CLAUDIA-TERESA POU – MEDILL NEWS SERVICE
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. I’m sure many of you have heard of that saying, advising us to make the best of what we’re given. Given our current economic situation, we should probably be changing our spending habits and do our best with a recessionary budget. So, start making lemonade!
No one knows that better than Mary Hall. By day, she’s a marketing manager for International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) and by nights and weekends, she calls herself the “Recessionista.” She’s been managing a recession-friendly fashion blog since July 2008 that has been gaining popularity as the recession deepens.
I asked the Recessionista to answer a few question for Medill Money Mavens, in hopes of sharing her story and her efforts to keep Americans looking fashionable despite their economic woes.
Q. I understand that as the recession has been getting worse, your popularity has been growing. Can you talk a little bit about that?
A. People are naturally going to look for ways to save money while still remaining fashionable. More and more shoppers are going to relate to the concept of being a Recessionista and look for information on how to shop smart. The blog is a one-stop source for that, so it’s really the first global resource for Recessionistas everywhere.
Q. What type of user feedback to you get?
A. It’s very, very positive. People still love fashion. Even in the Great Depression, there was fashion. Also, I am offering free information that people find useful, so people appreciate that and respond enthusiastically.
Q. Your blog has gotten a lot of buzz – what factors do you think have contributed to its success?
A. Well, the first factor is the name, Recessionista. That name has struck a lot of people’s fancy and brings a smile to their face. In this new economy, it’s amusing to think of a frugal fashionista as a “Recessionista”.
Second, I feel that people enjoy the writing and the humor on the blog. I get notes all the time about how readers check the blog and just crack-up. A lot of people loved my Golden Globes post where I turned the tables on the smarmy TV reporter critiquing the actresses’ fashion choices and then making a huge blunder about Coco Chanel.
And finally, the blog offers great tips and tells people about sales they might not otherwise know about. It’s a great combination at this time in the world.
Q. What type of news do you look for?
A. I look for stuff that is not only affordable, but tasteful and elegant so that it can be worn for many years. I love vintage, and I am always looking for that. I also love high-end designers for less and beauty on a budget tips.
Q. What type of person are you catering to?
A. I am catering to a shopper who I feel has good taste and wants to make elegant, classic choices with an occassional trendy item thrown in. And for those trendy items, my readers want to get the best possible price since they may not get much wear out of it.
Q. What’s the Recessonista budget?
A. LOL! It’s a moving target. I would say for most women, at least $100.00 a month is spent. Of course, some months you might spend nothing, and then one day, a sale calls to you, and you spend $300.000 But we are never talking about thousands or tens of thousands of dollars here in the Recessionista Regime.
Q. Is this a hobby?
A. Yes, this has been a hobby, but I never dreamed it would grow as it has! I always loved to write, so I wanted to have a creative outlet for my writing. The blog provides that. It’s really a “labor of love”.
Q. When the market improves, do you think you’ll continue to do the blog?
A. YES! I love doing the blog and sharing my tips. I always wanted to write. I am developing a book from the blog, so I want to continue to write for the rest of my life. It’s wonderful to have people reading my words.
I also love fashion, so whatever the economy, I will want to talk about fashion.
Q. What have you learned from this experience?
A. How POWERFUL the written word is on the Interest. This blog is like my “message in a bottle” that the world opened up and read. It’s amazing. I think blogging is the new media of the future. And I’m so pleased to be part of the “blog-o-sphere.”