The presence of social media and rise of influencers in modern society has diluted the meaning of the term ‘blogging’. What is in fact a very personal endeavor for many, is unfortunately widely misunderstood as a superficial self-indulged side hustle. Maya Prentis, graduate and Management Consultant at one of London’s leading firms shares what it really means to be a fashion, travel and lifestyle blogger whilst working a full-time corporate job. Maya explains the personal and professional benefits of blogging, the transferability of skills to the business world and how her blog What Maya Wears has provided the perfect platform to raise awareness of common issues effecting millennial women.
As a passion you’ve had since school, how do you now manage to balance the blog with your full-time job?
I’m a firm believer that if you’re passionate about something, then you will make time for it. The time I have dedicated to content creation has gone up and down throughout my journey through school, university and now in the world of work. But there are 24 hours in a day. To make the most of that I try and introduce a power hour each morning - waking up an hour earlier to get all my blog admin done for the day, whether it’s emails or invoicing, I try and get as much blog related activities done (this is sometimes hard because I love my bed and wouldn’t class myself as a morning person).
In Management Consultancy, it would not be unusual to work more than the average 9-5 day and your work often depends on your clients demands, so let’s say I spend 8am-6:30pm at work, that still gives me quite a bit of time to do content creation work around my primary job. I then try and take 1-2 hours an evening to work on actual content creation, whether that’s brainstorming new ideas or putting the final touches to the social media posts. Commute times are also a god send as that’s where I get a lot of my work done too. I definitely haven’t got it down to a T, as it’s difficult to balance a full-time job, side hustles, gym, seeing friends and family and staying sane. My sleeping pattern is one area that suffers but I am desperately trying to improve.
How has blogging become a positive outlet for you?
I love my blog and creating content. From that, so many great opportunities have come up – for example working with household brands such as John Lewis & Partners, MasterCard and Gillette Venus, taking part in game changing campaigns such as Bodyform’s period stigma campaign and being invited to London Fashion Week.
I’ve always been one to use my blog to write thought provoking pieces as well as the lighter hearted topics on fashion, beauty, travel and lifestyle posts. I really enjoy being creative and putting outfits together. However, some of my favourite pieces of content that I have created have been reflection articles, for example on my experience of the corporate world as a fresh graduate, talking about race in influencer marketing, sustainable fashion and money because millennials (especially millennial women) don’t feel comfortable speaking about it and that’s got to change. For me, it’s reading the comments and private messages from people that read these reflective pieces that make me realise that it is not only something that I enjoy but the readers and people who consume my content also take something away from it. And that’s how I was able to turn my blogging experience into something even more positive.
I was sat on a panel at a female content creators event in May last year and someone mentioned how they read my article ‘Let’s talk money’ which I used as a money diary to open up the conversation to millennial women and how it inspired them to take control of their finances. From this interaction, I founded a forum called fempirefinance.co.uk and on Instagram @fempirefinance, which is growing rapidly. The goal of this is to help to contribute and foster a culture that drives the skills development that will be needed for social, environmental and economic progress, reducing the divide between females and males. Every day I receive comments through this channel from the growing community of women becoming more confident when it comes to talking money. Me and my team do it through sharing practical personal finance tips without the jargon and in a format that everyone can understand. It has grown massively, and over the last 6 months I have been invited to podcast recordings with inspiring women and in the future, we are hopefully going to host an event of our own in the next year. This way of blogging/running this community has allowed me to help other women and for that reason it is and always will be a positive outlook.
Are there still stigmas attached to blogging and how has this impacted your willingness to share your passion in the workplace?
I get the impression that people think blogging doesn’t take up a lot of time/effort and is something anyone can do. Whilst I believe there is room for anyone to get into blogging, the stigma that it just involves taking a picture and uploading it, needs to be broken. But in reality, it involves pitches, negotiations, emails, meetings, invoicing, attending events, shooting content and re-shooting it because it’s not right etc., and that applies to those that just use Instagram too as a blogging platform!
For a long time, I was worried that people at work would judge me for my blog rather than what I have to offer in my career, so didn’t openly share it. When it was new and not a lot of people were doing it, I felt I would stick out like a sore thumb but now I think it’s almost seen as cool and something everyone wants to get into. I now recognise that I’m not sharing anything on my blog that embarrasses me or diminishes my professional integrity and that I should share it as a hobby like anyone else in the office would. I’ve learnt over the last couple of years to start being proud of my brand, because I have put so much hard work into it, I’ve learnt a lot and it’s given me a lot which I am so grateful for.
Has your blog encouraged you to accept and embrace your individuality without fear of being judged?
Absolutely. As crazy as it sounds, my blog is the corner of the internet that belongs to me entirely. I can say what I want on there and post anything that appeals to me — having this forum has definitely allowed me to 1) embrace me as an individual and 2) put some of my thoughts out there that aren’t naturally discussed in society. I also think the acceptance and individuality I get from blogging is down to the strong community of bloggers and influencers who are always willing to support each other — this is my favourite part of being a blogger, the support fellow bloggers have for you when you are your own person is unreal.
Do you feel that blogging has helped your corporate career?
It’s been a massive confidence booster and I am able to see how a lot of it translates into a business setting. For example, when I have to pitch to brands to work with them, it’s important to be able to sell myself and present in a similar way to how projects are awarded in the consulting world, so I’ve been able to take bits from blogging and apply it to consulting and vice versa.
As a Management Consultant (I work in organisational change), you are often creating deliverables for the client, so in that respect it’s exactly the same, I’m often working with brands via my blog to create content with them. However, thanks to the blogging side, I’m able to see the process clients go through when selecting people to work with, allowing me to see it from both sides.
From a personal perspective, it’s a great way to channel my creative energy that I may not get to release at work. Having a side hustle gives me a break/release from looking at Microsoft Excel or Powerpoint and allows me to do something different, so when I go back to work after spending my time on my blog/Instagram, I am refreshed and ready to go.
Blogging is all about personal story telling — as a young woman in the corporate world, why is this particularly important to you?
In a lot of cases our stories are often told for us by others, or it’s overshadowed by the stories of those who don’t look or sound like you, which is why I think having a space where you can say what you want (within reason), is so important. Blogging provides the forum for you to say what you want to say, when you want to say it without anyone giving you any guidelines. I’ve also used it as a vehicle to talk about some of the issues that might not be widely received in a corporate environment, for example race. It gives me a platform to speak about everything on a 100% open level and in many cases gain support from people who share the same views or want to add to the conversation.
What Maya Wears covers so many relatable topics including beauty, fashion, lifestyle and travel. What are the key trends you’re seeing in the fashion world?
I originally started solely as a fashion blogger and I love seeing how fashion has evolved (so I’m sure if you look hard enough, you can find some embarrassing pictures of me dabbling in fast fashion trends when I was younger) I think there is a massive move towards sustainability, which is overdue. The modern day consumer is changing, they want the simplest shopping process but one where they are still able to get good customer service that also incorporates digital trends as well as great fashion, which is why I think people (including myself) went wild for tools like ASOS’ “See My Fit” which allows shoppers to see what clothes would look like on different body types.
Additionally, in order for brands to stay competitive and relevant, consumers are asking for more sustainable options, which is what I love about Lawful London. It’s becoming increasingly important for consumers to think about their impact on the world, so I predict in the next 10 years you'll see a movement away from fast fashion brands, hopefully caused by a shift in consumer behaviour as well as regulation when governments and regulatory bodies understand the consequences of fast fashion (environment and economically — i.e. low paying wages etc.,) and the introduction of regulation in favour of a more sustainable ways. And then, hopefully we’ll see an increase in the already growing movement of slow fashion brands and sites like https://www.hirestreetuk.com where you can rent outfits instead of buying them, becoming more prominent.
As a lover of sustainable pieces and a capsule collection, how has your Sienna tote bag complemented your work and weekday wardrobe?
I’ve gone from being the bag lady getting on the tube and fighting with lots of bags to the well put together girl with everything in just one, non-bulky looking bag. I love how sleek the bag is yet so practical that all my notebooks, products, umbrella, bottle and laptop fit in it with ease. Whilst I am a strong supporter of the capsule work wardrobe, I have recently started getting experimental with my work wear instead of just wearing black suits or midi dresses, I’ve become more open to wearing prints and bold colours, with the Sienna tote it makes it a lot easier to be more creative with my outfits thanks to its minimal design, I don’t have to think ‘will this look good with my bag?’ because in the bag goes with all outfits.