Monday, 12 September 2016

Their Scribbles: Suzy Marie of From the Fringe

Their Scribbles

Their Scribbles is a feature on the blog where I interview other writers I'm inspired by.

I'm stoked to have Suzy Marie of From the Fringe here for Their Scribbles. As well as running From the Fringe, Suzy is also a co-founder of online health and happiness lifestyle magazine The Olive Fox, and has contributed to The Vagenda. From the Fringe is a lifestyle blog with a strong feminist focus. What's different about Suzy's blog is that her feminist discussions are really insightful and intelligent, without coming across as anger-filled rants. I always learn something new from her, and I look forward to each new post, so I'm really excited to have her on the blog today to hear more about her blog and feminism!

From the Fringe

Suzy MarieWhen did you first start From the Fringe and why? What can readers expect when visiting your blog?

Well I only started From The Fringe very recently so it’s brand new! It launched at the beginning of August this year but, really, it was kind of an evolution of my old blog, Eeep I’m A Blogger. I started Eeep about five years ago whilst I was at university which was my first foray into the blogging world. Things were a lot different back then!! Recently, I started to feel as though Eeep didn’t really represent me any more so I started From The Fringe which I think is a more grown up version of the old blog. I think the modern blogging world is becoming more about instant consumption and glitzy photographs but maybe I’m an old soul because I just enjoy words haha! So From The Fringe is for people who enjoy articles, essays, and creative pieces with some lifestyle and happiness thrown in!

What has having a platform where your voice can be heard meant for you?

Gosh. It has been invaluable. I’ve always had a love of writing but, thanks to trying to be a cool teenager or having to write endless essays and dissertations at university, I sort of fell out with it for a long while. Blogging was my first step towards finding that joy in writing again - but I didn’t know it at the time! Over the years, that fire has re-ignited simply through being lucky enough to have this platform. This space is therapy for me, it’s the one constant when everything else is falling apart, it’s home.

From the Fringe has the tagline “The home of feminist joy”, and with posts like Sexuality, Empowerment, & Feminism: A Difficult Struggle, Why I Think Kiran Gandhi’s Marathon Decision Was Awesome, and A Surprising Truth: Feminists Don’t Hate Men, it’s not hard to see why. When did you first identify as a feminist? And how has calling yourself a feminist changed you and how you live in the world?

It’s funny seeing those posts all linked there together like a little feminist catalogue because feminism isn’t a topic I ever thought I’d be writing about in that way! I’ve been interested in gender politics for years but it’s not something I equated to feminism until much later in life. In fact, I was one of those dreadful people who said things like “oh I’m an equalist, not a feminist”. I thought that was extremely liberal and wonderful of me at the time, but I realise now that I sounded like an idiot! It actually took until my early twenties before I identified as feminist partly due to understanding it properly for the first time, and partly due to meeting an awesome lady (now one of my closest friends) who was the first feminist of my own age I’d ever met. She inspired me to embrace feminism and, once that had happened, I just completely fell in love with the entire thing. I hope that embracing feminism has made me a better, more tolerant, more accepting person and it has really opened my eyes to subtle inequalities that happen around us on a daily basis. That can be infuriating, of course, but it also enables me to try and make small changes where I can.

I’ve been a feminist for about a year and a half now, but even so, because of reading your blog I find myself learning even more about feminist ideas and problems – like why pockets are a feminist problem and a whole lot about empowerment (see post above on Sexuality, Empowerment & Feminism, and Excuse Me, But Oppression and Empowerment Aren’t Yours to Give). How did you learn about feminism, and how did you gain your wealth of feminist knowledge?

Yay fellow feminist! See, that’s the absolute joy of the internet, meeting like minded people with the same beliefs as you. Well, as I mentioned before, I’ve always had an interest in gender and accidentally sort of geared my education around that which is where I began to learn about feminism. It happened really gradually to begin with and then I decided to go the whole hog and do a Masters Degree in Women’s Studies. I was lucky enough to be taught by some incredible feminists who are really well-respected in their academic fields, and they taught me some of the most difficult concepts I had ever tried to wrap my brain around. I think this has given me a really solid foundation in analysing how gender works in the world, something which I’m really grateful for. I know some feminists aren’t keen on us academic squares, but I do think that activism and academia can walk hand in hand if you let them. Each informs the other really positively I think. I'd recommend checking out Do It Like A Woman by Caroline Criado-Perez which I'm currently reading, which is so inspiring and really makes you realise just how important the feminist cause still is. And I have to mention Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble because, although she’s probably the least accessible writer ever (soz Judith!), her writing about gender just made sense of absolutely everything for me.

I love your Five Things That Made Me Happy This Week posts that go live each Friday. It always makes me smile to read what made you smile each week. What inspired these posts?

Honestly? I noticed that I’m a bit of a moaning-minnie and decided I needed to change! I started practicing gratitude when I was going through a rough patch a couple of years ago and I just find it such a therapeutic and enjoyable thing to do. So my Five Things That Made Me Happy This Week posts are a little homage to that. Finding time to reflect upon my week and forcing myself to find five things that made me smile, even in the absolute worst of times, reminds me to be grateful for the joys in my life.

You also co-founded The Olive Fox, an online health and happiness lifestyle magazine. Can you tell us a little more about The Olive Fox and how it came about?

I’d love to be able to tell you that there was a lengthy business plan and that it was all very well thought-out and considered but, honestly, The Olive Fox was created by me and my best friend, Beth, drinking Coca-Cola and sat on the floor in her spare bedroom! We’d met at the UK Blog Awards in 2014 and become pretty good friends from then onwards. The Olive Fox literally came from a single conversation about wanting to take our blogging to the next level so we devised the name and the concept for the entire thing in about two hours. I then left to travel back home (we live two hundred miles apart which can make logistics tricky!), and we developed the site, cultivated a cast of contributors, and launched two months later. The Olive Fox started as a sort of hive of loads of different content, but we’ve recently honed it down to just health and happiness which is a niche we’re really pleased with. You can find all sorts on the site from mindfulness, exercise, food, books, opinion pieces, tutorials, and advice. Oh, and we have an awesome monthly playlist too!

The Olive Fox is not yet a year old, yet was Highly Commended in this year’s UK Blog Awards in the Most Innovative category. What’s it been like to have The Olive Fox become so successful in such a short space of time, and to have it acknowledged and recognised at the UK Blog Awards?

It’s kind of ridiculous ha! We were so shocked to get Highly Commended because, as you say, we’re still such a young publication. It gave us a confidence boost though (Beth and I are both serial self-doubters) and allowed us to think about our plans to develop Olive Fox in the future. Since the re-launch a couple of months ago, we’ve enjoyed the fact that our readers seem to be really engaged with what we’re doing and we’re just loving working with fantastic writers like yourself!

What opportunities has your blog and writing opened up for you?

The main thing is definitely meeting a community of truly wonderful people. Blogging and social media allows us to connect with similar people like never before and I’ve connected with so many awesome feminists who inspire me daily. I’ve made friends across the world and have even been lucky to meet some of them as far flung as the USA and Czech Republic. I’m a total people person so this is by far the best thing to have come out of blogging for me.

Anything else you would like to add/discuss?

I’m just about to start a monthly Twitter chat [#fringechat] which will be happening on the first Tuesday of every month at 8pm. The focus will be about joy and happiness but there will also be some feminism and opinion thrown in too. I want to provide a place where people can find others like themselves and can discuss issues that they may not be able to elsewhere. Also, to just connect and have fun! So, if that sounds like your kind of thing, then please join in!

Thank you, Suzy, for telling us more about your blog and your writing! If feminism is your thing, I'd highly recommend checking out From the Fringe, and be sure to also follow Suzy on BloglovinTwitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Linked In.

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  1. Thanks so much for having me! :) <3

    1. Thank you for letting me interview! It was so lovely to have you on the blog! :)