Relatable. It's not something all too often associated with fashion bloggers who rub elbows and create collabs with luxury designers. But when Mara Ferreira created her blog M Loves M in 2009, that was one her goals. That, and finding a creative outlet to connect with her then long-distance boyfriend, now husband, while studying for the LSAT. In the process however, Mara found that blogging was more her bag than legalese.
But even though she may have skipped out on the Bar, she's definitely set the bar for bloggers higher.
We caught up with Mara pre #CreateCultivateDTLA to find out memorable lessons, weighing the pros and cons of big changes, and why following your heart is always a risk worth taking.
What were some of the most memorable lessons for you when you started off as a blogger? What’s the one lesson you still keep in your back pocket today?
I learned to not be afraid of starting something new. It can be scary at first, especially when you don't know what you're doing, but the challenge is so rewarding. One lesson I keep in my back pocket today is always be nice and easy to work with when working with brands. If you're difficult they won't want to work with you, and they'll also tell their other friends in the industry! I've heard some awful stories which prove it's always better to be kind!
Who do you think you would be today if it wasn’t for your blog? What would you be doing?
It's so hard to say! I think I might still be in law, working as a lawyer and wishing that I had pursued my other passions and interests. Working at the law firm really inspired me to have a creative outlet, though. If it wasn't blogging I know it probably would have been something else.
You went from studying law to becoming a marketing professional. What would you say to anyone that wants to make a switch in their career after they’ve gone to school for a certain profession?
I think it's important to really weigh the pros and the cons. I'm a big list maker and that helps me when I'm making a decision. But at the end of the day, you really have to follow your heart. I knew that I was headed in the direction of a career that wouldn't make me happy. If I hadn't taken that risk to leave, I wouldn't have discovered what I truly loved. Even worse, I probably would have had a lot of regrets.
How do you find a balance in being a full time blogger and having a 9-5 job?
Finding balance is so tricky! I was working all day and then coming home to work on my blog at night, often until 2 or 3 am. Weekends revolved around the the blog with shooting outfits, recipes, and trying to constantly stay ahead. It was extremely exhausting, as you can imagine. Try doing that for 6 years and you definitely need to rethink some things. Now, I have a lot more flexibility by being able to work on my own schedule. My bedtime has gotten a lot more regular, which is a good thing!
If you were to start your blog today, in the midst of all the competition, would you take a different angle? Where would you focus your attention?
There is a lot of competition now and while some people say you need to have a specific angle, I think if you just stay true to yourself and write about what you love, the readers will notice. I've seen several bloggers who have started within the past few years and they've been able to be incredibly successful by just being themselves. I think it's important to not try to be like everyone else or write about what you think you need to. I've always loved cooking and baking, and that's been a part of my site since the very beginning. The posts aren't the most popular, and they don't get the most comments, but it's something I enjoy and love sharing with my readers. When I do get those emails from readers saying they tried something I shared it makes me so happy and reminds me how important it is to follow my intuition.
What do you hope to be doing in five years’ time?
In 5 years I'd still love to be working on my site but working on a book or creating a product line would be a dream! Matthew and I will probably move in the next few years so I'm sure we'll be doing more home projects and DIYs.
What do you hope to get out of Create & Cultivate DTLA?
I hope to meet some readers and make new friends! The blogging community has been an incredible source of inspiration and comfort these past 6 1/2 years and I'm also learning new things and being challenged in a different way. Hopefully I can help out some new bloggers that are just starting out, or looking to take their blog to the next level.
What advice do you have for women who ARE starting right now?
Do it! There's no time like the present. Also, don't worry about making it perfect. You have time! Start small and write about different things until you find your niche or passion. I know a lot of new bloggers feel this pressure to label their site before they even start, but don't! You might start wanting to write about fashion and then realize you're more passionate about beauty and hair!