Fashion blogger, Diet Coke TV presenter, Pretty Polly ambassador and self-styled wild child; Kilcolgan born Ciara O’Doherty is a force to be reckoned with on the Irish fashion and media scene. Although she's not an aid blogger, I've long been a fan of Ciara and impressed by the success she has achieved through clever utilisation of social media.
On a recent rainy Galway afternoon (is there any other kind actually?) I sat down with the 23 year old trendsetter to get some advice for any aspiring broadcasters or bloggers amongst you on how to get started in the media business or how to use social media to get ahead, whatever your profession. What was meant to be a brief coffee turned into a two hour chinwag covering everything from London Fashion Week to feminism.
Ciara’s blog, Wild Child Stories is a plethora of accessible fashion and creative pieces to do with fashion and media – interviews with local DJs and artists, photo stories featuring Galway designers and models. “I started my blog in 2010, mostly as a personal outlet. Just for fun, I didn’t even know if anyone was reading it,” Ciara shrugs.
Ciara's accessible style and easy going attitude to fashion proved popular with readers however. It really began to take off when Ciara joined a Dublin bloggers collective on facebook, gaining confidence and inspiration from connecting with likeminded people. “Facebook and other social media has been vital in allowing my blog to grow. It’s an excellent way to connect with others and now things like Twitter are an important aspect of my blog- an extension of it really."
Ciara’s current high profile is a result of determination, hard work and being brave enough to put herself out there. With some local modelling gigs under her belt, Ciara entered a competition to be Pretty Polly’s brand ambassador for the UK and Ireland. Her win drew a lot of local and national media attention and Ciara used the platform to further her own aspirations to break into broadcasting. Approached to work for Diet Coke TV, Ciara has amassed an impressive portfolio of presenting work, covering events like Electric Picnic and the Volvo Ocean Race and working with companies such as the Dublin based Thinkhouse
PR, of whom she speaks highly.
Was she nervous when starting out modelling, blogging or presenting?
“You need to just put yourself out there,” Ciara affirms. “It can be a bit intimidating at first and you worry sometimes what people might think but it’s the only way to get anywhere. People will accept it. If you don’t put yourself out there, you won’t get anywhere."
Practically speaking, Ciara also advises on getting the right tools. It sounds simple but it's essential. Get a good laptop, camera and dictaphone. They are essentials for blogging.
You also need to be smart in your choices. When modelling, Ciara says she was careful of what jobs she took. She may have liked to do bikini shoots she says, but she was wary of being typecast and the dangers of not being taken seriously with her projects as a result of this. Although keen to point out she wishes this wasn't the case, she demonstrates the media savviness which has allowed her the opportunities she has been afforded.
Having charm like Ciara's doesn't hurt either. A self confessed rambler, she is none the less a genuine pleasure to talk to- funny, smart and interesting. It's little wonder Diet Coke TV has started covering more events in the West of Ireland, upon her gentle suggestions.
With a BA in English, Sociology and Politics from the National Univerity of Ireland Galway, Ciara put off doing a Masters in favour of gaining practical experience, a choice which has obviously proved successful. What is very evident is her love of Galway City; a number of times she effuses about the city's creativity and its abundence of musicians, writers, designers, stylists and other creative folk. Her admiration of Galway's creative scene was part of the motivation in organising the highly successful Galway Bloggers Meet Up
earlier this year, which brought together over 30 local online media folk from sports bloggers to the fash pack.
Just returned from covering her second London Fashion Week, the future looks bright for Ciara. She is currently working on putting together her broadcasting portfolio and is keen to do more radio work, having enjoyed her previous experience with Flirt FM. She remains grounded however, working part time at Eason’s even as she works on other projects.
As we pulled on jackets and steeled ourselves for heading out into the driving rain, she told me she was heading to Strange Brew
, Ireland's longest running Indie night which that night was celbrating its 500th event at the eminent Galway venue the Roisin Dubh
. Although extremely vocal in extolling Galway's virtues and pointing out all it has going on culturally (Strange Brew being a case in point), Ciara admits that to really make her mark as a broadcaster she may have to move to Dublin or London at some point.
Her advice for aspiring bloggers or indeed anyone thinking of how to utilise social media to get ahead professionally, "Put yourself out there and stay positive,"