How a fashion aficionado became The Recessionista


Technology and social media has made the fashion industry more attuned to the demands of consumers, says Mary Hall, founder of The Recessionista blog.

Staying fashionable isn’t always financially feasible. Fashion trends are fickle. Colors go out of style. Collections change with the seasons. That all adds up to serious cash for anyone trying to stay chic on a budget.

What’s more, living in style transcends closet space. Channeling chic also spans fine dining, club hopping, spa treatments and first-rate entertainment, all of which can be downright expensive.

Enter The Recessionista, a well-curated blog that attempts to bring high fashion to most women by offering advice on looking great without breaking the bank. The site is the brainchild of Mary Hall, a fashion aficionado with a frugal eye whose blog quickly became an Internet sensation.

Tech Page One recently caught up with Hall to learn more about the inception of The Recessionista and how she has used technology to build a self-made brand.

How did you come to be The Recessionista?

I was just playing around with ideas on a Saturday, and I thought, “Why is no one covering the fashions I love and talking about the fact that we are in a recession?” So I started by own blog on Blogspot.

The idea was: thrift is the new chic. And I loved the name. It made me laugh! Ninety days later, The New York Times ran a story on the blog, and it went global.

How are you trying to make people’s lives better?

Just by gently reminding people that it’s okay to be frugal. There is no need to overspend to have the latest trend. I’m trying to tell people where the deals are and what the good quality items are.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned in your career?

I think to realize that your career is like running a marathon. You have to be prepared to be in it for the long haul, and there will be ups and downs. But if you persist and pace yourself to run the race, listen to your customers, readers or followers, then you can stay the course and have a long career.

What advice do you have for aspiring female entrepreneurs?

You have to take risks and trust your instincts. People will always say no. If you believe in something and you are passionate about it, try it out and see what happens. With The Recessionista, I didn’t listen to anyone. I didn’t ask anyone if they thought it was a good idea or if they thought it would be successful. If I had done that, I might never have started. Instead, I put the site up and let the readers decide. That’s the beauty of the Internet and social media — there is an almost immediate gratification for entrepreneurs. You know if you are going in the right direction.

How do you think technology helps empower you?

I think for women and people in general, technology helps give them voice. This is what technology did for me. I didn’t have to wait for a book deal or a publisher to publish.

I always loved to write with technology — Blogger, WordPress, Twitter, Facebook. I was able to write and self-publish. It’s been tremendous. I have a whole new sense of confidence. And I love that I was able to say in the midst of the recession: It’s cool to be frugal. Thrift is the new chic. That was an empowering message in 2008.

In what ways do you think fashion and technology intersect?

Technology makes fashion so much more accessible to everyone. For decades, women wanted to experience New York Fashion Week, London Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week and other events. Now everyone can see the shows on the Internet. Everyone can talk about the show and share their favorites on Facebook and Twitter. And that brings fashion closer to the consumer. Look at the JCP Penney Listens campaign. They talked to their customers via social media and brought back discounted brands that people wanted.

Fashion is more consumer-driven than ever, and I think technology is the reason for that. Now retailers like Burberry and Topshop host special fashion events on the Internet. It’s really an exciting time for fashion.

Katie Manderfield
Katie Manderfield is a writer, producer and digital strategist based in New York City. She specializes in thought leadership, emerging trends, and cultural intersections. Her work has appeared in Fast Company, Business Insider and on NPR.
Katie Manderfield
Katie Manderfield
Tags: Business,Entrepreneurship
  • Mary Hall

    Thanks for the great article. So appreciated this, and sharing my story.