In 2016, PATTERN featured best friend fashion bloggers Martha Eelman and Lyuda Kusel in the #NEXT issue. They were seniors at Indiana University studying apparel merchandising and their future plans were still in the works. Since then, their lives have changed drastically. Not only has their blog, Martha + Lyuda grown, but the two have packed their bags and moved to L.A. Martha and Lyuda aim to keep their blog authentic with posts that reflect their lives and memorable experiences. While the dynamic duo loves their life on the west coast, they will always have a soft spot for their home state of Indiana!
Julie Valentine: We last featured you in our #NEXT Issue in Spring 2016. Since then, you have accomplished so much. What has changed for you both since then?
Martha + Lyuda: Man, it has been awhile! A lot has changed in the past two years for us. We graduated from Indiana University, moved across the country to California, got big girl jobs and are enjoying our 20s!
JV: Why L.A. and what was the move like?
M: I knew if I wanted to succeed in fashion, I’d have to relocate to a big city. New York is the big one, especially for our field, but Los Angeles always felt like it would be my place. I dreamt of a laidback lifestyle by the beach (dreamy skater boys included). I had visited LA on a cross-country road trip before and absolutely fell in love! I remember literally walking onto the Venice boardwalk that summer and having this overwhelming feeling of “this is your where you belong.” I moved here shortly after graduating college and haven’t looked back!
L: For the longest time, I thought that I wanted to live in New York City. I had romantic feeling towards NYC because it’s such a special place! After actually visiting a few times, I realized that it wasn’t for me. I love the fast-paced concrete jungle but I just couldn’t see myself living there at this point in my life. Martha and I visited LA for our senior year Spring Break and I completely fell in love with the sunshine and laid-back lifestyle.
M+L: It’s always hard to leave what you know. We both felt like we belonged on the West Coast and would thrive in a city filled with creative and inspirational people. So much happens in LA in a creative sense and we wanted to be a part of that hustle and bustle. We’re both very close to our families so it was really hard to leave. We’re thankful for Facetime and social media to help us stay connected to our family and friends.
JV: Is the blog a full-time gig for you both or something you do on the side?
M+L: It’s our side hustle that we put a lot of time and effort into. We work at a company that gives us a lot of freedom in our day to day. It really works out perfectly for us. If we had a typical 9-5, it would definitely make things more challenging for us.
JV: What’s the biggest struggle you find with the blog?
M+L: Blogging has become very popular in the last 5 years which means increased competition. One of the biggest struggles for us is working to remain authentic while competing with others who find success using shortcuts like buying followers and paying for likes and exposure.
JV: Best thing about it?
M+L: Being able to share our creativity. We love working together and being our own bosses. It’s always fun when you are doing something you love! We’re passionate about our blog so it never feels like work. I think some of our favorite days include styling looks to shoot, trying out new products and discovering new brands. The opportunity to discover new and upcoming brands is always exciting! We love sharing new finds and ways to style pieces with our audience.
We love meeting bloggers whether it be online or in-person! Each blogger’s world is different from the next so it’s fun and exciting to share our experiences. Blogging as a business is still a very new concept and we love being able to bounce ideas off of others as we all try to make our way. We’re also lucky in that we have a great dynamic and are able to do this as a duo. We balance each other out with our personalities and style.
JV: How have you found continued success in the past years?
M+L: We started to take the blog more seriously in the past few years, instead of using it just as a creative outlet. We hustled e-mailing brands, photographers and creating a variety of content. We got a lot of no’s but we never let it get us down. In the beginning, we basically said yes to everything that was offered to us. Our first paid collaboration was for a feminine hygiene product. Panty liners are so chic, we know. (haha) We’ve reached the point where we can now be selective with who we work with. It’s important to us to stay true and authentic in what we do, for ourselves and our audience.
JV:What’s the process you go through before posting and where do you find your inspiration?
M+L: Our blog is a reflection of our life. We go with the flow of what we’re currently doing or feeling. We’re not just creating content to create content. If we’re loving a trend or a brand, we’ll spotlight it. If we’re traveling, we’ll make sure to take lots of photos so that we can blog about it. We really just go with the flow of our lives and that’s where our inspiration comes from.
JV: What do you see for the future in terms of your blog?
M+L: Our dream is to grow Martha + Lyuda into a full time gig. We love what we do and we love working together. It’s definitely in our future once we come up with a solid plan and work out the kinks.
JV: What’s the biggest difference between maintaining the blog in Indy compared to L.A.?
M+L: There is a lot more opportunity in LA but with opportunity also comes competition! One of the great things about blogging here is the amazing weather! You can go outside and shoot anytime. We’re just a drive away from so many beautiful locations. We’ve been able to attend several events hosted by brands since we’ve moved here, which is always fun! Events are a great way to network and connect with others in the blogging business.
JV: Going off of the last question, what do you miss most about Indiana?
M+L: Midwest hospitality! And running into a familiar face.
JV: What’s the biggest lesson you have learned from having your blog?
M+L: It’s definitely taught us a lot of life and work skills! We have learned how to brand ourselves individually and collaboratively. It’s basically all based around self motivation. We’re our own bosses so the only ones holding us accountable is ourselves (and each other).