Mónica Parga, a 19-year-old Spanish a journalism student, has been defining style from her blog, Miss at la Playa [“Miss at the Beach] since she was 15. Even before there were bloggers at the Cibeles de Madrid catwalk, a platform for promoting fashion in Spain, Parga was there, taking photos and rubbing shoulders with the best designers and models on the national scene. Her blog, which is published in Spanish and English, has allowed her to bring together her passion for fashion, art and photography, as well as win a certain reputation for herself in the blogosphere for having been ranked among the 99 most influential blogs in the world by Refinery29.com, an online fashion magazine.
Parga mostly writes about the latest fashions. Here’s an excerpt from a recent post on May 18, 2011: “Today was the Bimba & Lola F/W 2011 presentation in Madrid, and I’m happy to announce that they’ve made even more fantastic accessories and clothes for next season. The inspiration was the Andes, the Peruvian prints and the rockabilly look. Quite a good mix, right? Alexa Chung meets Coco Summer meets Pixie Geldof meets Margot Tenembaum. Oh, and it’s the first time they use the red colour.”
Parga spoke with Knowledge@Wharton High School about how her blog has evolved to the point where it attracts 3,000 visitors a day, and how she differentiates herself among all the bloggers in the world of fashion.
Knowledge@Wharton High School: How did you start out in the world of fashion? How did the idea for creating ‘Miss at la Playa’ emerge?
Mónica Parga: At the beginning, I had a web page on which I talked about topics that I liked, such as literature and movies. I really liked changing its design, and I realized the pages that I visited incorporated a lot of images from Vogue magazine … so I began to buy that magazine. From there, I got interested in fashion photography, and went on to buy more magazines in the sector. I started to include fashion information on my website. However, it was very hard to keep a page like that up to date; you have to put the information into a computer and then upload it. It isn’t a very smooth [system], and I thought it would be more comfortable for me to publish a blog.
That’s how Miss at la Playa came up. I began to publish information about fashion, and if I saw something that I liked and that seemed interesting to me, I recommended it, and so forth. Over time, I was gaining more and more readers, and so I decided to continue with this activity.
KWHS: How did your blog evolve, and why?
Parga: When I created it, I updated it one day a week with a very short post [recommending] a book, or something like that. Since I was gaining more readers, I got interested in making the blog more informative. Whenever something important happened in the world of fashion, I would want to be the first person to talk about that topic. At the beginning, I had about 50 visitors a day. After six months, that number grew to about 1,000 visitors, and today there are 3,000 people who visit my blog every day. Visitors sometimes peak when there is a specific event.
KWHS: How have you managed to differentiate yourself in the world of fashion blogs?
Parga: This is something that I do from my home as a hobby, and while I try to do it as well as possible, you never imagine that it is going to [get] such a [reaction].
From the start, my intention was to talk about what I liked; creating content and trying to provide a focus that was different from other [blogs]. So, if they invite me to a runway show, I worry about getting my own images, and I try to give information that is different from everyone else in the media.
I began to go to fashion shows at Cibeles in Madrid because, through the blog, an online French magazine got to know me and asked me if I could cover the shows for them. Through the magazine, I got accreditation to attend [the shows at] Cibeles. I only had to write a couple of pages for them, and the rest of the time I spent taking photos and getting materials together. I did this for three or four seasons. When I started to go to Cibeles, there wasn’t a single blogger who attended the event, but then they created space for bloggers [starting with the 2010 season] and I got accreditation for myself, not through the magazine.
KWHS: To what do you owe your influence in the blogging sector?
Parga: I believe that we are complementary to the magazines. When people trust a blogger, that person has a lot of influence over recommendations, [which] is something quite valuable for a brand. On the other hand, magazines have stricter controls over newspaper people, so maybe the magazines don’t risk so much. And we have a freer spirit.
KWHS: Has this blog turned into your profession? In other words, are you making your living from it? How do you generate revenues through this medium?
Parga: These days, I am studying journalism and this is a hobby for me. So the revenues are something sporadic; that is to say, [the blog generates revenues] when a company gets interested in launching a publicity campaign through a banner advertisement or it wants to collaborate with some magazine. This happens once in a while, but it is not my intention now to devote myself totally to it.
KWHS: What recommendations would you make to young people who want to start a blog?
Parga: First, be patient because one day you could get lucky and get hundreds of unexpected visitors. Above all, work hard on the content; don’t try to create a post just because you want to publish something [rather than nothing new at all]. Try to differentiate yourself from the rest, and do things that others cannot do. For example, I publish in two languages [Spanish and English] because that way I reach more people and have more impact in the media. If my blog were written only in Spanish, maybe I would not have gotten into the ranking [of the most influential blogs] or been considered for certain collaborations.