Meet Danielle Santana: former personal trainer and business owner, and current fashion and lifestyle blogger, skincare specialist, wife, mother and stepmother -- it’s safe to say that Danielle is pretty used to juggling a VERY well-rounded lifestyle!
Danielle built her blog and personal brand, Passionista Soul, from the ground up, starting out just like the rest of us. She took her personal Instagram page (@passionista_soul) with a few hundred followers and transformed it into a platform to share her passion for lifestyle and fashion as a LikeToKnowIt blogger, and now has a whopping 18.2k followers!
Read on to get the scoop on how to stay true to yourself while pursuing your passions in life. Hopefully, you’ll leave with a few nuggets of inspiration that will inspire you to continue building your own path!
1. First off, can you give us a look into your fashion and lifestyle blog, the turning points and how you got to where you are today?
Danielle Santana: I actually started my written blog about 5 years ago. Whenever I am really passionate about something, I tend to share it like crazy with all of my friends and family. I finally decided that I needed to take my passions and share them on a more social platform. That is how Passionista Soul was born. I then actually stopped blogging when I became pregnant with my son (crazy, I know, because I probably had so much to write about at that time!).
A few months after Ryker was born, my husband was traveling a lot for work and I was trying to figure out motherhood. It was at this point that I decided that I needed to pick up writing again. That is when I really started to build my presence on Instagram and bring in a lot of fashion finds. After my son was born, my blog became such an important part of my life. It gives me something that is solely my own and it allows me to create things every single day. It has given me back a piece of myself that can sometimes get lost once you become a Mother. To be completely transparent, blogging really helped me when I was learning how to navigate life as a new mother. Now my Instagram blog is heavily fashion-based, while my written blog is focused mainly on my family life.
2. What is the biggest lesson you learned about being a blogger (so far) and how did you learn it?
DS: Trust your gut and keep working hard. Being an “influencer” or “blogger” is a foreign concept to a lot of people. A lot of my family and friends didn’t quite understand it at first. I definitely got some push back and resistance at the beginning of my journey, but I believed in myself and I knew that if I continued to keep creating and sharing the things that I loved that I would build something amazing.
I have met so many wonderful, supportive people through blogging. There are some really amazing women out there who are all about helping each other grow and succeed which is so amazing! In this line of work, your success is all dependent upon you and what you decide to put into it. So keep working hard, and believe in yourself. Stand by your choices, and share your beautiful work!
3. You seamlessly juggle being a #Girlboss blogger, skincare specialist, wife, mother AND stepmother (not to mention dog mama!). What does balance mean to you and how do you practice it?
DS: Balance is the name of the game, but it is also something that I feel like most working people struggle with! Being a Mother and a Stepmother alone is super challenging. When Ryker was an infant it was really hard to balance the needs of an 11-year-old vs the needs of a 1-month-old. Throwing a new career on top of it might have seemed like a crazy idea! But one of the best things about my blog is that I can do it from home, which allows me to be with family. I can create my own hours and work on my blogs whenever I have the time.
I typically try to get up early before Ryker wakes up to get some work done. Then when he takes his afternoon nap I sneak in some more work. And once he goes to bed I catch up on emails and whatever else needs to get done. I balance my day with spending as much time with Ryker as possible, keeping the house in order and working on my blogs. To not work was never an option for me -- I need something in my life that I can learn from, focus on and grow with. Having goals for myself and goals to work towards makes me a happier woman and in turn a better mother. Did I mention I also work two days a week at a Lash Studio?
4. How do you prioritize health and wellness while balancing your busy lifestyle and schedule?
DS: I have always lived a healthy lifestyle. After college, I was a personal trainer. After that (and to this day) I’ve worked in the spa and beauty industry. I have always worked out consistently, and I am very aware of what a healthy diet should be. I always had these ideas of what a healthy lifestyle as a mother would look like.
I am going to be honest -- my ideas and my reality are quite different! It is much harder to spend hours working out like I once did (not that chasing a 20-month-old high energy toddler isn’t a workout!). I quit my gym because it was too hard to get there since my husband travels for work so often. But we did invest in The Mirror, which allows me to workout from home.
I wake up early in the morning and get a workout in while Ryker is still sleeping. If my husband is home, he wakes up super early, goes to the gym, and then he takes over the morning routine so that I can workout. I try to feed Ryker really healthy foods, and in turn that makes all of us eat a little healthier. My thought process is this is the only time I can choose what my son is eating, so I want to give him the best thing possible. He is obsessed with fruit, especially berries (he eats them by the carton). I heard that a person's sweet tooth is formed by the time they are two years old, so I try to limit processed sugars as much as possible.
5. Trends come and go. What is the one health or wellness “trend” you believe will never go out of fashion?
DS: I am a huge believer in clean eating. There are so many diet trends and quick-fix programs that people jump on to try and drop weight quickly. I think that it is really simple in terms of figuring out what is healthy and what isn’t. When you look at the ingredients on a box, can you pronounce them? Do you know what they are? If the answer is yes, then most likely the product is minimally processed and in turn, will be more healthy. Stick to fruits, veggies, meats, nuts, and healthy whole grains. Another tip -- they say to always do most of your food shopping on the outer rim of the store. That is where most of the healthy items are. :)
6. In terms of self-care, what are some rituals/products/hacks you SWEAR BY that can instantly add value to all our lives?
DS: Every single morning, I make my husband and I our “special tea.” We have been drinking this for years, and it is the first thing we drink on an empty stomach: 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with “the mother,” 2 tablespoons of honey, 2 tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice, a dash of cinnamon and hot water.
This drink is known to ward off the flu and common colds, but if you research the health benefits of apple cider vinegar, the list is extensive! Make sure to drink out of a straw because if you have this drink on a daily basis, the apple cider vinegar can be harsh on the teeth.
7. What does Danielle eat in a day to stay fueled for gr8ness?
DS: My days vary depending on what our schedules are like. When my husband is home, I like to start our days with fresh fruit, veggie, and superfood shakes. I actually meal prep ziplock bags with different combinations and have them ready to go in the freezer. All we have to add is a liquid and the superfood and pop it in the blender. It is a really healthy breakfast and so easy to make!
I also always try to have homemade chicken soup made and stocked in the freezer. Ryker loves it, and it is full of healthy veggies. Our house is always stocked with lots of fruit, so I try to load up our snacking options with oranges, bananas, apples, and berries. We are also huge fans of Playa Bowls, so I eat their acai and green bowls quite frequently!
8. What’s your number one tip for anyone who wants to achieve gr8ness in their lives?
DS: Find whatever it is that ignites your soul and excites you and share it with the world! Always be true to yourself and your brand. Follow your gut and your heart and make decisions that will ultimately make you happy. Keep learning, discovering, growing, and most of all keep challenging yourself to do better!
9. Just for fun: You're stuck on an island and can only take three food items with you. What would they be?
DS: This is such a hard question!!! Obviously gr8nola! Then I would have to say something salty and something sweet; so pizza and dark chocolate!
10. What’s your favorite way to eat gr8nola?
DS: I love eating gr8nola in acai bowls or with yogurt and fresh fruit! So yummy!!!