Style + Substance

Interviews by Laura Childers and Ashley Honeycutt

They’ve got personality. They’ve got class. And they’re here to inspire us, encourage us, and help fill our lives with beauty. Meet 5 local bloggers who are changing the way we think about food, fashion, interior design, and more.

Beth Kirby of Local Milk

CS: How do you describe the focus of Local Milk?
BK: Food, travel, and lifestyle. Food is definitely the heart of my blog, but it’s about a mindful way of living and fostering beauty in the everyday moment. 

CS: Who are you influenced by?
BK: Some of my favorite photographers and stylists are Andrea Gentl, Heidi Swanson, Aran Goyoaga, Karen Mordechai, and Ditte Isager. I could go on, but those are the ones that inspire me the most at present. Designers that inspire me are Elizabeth Suzann, Lauren Manoogian, and Fog Linen.

CS: What is a typical day like for you?
BK: There is no such thing as a typical day for me! My husband and I spend most of the year hosting creative retreats and photography workshops all over the world, so sometimes I wake up and have to remember what city I’m in! We are hustling to pack our bags in Paris for a flight to Marrakech right now…and this kind of feels like a typical morning! Usually my husband rustles up a cappuccino from a local café for me – that’s about as routine as we get.

CS: You have a knack for photography and editing. What can people do to imitate that?
BK: You can imitate it by hours logged. I teach photography, styling, and editing, and the point I emphasize the most is the only way to get great at anything is time invested. Through repetition born of passion, you can get good at just about anything if you have the drive.

CS: When it comes to blogging, what is one thing that people often don’t realize?
BK: How much work it is if you do it professionally. People only see the “pretty” parts, and they don’t realize that is only 10% of what we do. The rest is a lot of schlepping and basking in the glow of a computer screen. It’s a wonderful life and job, but I’m virtually never off the clock.

CS: What is one thing you can’t live without?
BK: A good hat. I’m an unrepentant hat lady. I love Clyde hats, and Blockshop Textiles’ scarves worn as a head wrap. On the food side, a digital scale. I use them to write my recipes and to bake. I travel with one everywhere I go. It’s the best thing for a kitchen that most people in our part of the world don’t have. It’s invaluable.

CS: Do you have any specific goals for 2017?
BK: Yes! To write my first book. I’m currently working on a cookbook inspired by my travels, and after years of thinking about what I want it to be, I finally have a clear vision.

Maria Murphy of Tasty.Southern.Chic

CS: How do you describe the focus of  Tasty. Southern. Chic.?
MM: The beauty of Tasty. Southern. Chic. is that you get a little taste of everything – from fashion, food, and interiors to DIY and travel. Growing up, I always said that I wanted to be the next Martha Stewart (but for my generation). I figured I had to start somewhere!

CS: What sets your style apart from other personal style bloggers?
MM: Most style bloggers are in larger markets such as New York or L.A., so being from the South I feel I bring a different perspective because of the vast difference in lifestyle. At the same time, I like to incorporate styles from those markets to offer inspiration for the everyday Southern woman.

CS: What current fashion trends do you love?
MM: I love that comfortable fashion is taking over “body con” fashion. Goodbye form-fitting dresses and stiletto heels, hello oversized sweaters, sneakers, block heals, and platforms! Thank you, fashion gods!

CS: What do you tend to splurge on?
MM: Staple pieces that I know will be around a looong time, like a leather jacket or Ray-Ban sunglasses. I never splurge on the latest trend because I know I won’t be wearing it more than a year.

CS: What is the best fashion or style advice you have ever received?
MM: It was from my mom when I was younger: “It’s always better to have style than to be in style.” 

CS: When it comes to blogging, what is one thing that people often don’t realize?
MM: Blogging is a lot more time consuming than people might think. You have to wear many hats. So unless you have the funds to hire help, you’re the model, stylist, producer, editor, writer, photographer, social media manager, accountant, office manager, and more. You really have to love what you do to make it all worth it!

CS: Who are you influenced by?
MM: As far as fashion goes, I’m influenced by celebrities like Rachel Bilson and Olivia Culpo and stylists such as Anita Patrickson. With interiors, my love for architecture and interior decorating is greatly influenced by my parents, who are both architects in Charlotte. As far as cooking goes, I’m definitely influenced by the women in my family. I come from a long line of great cooks from many different cultural backgrounds. From Italian to Cajun influences, food and cooking have never been boring for me. 

Shawanda Mason-Moore of Eat.Drink.Frolic

CS: How do you describe the focus of Eat. Drink. Frolic.?
SM: I consider myself to be a food-inspired lifestyle blogger. What that means is that on my blog you’ll find food-related content, but you’ll also find guides on traveling and entertaining. I focus on ways I can make my readers’ lives easier, whether it’s sharing a cocktail or posting a travel guide.

CS: You have a knack for simplifying the cooking process. What can people do to imitate that?
SM: I have lots of friends who stay away from the kitchen because it seems daunting. You can simplify your time in the kitchen in two easy steps: practicing mise en place (having all of your ingredients prepped and measured before you start cooking) and cleaning as you go.

CS: Who are you influenced by?
SM: I love Chrissy Teigen. She’s the wife of singer John Legend. She has a food blog and produced one of my favorite cookbooks in 2016. She makes cooking fun!

CS: What is a typical day like for you?
SM: No day is the same, which I love. In addition to running my blog, I started an event series and marketing agency, The Brunch Collective, where I help businesses and individuals implement unique communications and events strategies. Some days it’s all about the blog, other days I’m crafting marketing guides or sketching out an event or workshop I’d like to host.

CS: What current trends do you love?
SM: I’m loving the “activist chic” trend which is wearing a tee or sweatshirt that has a powerful message and dressing it up. I rocked my “the future is female” sweatshirt, from local boutique, Uncommon Deux, all winter long!

CS: If you could swap wardrobes with anyone in the world living today, who would it be?
SM: Tracee Ellis Ross, for sure. From her hair to her shoes, I love it all! I even love the fashion choices of the characters she plays on television. Her mom is Diana Ross, so you can’t go wrong.

CS: Do you have any rules when putting an (outfit, room, dish) together?
SM: Less is more. Sometimes when we overdo it, we take away from the main attraction. I use this logic whether I’m getting dressed or photographing a dish.

CS: Do you have any specific goals for 2017?
SM: Yes! More workshops branded around my blog and to feature more people on my blog in a fun way.

Erica Van Slyke of Designing Vibes

CS: How do you describe the focus of Designing Vibes?
EV: It’s an interior design and lifestyle blog – my credo is to embrace beauty in all aspects of life and infuse it into daily surroundings without allowing budget to stifle inspiration. I aim to create projects and décor that look upscale, so that no one suspects it was, in fact, DIY.  I also do my best to be authentic and share my comical experiences with life and motherhood…I am definitely no Donna Reed. 

CS: What sets your style apart from other personal style bloggers?
EV: I loosely define my signature style as boho-chic-meets-California-coastal, all while trying to inject a bit of Southern charm. I think what sets it apart is that I’m a Southern girl heavily influenced by West Coast aesthetic, without the privileged budget of your typical Malibu client.

CS: What inspired you to start the blog?
EV: We all have our digital vices. For some it’s Facebook, for others it’s Twitter, but my vice, hands down, is Pinterest. When I first discovered Pinterest, I pinned plenty of tutorials without ever actually completing them. Then, after the birth of my first son, I had more time to experiment with transforming rooms, furniture, and raw materials. Before I knew it, I was ready for the ultimate DIY task – a fixer upper home. So I swapped my new home for an outdated 1980s rancher and never looked back. The foundation of my blog chronicles my experiences updating the rancher on a relatively meager budget.

CS: What is one thing you can’t live without?
EV: Throw pillows! It’s something my husband and I are always joking about, but I hoard them like a mad woman. In all fairness though, I do believe they are the most cost-effective way to transform and freshen up a space. Pillows are my answer to everything (I am only partially kidding).

CS: What is your favorite thing about blogging?
EV: Blogging began as a creative outlet, but has evolved into so much more. Not only have I realized I thrive when I create, but I’m energized by excelling at a passion. There is a quote that particularly resonates with me in this season of my life: “Building an empire one nap at a time.” I’m a work-from-home-mother, with two boys not of school age yet, and I love the idea of being my own boss while having the privilege of working from home to raise my children and making my own schedule.

Jenna Lafevor of Rain on a Tin Roof

CS: How do you describe the focus of Rain on a Tin Roof?
JL: Interior design takes center stage. But over time, it’s evolved from just a DIY and design blog to a lifestyle blog where I also share stories of my own – the good, the bad, the sad, and even the ugly times.

CS: What inspired you to start Rain on a Tin Roof?
JL: My passion has always been interior design. When other high schoolers asked for new clothes or shoes for their birthdays, I asked for Christopher Lowell’s Seven Layers of Design Book. (Does anyone even remember him now?!)

CS: What sets your style apart from other personal style bloggers?
JL: My style probably pushes the envelope and is more daring than most. While many home bloggers are covering their walls with shiplap and trying to get that farmhouse look, I’m reaching for a gallon of black paint and bringing back a touch of ‘70s glam. I describe it as “The Rolling Stones meet Conway Twitty.” I’m a little Country and a little Rock ‘N Roll.

CS: Who are you influenced by?
JL: I’m often influenced by places and things just as much as people. Kelly Wearstler is one of my favorite interior designers, but I’m also inspired by musicians like Dolly Parton, The Rolling Stones, and Stevie Nicks. One time, I found inspiration in an airport. New Orleans is also a big source of inspiration for me. I also love taking in all the details of beautifully designed restaurants and clubs – even though it was well before my time, I love the interior design of Studio 54 and that whole era.

CS: What is one home accessory you can’t live without?
JL: Anything brass! I love vintage brass bowls and knick-knacks.

CS: What do you tend to splurge on?
JL: A great piece of art. If you find a piece of art that stops you in your tracks, buy it right then.

CS: Do you have any specific goals for 2017?
JL: To quote Jimmy V, my general goal every year is always to survive and advance. Working full time at home with a four-year-old in tow often results in “survival of the fittest” type moments. This year, I’m planning to finally get my product line launched, would love to turn some of my stories into a book, and I would also love to work with more local businesses.  related to my niche.

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