Alysse Dalessandro Santiago (ReadyToStare) is a Midwest plus size fashion blogger, writer, designer, professional speaker, and CLEVER influencer. As we celebrate Pride with National Give Out Day, we celebrate her and all of the LGBTQ+ influencers who create incredible content all year from a place of authenticity and truth.
Social media handles
Where are you based?
How long have you been a content creator?
I have been a content creator since 2012.
How did you get started? Do you remember the first thing you posted?
I started Ready to Stare as a handmade jewelry brand in 2012. My mission when I started was to make fashion more inclusive and I worked with models from marginalized communities. I created my first lookbook in my friend's apartment. In early 2014, I transitioned away from solely working with only models and started to share my own images on my shop's platform. I realized how powerful it was to share myself with my audience as a plus size person. The idea of body positivity was new to me but I chose to explore it publicly. As I went on my self love journey, my audience went with me too. They watched as a shared my first selfie, my first bikini image and learned to navigate internet trolls.
What do you create content about? Why? For whom?
A lot of the content I create is very personal and centers around self love and acceptance. I identify as plus size and queer and both of those identities play a large role in my content creation. I talk about living with anxiety, depression and diabetes but I also will help you find the cutest plus size rainbow swimsuit. I want to create meaningful representation for folks who are traditionally left out of the conversation when it comes to fashion, lifestyle and travel content. My husband is Black and trans and with his permission, I share his experience with my followers from time to time. I believe in using my platform to amplify the experience and identities of others so that everyone who follows me can feel reflected and seen. I believe in vulnerability and while I like to share my joy, I believe there's power in sharing your pain, too.
What is your advice for brands who want to make more authentic connections with the LGBTQ+ community?
How has your work been impacted by the pandemic?
I made it a 2020 goal that I wanted to work more significantly in LGBTQ+ travel. I had multiple trips and travel-related partnerships in the works for April, May and June that disappeared in a matter of days. None of them have been recovered. A few of the lifestyle campaigns that were cancelled in March did re-book for the end of May. I was lucky to have some year-long fashion campaigns that weren't affected at all but it was definitely a reminder that as a content creator, you have to diversify your content and adapt quickly to industry changes. I changed how I spoke to my audience when it came to making purchases and pivoted to at-home content. I always do polls to my audience but I really tried to stay in touch with what they wanted to see and let that guide me. I also do freelance writing and social media management for other brands so I had other income to fall back on.
What is your hope for the future?
My hope for the future is that social media can be tool of education and can truly change hearts and minds in a way that leads to social change. I believe there's power in sharing your story and that by doing so, I can put a face to an issue someone may have a hard time understanding. I hope that my content can inspire people to love themselves more and show that love to others, as well.
Which National Give Out Day non-profit are you donating you and why?
The organization that I selected is Casa Ruby, an organization with a rich 30 year history. My husband runs his own non-profit META Center Inc. As a trans-led organization that also centers people of color, Casa Ruby is an organization that my husband admires and looks up to very much. Although META is still growing, he hopes one day to have the LGBTQ+ safe space to provide food, shelter and other health-related services.
Why should others join you in making a donation to the Casa Ruby?
Casa Ruby provides safe and immediate care and services for the community's most vulnerable, trans women of color. Trans women of color are the backbone of the LGBTQ+ community and we need to spend our time, energy and money investing in uplifting them