Feature Interview with Toya Smith Marshall

Name: Toya Smith Marshall, Founder, Writer and Owner of "The Life of a Ladybug"
Blog Name: http://lifeofaladybug.typepad.com/

Toya is a wife, mother, member of the Niraja Dance Company (The NDC) and owner of Makeda Make-up Artistry. In her spare time, she also writes her own beauty blog – The Life of a Ladybug and a personal/dance blog - Makeda. I caught up with Toya to find out how she does it all!

What first inspired you to start a beauty blog?
"The Life of A Ladybug" started out as a personal blog, actually. I posted about things that interested me - bellydance, pop culture, politics, issues affecting the Black community, and, of course, makeup, hair and clothes. After a while, I realized that the vast majority of my posts were about makeup and hair, so I decided to make "The Life of A Ladybug" a true beauty blog and created a new blog, "Makeda" to talk about my other passions.

How has blogging changed your life?
Blogging has opened so many doors for me. First of all, it's just a great creative outlet. I've been a writer all my life - in fact, I minored in creative writing in college. After I graduated, I kind of got out of it, but missed it so much. Blogging has been my way to get back into writing and in a much more immediate way - my writing goes out to the mass instantly and I get responses almost as quickly. It's very fulfilling. Because of my site, I've also been given opportunities to write in other venues, like online magazines, websites, etc. Not to mention that I've made friends in the beauty blogging world, which is great.

For those who are wanting to create a blog, where would you suggest they start? Are there any particular websites that are helpful to you?
I started my blog on Blogger (http://www.blogspot.com/), which is a really easy way to get going in blogging. It's just a step-by-step process and you have a blog within minutes! As I'm not a technically savvy person, this was the best way for me. They even have pre-made templates and everything. After I'd been going for a while, I switched over to Typepad (http://www.typepad.com/), which is where both my blogs are housed, currently. I find it almost as easy as Blogger and the template selection and adaptability are much greater. After switching to Typepad, I hired a designer to create the unique look of "The Life of A Ladybug".

After you get your blog started, it's a good idea to go around to similar blogs and become a regular reader and commenter. It is bad blogging etiquette to just spam other blogs' comment pages with your blog address, but if you're a regular reader/commenter, other regulars will become interested in you and will click on your name to find your link. Also, join networks and blogging communities to get your name/site out there.

I read your essay called "Doing What's Natural" that was featured on NPR. It seems like your daughter was quite an inspiration for you to go natural with your hair. Can you explain how she was an influence?
My daughter influences lots of what I do. When she was born, I did a lot of thinking about my place in the world as a Black woman. I was raising this little Black girl and I wanted her to believe in her beauty and rightness. In order to instill that in her, I had to believe and understand it for myself. So I decided it was time for me to stop becoming something other than who I was and learn to love myself in my natural state. So, I stopped relaxing - I cut my relaxed ends off and got to know my natural curly/kinky hair and I've been loving every minute of it.

Do you feel the same way about makeup being natural? What advice do you have for mothers with teenage daughters as far as makeup is concerned?
If you mean more organic ingredients/products, etc., no, not really. I love makeup in all its forms. Now, that doesn't mean that I'll use any and everything on my face, as I have really sensitive skin, so anything that irritates it goes in the trash really quickly.

My advice for moms with teenaged daughters: Let them experiment. I know that's probably not the most popular advice, but it's what I think works. When I was a teenager, that's what I wanted to do most. And really, I don't think it hurts. If your daughter goes out with purple eyeshadow up to her brow and black lipstick, it might look a crazy mess, but it won't hurt her. She'll learn pretty quickly how she wants to look and she'll move in that direction. Your daughter may not have the same idea of beauty that you have and that's okay. Makeup is supposed to be fun. Now ... I think teenaged girls look best with light, natural makeup, but hey ... it's not my face!

Can you tell us what is in your makeup bag?
I can tell you what's in the one I carry to work! As for what's in my actual makeup arsenal (I call it that, or "makeup wardrobe"), that would take way too long! I ran out of the house this morning, so I had to bring all my makeup with me to put on.
Today, I'm carrying:
Smashbox Sheer Focus Tinted Moisturizer in Medium
Bobbi Brown Corrector in Dark Bisque and Concealer Kit in Golden
Anastasia Brow Wiz in Brunette
MAC Mineralize Loose Powder in Deep Dark
Too Faced Shadow Insurance
MAC Eyeshadow in Wintersky and Flip
Fresh Eyeshadow in Kona
MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder
MAX FACTOR 2000 Calories Mascara in Rich Black
MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Brunette
Burt's Bees Replenishing Lip Balm with Pomegranate
MAC Lipliner in Cork
MAC Lipstick in Blow Dry
MAC Lipglass in Red Devil

As you can see, I'm a MAChead. But I love makeup of all kinds. My other favorite lines are Bobbi Brown, Stila, Sally Hansen Natural Beauty inspired by Carmindy and NARS. But you'll find a bit of everything in my arsenal.

What would be the one beauty product that you couldn't live without?
A good lip and cheek stain. My favorites are Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge, Three Custom Color Specialists Lip & Cheek Stains and Stila's Cherry and Pomegranate Crushes. They are the perfect product for making you look pretty in a matter of seconds.

Can you tell us how dancing fits into your life?
Wow. Dancing is one of my life's greatest passions. It, like writing, is a great creative outlet for me. Bellydance is about grace and beauty and emotional connection to the music. I love having a way to celebrate my femininity and to be present in my body, while entertaining an audience. I have so much fun with it.
As a member of The NDC (http://www.thendc.net/), I've found a group of women who share my love of the dance and my desire to bring it to the world in a way that is respectful of the cultures of origin, while allowing us to add our own unique flavor. They have become my great friends and family.

What is your key to staying on top of everything?
Loving everything I do. It's the only way I'm able to do it all without passing out from exhaustion. Each thing I do - writing, dancing, makeup, mothering, marriage - is something that brings me great joy and satisfaction.

Not to mention that I just have a fabulous husband and partner, Victor. He is a snuggle muffin of a man. He is supportive and kind and patient. And he's pretty hot. What else could a girl ask for?
Thank you Toya for giving me time out of your busy schedule! To visit Toya's blogs, visit:


Ms. Salti said...

What a great post/interview. Thanks for introducing us to Toya!

Anonymous said...

That was a fun interview, I enjoyed hearing about Toya's life and her thought's on makeup.


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