DREAMCHASERS no. 2: Deb Shepherd aka thebrokeminimalist
I’m so thrilled to introduce you all to my friend Deb, a fellow Seattle blogger at brokeminimalist.com! Her blog is all about minimalist fashion, lifestyle, and wellness. Read on for our conversation on minimalism, mental health, faith, and being a woman of color in the blogosphere.
Cat: I know that you studied journalism in college and are currently working in the fashion industry, so it makes perfect sense that you are a fashion blogger! When and how did your interest in blogging begin?
Deb: Fashion was a part of my life from the beginning. I would always wear standout outfits and would take time to do my hair and makeup. Yes, I became that girl who was always over-dressed. Underneath the blue eyeliner and cheetah print dress, I was extremely insecure with my body. So, I used fashion as a façade to prevent any judgment about what stood underneath the loud outfits.
Blogging came into my life in 2008. I was searching for something beauty/fashion related and came across a blogger named Zoella (yes, the famous British YouTuber). I loved her honesty and “real life” beauty tips stuck out to me. She worked as an assistant for her mom’s hair salon and would just freely share this wealth of knowledge about bleaching your hair, Primark hauls, and dealing with crappy boyfriends. I loved that all of her posts made her sound like one of your girls just getting ready together.
When I figured out that it’s so bigger than me and just clothes, it made me want to keep going even though I wanted to give up so many times.
C: Do you or have you ever had self-doubts about blogging? How do you overcome that?
D: Oh, yeah! I definitely do. In the past 7 years, blogging has been the most committed and inconsistent thing I’ve done. I don’t think we fully overcome self-doubt because there will be moments of it sprinkled in this journey, but I actually have to pray a lot before posting anything. I get major anxiety attacks that my content is crap and no one will read it. But prayer has given me confidence because I know this is a part of my purpose. Also, I switched my focus to something that was the truest form of myself: minimalism with fashion, empowerment, and lifestyle concentrations. This change skyrocketed my confidence.
C: I love how your blog focuses on minimalism. It’s so much more relatable to me than other blogs where the bloggers have huge wardrobes and spend a lot on clothes. How did you get into minimalism and minimalist fashion?
D: I got into minimalism when I moved to Richmond, WA…which is basically in the middle of nowhere. I had one suitcase and box and I worked at a church where nobody cared what I looked like at all. I didn’t have to wear makeup or do my hair. They just wanted me to be myself and that was super helpful to get rid of the anxiety and pressure to look good. I don’t think I went shopping at all there or bought anything new.
What really helped me get more into minimalism was me getting tired of the superficial aspect of fashion and seeing the same bloggers wearing the same things. And financially, I realized I had a shopping addiction and I would just shop to feel better about myself. When I didn’t have access to that, it made me tackle the issues I had been avoiding. I realized I wasn’t free from things and I was using fashion as a way to show off my addiction.
Now, I feel like I wear things that I genuinely love and I hope it represents empowerment and my faith but also my lifestyle: easygoing, powerful, classic; and that’s what I see minimalism as. You don’t need a lot in your life or to constantly make a statement. I just like not feeling anxious about wanting everything or not having enough money for things I don’t really need. Minimalism is about being really conscious about what I need versus solely buying to keep up with trends.
I try to be raw and honest and share my stories because I don’t want people to think that if you believe in God that you have to come perfect. I try to be transparent because I genuinely believe that it saves people’s lives.
C: Another thing I love about your blog and social media is that you’re so open about your own mental health. What gives you the courage to speak about such a personal issue?
D: My faith, because I am nothing without my faith. Sometimes I think that can be kind of annoying, but it’s so much a part of me and it’s the sole reason I decided to become a minimalist and switch my lifestyle.
My faith gives me courage because I know I’m not alone and it’s so much bigger than me. I’m doing this to help people and be a voice that isn’t there. I try to be raw and honest and share my stories because I don’t want people to think that if you believe in God that you have to come perfect. I try to be transparent because I genuinely believe that it saves people’s lives.
C: What advice would you give aspiring bloggers or writers, especially women of color?
D: For women of color bloggers and aspiring influencers, you’re often going to be the only person of color in the room, so you have to have something valuable to say. I think it’s easy to fall into being the token blogger, so I think owning your voice and owning your words, sharing your experiences, being as authentic as possible, will help you stand out.
And I think you’ll find far more joy in that rather than trying to blend in with mainstream influencers. But it’s really hard! So you can’t give up.
It’s not about you; it’s so much deeper than you. It’s about the people who are going to come after you. Even if you don’t think you’re good, you have to stick it out because people are going to see your value but you have to be patient.
Deb also interviewed me for her new blog series, BrokeMinimalBabes. Check it out!
photos by me
DREAMCHASERS is a Q&A series featuring creatives and artists who are pursuing their dreams. We’ll talk about their inspirations and aspirations, and what pushed them from dreaming to doing. My hope is that these snapshots of awesome people chasing their dreams will inspire all of you, my readers, to chase yours.
If you’re a creative, artist, and/or fashionista, and would like to hang out with me and get featured on this blog, shoot me a message. I would especially love to hear from women of color and trans and non-binary people of color, who are underrepresented in the creative industries.