Friday, June 4, 2010

First Look Fridays: Blogger Betsy Lowther of Fashion Is Spinach

Betsy Lowther, Fashion is Spinach, beauty blog, fashion blog, interview, First Look Fridays
I've known blogger Betsy Lowther, she of Fashion Is Spinach fame, for quite some time. She was actually my first boss in the "real world" over 8 years ago! (We worked together at Harper's Bazaar.) Since then, I've grown to absolutely adore her blog and read it on a daily basis, not to mention I follow her on Twitter. Read on to discover why she started her blog, the statement jewelry she can't live without and so much more.

Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
I'm a native Delawarean (the home of tax-free shopping, woo), and honed my journalism chops at the University of Delaware's student paper, The Review. After graduation, I moved to New York to work in magazines for a few years. I got the chance to move to Asia, and ended up living abroad (two years each in Beijing and Singapore) before moving back to the U.S. about 2 and a half years ago. I ended up in D.C., which I thought would just be short-term, and ended up liking it so much, I stayed.

I'd been a fashion/lifestyle journalist for more than a decade -- working for and writing for pubs like WWD, Lucky and The Washington Post's fashion glossy -- but recently traded that in for a job as a digital strategist with Ogilvy PR, working with companies on social media outreach and engagement programs.

How did you first become interested in fashion and beauty?
I'd always loved clothes and shopping, but my taste for a long time was ... let's say, not very good. (Delaware is not exactly a hub of high fashion. The Gap was about as trend-setting as it got.) When I moved to New York, the art director of the first magazine I worked for was impossibly stylish and ended up educating all of us on the ins and outs of Prada and Louboutin. And, of course, living in New York is a fashion education in itself. I was quickly hooked.

Why did you decide to start your blog?
I've been a blogger, in one way or another, for (gasp) 10 years. But the fashion blog came about four years ago, when I was living in Singapore. At the time, I wrote a ton about the fashion industry (for WWD, among other pubs), but not nearly enough about the tiny local designers I'd discover when visiting Delhi or Bangkok or Baltimore. I really wanted to share and support these little shops and designers I'd find, and the blog was born with that in mind.

I love the name of your blog! How did you come up with it?
I can't take any credit for it. It's really hard to come up with a new clever fashion blog name -- I'd decided to start a fashion blog, but had been wrestling with a good name for months. And then, I was reading an article that referenced the 1930's book Fashion is Spinach, by the pioneering American designer Elizabeth Hawes. I instantly loved its irreverence -- I think I looked up the URL that minute and bought it on the spot. Under closer investigation, I learned that Hawes was equating the idea of "fashion" (what she defined as the trends people followed blindly every season) with detestable vegetables. What was most important to her was personal style, "in" and "out" be damned. That's exactly what I think, so it turned out to be a perfect fit.

What have been some of the highlights of having your blog?
Certainly, it's been watching it grow. For awhile, it was my mom and a few friends who read it. I've gathered more and more readers over the years completely organically -- I've never asked anyone to link to me or done much to grow it myself. The blog was always supposed to be a fun outlet for me, so I've never taken any steps to make it profitable or promote it. That said, it actually helped launch the next phase of my career: Because I was being reached out to, as a known blogger, by so many brands and companies, I started getting interested in social media marketing and how it can be effective (and, in some cases I witnesses firsthand, really embarrassingly ineffective). I did some consulting on that, and recently traded in my journalist's hat to become a full-time digital strategist for Ogilvy PR.

What are your top 5 beauty essentials?
Only 5? How to choose?! Let's see:

bareMinerals, bareMinerals Finishers Mineral Veil Finishing Powder, face powder, makeup
1) bareMinerals Finishers Mineral Veil Finishing Powder

Benefit, Benefit Benetint, lip stain, cheek stain, makeup
2) Benefit Benetint and Erase Paste

Bobbi Brown, Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner, eye liner, makeup, eye makeup
3) Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner

Clarisonic, Clarisonic Mia, Clarisonic Sonic Skin Cleansing System, skin, skincare, skin care, cleanser
4) CLARISONIC Mia Sonic Skin Cleansing System

Bumble and bumble, Bumble and bumble Grooming Creme, hair
5) Oh, and Bumble and bumble Grooming Creme

Kiehl's, Kiehl's Creme de Corps, Kiehl's Creme de Corps Body Lotion, Kiehl's lotion, lotion, moisturizer, cream, hand cream, body cream6) Oh! And Kiehl's Creme de Corps lotion

La Mer, La Mer serum, La Mer The Regenerating Serum, serum, skin, skincare, skin care7) And I recently got a bottle of La Mer's new Regenerating Serum, and it's kind of blowing my mind.

Editor's note: As you can see, Betsy had a bit of a problem picking only five. :)

Tiffany & Co., Tiffany & Co. Elsa Peretti Bone Cuff, Elsa Peretti, Elsa Peretti jewelry, Tiffany & Co. jewelry, Tiffany & Co. cuff, Tiffany & Co. bracelet, jewelry, bracelet, cuffWhat are your top 5 fashion/style essentials?
Hmmmm. This one's equally hard. I swear by:

1) A sculptural black skirt (I own several, but my go-to is a Michael Kors tulip skirt)

2) A chunky cuff bracelet (I've got ones that cost $5 at an market in India to my beloved Elsa Peretti bone cuff from Tiffany & Co.)

3) Jeanne Jarvaise platform heels (as comfortable as sneakers -- she's currently on hiatus and it's killing me)

4) Bags without any logos, nameplates or major hardware (so hard to find -- my favorites are from Pierre Hardy or 3.1 Phillip Lim)

5) A big, oversized statement ring (unless I'm wearing a cuff -- I'll only wear only one statement jewelry piece at a time).

6) Oh, and vintage! Half of my clothes are vintage -- it's the only way to get one-of-a-kind pieces without insane prices. Lately, I've been on a huge vintage hat kick.

What brands can you simply not live without?
I tend to mix up lots of different brands, from high-end to low-end, for both fashion and beauty. But a few that never do me wrong: Benefit, Bumble and bumble, Kiehl's, Chapstick, Nars, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Hanii Y., vintage Victor Costa.

Follow Betsy on Twitter here.

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