Meet March's Leona of The Month: @Melalamode
What do you get when you mix Melanie Martinez + style and fashion + a lil’ ice cream on top? You get the lifestyle blog MEL À LA MODE. By day, Mel is a Marketing Coordinator. But after 5pm, she switches things up by delving further into her interests of blogging, graphic design, and brand consulting. MEL À LA MODE is the platform where all of those interests intersect. It’s where Mel gets to be all versions of herself and it’s where she connects with the world, one story at a time.
This NYC born Cuban/Dominican has always had a desire to connect with people; and she’s been doing that since the age of 18. That’s when Mel first started sharing her personal emotions and thoughts via her first blog.
“I wanted to create a platform where I could share odes to the things, culture, and ideas that move me.”
Since then, and various blogs later, Mel started professionally blogging in 2013. A year later, she was nominated for “Top NYC Blogger” at the Latino Trendsetter Awards by LatinTRENDS Magazine.
In the interview below, Mel talks about her love of music, the importance of having a vision, her interest in mental health, and so much more.
Where did your interest in mental health come from?
My interest in mental health activism came about while on a personal journey to rebuild myself. Having suffered from depression and generalized anxiety for most of my life, I decided to break my silence last spring in a Weekly Wisdom blog post. At that point, I had been writing candidly for a few years, but that instance was the first time I really bared my soul. After experiencing waves of gratitude for my honesty on a topic that is so taboo, especially in the Latino community, I realized my voice is a conduit through which awareness could flow.
You recently co-hosted a vision board party with Fearless Leon. Why is having a vision important?
Vision is essential for the manifestation of all goals, and if it functions as a vehicle, vision boards are the gas needed to drive them. While most people are fixed on growing up and having black and white plans for the future, I’m fortunate to still be able to hone in on the wide-eyed, little dreamer within me. My mother taught me to flip through magazines, cut out, and collage the things I wanted to see for myself from an early age. Creating colorful blueprints for myself has always been a part of who I am as a “Goal Digger.” This year, I joined together with my soul sister Ghislaine Leon to introduce the idea to the women who attend her Soul Tribe Sessions.
You often blog about concerts and music. How significant is music in your life?
Music is e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g to me. I have my parents to thank for instilling a well-rounded knowledge of genres in me from a young age. I was the toddler dancing to merengue in her grandma’s living room, the 4-year-old who couldn’t sleep without jazz in the background, and the teenager who chose Lupe Fiasco over Jay Z. Now I’m the adult that will put her readers on to a dope House mix on #MusicMonday, go to an Alternative Indie show on Wednesday, and Twitter rant about a new Hip-Hop album on Saturday. I’m also lucky to have DJs and producers for friends, so if not obsessing over a song at home, I’m following them around from venue to venue. Music is a huge part of who I am.
Who is your favorite artist? What’s your favorite song?
I’d be lying if I said I could narrow them down to one. My taste in music spans the gamut. There isn’t a genre that doesn’t live in my iTunes library. You can catch me switching from Bryson Tiller’s “Don’t,” to Juan Luis Guerra’s “Areito,” to Alabama Shakes’ “Gimme All Your Love.”
What is the hardest part of being a 1st generation Latina in the US?
Being a 1st generation Latina means wading through both public expectation and the lack thereof. My family emigrated from the Caribbean and worked tirelessly to create a better life for all of us. With that comes the expectation that their children will prevail in a country where we’re plagued with blind opposition. Latinos are born into a country marred by the idea that we most likely won’t amount to much, so less is expected and extended to us. It’s because of this that I’m constantly finding ways to accommodate my double-edged sword. Not only am I a female in a male-dominated society, but I’m a female minority doing my best to triumph in a nation where I might not be given a second glance due to my last name. Difficult to deal with, but never impossible. Each achievement just feels like another battle won.
Who or what inspires you?
People drive me. As a creative by all means of the word, I’m inspired by the passion evoked by others, regardless of their craft. Energy lives in everything, from the performance of a song, to the design of an article of clothing. I only surround myself with things and people who speak to my heart as a person and my soul as an artist.
Confidence shines from within. Everything you do and every which way you carry yourself is attributed to how you feel inside. It’s taken me almost 27 years to realize that self-love isn’t a destination, but a journey. And although mine has been anything but smooth sailing, I still wake up grateful to be who I am every single day. I’m not “on” all the time, but I make it a point to remind myself how far I’ve come on my down days. I’ve grown from being a glutton for self-sabotage to being a model for positivity, perseverance, and strength. I am my favorite working accomplishment.
What makes you fearless?
I’ve always lived by the belief that everything happens for a reason. (I even have it tattooed in Spanish on my right foot.) Keeping that mantra on the forefront of my decisions helps me push through fearlessly regardless of what thoughts might be trying to impede me. I have full faith in the process and trust that life will manifest what is truly meant for me. Whatever doesn’t transpire gets archived internally as a lesson learned.
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