This is why we decided to start a weekly series of posts on both of our blogs telling our blogging story, how we came at it from different sides and the lessons we learned on the way. There are many posts out there prescribing “the best way to start a fashion blog” but I really believe that each blog is different and so there isn’t one single way that will work for everyone. Perhaps reading stories from bloggers who have been at it for a while will inspire and help you. And perhaps we will finally find out if we are relevant yet. If this is your jam, then tune in here and on FFG every Thursday for a new post on the topic.
Life is really a funny thing. Here I am in a Notting Hill coffee shop, sitting opposite my best friend and blogging buddy, each of us trying to sum up our lives for you, to tell you how we got to where we are, even though neither of us really knows where we actually are right now.
I was born and raised in Paris – in an area called Le Marais to be specific. I attended a very liberal primary school, frequented mostly by the offspring of musicians, artists and film personalities. There, creativity and imagination were valued above anything else, so in my head, this was how life was. By that point, I already decided I wanted to be a writer, without really knowing what it meant or even knowing what a writer really was. I just knew that the task made me happy.
I started keeping a journal from age 6 (it wasn’t very interesting) and by age 10 I was writing little poems (mostly about my dog).
Secondary school came as quite a shock to my system. The little daydreamer from Le Marais landed in a much more conservative place, where creative streaks weren’t encouraged. Instead we were being carefully packaged up in little boxes, told there were no jobs (yay for the 90s everyone!) and that we needed to work towards “real” careers, such as doctor, lawyer or accountant. Obviously “writer” wasn’t seen as a “real” career option, let alone a viable one.
Fast forward a few years, age 17 and trying to decide which university to attend and what subject to study. By that point I was more aware of my career prospects and journalism slowly became the obvious choice. My parents were pushing me to attend a prestigious journalism school in Paris, but I refused. I felt that I would lock myself in another box doing that, albeit a more relevant one. Instead, we reached a compromise and I went on to study History (BA level) then moved on to Film Studies for my Masters Degree. I was never particularly inspired when at University, so in my spare time I would write short stories, children’s books (which I also tried to illustrate – a disaster) and articles for various publications.
In 1998, the first start-up boom happened in France and I dove right in. This new thing called “The Internet” was fascinating to me. I would spend hours researching stuff on Alta Vista (this should allow you to accurately age me, like the rings on a tree trunk) while teaching myself HTML and Flash. These newly developed skills, combined with my passion for writing landed me my first internships and also my first proper writing gig in 2000: reviewing video-games for a film magazine. At first I was writing snippets, but quickly the editor took a liking to my style and allocated me more space in the magazine. Other magazines then reached out to me offering work writing about technology, games and the internet in general. After a year, I was hired as a freelance editor by another film magazine (Score) to develop their video-games section. I also worked on the side to make ends meet – although they rarely did – but overall, I was living my dream and most importantly, I was proving everyone wrong: I could make a living writing! I could be a girl and work in the tech industry! It didn’t matter that all I could afford was food for my cats and lived on a diet of Krisprolls and cigarettes in a flat where the kitchen was a kitchen / bathroom. A bathtub in the kitchen, how bohemian! Who cares about money?
By 2003, I’d already done some pretty cool things as a journalist, I’d been flown to L.A. to attend a games conference, I’d eaten enough canapés to feed a small country and I had also spent countless hours playing video-games. Brilliant, right? By that time, I’d also fully immersed myself in a little thing we call social media, via the now defunct Friendster and Myspace. On there I found like minded people, developed some serious crushes and eventually fell in love with a boy who lived in the U.K.
In the Summer of 2004, I decided to pack up my stuff and move to England to give this new relationship a go. The move was supposed to be temporary. He was going to learn French and then we would come back to Paris, victorious and in love. Sadly, things didn’t exactly work out that way. I arrived in the fair city of Bristol, England, not knowing anyone, had to work double shifts in bars and I no longer had time to write. Also my relationship wasn’t going so well. After 6 months in Bristol, I was ready to go home. Instead I decided to make a pitstop in London.
My mum took me there for the first time when I was 7. I had just discovered David Bowie, I also had just discovered cameras. So off we went, just two girls discovering a big city. I fell in love with London then. As a teen, I would go to London at least once a year to study English and explore. It was a tradition of sorts. I was in love with British culture. So of course when the opportunity presented itself to spend a few months in London, I jumped at the chance.
In 2005 I met the man who is now my husband (on Myspace, I know, right?), one thing led to another and next thing I knew, I was pregnant. “They” say that when you know, you know, so I guess “they” were right. “They” also say to wear protection when you plan on having sexy marathons with the love of your life otherwise you will get pregnant and again, “they” were right. My pregnancy was an accident as you may have guessed, but it was of course a happy one and also the timing couldn’t have been better. I had stopped writing for over a year, because to survive in London I couldn’t do what I was doing in Paris and I had to find one of those “proper” jobs: I became a games tester / translator and later team supervisor for a games company. I wasn’t happy there but I couldn’t leave because in London you need money. My little “who cares about money?” song was long forgotten by then, because in London you simply have to care about it. Somehow, the egg growing in my body became my exit strategy. I would go on maternity leave and figure things out.
My daughter was born in September 2007, she looked like a bald James Cagney after a boxing match and I weighed 90kgs. In other words, we were a winning team. I got hit full blast by postpartum depression and also started defining my newfound role as a mother. Who would I be as a mother? Would I manage to still be myself? God knows I wanted to be myself and at that stage, I was as big as twice the old me so I could perhaps consider being extra myself. After weeks spent watching Gilmore Girls reruns, I slowly came out of my funk and realised motherhood wasn’t preventing me from being me. I wasn’t myself because I wasn’t writing anymore. Just like that, one day in November 2007, I went on blogger.com and registered mellerobot.blogspot.com. I started writing posts. I didn’t share them with anyone, I just wanted to write. I wanted to do something meaningful while my baby was sleeping – and she slept a lot. I wanted to try and get back into the habit of writing regularly, build a portfolio in English. Maybe one day I would be able to start pitching ideas to magazines in the U.K.
On the blog, I wrote about everything, from films to music, days in the park with my baby, mood pieces, experiences… Ultimately it didn’t matter because nobody was reading it anyway! Soon after, I discovered there was an entire community of women in the States writing blogs: mums with blogs, teens with blogs, working women with blogs! Some were tiptoeing around like me, some were proudly showing what they wore everyday, some were discussing motherhood or dishing out life advice. But we were all in the same boat and we were all talking the same language. And it felt great! Six months after registering my blogspot URL, I bought my own domain name, the same one you just typed in your browser: MademoiselleRobot.com. Another couple months later, PR companies were getting in touch, asking me if I wanted to review products. In 2010, I was named one of the Britain’s Best Bloggers by the Telegraph and from there, things really got started.
Which brings me back to the first lines… Here I am in a Notting Hill coffee shop, sitting with my best friend Emily, who I first snarled at across a table during an event in 2009. As you may have guessed, we met again later when I was less of a moody cow, and she turned out to be a pretty OK human being (I guess). She is the kindred spirit I’d been looking for online, my writer sister. The idea for this series of posts came from our combined passion for words, for blogging and for doing our own thing. We want to tell you how we got to where we are now, give you the advice we never got (believe me it will save you a whole bunch of time) and welcome you to the Robot & Goose club (drinks are free).