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S.M. Blanchard is the founder of @AskMaiden, a truth teller and no one describes herself as well as she does

S.M. Blanchard, founder of @AskMaiden

S.M. Blanchard

truth writer @AskMaiden; truth teller @Oms4Shanthi; builder of startups @Spinster_io

Astrological sign
Capricorn by birth. Dyed-in-the-wool Sagittarius by nature. Progressive by blood.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?
A morning person stuck in the wrong timezone.

Tea or coffee drinker? 
S.M. Blanchard of @AskMaiden

We’re food lovers - name a dish you love. We love a recipe share too!
My mom is Malaysian-Indian. She originated fusion cooking before there was fusion cooking. Growing up in Southern Illinois, she was always adding flavors and creating new culinary masterpieces in every dish…even the pasta dinners my white, American father cooked!

As a result, I have a very eclectic, diverse and flavorful food palette. A staple food I’ve been making a lot lately is Laksa. Laksa is a noodle and soup dish, but is very niche to Malaysia and Singapore. What makes laksa so good is its gravy. Laksa’s gravy is a spicy infusion of flavor very specific to the region - both sweet and savory. I personally love using teriyaki mushrooms and boiled quail eggs in mine. The broken yolk mixed with the coconut milk makes the spicy gravy even creamier.

Whenever I feel a bit homesick for my parents, or I just want to feel more deeply rooted in myself, I whip up a bowl of this stuff, click my heels three times, and I’m home.

What is the best advice you have ever received? 
Honestly? I just think about what Ivanka Trump would do and do the opposite of that.

Our first collection was named after streets we’ve lived on and loved. What’s a street or city you’ve loved and why?
You’re hitting my heart on this one. I love this question because every woman should have a road, and she should run it often. I myself ran competitively for about 15 years until my knees gave out, and those runs took me everywhere around the world.

My favorite roads to run vary. But I will also always remember this random, massive, all-day run along the hills of the Italian Rivera I did once in my mid-20s. Starting the run ended up being the hardest part! I didn’t understand a word of Italian and was having a hard time finding the trail entrance. When the locals I asked for directions realized I was trying to run this massive trek, by myself - alone, as a woman - they refused to tell me how to access the entrance. I ended up climbing through a vineyard and will never forget the look on the vineyard owner’s face when he saw me!

That run was truley magical though. It started by the beach, went straight into the mountains (where there was still snow on the ground!), and came down along this beautiful, flower-filled valley that curved into a boardwalk by the sea. I felt like I was entering different worlds on that run – from Oz to Narnia then somehow back to earth again.
S.M. Blanchard

What are you listening to lately? 
My favorite musicians are naturally the ones who tell the best stories. I’ve been the biggest fan of Taylor Swift from her earliest days. Her ability to weave words only gets better with each album. Folklore in particular has been a godsend throughout this past year. The ethereal melodies and lyrical poetry evoke so much vivid imagery and quiet, poignant emotion. As a creative, I could live in the space of these songs for years.

Whose style inspires you?
It's less about whose style inspires me and more about how they are using style as a way to represent themselves. I really love women who use fashion as a form of protest. Queen Elizabeth, famously painted her face white to symbolize her virginity (and thus, political power). The Suffragettes wore white. My own mother’s way of rebelling against the conservatism of 1970s Malaysia was through this high-femme, subversively sexy, mini-skirts and painted red nails look.

My style is very Marie-Kondo – if I touch it and it feels good, I wear it. That’s kind of my own political fashion statement: my body needs to move in this world, unrestricted. Which means my body needs to feel physically free in whatever outfit I put on.

What does that mean? Well, in the winter, that means I don’t even bother with wardrobes. Stealing my fiancé’s oversized sweaters and a pair of skinny jeans with boots is standard practice. Happy to put on a pair of knee-highs it to spruce it up a bit.

In summer, I’m in bohemian florals that I’ve rented from nuuly (the Rent-the-Runway of free-spirited mavens everywhere). I love the feeling of a free-flowing skirt brushing against my legs or the heat of the sun seeping in through the fabric's sheerness. I always wear running shorts underneath summer dresses because frankly, underwear is way too constricting.

If I have a meeting, it’s something sleek and classic. I've ditched the corporate dresses and suit jackets for sheath dresses and booties, or even Rothy’s if I can get away with it. I love that Rothy's are made with plastic water bottles and are totally washable, but still chic.

But 90% of the time, I still live in athletic gear. You can find me raiding the sales section of Carbon38, Sweaty Beaty London, or Alia at almost any given hour. If I show up at a networking hour or a party in leggings, don’t judge me for living my best life.

@AskMaiden founder S.M. Blanchard

What are you watching or seen lately that you loved?
My favorite television shows are about eccentric families (like my own) usually with strong female leads that also have powerful character arcs. Naturally, I gravitate to a lot of Amy Sherman Palladino. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and The Gilmore Girls are just peak eccentricity, wittiness, and comedic timing.

Schitt’s Creek does just an incredible job of hitting all these elements as well. It's probably the best show on television.

On the drama side of things, The Politician is also really well done, as was WACO. The first season of West World captured every aspect of my attention, but, like most of the world, I wanted to know why Thandi Newton's character, Maeve, became an afterthought in later seasons.

What’s inspiring you lately?
Politics. I know. It’s really easy to be uninspired right now, especially with everything that is going on. But if there’s anything I learned from being the only half-brown girl in affluent white spaces, the harder the pushback, the bigger the fear. Fear means insecurity, and insecurity means people know they are in the wrong and that their dominating power is coming to an end.

If we want to create true racial and gender progress, we have to take the pushback as a cue that we are doing something right. Keep pushing! And more than anything, be sure to vote!!!

Who should we be following? 
This pandemic has meant that women are going through a collective awakening of sorts. Women everywhere are having a moment. We are sticking up for ourselves and each other. We’re having conversations we’ve never had before. We’re speaking about topics we were too afraid to for years.

In my opinion, everyone should be finding interesting ‘everyday’ women and following them. Doesn’t matter how big or how small their following is. Join the conversation.
S.M. Blanchard of @AskMaiden

What’s an upcoming project you are excited about?
@AskMaiden is a new storytelling platform I’m launching for womxn who want to live life on their own terms. Maiden is creating content for women who are the ‘first’. Maybe they are the first in their family to go to college or the first brown woman on their collegiate diving team. Maybe they aspire to be the first woman astronaut on Mars. Or they are the first woman on their team in their office.

The thing about being the first is that when you're the first, you’re the only. You’re not only navigating the tasks at hand, you’re navigating dueling identities in the process. And there’s no roadmap.

Maiden isn't for the faint of heart. We're going to be exploring topics like...
*Navigating white spaces as a WOC (from private school to your first corporate job)
*Interviewing for a job where looks are everything and you don't have the money to have the look
*Healing from a body image or eating disorder

There’s so much excitement and buzz about this, in part because Maiden is going where other writers won't go! We’ve yet to launch and already have a few partnerships solidified. On-demand workshops and sassy swag are also in the works too!

If you’re interested, follow along on Instagram at @AskMaiden for the launch!

Where can we find you? 
100% follow @AskMaiden! We're just getting things off the ground and appreciate all the support. In fact, send it to a friend whom you think would love and benefit from women sharing their stories!

Any last words you'd like to share? 
Vote! Vote! Vote!



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