CREATIVES IN FOCUS
Hi friends, this week I had a “Creatives in Focus” interview with Ruth MacGilp, a blogger, writer and free-lance digital marketer. We spoke about her passion for ethical fashion, her experience working and growing as a fashion blogger. Grab a cup of tea and let us get stuck in.
Vicky: Tell me a little about yourself and your fashion-related roles?
Ruth: I am a third-year Fashion Communication student at Heriot-Watt University. I have also been blogging for nearly 4 years, and I work as a freelance writer and digital marketer.
Vicky: How did you start blogging and what inspired you to start Urbanity?
Ruth: I started my fashion blog, Urbanity with a friend and I later carried on own my own. I started blogging because I have always loved fashion, so blogging gave me the opportunity to express myself, build up experience and create a portfolio.
Vicky: How do you stay motivated?
Ruth: It can be difficult to stay motivated, especially when you are not making an income from blogging. I blog because I love it and I am passionate about what I write about, plus blogging has led to various jobs and clients too.
Vicky: Can you describe your style?
Ruth: It depends on the mood I am in, but generally, I would say minimalist and chic. I try to support ethical fashion brands and local or independent designers as much as possible through what I wear.
Vicky: What are the skills you need to be a successful fashion or lifestyle blogger?
Ruth: Blogging used to be all about writing, but now it is about visuals. A good knowledge of social media, especially Instagram is needed. Also having a good eye for visuals, whether you are a photographer, or you collaborate with one. You need to be able to write engaging content; whether it is a short caption or long article, you must write in a way that engages people. You need to be confident about your niche and let your passion show through your work.
Vicky: How do you find creatives you can work and grow with?
Ruth: It is a mixture of meeting people online and in person. Go to events, network, and surround yourself with creativity. This is important especially when you are starting out. If you live in a small town or city where you there are not many events, you can make it happen by hosting your own event. Some people believe there is nothing happening outside of London but that is not true.
Vicky: Do you need to attend social media master classes or blogging workshops to progress as a blogger?
Ruth: I have found photography workshops helpful, and they are a few groups that run courses on how to work with brands or SEO optimisation. In Scotland, there is the Scottish Bloggers Collective and Blog and Beyond. There are also great online resources and awesome groups chats bloggers use to connect with each other. However, I would say always do your research before buying an e-book, course or a product, as there is no magic recipe. Apply what you have learned, practice and get yourself out there.
Vicky: With so many bloggers and influencers out there, what does it take to stand out from the crowd? Should this be your aim?
Ruth: The influencer sphere can be saturated, but just ignore the numbers game and be authentic. For example, I am passionate about ethical fashion so I only work with brands which align with my ethics. Stick to what you do best, and you will grow along the way. There is space for everyone, and we should be supportive, not competitive.
“Ignore the numbers game and be authentic“
Vicky: I found your “finding my freelance style” post very helpful, what do you enjoy the most about being a self- employed blogger?
Ruth: My job gives me the freedom to have multiple projects. In the creative industries, it can be difficult to find well-paying jobs, so it is wise to have lots of small projects or clients ongoing to ensure a steady flow of income. I can also work remotely which allows me to have more of a flexible lifestyle compared to working a 9-5 job.
Vicky: What is the difference between ethical and sustainable fashion?
Ruth: Sustainable fashion relates to the environment and ethical fashion relates more to human rights, but these terms can be used interchangeably. People tend to think about the environment and fair wages, but I think that ethical fashion can also cover other issues such as diversity and cultural appropriation.
“Sustainable fashion relates to the environment and ethical fashion relates more to human rights”
Vicky: As an ethical influencer member, why are you passionate about ethical and sustainable fashion?
Ruth: As a creative working in the fashion industry, I must care about the wider impact of the fashion industry. The fashion industry is the second most polluting in the world, and the demand for cheap clothing has detrimental effects on communities and the environment. On the flip-side, it is fun discovering new brands and meeting amazing designers; ethical fashion can be positive, it is the driving force for change in the industry.
“Ethical fashion can be positive, it is the driving force for change in the industry“
Vicky: What are your 4 favourite ethical fashion brands?
Ruth: It depends on what I am buying, I am a big fan of Scottish fashion and local brands. I am loving Rachel Macmillan – a Glaswegian fashion designer who makes all her clothing from organic cotton and bamboo fabric, Studio Five– Textile designers that specialize in T-shirts, bags and accessories using sustainable materials. I am also loving Squint Clothing and Birds of Prayers. There are tons of ethical fashion brands out there but one of the best ways to shop is local.
Vicky: Can I really incorporate sustainable yet affordable fashion into my wardrobe?
Ruth: Yes, ethical fashion is more expensive, but that is how it should be. Clothing should not be so cheap, and we should not be buying in such excessive quantities. I cannot lie, I love to shop, but I shop in second-hand and vintage shops because I am not adding anything new to the world, and it is much cheaper. If you have a good eye for style you can find some amazing pieces.
Vicky: In the corporate world you are encouraged to have a healthy work-life balance. Do you think bloggers and social media influencers can truly have this balance?
Ruth: To be honest, no, unless you make a conscious effort to take a break from work and social media. Your mental health and wellbeing should be a priority.
Vicky: What do you do ensure you have a healthy work-balance, how you ensure your mental health and well-being is a priority.
Ruth: I could do better, but one of the ways I detach myself from work is spending time with good friends, who inspire and encourage me.
Vicky: What advice you have for someone thinking about starting a blog in a creative genre and someone on the verge of giving up blogging?
Ruth: Go for it! You will learn so much along the way. If you are no longer inspired, try and find a new focus for your blog, and don’t be afraid to give yourself a break to refresh.
Connect with Ruth by clicking the links below: