Hey Sara! Tell us a little about yourself & your journey.
Hi there! I’m a photographer, blogger, and interior decorator based in Los Angeles. From New York originally, I moved to California for college and never left! I live here with my partner, Eddie, in our lil two bedroom cottage I fondly call “The Hobbit House.” A few of my passions include plants, cozy interiors, sustainability, and travel - all things I discuss on my Instagram and lifestyle blog, Black & Blooms. I’ve been a creator for 4 years now, and just went full time last November. This first year of being self-employed has been quite the adventure!
How are you taking this all in right now? Are there activities you've been incorporating to stay motivated?
Working from home I’ve found that establishing a daily routine helps me stay motivated. Enjoying slow mornings before starting to work, taking lunch breaks, getting some fresh air and a change of scenery when I’m feeling stuck. I’m taking everything day by day and trying to give myself a bit of grace when some days aren’t as productive as others during this time.
What does your morning ritual look like for starting your day on the right foot?
I make sure I place my phone in a different room before I go to bed so that I don’t reach for it in the morning right when I wake up. I’ll usually head to the bathroom for my skincare routine first thing, it’s a nice way to start the day off with a little self-care. Then I’ll head to the kitchen and put on some happy tunes to listen to while I make my coffee. I plan out my day at the dining table while I drink my coffee and then get to work!
Give us a little insight into your vision with 'Black and Blooms'. How did this evolve for you?
When I first started Black & Blooms, it was really just a creative outlet for me to get all my photos off of my computer and out into the universe. I wanted to create my own little corner of the internet where I could share the things I love - plants, cozy interiors, travel, and personal style. My goal was to capture the beauty I saw in the world, with the hope that the things that inspire me and make me smile, might make other people smile too. My little community started to grow, and my niche in the blogging world began to form as I honed in on my style and how I could share more than just photos, but also lifestyle tips, tricks, and recommendations. I juggled working a full time job as a photo editor in an office in Venice Beach with growing my brand and my business for a few years. Eventually, as my own business grew, juggling everything started to become very overwhelming. There was just not enough time in a day with how busy I had become - a very good problem to have, and a real privilege! But I was having to turn down work for my own business because of my full time job. So I decided to make the exciting leap to self-employment. It was the best decision I’ve made!
When did your special love for plants come about? (Love seeing your use of beautiful plants on IG!)
I’ve been surrounded by plant-loving women my whole life, so that has definitely rubbed off on me. One of my mom’s passions is working in her gardens and she’s always had a lot of plants in the house. Same with my grandmother - she was always so happy to show us the new blooms in her gardens whenever we visited. Growing up I was surrounded by forests, farms, and nature in Upstate New York, so plants have always been a big part of my life.
What is your definition of having a well-balanced mind that's in alignment with your 'Soul Purpose'?
I think mindset is everything. With so many things going on in the world, a lot of us are going through a rollercoaster of emotions on any given day. For me personally, staying hopeful, practicing gratitude, and being kind to myself and how I’m feeling during this time helps keep my mind well-balanced, which in return allows me to keep creating and sharing the beauty I see in the world.
How do you take a step back every now, and give yourself a breather? (Self-care!)
I’ve found that getting out of the house (safely, while social distancing and wearing a mask) has been really beneficial for my mindset and well being. Being outside surrounded by nature always helps me to de-stress. It’s a real mood booster! Visiting my favorite parks, beaches, botanic gardens, and plant shops allow me to decompress and take a breather.
We're going through a unique period in time right time... How do you see female creatives growing or changing as a result?
I think a lot of us are finding different ways to diversify our income during this time. I know for me personally, my main source of income is working with brands on content creation, campaigns, photography and product styling, etc. With a lot of brands struggling right now and having decreased budgets for marketing and ad spend, I’ve been setting up different sources of income - for example, selling my presets, prints, and home decor products.
What are some of the personal setbacks or challenges you've faced at this time? And how do you overcome these?
A lot of projects and campaigns I had booked in January and February were put on hold or abandoned completely, which is completely understandable amid the current climate. A big portion of my work deals with travel which, of course, is very limited at this time. I’ve been trying to find other ways to still include that in my content, whether it’s through staycations, small day trips to nearby towns, or simply exploring my own city of Los Angeles. Ultimately, I realize what a privilege it is to be able to do what I do and still stay afloat during the time, and that’s something I never take for granted.
And last but not least, what single piece of advice would you give another passionate individual who may just now be stepping out of their comfort zone to pursue their own dreams?
Keep going! If you’re thinking of pursuing your dreams and making the leap to self-employment, I can’t recommend it enough. It can be very scary to leave a steady paying job to bet on yourself, and it may never feel like the “right time” to do it - but sometimes you just have to take a chance and go all in, 100%. Don’t let people discourage you or tell you that you’re making the wrong choice. You know yourself better than anyone, and ultimately you have to do what’s right for you and what makes YOU happy! I’m rooting for you, you got this.
Follow Sara on Instagram! @saratoufali
SHOP WHAT'S CURRENTLY IN SARA’S COLLECTION:
Pomegranate Place Lip Butter
Jane Lip Gloss
Mango + Papaya Cuticle Oil
Sea Berry + Pomegranate Face Oil
Polished All Over Shimmer
Peony Petal Matte Blush
Lavender Fields Luminous Blush
Good Morning Luminous Blush