Meet the Liberian Stylista, Desiree Dossen
A personal style blog dedicated to the growth of Liberian-American Stylista, Desiree Dossen. A New Jersey, USA native. Suburbia living with vast city dreams and aspirations of travel. With her passion for fashion, belief of womanism (I am here for all women), and love for cultures, she hopes to connect with other passionate individuals into the Arts and of the African diaspora.
Bilphena: What is the purpose of stylistainmind and/or what do you want people to get out of your blog?
Desiree Dossen: The purpose of my blog was to help me in my personal life. I chose blogging to help me express myself better. I am learning myself everyday and each day as I evolve I embrace myself more and more. Yet the direction in which I see my blog going is to show support and advocate for young girls of color. Especially my curvy Stylistas. I want each of my readers to do the same. Embrace yourself more often. Loving yourself is not a crime. A StylistaInMind is a site curated by a non-conformant, African Queen, entitled Neferdede. She is finding her purpose in life. For my young women and men of color who feel less than, I want them to know that they are more than. Each one of you are Kings and Queens in your own desirable way. We don’t have to follow the crowd, it's okay to stand out, it's okay to be different from the rest. You don’t need over one hundred likes for you to know that you are worthy. You are worthy with or without what society says. I want the readers to know they are not alone. I feel lonely often in my life. I want them to know anything is possible. Expect nothing but greatness. Do not lower your standards for anyone. Being true to yourself is key. Fall in love with self first before falling in love with others.
Bilphena: One of the reasons I started goldwomyn.com is because I haven't seen much from contemporary Liberian women in regards to blogging, fashion, writing and so on. Why do you think that is? Or do you think we are out there but just don't have the platform to be known?
Desiree: This is a known an important factor, that’s why I am a huge fan of your blog. To be honest I’m not sure why that is, I’ve felt the same way. I can literally count the amount of Liberian bloggers there are on my hands. That’s not to say we don't have the ability or the outlet to do so. Those that want to be known will make it their duty to build their own platform. Personally, I don’t think that mindset is quite there yet. Blogging is a creative way to express yourself. However, I don’t think many Liberians have sought out a possibility in being a “creative” or trying something new. Many of them are not focused on such matters. Compared to other bloggers from different parts of Africa. The harsh reality about most Liberians is that they are trying to make it in corporate America, and entering “safe careers.” Those of the diaspora aren’t afraid to step out of the box and jump into something unknown without fear of failing. I could be wrong, but then again, I really don’t know.
Bilphena: How did you get into blogging and what was your process when beginning your blog?
Desiree: Every year since I was in high school I’ve always made “Starting my own blog,” a New Year’s resolution. For some personal and obvious reasons I did not start until this year. I used to be a reader and spectator following Blog Veterans such as Karla Deras, StylePantry, Nadia Aboulhosn, Varna’s Runway, Shirley B. Eniang and many more.
There became a time period where I lost connection to these bloggers and a new wave of vloggers came about. My focus was now geared to Youtubers such as GracieFrancesca from UglyFaceofBeauty and Patricia from BritPopPrincess. Shortly after I fell in love with tumblr and left the blogging scene for reblogs and creatives.
I had no idea where to start or how I would execute my own blog. I didn’t have a following and certainly was not “social media famous,” therefore I became discouraged. I suddenly became inspired to join a young brilliant lady by the name of Adrienne Tingba, as a writer for TheColloquaDialogues.com. I was super excited to see another young Liberian girl like myself trying to make a change and bring Awareness to our home country Liberia. Unfortunately that was not the vision I had for myself.
I didn’t have a process at all. I kind of sort of just jumped in one day and said today is the day. In which I don’t recommend anyone wanting to delve into the blogging world do. Always start with some sort of direction and do research. Days where I felt like giving up, not being productive, not motivated were the days I would write. I actually started my blog on my beloved handheld device. My iphone was where the magic took place.
First find the platform that best fits your theme or way you want your blog to look, Wordpress is every first time blogger’s outlet unless they do some serious research before hand
Take high-quality images. Something I’m trying to do more so now than before. I used my Iphone 6 for almost everything when I first started. I have upgraded since then.
Be ready to invest in a domain name, I knew I wanted to be ___ .com from day one. I don’t think having the site source name after my blog name was appealing. ex. ____.wordpress.com (eww). I tried several platforms before sticking with one, therefore find what best suits you.
Share, share, share. Promote yourself share a thousand times if you have to. I used to think, well what if they think I’m annoying. Well how else are you supposed to get traffic to your blog, you need to create it. I created my own hashtag to go along with each share.
Bilphena: Describe your style using one word
Desiree: I always have trouble answering this question because my style represents so many aspects of life, not just one. Yet, A Cultural Mesh was the name I developed based off of my love for many known cultures. Music, Art, Heritage, and activism play a role in my personal style. I like to incorporate a little bit of everything into my style. Kind of like Liberian pepper soup, or that New Orleans Gumbo. If I could travel the world for the rest of my life then my true definition of A Cultural Mesh would be fulfilled. Mixing all of the spices, instruments, meanings and ways of life into my style of dress is the motivation behind my style.
Bilphena: How would you define style?
Desiree: Style is a personal connection with yourself. Understand self. Knowing what you like and what you don’t. Like I always say, In order to create a personal style, onemust first ask the question, “Who am I?” Style compared to fashion defines who you are as a person. Fashion is broad and is an umbrella in which style is kept.
Bilphena: Do you think your Liberian roots influence your style? If yes, how so?
Desiree: Yes, most definitely. Africa as a whole continent influences my style. I always say when I wear my headwraps that’s when I feel the most beautiful. Hence why I call myself Neferdede. Across nations we drape our bodies with rich “gar-meants,” creating meaningful statements through textiles. My Liberian roots and my love, acceptance of cultures gives my style flavor.
Bilphena: What's your process when getting dressed? Are you a planner or you just go with the flow?
Check weather first.
Clothes laid out
Fresh face and fresh body of course
We must always do hair before makeup
Then Slip into your “gar-meants”
Super cliche, but it really depends on what I am getting dressed for. I am that girl, and my friends and family can attest to this, who usually will plan an outfit ahead of time and change it multiple times last minute. However when I was in high school, I was highly organized and a neat- freak. To the point where I had everything planned out down to my under garments just to be on time. As I’ve gotten older I can say I waste a lot of time getting ready for my day. It’s a sad, sad reality. I don’t think I could ever really go with the flow, being that you never know what to expect. When I was single I would say I may be meeting my next husband when going to the grocery store or taking out the trash. That's not to say I am dressing for a man. But in most occasions you must be prepared. As long as I am comfortable and confident in what I’m wearing then that's all that matters.
Bilphena: What are some mistakes and things you've learned since starting your blog that you think would benefit another person wanting to do the same?
Quality is key
Four topics I am still learning being that I am new to this. When I first made blog posts, I just wanted to get my thoughts out and didn’t edit too much. However if you want to attract readers, remain organized. Gather all of your thoughts together and create. But don’t forget to read it over and over before clicking publish. I personally read my writing over and over too much to where I just skim through and don’t bother to read it a last time. Once I Click publish I see so many mistakes. Definitely not good