I pulled out my phone one more time to look at the photos I had been forwarded and glanced around the Tim Hortons in River Building once more in an attempt to spot Emma Paling’s green tinted hair and Megan McClean’s light blonde locks.
My interviewees entered the restaurant together, swiftly scanning the seats, breaking into smiles as they approached my table. I could tell within seconds that they were good friends. They met according to Emma, at a party during Frosh Week, an event which apparently was, “…so not us,” claimed McClean. The two ended up spending the night talking about clothes and found out that their perceptions of style in general were quite similar. “Everything we saw we could not afford,” announced Paling. Fine fashion on a tight budget is the basic premise behind their blog.
Together these two fourth-year journalism students navigate life while chronicling their adventures online on Broke: The Blog which was launched during the summer of 2013. Though the idea for the blog entered their minds while they were in first year, the duo could not bring their plans to fruition until last year when they were both in Ottawa for the whole summer together.
The blog’s tagline, “Money can’t buy style,” is indicative of both women’s views on style and the fashion industry. “Everyone has style. I don’t think that fashion should feel so polarizing – you can feel really good in clothes for really cheap. It’s easy to find clothes, once you know where to look. We dress to make ourselves feel good.” stated McClean who confided that she was heading to Value Village after our interview.
“People see fashion as about being exclusive, I hate that attitude. It’s not fair,” interjected Paling.
The duo turned serious when asked about the name of their blog. “We know that we’re not truly broke,” confessed Paling. “Just the fact that we’re attending university and living outside of our parents’ houses proves that, we were simply fed up with seeing magazines full of ‘cheap’ outfits that no one can afford on a student budget,” she continued.
When asked to describe the blog using three words, fun was the first word to escape Paling’s lips. McClean expanded upon how they find Broke: The Blog fun: “We don’t take fashion too seriously. It is not the most serious thing in the world – it’s just clothes.”
McClean then offered the word edgy, “We like to experiment with clothes,” she said. When McClean used feminine as the blog’s final characteristic, Paling exclaimed how she had been thinking, “…the exact same thing!”
While Paling plans to pursue a career in journalism after graduation, McClean is not so sure about continuing in this vein of media. “I’m not too sure what I’d like to do…maybe write fiction, although that’s very ambitious,” she responded when asked about her future aspirations, “I do enjoy television and editing though,” she concluded.
Paling works as a copy editor for the Charlatan newspaper, a job which she admits, “…can be a feat.”
Oddly enough, neither woman planned on attending Carleton University, “I chose Carleton because of the fat scholarship, which I promptly lost. I’d planned on attending Ryerson for fashion journalism and changed my mind when Carleton accepted me really early,” stated Paling.
McClean was in a similar position, “I had no idea what I was going to do after finishing high school. Then, one night at 11:30pm I was scrolling through my emails. In my spam, I found an email from Carleton offering me a place and a hefty scholarship. I happened to check this email half an hour before the acceptance deadline, so I took it as a sign of fate and accepted the offer!”
Neither could have anticipated the outcome of their decisions but it all worked out in the end. “I’m so happy I had you from day one,” Paling confessed to McClean, who responded with a smile and exclaimed, “Thank you journalism school!”
As the two nervously anticipate their impending graduation this spring, knowing that they will be going through the experience together helps to abate some of their anxiety. Once May begins they have plans to embark on a tour of Europe.
While abroad, Broke: The Blog will continue to be updated, “…while traveling we will write about what happens to us and how we are treated as women. Once we graduate we will have the chance to expand on a range topics,” stated Megan, in response to the blog’s perspective on feminism.
Slowly, but surely, Broke: The Blog is garnering a following. Currently, these two fashionistas are doing a blitz advertising campaign including passing out stickers with their slogan on it and tacking up posters on bulletin boards around Carleton. The buzz being generated around their blog has both women excited, “People are approaching us to contribute [to the blog],” mentioned Paling, in complete awe.
Enthusiastic about the year to come, Paling and McClean are gearing up for the next great adventure of their lives. “We’ll miss Ottawa,” said Paling. “We’ve learned to love the city.” No matter where they end up, it looks like these two fashion queens have a bright future ahead.