For this week's instalment of ZINE's Influencer Series we speak to the blossoming blogger of Black And Blooms, Sara Toufali to discuss all things interiors, fashion, blogging and of course her love for plants!
First of all, congratulations for being nominated for the Domino Best lifestyle blog award!
Ah thank you so much! The support and kind words I received was very humbling, it really meant so much to me just to be nominated! I still feel like I’m a bit of a newcomer in the blogging world, so to have been included in the same category as such inspiring, talented creators was a real honour.
When did you decide to start your blog Black & Blooms? And what inspired your plant-filled niche?
I decided to start a blog about 2 years ago. It started from my love of photography, and the fact that I didn’t really have an outlet to share all the photos I take. Instagram is great for your best work, but I’ll shoot hundreds of pics on a trip or outing, and I wanted a platform to share more. It started as just a little creative outlet, but has grown into something bigger. There’s a real sense of community now! I love connecting with other plant lovers and helping other small space renters transform their homes into their own cozy, green-filled oasis.
Your content is quite unique, we absolutely love your feed, and all your pics. What tips do you have for editing your content?
Photo editing is probably my favorite part of the process, I spend a lot of time on it! I really enjoy tinkering around in Lightroom or Photoshop creating different edits for each individual photo, although I make sure they all stick to my overall theme in terms of color and look. That would probably be my biggest tip - play around in Lightroom or any photo editing app and figure out your own personal style. After you’ve created a look you love, apply that to all your photos for a cohesive theme and a beautiful feed. Don’t be afraid to switch things up when you’re in the mood though - if you scroll through my feed, you’ll see I’ve changed my look up many times over the past 2 years. Your style shifts, and that’s ok!
You mix in your love for fashion, interiors, plants and travel, how do you do that so seamlessly?
If you look at my feed, you’ll notice that plants or flowers are in almost every single one of my photos. I just love nature and bringing the outdoors in, so I think no matter what the posts about - style, travel, or interiors - plants are always a part of it, and that helps to tie all of my photos together.
We’ve stalked your ZINE activity (only a little) and you’ve been using your Media Kit quite a fair bit. What do you like most about it?
I love my Media Kit! It’s so much easier than having to constantly update a PDF with all your stats - my growth and numbers are always changing and it’s really nice to have that reflected automatically. I’ve received compliments on it from brands as well, I think they really appreciate being sent an easy clickable link as opposed to a document they have to download and open. Little things like that can make a difference.
What has been your favourite brand collaboration so far?
Working with Framebridge was a delight. I approached them for a collaboration idea I had, they responded right away and were so friendly and easy to work with. Seeing one of my photos blown up into a large print with a beautiful frame was really special, it’s hanging in my bathroom and always makes me smile. After I shared a photo of the print on Instagram, I had followers reach out asking if they could buy the print for their own homes. It actually helped give me the push I needed to create my own online print shop, which I just launched this summer.
Do you think that your blog and presence on Instagram go hand in hand? Does Instagram positively affect your blog statistics?
Oh definitely! I love peeping my blog stats, and I always see a surge in traffic when I announce a new post on my Instagram. The swipe up feature in Insta Stories is especially helpful.
How long did it take you to grow your following on Instagram and on your blog and what tips do you have for anyone who wants to grow their online presence, and start a blog?
It’s taken me 2 years to grow my Instagram following to what it is now, same with my blog. Even though I’ve been on Instagram since 2012, I mostly used it just to keep up with friends and family, posting only once or twice a month and not taking it seriously. It wasn’t until I got a few regrams of my living room on Justina Blakeney’s The Jungalow that I started getting followers who didn’t know me personally, and it just sort of snowballed from there. As for tips, I think posting about brands you truly love is a great place to start. Tag them in the photo and use their branded hashtag - if they like it, they may repost it on their own channels which is great exposure and can lead to lots of new followers, especially if the brand has a big following themselves.
You’re currently based in Los Angeles, but from all the locations you’ve ever visited which one would tempt you to move?
I visited Portland for the first time last year and really fell in love - such a lush, tree-filled, beautiful city. The food was delicious, the people were so friendly, and the shops! I had so much fun hopping around checking out all the perfect little boutiques. I felt an instant connection to the town, and was sad when it was time to leave. Can’t wait till my next visit.
If you lived there, what would be your ideal holiday destination?
Somewhere sunny and warm since Portland gets a lot of rainy days - probably Los Angeles, haha!
How would you describe your personal sense of style?
Fun, flowy, and free. My style is very much inspired by California. There’s such a wonderful laid back, fun-loving vibe here! I’m my most comfortable in a loose fitting dress or wide leg culottes, some turquoise jewellery, my trusty fedora, and a pair of slides or boots.
If you could dress in only one brand for the rest of your life, which one would you choose and why?
Probably Reformation - they’re ethical and eco-conscious, which is so important. I love that they use sustainable fabrics, and everything is made right here in the U.S. And of course, their clothing is just gorge.
If you could raid anyone’s wardrobe, real, imaginary, historical or fictional who would you choose and why?
Lucille Ball in ‘I Love Lucy’. I rewatch all the seasons every few months because I love it so much and she’s such an idol of mine. Her outfits are always fab, not only just the dresses but her casual looks as well. One of my faves is this short sleeve satin button up collar shirt, tucked into high waisted corduroy pants, with a pair of low heel pumps - so chic and timeless. I want that outfit!
If you could cover your whole home, with only one specific plant type, which would you choose (I think it’s safe to exclude cactuses for safety reasons)?
I’d say the trusty pothos plant. They’re low maintenance, great for hanging because of their amaze drippy tendrils, and are the perfect addition to any shelfie. I have some hanging from my ceiling that have grown so long they drag on the floor! I love ‘em
What has been your biggest regret and greatest achievement since starting your blog?
To tell you the truth, I don’t really have any regrets so far on this blogging journey. I think any disappointments or frustrations I may have had in the past 2 years were great teaching moments, and vital for me to experience in able to learn, grow, and improve. As for greatest achievement, it would probably have to be the Domino Awards Best Lifestyle Blog nomination
What are your favourite tools out there for influencers?
The UNUM app is great for planning out your feed, I spend a lot of time using it to make sure each photo I post looks good next to the previous one in my grid. Other tools I use regularly are Dropbox, Lightroom, and the 8mm app and Unfold app for beautiful Insta Stories. And my ZINE Media Kit, of course!
Join Sara and 50,000 other influencers on ZINE by creating your free media kit today...
I'm head of Content at ZINE, where I use my expertise in fashion consumer psychology to empower brands and influencers in their marketing campaigns. I love to travel, bake as well as shopping online.