This week marks the three-month anniversary of The Penny Rose, which has come such a long and exciting way since its former life as the Obsessive Beauty blog on the Good Times newspaper website in Santa Cruz. To celebrate, and to give readers a behind-the-scenes look at The Penny Rose, I sat down with the blog’s founder and editor, Christa Martin, to pick her brain on fashion, creativity in Santa Cruz and beyond, and what it’s like to be a blogger. Enjoy!
Elizabeth: What was the inspiration for The Penny Rose? How did it come to be?
Christa: The inspiration was wanting to take the Obsessive Beauty blog that was on the Good Times website and punch it up, make it deeper, develop a wider audience and provide daily content. It was, and is, a fantastic creative writing outlet. It came to be as I found out over my 13 years as a journalist that I really love writing about beauty and fashion. This blog was the perfect way to write about the things that I love, but to do so in a journalistic way.
E: Why “The Penny Rose?”
C: When I moved the blog to the wider Web in March, I felt that the name also needed to be re-vamped. It took quite some time to come up with the perfect name and I had begun thinking about it in early 2012. I didn't want to use any cliché words like "chic" or "fashion," and instead wanted something that was original and different, something memorable and classic. "Penny" is my mom's name, and roses are something that have seemed to pop up in my life in all sorts of wonderful ways.
E: When—and why—did you fall in love with fashion?
C: I really do love fashion. I know in the grander scheme of the world that fashion doesn't really matter that much, but we have to get dressed every day, so why not enjoy the process and express yourself creatively through what you wear? Also, I find that when I'm enjoying what I wear it actually helps me feel better about myself. I feel prettier, more confident and so on. Whether that's silly or not, it's true, and I'd venture to say that there is a connection in how you present yourself and how you feel about yourself on any particular day. Wearing a cute outfit just gives you a boost that day. On a more practical level, I'm awed by clothing construction, pattern making, design choices and the craft of sewing. It's a long-time craft and trade that requires remarkable skill and creativity. So, that said, I began my experimentation with fashion in college. Before then (in high school) I didn't think quite as much about what I would wear. In college, though, I found that I became interested in expressing my creativity through what I would wear. This interest has never left me. Nowadays, in addition to writing about fashion and beauty on The Penny Rose, I read 15 women's magazines a month, and about 25 fashion blogs a day, all in an attempt to stay on top of what's happening in that industry, as well as to find inspiration. I also take weekly sewing classes so that someday, maybe I can design clothes myself.
E: Does the blog have a local focus?
C: Absolutely. This is actually one of its strongest elements. Since it was founded in Santa Cruz, it will always keep Santa Cruz close in its coverage. Almost weekly there's a story on The Penny Rose about a Santa Cruz-based jeweler, fashion designer, furniture designer, etc. I'm always looking for interesting people to feature, so if you're a professional in one of these fields, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
E: Is there a need or market for beauty and fashion coverage and reviews in Santa Cruz?
C: I think that there is absolutely a need for beauty and fashion coverage and reviews in Santa Cruz. While Santa Cruz is admittedly not a fashion capital, there is a huge bubbling up of creative and fashionable people here ... from fashion designer Sally Esposito, to leather crafter Terry McInerney, to bag maker Garrett Kautz, to jeweler Laamie Young, to fashion stylists like Missy Schnaps, and so many more. Plus, we have an abundance of local companies doing good things in the fashion and beauty world, such as adorable stores like Cameron Marks, clothing companies like Synergy, bath and body products by Blithe and Bonny, etc.
E: Santa Cruz certainly isn’t New York or San Francisco when it comes to fashion, but is it on its way?
C: Great question. One that I think remains to be seen.
E: Where do you find inspiration locally?
C: Small, creative boutiques; my sewing classes at Judy's Sewing Center; and, of course, the remarkable nature surrounding us.
E: Given your background as a journalist, what do you bring that's unique or different to the world of fashion and beauty blogging?
C: I bring integrity, honesty, professional writing skills, and great stories. As I've been diving into the fashion blogging world, I have stumbled upon a huge community of people who are also writing these types of blogs. The thing that I think sets The Penny Rose apart is my long-time experience as a professional journalist, writer and editor. I'm not entering this blogging world using a bunch of exclamation points and bad grammar, but I'm attempting to provide high quality writing with fresh content, all in an engaging and smart way.
E: What do you think about the role of beauty/fashion blogger so far?
C: It's been great fun. I'm really enjoying having the honor of sharing tried-and-true products, featuring designers, and sharing this passion with other like-minded people.
E: Has anything surprised you about it?
C: I've realized that it's a lot more work than I ever expected. The Penny Rose offers a story every day. We have six writers (myself included), and three of those writers have professional journalism experience. We also have two guest contributors. Creating content ideas that are constantly compelling can be a challenge with so much other fashion blogging out there. I want the content on The Penny Rose to be fresh in an on-going basis.
E: Looking forward, what can we expect to see from The Penny Rose?
C: Expanded eco-beauty coverage (this has been a huge hit), Street Style around Santa Cruz and beyond, fashion outfit ideas, beauty reviews, contests and more.