I could always go back to corporate! The blog becoming popular was partly my hard work and perseverance and also just good timing.
Did you expect your blog to turn into what it is now?
Not at all. I did not expect any of this. I just went with it and kept pushing, kept going. It’s all a part of the journey. I’m really excited about its growth and am excited to see where it’s all going to go!
Being that you’ve created such a platform for yourself, have you felt any pressures of being under the spotlight or in representing JC? I feel like you’re a local celeb and probably have people approaching you out in public often.
Yeah, I mean it definitely happens often. The biggest criticism that I get is that I wasn’t born and raised in Jersey City. I tell people that this wasn’t my plan. I didn’t plan all this to happen. I didn’t plan to be the Jersey City blogger. I just ran with it! There’s a lot of pressure. Wherever you go you recognize people and you always have to be on, you always have to be friendly!
I’m aware you’ve expanded outside of just blogging. Like Content Creators JC and your #BossUpJC workshops. I’m guessing a lot of doors and opportunities opened for you and you got inspired to take it to the next level.
Yeah, the thing is... when you’re an entrepreneur you can’t put all your eggs in one basket. I’m using my platform to do other things. I started the nonprofit in helping entrepreneurs using the knowledge I have about the local market. I’m just trying to fill in various needs that the community has.
How do you balance personal and work life?
I have to make a lot of sacrifices! I don’t really have a big social life aside from the events that I go to. I just make it work. The time that I take for myself is when I workout. I take time for my daughter, like today I took the day off to be with her but I still have to work. I still have to answer phone calls, emails and all that stuff. It’s a part of my life. Even when I go out of town or away on vacation, I have to be on. I have to stay on top of things because a blog cannot go on vacation. Social media works 24 hours a day. I have to just make it work!
Since starting your blog and it becoming a full-fledged business, have you felt like you lost that passion or that spark of creativity?
That’s a really, really good question. I think the bigger a brand becomes the more bulls*** you have to deal with. You have to focus on the business, you have to focus on ad-sales, making money… and it does suck away from the creativity. I used to be able to sit in a coffee shop and write all day. That’s all I did. Now, I’m doing business meetings and proposals. But you know, I wouldn’t change it for the world! I do love it. I do have my moments where I sit in front of the computer and write and am inspired. It just happens less frequently.
I think with anything in life you have your ups and downs. I just take them as it is.
What advice do you have for someone starting a blog?
You just have to keep going! You have to post every single day, especially with social media, I see bloggers who post one article a week and that’s not enough. You have to keep it going. It’s a very competitive world. You have to find what makes you different. Your niche! Filling in various needs. It’s just about hard work and really believing in yourself!
What are a couple of the biggest lessons you’ve learned since the launch of ChicpeaJC?
Not to care what people think. That’s a big thing! Especially being a social influencer, I think influencers care too much about how people perceive you. I stopped giving a f***. You can’t take what others say or think personally. That was a big lesson. Another would be to know your value. That’s something I’m still working on.
What’s something you didn’t expect to be a part of this career journey of yours?
I didn’t expect to be known. When I started ChicpeaJC, I didn’t expect for it to get to where it is today and for people to recognize me on the street and want to take selfies with me. That’s been a huge thing. People stop me on the street when I’m with my child and they’ll start pitching me their business. There’s no privacy really and I didn’t realize that when I put myself out there. The thing is that I had no expectations going into this. I just go day by day and don’t really know where it’s going. I keep coming up with new ideas and just go with it. Some work, some don’t. It’s really all about the journey for me! I don’t really have an end goal.
I have to ask, what’s your relationship with Hip Hop? I know you’re a Hip Hop dance instructor. How did you fall in love with the culture?
My first Hip Hop album was Wu-Tang’s, “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).” I started buying albums and listening to all this music, getting into old-school. When I was in college I actually started creating mixtapes. I would put together mixtapes and sell them to my friends. I bought some old turntables and started learning how to deejay! I got my own college radio show and became the Hip Hop director for the station. So I got the opportunity to go to a lot of concerts. It was all a lot of fun! I was just very into Hip Hop culture as a whole. I was a part of a breakdancing group. There was an annual festival in Montreal where I grew up called, “Under Pressure.” I volunteered for that. I really tried to just immerse myself into the culture and it just stuck with me!