Guest Interview | Syllable In The City, Martha van Zyl
March 23, 2018
Martha is a Jo’burg-based lifestyle blogger, heavy on food content thanks to her love of cake and gin (among other things). She earns a living working in social media, and in her free time she knits, does cross stitch, listens to podcasts and audiobooks, and naps. Martha’s blog is literally a little bit of everything. She often jokes that her USP is that she’s a frugal shopaholic – she love shopping, but hates spending money.
1.How did you first get into blogging?
I started blogging in 2006 with a personal blog called The Single Syllable. It kind of lead to several subsequent blogs – different platforms, and subjects. A new personal blog still floats somewhere on the internet, as well as a blog where I posted some of my published articles. A friend of mine said when I like something I talk about it non-stop. So I decided to start writing about the things I love. I started Syllable in the City (SITC) in 2010. I was still living in Pretoria, and wrote about places and products I liked. Eventually brands started to approach me to collaborate. The majority of the content on my blog is still just me writing about things I like, or that I think people should know about or experience for themselves.
2.How often do you blog?
Ha! Not often enough. It generally depends on how busy work gets. There’s currently no frequency pattern, despite my best intentions.
3.Where do you find inspiration to blog?
Those things that I’m so excited about I can’t stop talking about it. Usually the biggest delay in me posting about something is getting pictures. Somethings I actually need to be in the picture, and I’m not fond of that.
4.Who is your style icon?
I don’t have one of those.
5.Have you met anyone interesting/famous on your blogging journey?
I met tech writer and food Instagrammer Nafisa in 2006. We blogged on the same local platform. It was still in Beta and we were a small little community who supported each other. She was actually a food blogger back then! We met in person in 2007 and have been friends since. She’s my interesting. Famous? I did meet Chef Benny Masekwameng once. He’s such a great guy.
6.What is your favourite beauty/fashion magazine?
I like Essentials – the products are affordable (frugal shopaholic reporting for duty), the content is relatable, the people are real. If someone wants to treat me though, I adore Harper’s. In fact, my matric farewell dress was inspired by the cover of an old Harper’s Bazaar.
7.What are some of your current fashion and beauty obsessions?
Pretty much everything. I’ve got a few extra kilos to shed, and find it very difficult to find beautiful, flattering, comfortable clothes. Fat people also want nice things! That said, I’m on a mission to build a capsule wardrobe.
8.Who is your celebrity crush?
Am I supposed to pick just one? This is going to take a while… *four hours later* OK, I have decided, celebrity is probably an unusual label. The public figure I really like A LOT is Simon Sinek.
9.Coffee or tea?
Coffee! Although, I’m trying to cut down sugar, so it will probably be tea soon – rooibos or herbal.
11.Heels? Or flats?
I love gorgeous heels. I adore beauty queen/pageant platform heels. But I prefer going barefoot. I wear wedges occasionally, but finding size eight wedges that are comfortable is another mission I think I’m too old for. (These heels are a size too small. I cannot wear them. I don’t want to get rid of them!)
12.Favourite MAC Lipstick colour?
Girl About Town. It’s the only MAC lipstick I have and it’s taken me forever to like it.
13.What are your go to beauty products?
I’m very bad about a beauty routine. I do have a few favourites – Dermalogica’s Daily Microfoliant, Clarins Gentle Foaming Cleanser with Cottonseed, Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair, Clinique Moisture Surge eye treatment *Disclaimer: these were all from my former life, before I was forced into frugality. Now I’m all about Garnier micellar cleansing water. For makeup I yearn to have Estee Lauder Double Wear foundation. But I use Revlon CC, Essence concealer, and Nafisa got me a gorgeous Sephora eye shadow palette for my birthday last year. I most often wear mascara only (Essence, Maybelline– lots of different Maybelline – L’Oreal – at least two different ones) and eyeliner – Maybelline. I used to use MAC gel liner, but that takes way too long.
14.What is the one thing you will never leave the house without?
My phone. I won’t even lie.
15.How many tattoos do you have? And what do they mean?
Two. I’ve been living with clinical depression and generalised anxiety since I was a teenager, and I’ve been through really bad times. I mean really bad ones. So the semicolon on my right wrist is for that (read more https://projectsemicolon.com/). The sigma symbol on my left wrist similarly reminds me that who I am is the sum total of everything I’ve been through – the good, the bad, the downright horrendous. And I’m still here. So the sum total is positive. I’m a good person because of everything I’ve experienced.
16.What is your favourite quote?
You are always being prepared for something better or protected from something worse. – Iyanla Vanzant
17.What is one thing your readers would be surprised to hear about you?
When I was a lot younger I did a modelling course with a Swiss German lady in Pretoria. It was proper – etiquette lessons, makeup workshops, ramp work weekly, and at the end of it I did a pageant-like exam walking on a T-shaped ramp in a huge room filled with people like in Fashion Week. Two different outfits. Still poses for photographic portfolio in each outfit halfway through each ramp routine (there was a routine we had to memorise!), and being questioned by the judges. I scored an A+.
There are a few other things that I think a lot of people don’t know about me 😉
18.Who is your favourite local (South African) blogger?
Am I biased if I say Nafisa?
19.What would you say is your biggest blogging challenge, and how do you overcome it?
Sitting down and writing a blog. When I do get into the zone, I try to write a few and schedule them.
20.What advice would you give someone who wants to start a blog?
Don’t do it for the freebies or the followers. Do it for yourself.