This week, we look at a girl boss of a different kind. It seems everyone is becoming a blogger these day or an 'influencer' (whatever that means?) But besides fashion and beauty bloggers that are paid to promote brands to their followings, what about the ones who actually have something interesting to say?
Enter Lara Olivia, a.k.a. Miss Portmanteau, a woman who enjoys good food as much as a good book, and is interested in quality over quantity. An aspiring writer and bon vivant who carefully researches and curates the experiences she writes about.
It’s been nearly two years since Lara quit her day job in the male-dominated world of Energy Consulting to pursue her love of writing. She set up her blog Miss Portmanteau, which is slowly growing into a full-time business alongside other writing projects. Love and marriage put into perspective that life is too short not to follow her dreams. Leaving the fast lane to live life more authentically, even if that means slowing down for a bit.
Although I have a luxury lifestyle angle, I hope to show that luxury is as philosophical as it is economical. Health and happiness are the luxuries I value most.
Name: Lara Oliveira | Miss Portmanteau
Job: Blogger, Writer
1. HOW DO YOU TAKE YOUR COFFEE?
Sometimes hot, sometimes cold, always black. I really love a Greek frappe, I drink it all summer.
2. WE LOVE YOUR BLOG. TELL US HOW YOU STARTED OUT AND HOW YOUR BLOG HAS NOW EVOLVED:
Thank you so much. It’s really been a journey. I started Miss Portmanteau in November 2016 as a way to change career from being an Intelligence Analyst to a writer! I decided to write about food, travel and lifestyle topics as I didn’t want to limit myself too much in the beginning.
My blog has since evolved quite a lot. Although my categories haven’t changed, I now have a much better defined concept and audience. Also now that I have this platform, I see it as an opportunity and responsibility to say something meaningful!
So my tagline “everything I know about the good life” is aimed at answering this one simple question: what does the good life mean to millennials today? Although I have a luxury lifestyle angle, I hope to show that luxury is as philosophical as it is economical. Health and happiness are the luxuries I value most.
3. YOU WERE RECENTLY A FINALIST FOR THE UK BLOG BLOG AWARDS, THAT MUST HAVE BEEN SUPER EXCITING, AS A NEW BLOGGER.
That was completely unexpected. I found out on New Year’s Day, which couldn’t have been a better way to start the year! Although I didn’t win, it was of course amazing to attend the awards ceremony and receive national recognition as a finalist.
The best bit though, was really just dressing up for the event. Blow Ltd came over to my house to style my hair, and I bought this amazing new dress. My husband also came to support me and we really had a blast… and quite possibly finished the prosecco.
4. AT WHAT POINT DID YOU DECIDE YOU WERE DONE WITH THE CORPORATE WORLD, AND TAKE THE LEAP TO FOLLOW YOUR DREAM?
After studying for 4 years and working for another 5, the decision to change career was not an easy one. I had built my entire life and identity around my corporate job and so the idea to quit was unthinkable.
It might sound strange, but what finally made me take the leap was imagining myself having a baby and going back to that job. I knew that I couldn’t do it. Not because of the work life balance but because of who I was becoming. It was one of those, the time is now, moments.
5. HOW DO YOU EARN A LIVING / INCOME?
Earning a living from blogging is a challenge. It’s possible, but really hard work. So it has to be a passion or else there are much easier, quicker ways to earn money.
When I started out, I did a lot of research and concluded that it takes on average 2 years to start monetising a blog. I’m about a year and a half in now, and although the blog earns some income through sponsored posts and affiliate links, I also work as a freelance writer and consultant on the side.
6. WHAT TYPE OF FINANCING DID YOU NEED TO START YOUR BUSINESS?
Every business requires investment. Although starting a blog is relatively low-cost, you’ll of course need to buy a few things such as a domain name, set up a web hosting account, maybe invest in some new equipment like a camera or laptop.
Personally, I took it slow and only invested where and when needed. For example, I used my phone’s camera for the first year before buying my first mirrorless camera.
7. TELL US ABOUT A PROJECT / ADVENTURE YOU’VE LOVED WRITING ABOUT:
I really loved writing about Hawaii, where I went for my honeymoon. It’s such a special place, I was in awe throughout the trip. The highlight for me was definitely driving the Road to Hana. To honeymoon in Hawaii was always my dream and I can’t describe how incredible it was to experience that with the love of my life.
8. WHAT HAS BEEN THE BIGGEST HURDLE FOR YOU WHEN STARTING YOUR OWN BUSINESS / WORKING FOR YOURSELF?
Initially, it was getting people to take my work seriously. When I quit my job, there was this assumption that I’m now on holiday and have time to spare, which couldn’t be further from the truth. I work harder now than I ever did, but find that people who aren’t self-employed have a hard time understanding that.
Nowadays, it’s more about managing my time and organising content. I have a thousand and one ideas I want to write about, today, but that’s impossible. Although I have a strategy I’m following, I recognise that I need to get better at prioritising and organising myself. It’s especially hard as a blogger, as there are so many exciting opportunities but you just can’t do them all.
9. HOW DO YOU JUGGLE YOUR CAREER WITH PERSONAL LIFE?
My husband and I are both really hard workers and the past few years have been especially intense. We had a two-year engagement before getting married last year, Big Fat Greek Wedding style in Mykonos. So we take our weekends (when we get them) and time off pretty seriously! We love to share new experiences together, whether that’s through travel, adventure or food. Our schedules are jam-packed but I’d say we have a pretty solid work-hard play-hard ethos!
10. TELL US ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL STYLE?
My style is quite minimalist, less is more, I wear a lot of black. I’m a writer so I observe people to the smallest detail and have come to realise just how much we communicate with our clothes. I use fashion like a chameleon changes his skin, to fit in or stand out.
Here’s me trying to look like a blogger! #monochrome
11. IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE ONLY 5 KEY PIECES FROM YOUR WARDROBE, WHAT WOULD THEY BE?
Although I don’t blog about fashion often, I follow all of the brands and trends. I’m all about investing in key pieces with longevity. Slow fashion to me means both being more conscious of who I’m buying from as well as getting more use out of the pieces I already own.
My favourite wardrobe pieces right now are my:
- black Karl Lagerfeld blazer jacket
- white Paige skinny jeans
- grey Adidas Stan Smiths
- floaty summer dress I bought from Anthropologie
- black Kamares slides by Alasia Lifestyle
12. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON NOW?
Every day I’m working towards achieving my goals for the year. These are: to grow my blog to 10k followers, establish a better work/life routine that involves actually going to the gym, and to finish the first draft of a biographical book I’ve been working on for the past year. Wish me luck!
13. WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO REMEDY WHEN YOU’RE STUCK IN A CREATIVE RUT?
Thankfully I’m never short on ideas, but I often run out of energy. I hate working when I’m exhausted or jet-lagged but fortunately, the remedy is pretty straight-forward. I take a break, close my eyes, and once I’m feeling re-energised, I’m ready to get back to work.
My creativity has always come from my heart and not my head. I have this inner place I draw from where I don’t really think too much and just see what comes out. Once it’s out there in the world, that’s when my critical brain takes over, dissecting and tearing apart my work until it’s something I like. It’s my process.
14. WHO INSPIRES YOU?
I take inspiration from so many different people and places. Seeing people succeed in whatever it is they’ve chosen for themselves really inspires me. I’m everyone’s cheerleader!
But I’m also really inspired by today’s business leaders who are recreating the world with social media, apps, Netflix, and all these incredible products and services that didn’t exist just a few years ago. It takes a lot more than vision to be a Zuckerberg.
15. WHAT’S ONE LESSON YOUR BUSINESS HAS TAUGHT YOU ABOUT LIFE AND ABOUT YOURSELF?
That life is too short not to do what you love. To not be afraid to be yourself and live your purpose. That failure is actually awesome. That if you don’t ask, you will never get. To reach for the stars, to have fun, to have given it your best shot, and not to be so hard on yourself. #YOLO!
Lara wears: Kamares leather slides in black
Anastasia wears: Akamas minimal black leather slides