NAME: Iris Gomez
HERITAGE: "My mom is from Cuba and my father is from Puerto Rico"
HOMETOWN: Born and raised in Boston, lived in Miami since teen years and now living in Long Island, NY
OCCUPATION/TITLE: Mompreneur, founder of BeautyChronicles.com
Iris Gomez is the founder of the BeautyChronicles.com, a website about celebrity style, fashion, beauty and travel. As Iris continues to expand the BeautyChronicles.com brand, she has produced and hosted large-scale events like "Fashion's Night Out" in Miami and "Fashion in the City" which brought together emerging and established brands. Her events have been featured in Cosmopolitan, Latina, and HuffingtonPost.
Everyone is a blogger now, but was it a struggle to gain acceptance 10 years ago?
Back then when I told people about my blog they were like "Oh, God that's such a waste of time! Do something else, go back to school…" It was as struggle getting people to understand being a blogger. On top of that I was in fashion and beauty and yet not single nor childless and people thought that was weird.
The biggest struggle back in 2006 was that people thought the fashion industry was just about having the most expensive purse or shoes.
But to me it was always, how can you be fashionable, and be married and a mom, but still be able to afford it?
What about women who are just like me and go into everyday stores to purchase items that are not going to impact the home budget? So I went out and found pieces that were affordable. I started working with designers who were just starting out and needed an outlet, who weren't that expensive, and I started creating the niche for the everyday woman. It took off and gave me the audience that I have today.
The biggest thing that has changed is that before, you went to major company and they'd say you're a brand ambassador and we'll give you product. But today you can get paid so you can support yourself and a family. Some brands even target bloggers rather than celebrities for programs that have good compensation for the work.
What is it like to be Hispanic in an industry that has been criticized for, almost exclusively, catering to and representing white women?
Well, it's interesting because the website, the events, everything I do I always try to ensure the audience is not just Latina. I want it to be for everyone, I represent all women. My culture is definitely important to me and throughout the years I've had a little bit more trouble because I am Latina - the doors don't open so easily when you're not the youngest person [or] you have kids.
I used to do events in fashion in Miami and once I was working on an event, trying to get some high-end designers to come on board and I walked into this boutique and they kind of gave me that look as I came through the door, like, "Can you afford to be in here?" It took a long time to establish those relationships. Every time I pitched a sponsor I'd get that double-take because I wasn't coming in as a 20-year old with a super expensive purse in my hands.
Did you have a hard time not getting pigeonholed as a "mommy blogger"?
Definitely. I have three kids and I've always been a very private person so I'm not going to have my kids' information all over the web. But my biggest thing was: Why should I be singled out because I'm a mother? Moms love fashion, we don't need to be put in a different category because we're in our thirties and have children. In fact, someone later in their career is going to have more financial stability to spend more on products, so why are companies stuck on only selling to someone who's 22 years old?
What is the philosophy you bring to your work?
I think beauty and fashion, regardless of our age, has an impact on how we present ourselves in the world. And it doesn't have to be tons of makeup or expensive clothing and accessories. Just keep it balanced, keep it simple, less is more. There's a way to represent yourself and still feel good about yourself and that's the most important thing — to feel comfortable in whatever you're wearing.
Beauty and fashion come in different ways — in all different looks and different weights, etc. As you get older your face changes, your body changes and you have to tweak what to do to feel confident and beautiful. I help people find what works for them and I try to be a role model - I don't wear tons of makeup, I'm an everyday woman.
How can others find out if careers in fashion and beauty are right for them?
My biggest thing is: Find your niche. Find something you know going to be good at and have a passion for. It's a very tough industry so pick something that brings you happiness. If you're not sure what that is, find organizations — a lot of times it's art, design or beauty schools — that will let you volunteer so you can try on any of the many jobs there are in the fashion industry. Hands-on experience is important and it's good to give back to your community.
Final words of wisdom?
Beauty literally comes at every single age. It doesn't matter if you're in your 40's or 50's or beyond — you can be fashionable and beautiful. You have to take care of yourself and keep up your confidence.
This industry is all about confidence and regardless of what you might see in magazines or on the TV, we are all beautiful. What matters is how we feel about ourselves. We have a voice and regardless of our age we should definitely articulate how important it is to feel good about ourselves.
Esther J. Cepeda is a Chicago-based journalist and a nationally syndicated columnist for The Washington Post Writers Group. Follow her on Twitter, @estherjcepeda.