One of the most amazing parts of my new life as a Fashion Blogger are the vibrant personalities that cross my path. Today, I have the honor of introducing you to one of my absolute favorite inspirational influencers, @savvynista as she’s known on Instagram. Maria is one of those special women who effortlessly weaves the various aspects of her world into her blog and her Instagram gallery. She’s quite the personality and a top notch fashionista to boot. Welcome Maria!
CGO: Maria, it’s been wonderful to get to know you in the virtual world of Instagram. I’ve been drawn to your gallery for inspiration on all fronts. Take us back to the very beginning of this journey in 2012 and what inspired you to begin creating your blog?
MVL: I wanted to create a space for women like myself (stylish, ambitious, entrepreneurial, creative, young at heart) to find inspiration and knowledge about things that are helpful in their personal and professional lives.
CGO: Clearly, you’re on a roll! 2016 was quite an exciting year for you. I see that you published two books on Amazon. What an accomplishment. What was your motivation in writing these books?
MVL: It was and thank you! I had the privilege of knowing the main author of the first book I co-authored Passionistas: Tips, Tales and Tweetables From Women Pursuing Their Dreams. She asked me to be a part of this passion project and I couldn’t resist. It’s a collaboration of women entrepreneurs, founders of brands and small businesses, women in business and the entertainment world, speakers and authors, who share their authentic from-the-heart stories.
The second book I personally wrote; Style Savvy: A Guide to Creating a Stylish and Wearable Wardrobe is something I’ve been wanting to share to the public for awhile. As a wardrobe stylist, I wanted to reach the masses with an easy-to-follow process of editing your wardrobe and styling outfits. It’s an abbreviated version of a more extensive book I want to publish eventually.
CGO: It looks like you’ve definitely achieved your goals. One of my favorite projects of yours is your “Shopping your own closet for 365 days” which seems to be more needed now than ever before. I would love to hear more about this creative project.
MVL: It’s crazy that the phrase “Shop My Closet” is constantly being used. It’s something I believe will always be a topic of discussion. Basically what inspired me to shop my closet for a year was an unexpected divorce which led me to moving in with my mom in a new city where I had one friend. Heartbroken, depressed, and in shock … I shopped until I blew through all my money. That snapped be out of my divorce-acoma and I had no choice but to shop my closet because I was broke.
Since I had my blog Savvynista already, I thought why not blog about it everyday to keep accountable and show my stylist skills by creating outfits from my closet for 365 days straight. What I didn’t realize is that I started a movement and had so many women emailing me and following my story until the very end, cheering me on. That was a great feeling.
I also discovered that the challenge wasn’t so much shopping my closet after awhile, it was blogging about it everyday with photos of each outfit. Eventually when I started dating, blogging got in the way a bit. I roped most of my guys into being my photographer when I was in a pinch. It was comical because they barely knew me.
CGO: What a fabulous idea. I absolutely love your creative vision. And the word “dovorce-acoma” … I love that! Your About page on your blog clearly shows you have a wicked sense of humor. And, I mean that in the best way! I love bloggers who embrace their personality. How would describe your personality?
MVL: I can’t help myself, wait until you meet me in person (wink). I can best sum up my personality by saying I’m an introverted extrovert or an extroverted introvert. Does that make sense? Oh and a goofball. And maybe I stopped aging at the age of 14, so there’s that. My fiancé thought I was putting on an act in my YouTube videos when he first met me (he Googled me). He had no idea what he was getting into. I always joke with him that he has free entertainment every night and that he would be bored if I wasn’t around.
CGO: How fun! I’m impressed by your savvy in the area of technology which happens to be my personal nemesis. How has your ability to thrive with technology added to your success?
MVL: I’ve always been fascinated by technology. My father was a computer programmer so I think that’s where it comes from. I joke at times that I should have gone to MIT instead of Art School. Although my major was in graphic design and multimedia which incorporates the use technology and software. I would eventually love to create my own App but don’t know what that would be yet. I will be launching an online course on how to create a successful fashion and lifestyle blog by April of this year which walks you through all the techie stuff that other online courses don’t cover.
CGO: That’s a huge advantage to women to embrace technology and the digital world. How would you describe your unique sense of style?
MVL: I’ve always struggled with describing my style but I feel that I’m classic with a mix of trends. I feel I lean towards the Parisian way of dressing but with a twist of SoCal girl. Maybe I’m just all over the board. What do you think my style is?
CGO: Good question! I would describe you as an empowered entrepreneur with a lot of sass and moxie who’s beautifully authentic. You have been known to bring a lot of humor to your work. You describe yourself as “Romasian and part vampire.” I couldn’t resist laughing when I read that. Clearly, your genes are a combination that works, as you’re gorgeous! Where did your sense of humor come from?
MVL: I get my sense of humor from my father and he got it from his mother. If fashion blogging and styling doesn’t work out, I might take a stab as a comedian.
CGO: Well, why not, from what I’ve seen! We are on the heels of a powerful Women’s March. What does female empowerment mean to you?
MVL: The Women’s March was bananas! I loved how we all came together and stood up for what we deserve. There were so many speeches that were inspiring and empowering. I hope that we can keep the motivation and momentum going. I’ve always been a girl’s girl. I have tons of girlfriends and support anything that has to do with women and children…and animals. I love mentoring younger women and hope more will reach out and ask.
CGO: Yes, it was bananas in the best possible way. So many women, myself included, have suffered from low self esteem. Have you ever struggled with low self worth and if so, what helps to strengthen your beliefs about yourself?
MVL: I think most women suffer from low self worth and self esteem at some point. I still do, but not as often anymore, thank goodness. I’m super critical and hard on myself, I tend to beat myself with an invisible stick if something isn’t perfect. I know many women can relate to this. What helps me when I’m going down the rabbit hole is to write a list of things I’m grateful for. Sometimes I call a few of my close friends who are on the same spiritual path as they remind me to put on a new pair of glasses so I can change my perception. Being of service or just taking contrary action also helps get me out a funk as well.
CGO: Developing a healthy sense of self in our culture is a process. What would be your ultimate dream collaboration?
MVL: Hmmm…this is tough if I had to pick one. There are so many amazing designers and brands. I’d say DVF, Chloé, Gucci, Cartier and the holy grail, Chanel. I’d also like to do something with Virgin airlines and a destination.
CGO: Great choices! As a female entrepreneur, what has been your greatest challenge and your greatest gift?
MVL: The challenge is discipline, consistency and being your own cheerleader. The gifts are self confidence, the relationships I build and the knowledge I obtain.
CGO: That is a challenge for many of us. Are there any secrets that you wish to share in attracting brands and collaborations?
MVL: If anyone has any let me know, because I have no clue. I think what attracts brands is your sense of focus and how you visually and verbally put together blog and social media posts. They also love to see consistency, that you’re posting regularly. Being in a niche is a way to attract brands and after you’ve established yourself in that niche, then you can branch out into other areas.
CGO: That’s very true. It’s so important to know what you stand for. What is your ultimate vision for the Savvynista brand you have created?
MVL: I want to continue sharing Style Savvy while incorporating more lifestyle savvyness as well. My ultimate dream is for my blog to be chosen by a media publishing company and have digital representation so I can really expand my style savvy expertise.
CGO: That’s a wonderful goal. What do you feel is the greatest issue facing women today?
MVL: Men! LOL, half joking. I love men and I’m inspired by a few great ones. I know for myself, I can be the greatest issue I’m facing. I can get in the way of myself sometimes.
CGO: Don’t we all? Maria, It’s been amazing getting to know you and your delightful sense of humor. Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers?
It’s been a pleasure for me as well Catherine. I think that you are a true inspiration and I love everything you’re doing. You show women in their 50’s that you can still live life to the fullest while rocking some major style.
CGO: Thanks, Maria! You’re a delight.
You can find Catherine Grace O’Connell at CatherineGraceO.com. She is on Facebook, and Instagram and Twitter as @catherinegraceo. Tune in to Cat & Kaehler: Fiercely Empowering Women of All Ages Through the Lens of Midlife with Catherine and co-host Kathy Kaehler live every Tuesday at 2 PM EST/11 AM PST or download as a podcast on LA TalkRadio. You can find out more about The Fierce 50 Campaign and how you can help us and join the Revolution by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.