When Lily Kramlich-Taylor and Kara Shannon started @Dallasites101 as a hobby Instagram handle in 2015, the recent college grads and Dallas transplants were just looking for delicious food, fun events, and friends in their new city. But something about the account struck a chord. Local companies and brands began reaching out asking the pair to cover events, review food, and enjoy everything they had to offer. Today, Dallasites101 is a full-time job — literally — with Lily leaving her position with Hill + Knowlton Strategies and Kara leaving her job in events for Teach for America to pursue Dallasites101 full-time.
With over 180,000 followers and partnerships across the city, Dallasites101 is one of the biggest sources of Dallas content you’ll find. Here, the duo talk hidden gems, mental health, and how they grew their platform.
What is your Dallas-area coffee order?
Kara: I live in the Uptown area, so I walk to State Street’s walk-up coffee window. I like cold brew black, and I don’t think people realize they have this coffee window that’s tucked away.
What’s the best Dallas meal you’ve ever eaten?
Lily: Lucia’s pasta, I love. I’ve always had such great experiences there. Also, Gemma and Revolver Taco’s La Resistencia.
Kara: TJ’s Seafood. I think their fish quality is awesome. I love their ahi tuna steaks, and their lobster roll is truly worth the money. And, hot tip, SAAP Lao jerky is one of those gems that I don’t think people know about.
What’s your favorite Dallas wellness spot?
Lily: Class Studios. I really love their spin and sculpt classes. Both to me are so much more than a fitness class—they’re very spiritual and the music is always so good and easy to get lost in. It’s kind of my version of church.
Kara: I love Uptown Yoga. The Uptown one is the original, and it’s so special. It’s all exposed brick inside, exposed beams, really calming. It’s such a vibe in there and it’s so relaxing. Deep Stretch is probably my favorite.
What is your ideal Dallas hidden spot?
Lily: Revolver Taco’s La Resistencia. It’s super adorable, super private, and the food was incredible. Incredible, incredible tacos.
Kara: El Come Taco—it’s a taco spot on Fitzhugh over by Zalat and it is so good.
How did you grow Dallasites into what it is now?
Kara: We both moved here for jobs after graduating college, back in 2014, and started Dallasites101 as an Instagram account. It was very sincere, and it wasn’t too glamorous. I think that off the bat our brand was defined as being really accessible and approachable and friendly, about your “everyday” in Dallas. We were starting it in a space like Instagram where it can be really idealistic and overly filtered, but we didn’t really adapt to any of those norms in that social media space. It was very authentic and very easy. Come October we had a decent following, and we kind of switched gears from a hobby handle to a company.
We were in a spot where we were like, “Whoa, people are starting to reach out to us, businesses see the value in working with us, and we can monetize this. This isn’t just two friends with a hobby handle, this could be a real company.” We felt a sense of pride at the same time, and a sense of duty. We weren’t going to sleep in and miss posting on some days. We were super accountable with keeping the account active and full of great content, and just building our own time and investment in it.
We did incorporate toward the end of 2015, and we were doing it while also doing our full-time jobs. There is some budget we need to put into compensating people for their time and gathering content, but our cost was pretty low so hanging on to our full-time jobs really allowed us to save money. Dallasites was profitable right off the bat, so our journey was really more about building a lot of content, building a reputation, and building to the point where we needed to hire full-time employees… us!
How do you prioritize mental and physical health while running a business, especially now?
Lily: It’s been weird, but beyond just COVID it’s something we’ve always had to manage. We could really work 24/7, especially when you own your own business and there’s constant content opportunities and event opportunities. It’s not like we have a checklist and at 5 pm we’re done, but we also have to train ourselves to stop at some point and recognize, okay… enough is enough, I’m going to relax, I’m going to spend time with my boyfriend, I’m going to relax, I’m going to separate myself from the world of Instagram and Dallasites.
Kara: I almost felt like at the start of COVID I started to take better care of myself than I was before it. The forced stop from hosting events and going to events was something that I don’t think either of us would have volunteered to have happen, but when it wasn’t an option, I really caught my breath. That doing nothing was active wellness for me.
What would you change about Dallas?
Lily: I’d really like some more nature, some mountains or an ocean. It’s pretty flat.
Kara: Walkability. I live against the edge of State Thomas because I want to walk places. I always wanted to get home and not have to get in my car. In any other city, it would be a no-brainer to walk from Uptown to Downtown… and it’s starting to be more popular, but certainly not a no-brainer. Also, valet. I really don’t like valet, I feel like Dallas is a city of valet, and I’d really love more self-parking options.
What advice would you give to Dallas women?
Lily: Don’t be afraid to reach out to people. Something Dallas is really strong with is the sense of community, and everyone’s so helpful.
Kara: Being an Instagram-based company, one might think that the work and journey are all fun and games and that successful women always have their shit together. But there are stressful, chaotic and exhausting times that don’t always look or feel great! I’ve hung onto the advice that “success hurts,” choosing to take difficult moments as signs that I’m growing and on the path to success. It’s going to be really, really hard, and I think that anyone who’s successful still has those really low, really tough moments.