Maria Vizuete returns with internationally successful fashion blog.
Paris and New York are nice, but have you checked out the Twin Cities’ style scene recently? For Woodbury-based fashion and lifestyle blogger Maria Vizuete, there’s a lot to talk about. From local boutiques to the stylish streets of downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul, the style scene here—including in Woodbury—is better than ever before, and Vizuete is here for it.
Vizuete grew up in Woodbury and attended the University of Minnesota, where she graduated at age 20 with a degree in finance from the Carlson School of Management. While studying the world of banking and stock markets, Vizuete met her college sweetheart, Phil Thompson, who also graduated from Carlson. After working as a stock analyst for Piper Jaffray in Minneapolis, Vizuete decided to follow her dreams and move to Los Angeles. While she pursued her dream of acting and Thompson dived into the music industry, Vizuete soon discovered an entirely new industry that would soon become her professional home: fashion blogging.
The couple left sunny L.A. to return to Woodbury in 2015, three years after Vizuete started her fashion blog Mia Mia Mine as a hobby.
“At the time, I was still working for Piper Jaffray. I never thought my hobby could turn into a business,” Vizuete says. “But then I heard CEOs talking about digital influencers and bloggers, and I realized that this industry isn’t going away anytime soon.”
Eventually, Vizuete’s hobby turned into a full-time job, and soon she was working with companies like Kate Spade, Nordstrom and Macy’s to feature their products on her blog. Since moving back to Woodbury, Vizuete says she’s been able to establish an aesthetic for her blog.
“My favorite place to shop is Nordstrom, because locally they have a great selection, but they also have a great ability to order online. I’m able to get items from any category, so I’ll shop there for my husband, myself and my family,” she says. “My second favorite would probably be Revolve. People usually say they like my outfits when I’m wearing items from there, and my followers always respond positively to it.”
While big names like Nordstrom and Revolve catch Vizuete’s eye, she says she has a thing for local businesses around Woodbury and the Twin Cities. From boutiques to nail and hair salons, she says she loves sharing her new favorite beauty spots with her followers.
“A lot of my followers are in the Twin Cities, so they want to know where to go,” she says. “I’m more likely to recommend a place in Woodbury because that’s where I live, but I like to reach out to surrounding businesses, like some hair salons in Minneapolis or even stores in Edina’s Galleria or the Mall of America.”
In addition to fashion and beauty, Vizuete says she’s been especially interested in home décor since moving into their Stonemill Farms home. She’s been collaborating with local businesses like Cambria to promote their products and share what’s trending.
While she’s reviewing home goods, Vizuete says her followers love seeing her house, but not necessarily for the décor.
“We love to shoot inside the house to show my followers what I’ve been doing with our décor, but mostly they like to see the house because they want photos of our two golden retrievers, Luna and Leo,” she says with a laugh.
When she’s not posing with her pups, Vizuete can be found hitting the streets of downtown St. Paul, where the mix of historical and modern buildings leaves her followers guessing where she might be.
“The Twin Cities are in the top ten cities of my follower base, but a lot of my audience is international as well,” Vizuete says. “Which is why we often shoot in downtown St. Paul. Historic parts of the city look a lot like Europe, while the modern parts look similar to New York City. Many of my followers think I’m based in London or New York because the scenery is so nondescript.”
As her photographer, Vizuete’s husband, Phil Thompson, says the eclectic scenery of St. Paul attracts followers from all over the world, but the winter months can often be difficult for photo shoots.
“When it gets as cold as it does in the winter, the process gets a lot harder for Maria. We’ll go downtown, run outside for a minute and I’ll shoot as many photos as I can really quickly,” Thompson says. “We call our car the ‘mobile dressing room’ because Maria will hop out of the car for some photos, hop back in and change into a new outfit for some more photos.”
Despite its drawbacks (ahem, winter), Vizuete says Minnesota is a great location for fashion blogging.
“Fall is definitely my favorite season, and my followers love fall because Minnesota has a very beautiful autumn season,” she says. “It’s my favorite season to shoot because of the beautiful colors, but also for fashion because of the layering. From coats and boots to sweaters and sweater dresses, people get so excited for fashion again in fall, myself included.”
When it’s not autumn, Vizuete says she loves Minnesota’s summer months because of the feminine styles, pastels and other bright colors.
“Espadrilles are one of my favorite parts of summer,” she says. “There’s also the reintroduction of color from pastels to neons, though I don’t know if I’ll be trying neon quite yet,” she says. “I always invest in classic pieces that I can keep for years so I can mix in more on-trend items. I love off-the-shoulder dresses and tops, ruffles, and classic accessories like a straw hat or a great pair of heels.”
Vizuete says there are three style items she can’t live without: a great blazer, a pair of nude or black heels, and a black bag. Whether you have a business meeting, a dinner date or you’re just in a hurry to get out the door, she says you can always put together a killer outfit with these staples.
“I always recommend a designer bag. They hold up so well and are always in style,” Vizuete says. “I love luxury designers like Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Chanel. My all-time favorite is Gucci. It’s a hot designer brand right now.”
One thing that Vizuete says people commonly misunderstand about fashion bloggers is the idea that they receive a lot of free products. From her favorite Gucci bags and belts to local boutiques and salons, Vizuete prefers to feature items and services she pays for.
“I buy about 90 percent of the products I feature,” she says. “I don’t really share free products because if I don’t really believe in it, I’m not going to share it with my followers. I want my followers to know that if I bought it, they should, too.”
Vizuete says there are definitely perks of the job, like an occasional free vacation and being sent a surplus of beauty products (she jokes that the UPS delivery guy is the only person who’s at their house more than she and her husband), but she shares most of the free products with friends.
Another misconception people have about the fashion blogging industry is how much time it takes. Vizuete says she works more hours now than she did when she worked in investment banking. Because social media is her job, she says it can be hard to turn it off and find a work/life balance.
“Vacations are never really vacations,” she says. “I work more on vacation than I do at home just because we’re constantly taking photos and sharing the trip with my followers.”
Between checking Instagram, responding to emails and negotiating with brands, Vizuete’s work schedule is close to 24/7, which is why she’s so thankful to be able to work with her husband.
“I love working with Phil. His support is what helped me get started in blogging; he’s truly a built-in support system,” she says. “I love what I do, connecting with followers and having conversations with people all over the world. But most of all, I love working with my husband.”
When Thompson’s on tour, he says he uses those opportunities to photograph Vizuete in front of new backgrounds like the Great Wall of China or the Sydney Opera House. When they’re in beloved Woodbury, they get to spend every day together working on Vizuete’s blog.
“It’s easy to take for granted the time we spend together because so much of our personal lives bleeds into our work,” Thompson says. “I’m so thankful for the opportunity to spend so much time with Maria. From having lunch together every day to traveling together, I’m loving every minute of it.”