Hi! My name is Mallory Whitfield, but you can call me Miss Malaprop! (Photo credit: Jen Karpowicz, “I Solemnly Swear Tee” Harry Potter inspired tee by Jordandené)
I was recently approached by Helen Alston, the New Orleans Market Specialist for Borrowed & Blue. I was actually familiar with Borrowed & Blue already because we work with a handful of wedding-related clients at my day job at FSC Interactive. But I wondered… “Why is a wedding website contacting me??”
After all, I’m about as far from wedding fan-girl as you can get. David and I have been together for 13 years now with no plans of getting hitched, and that’s just the way I like it. But when Helen explained why she was getting in touch and told me more about how the company got started, it all clicked. She told me, “We like to build authentic partnerships through grassroots collaboration.” This wasn’t some skeezy offer of a guest post exchange, like I’ve received plenty of over the years. This was something that felt much more thoughtful and authentic.
She also told me how Borrowed & Blue was started just 4 years ago by Christin and Adam Healey, after after they planned their wedding in Charlottesville, VA and felt frustrated that there wasn’t a straightforward, locally specific wedding planning resource on the internet. Anyone who’s been following me for awhile knows that I am all about small businesses and creative entrepreneurs. The story of these founders setting out to solve a problem that they and many other engaged couples were having is something I can get behind.
Anyway… long story short is that Helen wanted to do an interview with me, hosted here on Miss Malaprop, so the Borrowed & Blue community could get to know me and my New Orleans a little better. (Hi Borrowed & Blue folks, and welcome!!)
Helen sent along this blurb about why she wanted to interview me. (The introverted side of me is blushing at this intro.)
“Mallory such a dynamic, interesting person. She’s taken the building blocks of her interests and creative energy and turned them into a tower of entrepreneurial awesomeness! Between her blog—Miss Malaprop, where she shares tips about marketing and blogging—her crafting and DIY savvy, and her public speaking and performance experience, Mallory is a real powerhouse of a lady. Her spirit and go-getter attitude, to me, are so utterly New Orleans. I’m so pleased that I came across her site because I think our Borrowed & Blue readers are going to love her sense of humor, approachable writing style, and comprehensive knowledge of all things NOLA! I can’t wait for you to learn more about her work.” – Helen, Borrowed & Blue’s New Orleans Market Specialist
So… Here’s my Q&A with Borrowed & Blue:
1. Mallory! How do you like to describe your talents to new blog-goers?
I’ve struggled for a long time to narrow down my “elevator pitch” because I’m a very multi-passionate person with a lot of diverse interests. (I even recorded a video and wrote a whole post about it last year.) But I’ve come to realize that everything I do boils down to three main things: educate, entertain, inspire.
Lately a lot of my focus, including my blog content, has shifted to the “educate” side of things. I’ve had some version of my own business since 2004 and I’ve learned a LOT over the years. In the past couple of years I’ve realized that I truly enjoy teaching business and marketing basics to other people.
I also love entertaining people. Even as a kid, I would grab any adult I could find and perform for them. I did theatre throughout high school and college and got back into performing via drag and burlesque a few years ago. Recently, I’ve been pursuing more speaking engagements, and I’ll be trying out a new weekly live web show on BLAB very soon.
Finally, I’m all about inspiration. I’ve always been a pretty positive, optimistic person but I’ve been surrounded by many close friends and family members who have struggled with depression. If I can share inspiring words, images and stories and brighten even one person’s day, it’s totally worth it for me. My Instagram and Facebook page are the main places I share that good stuff, plus I’ve turned a few of my favorites into products on Zazzle.
My stage name is Glamdromeda Strange. Don’t wear it out. (Photo credit: David S White)
2. Tell us how you got into blogging.
I like to say I grew up an “Internet kid” since I came of age in the 90s as the Internet was developing. I was really active in a few online forums in the late 90s / early 2000s, and I started a personal blog on Livejournal around 2001, which is actually where David and I met.
I started this site in 2006, with the focus of promoting handmade and independent designers and eco-friendly products. My goal at the time was to eventually turn it into an e-commerce site and a brick and mortar boutique for the same kinds of products. I did have an e-commerce site for a few years and sold stuff at art markets and festivals for many years, but I eventually realized that I didn’t want to have a retail store. Along the way I learned so much about blogging and business that I was able to get a great job at a local digital marketing agency, and now I’m teaching other people what I know.
3. It seems to me that you’re something of an expert on doing things. What’s something that you look forward to doing in the near future?
David and I are planning a trip this summer to Portland, Oregon to see our close friends Gwen and Brian who moved there a few years ago. We also booked a beach house next to the Pacific Ocean for a few days of that trip, which we’re all really stoked about!
Mardi Gras 2011, wearing the stuffed animal dress I made.
4. New Orleans is such an incredible community of artists and makers. What are some of your favorite events that happen in NOLA every year, and who makes them happen?
I love the whole season of Mardi Gras, but especially Mardi Gras day. There’s so much creativity that emerges, and I love hanging out in the French Quarter that day to see everyone’s costumes.
I don’t really watch a lot of Mardi Gras parades, but I’m usually in a few. Each year I march in the Krewe of Muses parade with Noisician Coalition, which is this crazy noise instrument marching band my friend MattVaughn started more than a decade ago. I also march in the Krewe of Tucks parade with the local garrison of the 501st Legion, an international Star Wars costuming fan group.
5. What advice do you have for other DIY, entrepreneurial types who are looking to start something of their own in their city?
Just do it. I would suggest searching to see what organizations or events already exist in your city that you can join or collaborate with. Sometimes there are reasons to go it alone, but more often than not, it’s easier to piggyback on an existing infrastructure or collaborate with someone else instead of reinventing the wheel. I’ve see a lot of situations happen where it would have made so much more sense for an organizer to just work with something similar that already existed and pool resources instead of splitting the audience into two. You can be so much stronger as a team than as individuals.
New Orleans Snoball Postcard – Summer in NOLA! by MissMalaprop
6. As a NOLA expert, what are some of your favorite places to bring out-of-town guests?
I’m always up for wandering around the French Quarter. I worked down there for many years, at both the Louisiana State Museum and at Trashy Diva, and I miss it now that I don’t spend much time there.
I also love visiting the Audubon Zoo and the Aquarium of the Americas. I grew up nearby on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, so most of my earliest memories of New Orleans are of visiting those two places.
I think we’d also have to grab a snoball if it was in season. My favorite is Plum Street Snoballs. I love the cream flavors, especially Orchid Cream Vanilla and Nectar Cream.
7. Describe your ideal day in New Orleans.
I’ve been having quite a few of them lately. The spring weather is gorgeous this time of year, so in a perfect world I’ll start the day off with a run / jog / walk over to City Park. Then I’ll work on some of my own projects for awhile in my office, with the windows and doors open to let in the fresh air. I’d finish the evening off with friends, either at a casual local restaurant like Juan’s Flying Burrito or at a friend’s house, drinking wine and eating lots of cheese and crackers.
8. The food in New Orleans is unbelievable. What glorious restaurants should we check out in the area—preferably ones that aren’t on your average tourist’s radar?
One of my favorite restaurants in town is called Bennachin (1212 Royal Street). It’s West African, so basically the roots of much of the soul food found in New Orleans. It’s BYOB, but it’s right across the street from Verti Marte, a popular local shop where you can choose from a large selection of wine and liquor. I like the black-eyed pea fritters as an appetizer, and my personal favorite entrée is Cope ni Makondo, grilled chicken served with sautéed spinach, coconut rice and fried plantains.
I’m also a big brunch person. I love breakfast food any time of day, and Ruby Slipper and Biscuits & Buns on Banks are two of my favorites. Both are based in Mid-City, the neighborhood where I live, but Ruby Slipper has a few locations downtown that are convenient if you’re staying in the French Quarter.
Colorful House in New Orleans Postcard by MissMalaprop
9. What would you like visitors to know about NOLA before they make their first visit?
Locals never go to Bourbon Street unless they work there. Or like… once every year on a random Tuesday night to go to a strip club because an out-of-town friend is visiting. Frenchmen Street is where to go if you really want to experience live jazz music and New Orleans nightlife, although it’s become more and more crowded during the past few years as more tourists have discovered it.
Also, if you come here any time other than Mardi Gras season, and you’re seen wearing Mardi Gras beads, it instantly pegs you as a tourist.
GoNOLA.com is a really great resource for visitors who want a more authentic, off-the-beaten path New Orleans experience.
10. What sets New Orleans apart from other places you’ve been?
There’s just a joie de vivre, “I don’t give a f*&k” kind of attitude down here that I love. I think this city attracts misfits and weirdos who don’t feel at home anywhere else. It’s the kind of place you either love or you hate, but if you love it, New Orleans gets inside of you. Once you love her, you’ll always get pulled back here. It’s unlike anyplace else.
Okay, that’s a wrap! I hope you found this interview entertaining / useful / inspiring / non-boring! A big thanks to Borrowed & Blue for inviting me to share this with their audience!
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