Irene Lara is a woman of ambition. She is a mother, entrepreneur, fashion blogger, Instagram influencer and soon to be YouTuber. Though she was born in Spain she’s by all accounts a citizen of the world, constantly traveling to new cities and sharing her experiences online. Whether sharing her latest fashion finds with an audience of nearly one million or documenting her worldwide travels, Lara constantly entertains.
As she continues to make her mark, the fashion expert is doing so with positivity and grace. We sat down with Lara to discuss her journey to becoming a social media influencer, her advice for creating sponsored content and her future plans.
1. How did you develop an interest in fashion, beauty, and travel respectively?
Since I was little, I remember going to my grandma’s house and looking at all the models in the magazines, with those stunning dresses and amazing looks. I was young, but I always knew fashion and beauty were a part of me. I believe fashion is another form of art and an amazing way to express ourselves.
Travel has always been there as well. Back home in Spain, we used to watch travel and nature documentaries all day featuring exotic destinations. I can’t honestly recall watching anything else on TV but this and news.
I was obsessed with traveling the world. I wanted to be one of those travel reporters and that’s why I decided to study journalism. Traveling is the best way to learn and educate ourselves and without a doubt, my biggest passion.
2. What were you doing before you became a blogger and Instagrammer, and what inspired you to pursue social media as a career?
After finishing both my degrees in journalism and PR, I opened my own importing company. I sold olive oil-based natural beauty products and olive oil online (my family produces it back in Spain). I also became a single mom during my last year of college (that’s a full-time job by itself, so there were tough moments and it wasn’t always easy).
I think it’s quite an interesting story how I became a fashion blogger. I used to follow all of my favorite bloggers (some of them are friends now!) and thought I could never expose my life that much. By expose I mean to show my daily life, where I go, what I do and what I wear. I was too shy for that but I still wanted to develop and be able to be myself.
Even though my business was always doing well, I was missing something. I needed to dedicate part of my time to one of the things I like to do best: writing. That’s how I created my blog Studio4Lara, which was actually an interior design and decor blog.
3. How have your blog and Instagram feed evolved over time? Any specific turning points?
After a year of blogging, I had a loyal following and regular readers, but I never showed my face and it was unthinkable to do so! My best friend pushed me to start sharing my looks and beauty tips, to dedicate more time to it and take it more seriously. “You would be good at it,” she would say.
More than three years after here I am, sharing my daily looks, trips and pretty much all I do with my followers. I could never imagine this would be my full-time job and that it would help me achieve so much! It still feels like a dream sometimes.
To be honest, I didn’t even know you could make money out of it! Studio4Lara was born from passion. When not caring for my baby or working, I would dedicate every single second to Studio4Lara, and that’s why it’s so special.
4. Outside of writing and photography, what creative mediums would you like to explore next?
I am launching my YouTube channel really soon, stay tuned for it! I am actually extremely excited about it!
5. How do you decide which brands to partner with, and how do you ensure that your fans are receptive to sponsored content?
I’m very selective when it comes to working with brands. You have to keep your feed real and be ethical, and make this your priority (instead of money). Being paid for creating content doesn’t mean it’s not real, or at least it shouldn’t mean that.
When I work with a brand it’s because it’s something I really like, wear or use in my daily life. I always try to test the products I’m showcasing to give a real and clear message to my followers. Luckily, I also work with a lot of brands I’ve been using for years, so I always keep it honest.
I have to say no to many opportunities because it wouldn’t feel right and also long term it would negatively affect my feed and following. People aren’t stupid and I’m sure they can notice when something isn’t totally true!
6. What’s the most overrated part of working in social media?
Still today, a lot of people don´t realize how much work and time we have to invest into this. Even though I love my job and wouldn’t do anything else as long as I can make a living, it’s not always as glamorous and fun as it looks.
I work pretty much all day and always have to cover events, brunches, trips and product launches. You can never just fully enjoy yourself and forget about your phone. I often catch flights for jobs in amazing places that I don´t get the chance to visit!
There are days when I literally work 14 hours, and I rarely take a day off. When I go on “holiday” I’m normally working with hotels, airlines or tourism boards and need to take pictures and film. Traveling is actually the time when I create my best content!
You need to keep building your feed and stay active to stay on top of the game. And that isn’t easy!
7. What advice would you give to those interested in building a following online?
Be constant. Focus on what you really like and set small goals.
Also, I think so many people today start blogging expecting to make a profit. Of course, we all want to get rewarded for our time, but the main reason should not be that. I have never met a successful blogger or influencer who doesn’t love what they do and truly enjoy doing it!
8. Lightning round:
One beauty tip that you live by?
Drink water with lemon!
Favorite travel destination of all time?
Jeans, basic t-shirt, sneakers and a cool biker jacket (always works)!
Best moment of 2017?
I have too many, but if I had to chose one, it would be my work trip to LA when I got to take my son with me. It was his birthday and we spent it at Universal Studios. It was just magical!
Instagram or Snapchat Stories?
Instagram stories of course!
Any exciting 2018 projects that your fans should know about?
So many, some of them I can’t reveal just yet! But as I said before, the biggest highlight will be my YouTube channel, where I will be posting weekly videos and vlogs.
This interview has been edited for clarity.