Lifestyle & Beauty Influencer Jessi Malay On Touring the World in Her Teens
Next week, we're taking over stylish shopping spot One Colorado in Old Town Pasadena for our third-ever Mama Market. The spring bazaar will be co-hosted by Fashion Mamas founder Natalie Alcala and lifestyle and beauty influencer Jessi Malay, who recently welcomed her first little one.
Fun fact: At 31, the new mama is already a music industry veteran. Malay toured the world as one-fifth of the girl group No Secrets as a teen and snagged her second record deal with Warner Brothers Records shortly after.
Intrigued? Get to know the Los Angeles-based mother here, along with how she went from touring the world in her teens, how social media helped her realize her career path, and what she really wants for Mother's Day — read on below.
What's the name and age of your little one?
Alessandra Marie Santiago, 4.5 months!
Tell us about your unique career journey: How'd you go from touring the world as a teen to what you're doing now?
My dream as a 4-year old was to be a singer! I idolized Madonna, Janet Jackson, and Mariah Carey. I went from performing groups as a kid, to getting my first record deal with Jive at 14, to my second record deal with Warner Bros. Records at 18, where I ended up feeling stifled and unable to release any content on my own without it going through 10 different executives first.
I found myself getting more and more drawn to fashion and beauty because it was my way of having a creative outlet on a daily basis. At 22 I negotiated out of my contract and started working with independent producers to create the music I wanted to create. I started touring the club scene, then larger venues like The House Of Blues, off and on for two years. During this time I was styling all of my own shows, music videos, and designing looks for my photoshoots for my EP artwork, so I decided to take it one step further and bring it all together on a blog.
Music, fashion, and beauty had become one in the same to me, each passions of mine that went hand in hand, and enhanced the other. I started blogging about my travels on tour, what I was wearing on stage and off, and the content my followers gravitated to the most was my real life, daily looks and moments. This was really rewarding and freeing for me because I grew up feeling the need to always put on a show, but what the people I connected with through social media helped me realize, was the beauty in the most pedestrian everyday things, looks, and life.
My husband (then boyfriend) and I became partners in the blog and really started taking it more seriously, seeing it as a future, a business opportunity, and having a lot of fun (babymaking kind of fun) while doing it. My ultimate dream was always to become a mama and last year he and I made that happen! Since then we’ve turned our work into a family affair, sharing our lives and our most special moments not only through the blog and Instagram, but also through our vlogs on YouTube. We love that Alessandra our daughter can be involved in our work and what we’re so passionate about… We’ll see how she feels in a few years but for now she seems to be loving it as much as we do!
"Now more than ever there are no gatekeepers standing between you and success."
What are some of the biggest lessons — whether in life or business — that you've learned from your experiences in the entertainment industry?
Don’t wait around for someone else to make your dreams come true, make them happen yourself. I got tired of waiting around for record label executives to see my value, so I created value for myself. Now more than ever there are no gatekeepers standing between you and success. Through social media you have the means to create and release your own content/business/product with a never ending network of people waiting to receive it. The possibilities are truly endless.
The touring and musician life sounds exciting! What are some of your fondest memories from those years?
My first tour was at 16 while in my girl group No Secrets (we literally combined No Doubt and Victoria’s Secret to come up with our band name haha…very cool at 14 years old) and those are some of the best memories from my youth! The five of us girls traveled together across the country in tour buses and got to perform at stadiums in front of over 20,000 people. Those girls had become sisters to me and to be on stage with them dancing and singing every night was my dream. I cried through the entire last show we did of that tour because I was so sad it was coming to an end.
When I started touring through my 20s as an independent artist, things were way more grassroots. My dancers, best friend, Gabriel (my husband), and I literally rented a van and drove ourselves from state to state. We got to each venue early to run our own sound checks, got out into the crowd after every show to connect with as many people as we could, and really built a network from the ground up. Slept in dingy motel rooms and dealt with super seedy tour managers, but in the end the process was beyond rewarding and really the start to what our careers are today.
How have you seen the music industry change throughout the years?
I entered the music industry in the golden era of pop and signed onto the label that had all the biggest pop acts at the time (Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, etc.) and saw massive amounts of money blown on vanity projects for executives that had no business having creative say. Then I saw one by one these executives drop off like flies because there were no record sales anymore and thanks to the rise of social media, it was time for the public to dictate what they really wanted to hear.
Everyone working within the label system got really nervous to lose their jobs, so it became even harder to get any music released in fear of it flopping and it costing someone. That’s why I ended up leaving the label system and giving it a go independently. Although my music career didn’t develop into what I thought it would, the career I have now and am able to do everyday with my family, and life we’ve built from it, is far more rewarding, balanced, and happy than what my life was as solely a musician.
What inspired you to start your blog, and at one point did you realize it was time to pursue it as a business?
I first started my blog as a creative outlet to share my passion for fashion and beauty and how it related to my music, and connect with other like-minded women. I think at first at best I was hoping the blog would be a place for people to understand me on a deeper level and in turn more closely connect with my music. When I realized its business potential, was when the brands I was loving and wearing and sharing started approaching me directly to collaborate, and actually commissioning me for posts. That was dreams. I feel lucky to be able to work in that capacity today, collaborating and incorporating brands I love into the life content we share.
Lastly, what do you want most for Mother's Day?
A day in bed with my family doing nothing and eating pancakes, that’s it!