When asked why they don’t pursue their passion, I often hear people give the excuse that they don’t have “time”. Well, well, well. Chelsea Alyssa is in her early twenties, has a day job and is pursuing her passion on the side.
Oh, and she happens to be crushing it.
I sat down with Chelsea recently to talk about passion, confidence and being a fashion blogger in Canada’s capital.
Fashion is the only hobby in which everyone has to participate.
— Chelsea Alyssa
Chelsea and I meet for dinner on a gorgeous September evening at DATSUN, where she happens to be a regular. Stepping into the restaurant, Chelsea is instantly recognizable, even though we’ve never met in person: she’s sitting at the bar with her trademark red lip, glasses à la Zooey Deschanel and a stunning royal blue skirt. We order drinks and quickly get to chatting.
Chelsea is a star on Ottawa’s fashion scene. When I originally came across her Instagram profile a few months ago, I was both intrigued and impressed. I have to admit my first thought: someone with this much style can simply NOT be from Ottawa. And yet, she is.
Born and raised in the south-end of the city, she’s a hairstylist by day and fashion blogger by night. Starting a fashion and lifestyle blog was something she’d been thinking about for a while. She launched this past January and never looked back.
“I’m different. I’m not one of those super tall, slender girls. I’m 5’2″ and I’m curvy. I’m myself”, she explains, taking a sip of her amaretto sour. “As someone who reads a lot of blogs, I am so tired of reading about these perfect looking people with perfect lives in LA or New York. I don’t care about your weekend in the Hamptons. I want to read about your grandma. I want something relatable and authentic and I think others want that too. That’s what I try to bring with my brand”.
You gotta hand it to her. It’s barely been half a year since she launched and Chelsea has already racked up nearly 1,500 followers on Instagram and has collaborated with various brands, including Place d’Orleans and CTV Morning Live.
Aside from her obvious style and being so talented, something I noticed about Chelsea is just how resourceful she is. When she started her blog, she networked: “I searched Instagram for local bloggers and found this incredible community of people – it’s been really helpful to me. I found my photographer through this community, who I’m now lucky enough to call my friend, along with other bloggers as well”.
We all know pursuing a passion is hard. You need to be hella self-motivated, committed and unafraid of failure. But doing it online opens you to all kinds of feedback. You’re vulnerable and haters can definitely kill your mojo. I ask Chelsea whether she has encountered any of these challenges with her blog or social media. “If you want to be a blogger, you’re going to need thick skin and a backbone”, she warns.
Although she hasn’t personally been the object of any serious negative feedback, some of her friends have not been so fortunate. “Since I started my blog, I’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback. I’m really lucky, but part of it is that my blog is still small. I’m not that well known yet. The bigger the brand gets, the more I expect I’ll have to deal with it”.
For Chelsea, feedback, good or bad, is just part of the job and she has no plans to let it get in her way. “Even if I were to receive negative feedback, it doesn’t really matter because these people are hiding behind a computer screen. Seriously. They don’t add value to my life. As long as I’m happy with the content that I put out there, it shouldn’t matter what people say.”
Let me just say, I COMPLETELY agree with her. You have to believe in your own content. If what you’re saying is genuine, if you like your content and you believe in it, that’s what matters at the end of the day.
Haters aside, I want to ask Chelsea about her own confidence. She quickly explains that it hasn’t always been a bed of roses. “When I was a kid, growing up, I had some friends, but I was also bullied a lot because I was heavier than everyone else. At 16, a traumatic event happened and it overtook my life to the point where I was feeling depressed. I had also gone through some bad relationships”. Chelsea explains that she was diagnosed with anxiety and since starting medication, it’s made all the difference. “I only really started to coming into my own last year. I started anxiety medication and it turned my life around. I’m happier, and more comfortable in my skin, and I’m way more confident in fashion”.
If you scroll through Chelsea’s feed, you’ll sometimes come across a beard and it’s not hers. Chelsea’s boyfriend Tim will occasionally appear in photos and blog posts. They are very sweet together and have just celebrated their 2 year anniversary. You can read Chelsea’s heartwarming open love letter to Tim here.
How did they meet? When Chelsea was a teenager, one of her friends was the lead singer in a local band. Tim played bass. For years, Chelsea hung out with the band after their shows, but Tim never seemed to remember meeting her. Eventually he started to recognize Chelsea, who finally mustered up the courage to…. stalk his instagram and like a bunch of photos (hahaha been there!). That’s all it took for Tim to ask her out on a date, and the rest is history.
Lipstick: Sephora liquid lipstick in 01
Photo editing apps: A Color Story // Snapseed
Insta-stalking: Rachel Martino // colormecourtney // Keiko Lynn
Ottawa hangouts: DATSUN // Ministry of Coffee // Origin Trade // Elgin Beer Project // Moo Shu Ice Cream
Okay, so back to fashion. It can definitely be hard to pull off certain trends (furry flip flops, anyone?), so I wanted to ask Chelsea about how to be confident in what you’re wearing. Chelsea and I both live in Ottawa, and for those of you who don’t know, I must admit to you that it is NOT the most interesting city, umm, fashion-wise. Let’s just say in our city, jeggings and converse can be considered haute couture. Being around people who dress down a lot will definitely makes me hesitate before slipping into anything fancy or unique.
Chelsea knows what I’m talking about. “I have SO MANY friends that will pick out a dress in a store and they’ll say this is beautiful but where am I going to wear it“? Chelsea sighs with annoyance and I avoid eye-contact out of pure shame.
“Wear it for yourself”, she says unapologetically. “You may never get an ‘occasion’ to wear anything, so you just have to wear the things to make you happy. Style is about what makes you feel good that day.”
And on taking fashion risks? Chelsea rolls her eyes: “If you can’t take risks in fashion, where can you in life”?
You guys, Chelsea is a hustler. She’s a millennial who decided to pursue her passion for fashion (excuse the rhyme), despite having a day job. What free time she has, she dedicates to something she truly enjoys. Moreover, she found a way to monetize her passion. So, with that in mind, think twice before you complain that you can’t follow your dreams because you have a day job. Chelsea is an inspiration to all of us.