For 7 years Andy Torres has been dominating the international blogosphere. And it’s not based on luck.
In 2008, Andy made the leap to move from Mexico, where she was born and raised, to Amsterdam to start an entire new life in the hopes of becoming a Fashion Editor. After many magazines denied her, she transformed rejection into fuel to start StyleScrapbook and the rest is history.
Andy’s story is one of going beyond one’s boundaries, making it work despite language barriers, and starting off from scratch. So to catch up with Andy before she takes the stage at Create & Cultivate DTLA this May, we picked her brain a little on how she was able to overcome her challenges in a whole new country and becoming an international blog powerhouse with StyleScrapbook.
Can you tell us about your background and what got you into blogging?
I was an Interior Design student in Mexico but I have always dreamt about studying Fashion and Music. On my 4th semester I decided to move to Amsterdam and pursue that. My best friend was living in Amsterdam which made everything so much easier as he was extremely supportive. After 2 years of living in Amsterdam, I took a couple of courses in Fashion Styling and my main goal was to become a fashion editor. I really wanted to go into styling and work for one of the Dutch fashion magazines, even if I had to start from the bottom.
I have always been very driven and hardworking, so I was ready to work hard to get my foot in the industry. I applied to every magazine I could think of and they all said no because I didn't speak Dutch. I was extremely disappointed but I had moved here all the way from Mexico. I wasn’t going to let that stop me, so I started StyleScrapbook. I started itnot because I thought people were going to follow it (I had no idea that was possible), but to use it as a platform to exercise my writing and hopefully one day use it as a CV to send to magazines.
When the blog started to get some traction and receive comments and followers, I had no idea where these people were finding me. It all grew so organically and fast, it’s almost like a blur now.
I feel so lucky to have started so long ago. I’ve always been fascinated that what started as a side project since I couldn't get a job in the industry, gained me an even bigger spot that I could have ever imagined . Always follow your gut feeling, that’s what I keep telling myself.
Following your gut to make the move from Mexico to Amsterdam proved to be very successful for your blogging career. What would you say to anyone who is not sure about moving? But thinks it might be lucrative for their career?
I moved to Amsterdam 2 years before I started my blog, so in reality, the connection between the blog and Amsterdam had very little to do with each other. I wanted to study Fashion Design and my plan all along was to study at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute. I think moving to a different country is a huge risk, but I always had a good gut feeling about it.
The key is to just listen to your gut and have a good plan set in place. I am not the type of girl that wakes up in the morning to do crazy spontaneous things, but I have always taken risks and try to stay very positive about the outcome. It's also comes down to having a good support system of friends and family around you to be there pushing you through and motivating you. The beauty of everything is that it doesn't have to work the first time and you can always try again.
The beauty of everything is that it doesn't have to work the first time and you can always try again.
How do you build relationships in a foreign country?
That is sometimes is the hardest part. You need to try to get out of your comfort zone and be social, meet up with people and network, but it sounds easier said than done. For me moving from a Latin country to a Nordic country was a huge culture shock, because cultures and personalities couldn't be any more different. It took me a while to get used to it but in the end. It’s been a huge learning experience for me as it has helped me improve some areas about my character that I always wanted to work on.
What was the biggest challenge you faced moving to Amsterdam? How did you learn to adapt?
I think the biggest challenge was getting used to the weather. It sounds simple but I come from Mexico, from a state where we pretty much get perfect weather all year round (Think of LA weather). Amsterdam has a very similar climate to London and it rains most of the time. It was extremely difficult to get used to grey days one after the other for months, and it took me quite a few years to get used to it. My escape route has always been that I get to travel so much, so I don't have to deal with it as much as I used to.
How has your style evolved over the years?
I have always been very true to my personal taste and I go for what I love to wear as opposed to just following trends. A few years ago I used to be a lot more feminine in my style, meaning you would probably catch me wearing skirts, dresses, florals and so on. The past few years have been a lot different, and recently I have been trying to explore mixing androgynous with a bit of a sexy touch. I believe in keeping it classy and I have never been the girl that dresses super sexy. That’s not my jam, however, I have been very drawn to lace and things that are a little more risky.
The blogosphere is highly competitive. What do you do to distinguish yourself from the rest and how to do stay ahead of the curb?
I was in very early in the game (almost 9 years ago), before this whole fashion blogging boom exploded, so I have learned to evolve with the industry but most importantly, keep true to myself. I think that has attracted my readers from the beginning because they know I am a true voice. They feel like they can trust what I say and I have always tried to keep a close relationship with them by answering messages, emails and what not. Also, I think that starting my blog in Amsterdam as a Mexican girl made me have a strong global reach from the beginning.
In what ways would you like the blogging industry to evolve?
I'm very interested to see how much more traditional media (magazines, television etc) and bloggers can work closer together, and more specifically, how we can bridge the different industries in a way that neither side has to compromise their own ways of working, nor what makes them successful. There are huge opportunities that bloggers and magazines can collaborate on, and I know we will start to see some of the true potential and direction our industries will collaborate on over the coming years.
What’s your social platform of choice?
Ironically enough (and I say ironically because I was resisting it from the beginning), I love using Snapchat! Instagram has become so curated and I love seeing peoples real personalities shine through Snapchat. There you can really be yourself, so you get to connect with people in a more personal level. Still one of the platforms that I use the most as well is Facebook, as I get the most reach and where I have the most following (1.7 million), so Facebook has always been a very powerful tool for me.