Melissa Sonico has earned a devoted following on her Instagram account @melissasonico for sharing glimpses into her life as a modern, creative working mom living in Southern California in a way that’s authentic and down-to-earth. As a writer, jewelry-designer and mama of a little one, her thoughtful and laid-back approach to style and living serve as an inspiration to the self-made creative woman. Below, a conversation with Melissa about California, style phases and a some of the things that are inspiring her right now PLUS a chance to enter a giveaway.

Melissa wears the Beia Boot in Mulberry

Melissa wears the Beia Boot in Mulberry

This season, ZOU XOU has partnered with Melissa to host a giveaway for $250 worth of credit towards our online shop!

To enter: 1) follow @zouxoushoes and @melissasonico on Instagram

2) tag friends in the comments on this post: http://bit.ly/2C1UE2l

Contest ends on Sunday 12/24! Winner will be announced on 12/25! Good luck!

You’re a writer, lit professor, jewelry designer, and style influencer. Which of these do you consider to be your true vocation? Which brings you the most satisfaction?

I would have to say writing, even though it’s the thing I get to do the least— what with everything else on my plate. But it definitely gives me the most satisfaction to be able to sit down and write.

You currently live in Redlands, CA. What is your community like? Would you ever live anyplace else? Where? Why/Why not?

Redlands is a small but up and coming town in Southern California. Everyone seems to know each other to the point where I like to compare it to Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls! I love it and I can see us rooted here but would also love to explore farther north.

California holds a lot of allure in pop culture and social media right now. If you had to “bottle it” to sell it to someone who’s never been, what would you say the essences of the California lifestyle are?

We’re pretty spoiled out here with perfect weather, amazing sights, and— for the most part— pretty progressive views socially and politically. I find myself feeling lucky to live here. I’d say that sense of tolerance and acceptance is a staple to California.

Melissa is wearing the Sabine Slide in Burnt Sienna Suede 

Melissa is wearing the Sabine Slide in Burnt Sienna Suede 

At the moment what are some things that are a)inspiring you b) challenging you c) making you really happy d) freaking you out

Inspiration comes from many places, but one major source is my friends and community; I think seeing them fulfill their own goals is so inspiring. A big challenge right now, for me, is to force myself to write more. It’s been tough after having Harrison and teaching and everything else. I have to be able to put myself in the zone to sit down and commit words to the page(screen). My family is the biggest source of happiness right now. It’s the holidays and we’re all together and everything is just better! The state of affairs in the country right now is disheartening to say the least.

What is your cultural heritage? How has your upbringing/culture influenced your values?  

I’m a first generation Filipino American. My parents came over from the Philippines in their early 20s and are pretty traditional. I know very little about my culture and don’t speak the language, though I do understand some Tagalog and Llocano. I hope to learn more though!

What influences have shaped your sense of style? What “style phases” did you go through growing up?

I was absolutely a tomboy growing up, all the way to college. I would mostly wear big jeans and t-shirts and my hair in a ponytail, but I definitely went through some of the trends in high school. I don’t think I really became invested in fashion until I turned 18. There was the usual progression of 90s (think Clueless plus Aaliyah), to discovering Urban Outfitters in 2001, to a sort of vintage Zoe Deschanel girly look, back to 90s with some 70s mixed in, to a streamlined, classic version of all of that currently.

Melissa in the Mulberry Beia Boot styled with a Catzorange circle tote and the Megan Huntz Leslie Skirt

Melissa in the Mulberry Beia Boot styled with a Catzorange circle tote and the Megan Huntz Leslie Skirt

You’re a mom to an adorable toddler, Harrison. In what ways if any has becoming a mom changed your personal style choices? Do you have a daily uniform?

I don’t know that my style has changed too much. I think I actually became more adventurous after having him, weirdly! More color, different silhouettes. It was a good thing for sure!

What is a typical day like for you?

I wake up and get ready, make Harrison breakfast, we’ll play with his toys or read books, I’ll grade some essays, go for a walk with H, get lunch and put Harrison down for a nap. Then I take care of any social media things (blog posts, Instagram giveaways, sponsored things, etc.), and process some jewelry orders. Then it’s time to hang out with Harrison again and maybe clean or run errands. The dinner with Johnny and Harrison and a pretty early bedtime. There’s not a lot to my day!

Do you have any upcoming projects that you’re excited share?

I have a few collaborations with some friends including Cup of Jo and a home tour for Apartment Therapy! I’m also working on my spring collection of jewelry.