Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Work It, Bloggers: Amanda of Talk Shop

Amanda is wearing a Madewell shirt, jeans from a boutique on Haight, Ralph Lauren jacket, her grandfather's bolo tie, Jeffrey Campbell boots, Violet Ray bag, bracelets from BaubleBar, and rings from Chelsea Market and Forever 21.

What’s your name? Where do you live? What do you do?
My name is Amanda and I live in San Francisco — I call the foggy paradise of the Panhandle home. I work for a company called Disqus, on the marketing team. Although, these days I’m working in more of a community development role than a conventional marketing one. 

You’re the creator and one of the moderators of Talk Shop, a beauty and fashion channel on Disqus. Can you tell our readers more about Talk Shop?
At its most basic, Talk Shop is a forum, but more beautiful and easy to use than traditional ones you usually encounter on the web. It’s a place for “straight dish on beauty and fashion,” where anyone can start a discussion about anything — as long as it’s about beauty or fashion! People talk about a range of things: tips for getting rid of sun spots, if there’s such a thing as “age appropriate” style, what you pack for a long vacation abroad, and tons of other stuff. Our community is also super diverse, with people joining in from all over the world. The international aspect is pretty neat because it gives you a peek into people’s lives and cultures that would otherwise be hard to find. 

What are some of your favorite topics to write about?
On Talk Shop, I like to discuss fashion politics (in the sense of what people and companies in the industry are doing), beauty tips (usually asking other people about their “go to” tricks), new product finds and recommendations (it seems I can never leave Sephora without dropping $200), and fashion customs and trends from around the world. Sadly, I haven’t had as much time to engage in discussions on Talk Shop as I work on launching new Disqus channels, but my latest one was about “Junk Drawer Beauty Tools.” I wanted to know what household items can be substituted for store-bought beauty products. Interesting responses on that one (a rubber band as an eyeliner guide???).

What are some of the challenges of moderating a community?
Oh man, is there a character limit on this one? Ha. An overarching challenge is that people express themselves in wildly different ways. What is rude and offensive to one person, is a perfectly normal means of communication for another. Balancing these dynamics, and trying to be objective about it, can be hard. Especially because I’m a fairly sensitive person. I often have to take a step back to figure out if I’m taking action because of how I feel personally, or if that person is actually violating our community guidelines. (We have rules to keep things objective!) My number one moderation (and general internet interaction) rule is to act with empathy. Since I don’t have the benefit of seeing the person I’m talking to, and taking cues from that, I actively remind myself that there’s a human on the other end. It’s easy to get wrapped up in people’s words and run with your initial reaction, but it’s generally not fruitful to hit the caps lock key and and start pounding away on your keyboard. It never ends well. 

How would you describe your style?
Tomboy Plus ™. I’m all about basic pieces, plus some flair. I’m most comfortable in a pair of jeans, a t-shirt and boots. I love denim and leather and black. Funky and minimalist jewelry is a must — I like interesting studs and ear cuffs, and rings that are simple but beautiful. I like to try making more masculine looks or shapes feel feminine and cool. I do like to wear dresses, but they’re never the first thing I pull out of my closet. I have a running joke with one of my coworkers that if he sees me in a dress, it’s because I haven’t done laundry in awhile. And bright lipstick is a constant accessory. My favorite combo right now is Magenta lip liner and Up the Amp lipstick from MAC, plus a swipe of Bite’s Violet lipstick — purple alien lips FTW!

Do you have any style icons or inspirations?
Pretty cliché (and super trendy right now), but I love Parisian and American girls from the 70’s, and contemporary women that channel that feel. The usual crew: Jane Birkin and Lou Doillon (can I list mother and daughter together?), Alexa Chung, Ali MacGraw, Laura Hutton and basically every look featured on the Instagram account @tomboybklyn. I also have this weird thing for Meryl Streep’s style in the movie Out of Africa. If I was a much cooler version of myself, I would also be working some Solange vibes. She’s so funky and cool and effortless! 

I’m also originally from Arizona, so I find myself drawn to motifs from the Southwest. I love turquoise and denim on denim. If I look a little bit like a cowboy, that’s dope.

How has living in San Francisco influenced your style?
I wear a lot more basic pieces, and have realized the importance of a cool jacket. I’ve also started to take more risks. There are a lot of weirdos in SF (in a good way!), and people are very accepting of that. It lets you get away with a lot, and no one bats an eye. I’m super into the “California Cool” look, which I think San Franciscans channel in a really cool way. I’m also a lot less sparkly after having moved away from Arizona and San Diego. That’s a good thing. 

What have you learned as a creator and a moderator?
People are funny and strange and unexpectedly kind. I’ve been so surprised by the relationships I’ve cultivated, and seen develop, on Talk Shop and the other Disqus channels. There’s something special about being able to connect with people that love the same things you do, and to talk about them in a safe place. It’s such an honor and a pleasure for me to help build forums for people to find those connections, in a way that’s unique from the rest of the web. I’ve also learned that for better or worse, human oversight is an integral piece of an online community. Automation and spam filters can only do so much. Eventually a real person has to cull the nastiness, and remind people of the purpose of the place they’re visiting. Humans are vital to the success of the Internet!

What do you do when you’re not working for Disqus?
I’m a bit of a concert junkie, I like to take photos, read, go to art museums and events, and walk through the park (I live next to Golden Gate Park). I also started taking Lindy Hop dance lessons a few months ago, and I’m loving it. It’s really physically challenging, while also being joyful and super fun. 

What can we expect to see from you in the future?
More Disqus channels! Hopefully some new photos from my upcoming trip to Mexico! And lots more Texas Tuxedos!

You can follow Amanda on Talk Shop, Instagram, and her photography site.

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