Good afternoon, lovelies! If yesterday’s home tour was any indication of how fabulous Paloma Contreras is, then I’m betting y’all are as excited as we are for this Behind the Blog installment. In the six years since La Dolce Vita was launched, the blog has been a huge source of design and style inspiration for us here at SMP, and most of all, we’ve loved watching Paloma grow and become the seriously successful biz lady that she is today. And there’s no better time to pick her brain than in the midst of her exciting new venture. Cheers to you Paloma!

SMP: Some words you live by?
PC: “Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
- Goethe

SMP: Any guilty pleasures?
PC: I indulge in a few too many shows on Bravo, loads of magazines and inspiring coffee table books, chocolate and an occasional glass of champagne.

SMP: What did you think your dream job was before your dream job found you? 
PC: I love to travel and I always thought it would be amazing to be a travel writer, however, I am sure it is much less glamorous when you’re traveling day in and day out for work and have to spend a lot of time away from loved ones. Not to sound completely trite, but I really feel that I have my dream job now. It is not something I would have ever dreamt of ten years ago since blogs didn’t exist back then, but I love the path that I’ve been able to carve for myself.

SMP: What’s your favorite quote that describes your creative process? 
PC: “Create your own style…let it be unique for yourself and yet identifiable for others.” – Ana Wintour

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SMP: If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?
PC: Work hard to make your goals a reality. Listen to your inner voice, trust yourself, and take risks. It’s up to you to shape your life and we only live once!

SMP: If you could do it all over again, would you change anything?
PC: My career path has been unorthodox to say the least, but its lead me to where I am now and I’ve never been happier. I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason and everyone comes into our lives for a reason. Every experience offers us a chance to learn. I’ve been fortunate to have received some incredible opportunities throughout my career and even if some chapters have ended, I don’t have any regrets because each stepping stone in my path has helped me to build the foundation for my career. To quote Diane von Furstenberg, I didn’t always know what I wanted to do, but I knew the kind of woman I wanted to be.”

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SMP: What is one piece of advice you would give to a blogger just starting out? 
PC: Before you start blogging, be absolutely certain that you can give enough of yourself to this venture. It requires countless hours and tenacity. If you don’t particularly like to write or you know that you won’t be able to blog on a regular basis, consider using outlets such as Pinterest or Instagram to express your creativity and engage an audience instead. Both tools are incredibly powerful and inspiring! If you’ve determined that blogging is definitely the way you want to go, make sure that your voice and point of view are unique and reflected in your content. Engage your audience and immerse yourself in the community.

Above all, consistency is key! From the frequency of your posts to the quality of your content, consistency is everything. Remember, building a large readership will not happen overnight. Most successful bloggers have been doing this for years! I started my blog in July of 2007 and it definitely took time for me to build an audience and to start seeing opportunities as a result of my blog, though that was not my goal when I started out. You have to really love it.

If you read La Dolce Vita, you know that I love quotes and share one with my readers every Monday morning to kick off the week. I don’t know the author of this quote, but I can’t think of anything more fitting for a new blogger or anyone starting out in any field for that matter: “There is no elevator to success. You have to take the stairs.”

SMP: What’s your best tip for balancing work and personal life? 
PC: It’s really challenging to set boundaries when you are self-employed, especially when you love what you do. While you definitely have to put in a ton of time outside of regular business hours, it is important to take time for yourself to rest, recharge, and get inspired.

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SMP: What was the tipping point in your business that made you feel like your blog was going to thrive?
PC: I’ve been fortunate that I’ve had some good press and opportunities come my way through my blog, but I still don’t feel like I’ve made it and I can just cruise now. I don’t know that I’ll ever really feel that way because I will continue to push myself no matter what. I was featured along with my blog in Better Homes and Gardens pretty early in my blogging career and I remember how surreal it felt picking up the issue while in the check out line at the grocery store and seeing myself in the pages of a magazine I’d been reading since I was a child.

SMP: What is the hardest lesson in business you’ve ever learned? 
PC: Partnerships can be difficult and they are not for everyone. Even the closest friendship can change once you enter into a business relationship, so tread carefully. Contracts are extremely important. You can’t conduct business assuming that everyone is on the same page. Always use a contract from the beginning in order to avoid heartache later on.

SMP: Stranded on a desert island question… what’s the one cocktail you would take with you?
PC: Champagne!

SMP: If you could buy yourself a single gift of any cost, what would it be?
PC: A month-long European vacation

Photography: Kate LeSueur Photography | Interior Design: Paloma Contreras