Parting ways with my former job hurt…a lot. But it was also freeing. Without realizing it I had slowly lost my identity in the form of this monetized self who I wasn’t entirely comfortable being. (For legal reasons I am not not badmouthing any one company, this is mostly on me and my type-A approach to everything I do, but I think a critique of how people make money through fashion blogging and how it varies site by site is worth an exploration. Not by me because, again, not looking to get sued.)
The problem with fashion blogging – or maybe the way I approached fashion blogging – was that it took the fun out of shopping. The joy of discovering a new store uncovering a one-of-a-kind piece or something made in small batches, locally, was taken over by, “Can this be purchased online? Can I make an affiliate link? Can I sell enough so it pays for itself and then some?” Followed by…disappointment. Shopping was no longer an art form, a pleasure to be enjoyed and consumed at a leisurely pace, but instead, a rat race. A grind. Massive online purchases and try-ons and pictures and returns and rinse and repeat. It became almost mechanical. Shopping with no purpose and no end in sight.
I’m currently in Italy with my brother on a sibling vacation (10 out of 10, highly recommend) and I’ve thought several times how different this trip would have been if I was still a fashion blogger. Excitement replaced by outfits that would “sell well” in future blogs, constantly checking stock, possibly a professional photoshoot or two, stressed about capturing every outfit while out and about because how good would these jeans from Nordstrom’s look in front of the Colosseum? Or wearing these sunnies with a gelato in hand? It wouldn’t have been a vacation because one of the problems with being able to work from anywhere is the discipline to NOT work from everywhere.
Honestly where vacation fashion blogs by other writers used to fill me with wanderlust, they now make me sad. Because I have an idea of what goes into them. And the idea of never having a life that isn’t monetized is just…I don’t know. Stressful. Unfulfilling. Something I now know is not for me.
During our trip I have had two shopping experiences I would have never indulged in if I was still writing for a fashion blog:
2. Local shops
Gucci Diana Mini Shopping Bag
Ever since one of my favorite fashion creators, Sammi Coates, unveiled her larger, definitely more expensive version of the Gucci Diana Bag, I have coveted it. But, even in the mini version, it is not a purchase you take lightly. I scoured secondhand sites with no luck for months, but honestly the hunt was part of the appeal. I decided if I got to Rome and found a version of the bag I could use daily, but also potentially double as a date-night bag, for the right price, I would get it (because Gucci is less expensive in Italy + VAT refund = the bag of my dreams for a price that doesn’t give me heartburn).
The adrenaline rush of finding a secondhand Gucci Diana Bag was replaced by the experience of visiting the store in Rome. Display after display of eye-candy, a personal shopper to assist you, a literal PONCHO for your bag in a shopping bag if it was raining; it was so unlike anything I had experienced before. I was able to indulge without the voice in the back of my mind saying, “Will you actually be able to sell any of these if you find an affiliate link? How many comments will you get about this being an out of touch, unaffordable, purchase? How upset will readers get if you use it all the time because you truly love it, but it’s out of stock (seriously people HATED that).” Maybe I would have found a different bag, a less expensive bag, but it wouldn’t have been for me. It would have been for others.
Local Shops in Florence
What our trip had been missing was some shopping. And not high-end shopping or cheap tourist trinkets, think small shops on narrow cobblestoned roads where you slip in and browse until something fantastic catches your eye.
After a stop for a little nosh at Mercado Centrale in Florence, my brother and I headed over the Ponte Vecchio and began our spree. Our first win was at an eclectic shop called Mio that housed some fantastic local art/jewelry/home goods. I picked up a Christmas ornament and a print that spoke to me of a woman looking out defiantly, eyebrow slightly raised. It was made by a local artist who took pieces from different women and turned them into a picture. His hope was that others could see a bit of themselves in it. I sure can and, after staring at it for a good 2 minutes straight, I knew I needed one of the 49 prints available. It’s become somewhat of a street art staple around Florence and now I get to take it home with me.
The next winning shop also featured local artists and was called something like “Unique Gifts.” It lived up to its name. The shop owner was charming AF and every piece sparked joy, discussion, and a few giggles (I’ve included a collage of some of the finds).
The pieces I purchased are ones that start a conversation. Tell a story. They aren’t meant to sell or monetize, but rather share a piece of who I am with someone else.
One thing I’ve learned since leaving fashion blogging is this: I don’t have one set style and that was seen as a hinderance. I like to explore, experiment, change. Evolve. I can’t pin down what my eye is drawn to in 3 words. I can’t summarize myself in a neat little paragraph on a website.
And maybe that’s ok.