Whether you need tips on how to create the perfect smokey eye, deets on a recently opened local restaurant or an honest review on the latest skincare product on the market, the internet offers a wealth of information suited to what you’re looking for. My full on obsession with makeup and skincare related products began in 2010 whilst I was pursuing legal studies in London and had access to a variety of products from a diverse cross-section of companies. The problem was, however, that I didn’t know where to start. Instead of randomly purchasing an item, I did what any smart consumer would do. I hopped on the internet, read blogs and watched YouTube videos. The internet became my source of information and the bloggers and YouTube gurus became trusted friends whose opinions allowed me to make an informed decision.
Being a Caribbean gal myself, it became extremely important to me to find persons who were from the Caribbean or of Caribbean descent. My YouTube playlist and blog rolls are saturated with bloggers and vloggers who rep the Caribbean at every opportunity. This week, we focus on one of my favorite lifestyle bloggers: Ceola Belix from A Style Less Ordinary.
Ceola is a Trinidadian born blogger whose love for good eats and locally manufactured items shines through her blog. She spends most of her time blogging about local eateries, fashion designers and artists who would never have become known to the public had it not been for her blog. I came across Ceola a few years ago whilst browsing Trinidad Lookbook for bloggers to add to my blog roll and have been an avid reader of her blog since. I used to live in Trinidad and always declare that whilst I am Vincy to de bone, I am Trini to de marrow! Yes, I live vicariously through Ceola’s blog and enjoy her social media posts immensely. Get to know more about stylish Caribbean gem below!
Rep your heritage. Where are you from? Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m from Trinidad & Tobago – born in St. Joseph and bred in the borough of Arima located in the East of the island. I studied Communications at the University of Leeds and I’m currently employed as a Digital Content Producer & Strategist/Social Media Manager at one of the leading advertising agencies in T&T. I also am a freelance writer for Metro Magazine, which is circulated every Friday with the Trinidad Guardian. I love style, and food, and travelling. If I could find a job that encompassed all three I’d be a very happy girl, but for now, being able to write about those things where I can find them in my life is a great comfort to me.
What’s the mission of your blog? How did you get started?
The ‘mission’ of my blog is primarily to give exposure to designers, artists, artisans, musicians, chefs, events, etc, that otherwise would not have it or who I feel deserve more of it. I basically want to be seen as a source of information on local happenings/products/services. When I’m not doing that, I’m being purely indulgent and just writing about random things that cross my mind. That doesn’t happen very often though…I’m always trying very hard to keep it focused. I started my blog about two years ago. I posted much more erratically then. It was just as Anya Ayoung Chee was competing in Project Runway and there was this huge sense of national pride and optimism concerning Trinidad & Tobago’s creative output. I wanted to talk about some of the jewelry I had bought from a local designer, so I started a blog to talk about it. More and more I found more things I wanted to share – markets I’d been to, local designers I’d found at these markets or on Facebook. I started on Blogspot and eventually migrated my content to Wordpress. I’ve had many other blogs and writing outlets in the past, but this was the one I decided to stick with. My Twitter account, Instagram account and Facebook profile and page are all an extension of my blog.
How do you represent your heritage on your blog?
I think I’m pretty disciplined about representing predominantly local creatives on my blog. I suppose that’s the only way I can say I ‘represent’. I will feature regional designers, etc, but it’s highly unlikely that I spend a lot or any time promoting retailers and that kind of thing. While I do shop at retailers from time to time, I don’t necessarily see my blog as a space to promote them, unless they also carry locally produced items. My blog is all about Trinbagonian experiences…not all of them of course; there are some things I’m much less experienced in than others and as such, won’t talk about as much, but I certainly promote the lesser known, but incredibly amazing things about my country.
Describe yourself in three words.
Honest. Passionate. Neurotic.
If you’re not blogging, what are you doing?
I am out to lunch/dinner/brunch/tea with friends, binge-watching TV shows with my boyfriend, reading random things online, online (window) shopping, exercising or attempting to sleep.
If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life what would it be?
I’m sure this will vary from time to time, but right now it’s Michelle’s Corn Soup (from the Savannah Strip on the Queen’s Park Savannah…in case ya didn’t know)
Do you have a Signature Fragrance?
Not really…at the moment I’m alternating between Marc Jacob’s Daisy and Miss Dior Cherie.
Not really…at the moment I’m alternating between Marc Jacob’s Daisy and Miss Dior Cherie.
Describe your personal style.
Toughie. It’s hard for me to really describe it wholly since I bounce back and forth depending on the day. I’d say it’s very casual chic though, with a lot of oversized elements and emphasis on accessories – jewelry and shoes mostly, since my handbag rarely changes. I am still heavily influenced by the years I spent in the United Kingdom, as well as the time I spent in the Netherlands and other parts of Europe. The colour palettes that are widely, and consistently popular there still dominate my wardrobe – lots of neutrals and black and white. I rarely do colour.
Where do you like to shop and why?
I shop online quite a lot, mostly on asos.com. Otherwise, when I travel, I shop at Zara, Mango and H&M. I also recently started thrifting. Pretty much for the same reasons cited above – I love European style and those stores make it very accessible. Almost all of my jewelry I purchase from local jewelry designers like Koko Karibi, Cocoa Vintage, Denise Hendrie and many more. I also buy a lot from local clothing designer J. Angelique and have recently begun purchasing from Adrian Foster. My closet also includes pieces from Christian Boucaud, Afiya Bishop, Rhion Romany, Indie Swim and Chandra Maharaj.
What do you splurge on?
I splurge on local jewelry and shoes. Those are probably the two categories I spend the most of my own money in. I love handbags as well, but I opt to ask for them as gifts for my birthday or Christmas.
Biggest pet peeve about being a blogger?
Keeping a schedule and posting regularly enough to keep readers and yourself happy. I suppose that’s just a peeve I have with myself. I also really dislike when people ask me to promote something that isn’t consistent with my content.
How have you managed to keep the creativity with your blog?
I try to cover a range of topics. So I won’t just stick to style…I’ll do a restaurant review, or share my experiences from an event I attended. Honestly, I have far more creative ideas for content than I actually execute. It’s a combination of busyness and laziness really. I’m hoping in 2014 I’ll be able to structure my time and my mind more effectively, so I can really start to produce interesting features.
Who are the other bloggers from the Caribbean that we should know about?
I really enjoy reading Kathryn Nurse’s blog Cities and Islands . She’s a Trinidadian who currently resides NYC but started the blog while she was studying for her Masters in Luxury Brand Management, which took her from Shanghai to Florence to Paris. Another blog I enjoy is Introvertly Bubbly . Another great resource is TriniChow. Yes I like food blogs…a lot. And last but not least (though it’s not really a blog) is my friend Mel’s online magazine Trinidad Lookbook.
Best tip for other Caribbean persons wanting to start a blog?
Just go for it. But be prepared to do the work. Be prepared to spend your own money on products and services just for the sake of reviewing them. Be prepared to find yourself roaming Belmont or St. James, or Couva, looking for that one place where you can find a certain jewelry designer, clothing designer, homemade soap, homemade pepper sauce, or spoken word poetry night. Be prepared to be slick with sweat, pushing through a crowd so you can get your hands on a coveted, exclusive piece. Be prepared to make friends, and to be kind to the people you meet, because at the end of the day, you’re doing it for them as much as you’re doing it for your readers or for yourself. Be honest, because people like when you’re honest. Don’t feel pressured into being someone you aren’t…or to have a voice you think you have to have because you want to be a blogger and that’s how other people do it. Stick to what you know and what you love and you’ll be fine.
You can find Ceola on Twitter (@ceolab), Instgram, Facebook Ceola Belix: a style less ordinary, Pinterest and her blog Ceola: A Style Less Ordinary.
Curated for The COCO Magazine