It’s a new month for Follow Friday, and I have a really great profile for your reading pleasure!
To kick things off for July, I have a new profile on another of the Original 52, Vahni of GRIT & GLAMOUR; Ms. V if you’re nasty. While this blog hit its 500th milestone over the weekend, Ms. V herself celebrated her 40th go around the Sun. How does that time translate into her blog? Make the jump to discover the answer, as well as how life as an expat can give a clearer picture upon return, why Vahni began blogging in the first place, and the two posts that best encompass her work as her blog celebrates its sixth birthday today.
Name of Blog: GRIT & GLAMOUR
Date of Founding: 6 July 2006
A Short Description of Your Blog: A slice of my life… fashion, fitness, food, and the mechanics of blogging.
How did you find your way into fashion blogging?
Vahni: I needed a creative outlet! My full-time job is in Web content development and management in the financial services industry–a banker at heart I am not. The blog allowed me to meld my love of writing and fashion.
What is the story behind the name of your blog?
Vahni: I wanted something catchy, and I happened across an article in The New York Times six years ago that mentioned the “grit and glamour” of a particular boîte. I saw the phrase and just knew that was the right description of my blog, and me. Luckily back then, domain names were still largely untapped. I jumped on it, although then, I hadn’t really jumped fully into the fashion angle.
You have recently celebrated your 40th year of life, and have written four posts this year regarding your latest milestone. Overall, though, how does your blog reflect your time thus far upon this mortal coil in terms of personal style, writing, photography, experience et al?
Vahni: Although I try to keep some of myself and my life private, if you read older posts, you witness me working through my own personal struggles and lessons… divorce, remarriage, moving, death. I’ve always kept a journal, and the blog has become that to a degree, so it is the place I go to to center myself, to work through my thoughts on things and what I’ve learned. I hope you can see growth in terms of photography and my writing, though I’ll admit I’ve become less enamored with the self-shot OOTD (outfit of the day) posts. I’m just over shooting myself in my yard. I’m bored with it. And my husband really doesn’t like being my photog. He’s great and we do everything together, but i didn’t score in the photographer/boyfriend department. ;)
For a time, you had lived in New South Wales, Australia before returning to the United States. What have you discovered and experienced living as an expat, and how has that time influenced your life since returning to the States?
Vahni: Oh my gosh, that was the experience of a lifetime. It was exhilarating, liberating, painful, stressful, and soul-shaping. I had the worst homesickness, ever. I’ve never experienced anything like it, and never expected it because I was excited to move, and I consider myself to be a pretty strong person. Although I can’t say I handled it that well, it did give me the ability to write about it, and I still get comments on my post about homesickness from people who are going through the same thing… actually just got one as I responded to these questions. It makes me happy that strangers struggling with homesickness find some solace knowing they are not alone, and their feelings are totally normal. It also prepared me for helping my husband deal with homesickness when he moved to the U.S. for me.
After living in Sydney, which is gorgeous but slightly behind-the-times, I also learned that in the southeast U.S., we live an extraordinarily free and blessed life. Funny thing about moving to Australia for love… it taught me that I’m actually OK being alone. I’ve never liked being alone, and almost never am. But I spent a LOT of time alone in Sydney, and learned to rely on myself for everything. Since my husband is an Aussie, of course Australia will always be in my life. In fact, I just returned from a trip there. But now that he’s lived with me in the States for two years, even HE realizes how many freedoms and conveniences we take for granted here.
Outside of blogging, you’re a technical writer, having put in over a decade of professional writing for large corporations. Does your professional skill set ever come into play when you write for your blog and vice versa?
Vahni: I’m actually more of a Web writer, though I do some tech writing in the form of application content. And yes, my “real job” skills have played heavily into my blogging in terms of the presentation of my blog and some of the content. I have written many posts about how to blog better/smarter, because presenting content online has been my career focus for so many years. Following best practices for writing for the Web makes the experience of reading your blog better.
A great blog is one part content, one part usability, one part YOU. Never underestimate the importance of not-so-obvious usability best practices at work. Ample white space, fonts, subheadings, “chunking” of content… they all affect the overall success of your blog.What has been your favourite moment as a fashion blogger?
Vahni: You know, I don’t think I can pick a favorite moment. Well, I lie. Maybe my favorite moment was coming home to a huge box from Gucci waiting for me. I worked with the brand a bit in last year, and an angel I knew there gifted me with a killer pair of boots I’d been salivating over. Yeah, that’s probably it. Thanks again, C!
Why do you blog?
Vahni: Because I NEED a place to channel my creativity. Because I am a fashion lover and a writer. Because I’m a total geek and a gadget freak and addicted to social media. Because I have to say what I think whether anyone is listening or not. Because I’m not having kids and my blog is what keeps me goal-oriented and entertained. Because the people–the amazing bloggers–I’ve met along the way are irresistible and this is our playground.
If there was one post that says “This is what my blog is all about,” which one would it be?
Vahni: GAH! That’s a hard call. I can’t pick just one. I think these two are most representative of me as a blogger:
You can see my approach tends to be a blend of investigative reporting and an I-won’t-stand-for-that attitude. I’ve always been a rebel at heart and have never been afraid to stand up for myself, or question groupthink. Because I was an outcast growing up, I am vehemently opposed to sites or groups that are exclusionary or subconsciously judgmental.
What one piece of advice would you offer to my readers regarding…
Style: Wear what you love, what makes you feel good. When you feel good, you don’t give a flying fig what anyone else thinks.
Writing (blogging, journalism et al): It’s the world’s most under-recognized skill. Writing is everything and everywhere, in traditional media, advertising, entertainment, law, science, medicine, and more. Back when I went to school, everyone assumed as an English major, I planned on a career in teaching or that my ultimate goal was to publish a book. Neither one was ever part of my plan. I’m living proof that today, especially, you can make a living (and a good one) as a professional writer. Command of the English language and mastery of the written word is one of the most powerful abilities one can have because it is affects everything we do.
Life in general: March to the beat of your own drum. No matter what you do or decide, there will always be someone who is not happy. At least when you do what you want to do, YOU’RE happy!
Who is your blog for?
Vahni: The cerebral fashionista. And femme fatales, for sure.
Any final words?
Vahni: Thank you for featuring me! I’m so flattered!
Photo credits: Wikipedia (title card) + GRIT & GLAMOUR.