Tahereh and Tana are best friends, and that is the beginning of this story. Armed with creativity, camaraderie, and a desire to do something new, they started We Still Write in Cursive. A lifestyle site with inspiration galore, it features everything from DIY projects to travel pics, fashion photoshoots to recipes. We spoke with the author and photographer about what inspires them, what they love most about fashion and style, and how they’re learning to juggle multiple creative projects with their flourishing careers and busy schedules.
I know from your About page that you met in college and have been friends ever since, but I would love to know more about what prompted you to create the site. How did you decide that the time was right? Do you have a manifesto of sorts for Still in Cursive? And how do you decide what content fulfills that purpose?
TAHEREH MAFI: For me, making this site was not only about bridging the gaps between my many interests, but it was also about getting me away from my desk. As an author, my job is very sedentary, and I was actively searching for ways to get up, get out, and get moving. Our goal for this site was to tell stories in different mediums; and to push ourselves to be creative and enthusiastic about the basic textures and ingredients of life. Working in multiple creative mediums keeps us inspired.
TANA GANDHI: We both love so many aspects of photography, fashion, blogging and social media. So it’s been a long time coming! Last year we were at a coffee shop and we started asking ourselves, “Wouldn’t it be awesome if we did a shoot like this?” So it feels like this daydream has been slowly forming over some time. As cliché as it sounds, we scribbled down our first ideas on a paper napkin!
Still in Cursive is, at the surface, a lifestyle blog, but its execution is so unique. Your fashion shoots are all conceptualized (rather than just street style shots) and you even create your own pieces, like the paper dress. It is much more editorial than style blogger—why did you decide to go this route?
TM: Street style is fun because it’s a snapshot of style in everyday life; but sometimes everyday life is limiting. The Still in Cursive space was always meant to be a place to explore the extraordinary, and editorial shoots give us more room to play.
TG: Some of very first ideas we talked about were styled shoots. We always looked at editorial photos and asked ourselves—what would we do? What would be our take on it? Tahereh is so talented in creating something amazing out of very minimal material (like the paper dress!) so it’s so inspiring to be able to document these creations.
You both have a very unique personal style and it comes across just how comfortable and confident you are in the pieces you choose for yourselves. Can you tell me more about your individual sartorial inspirations and how you developed your style? Do you have any particular rules or characteristics in pieces that you gravitate toward when building your wardrobe?
TM: I’ve loved fashion forever, but growing up, I could never afford it; so I had to invent my own. I spent countless hours of my youth rummaging through thrift stores and consignment shops, only to then take those pieces home and revamp them into something new and wearable. I think it was the invented fashion of my tween years that fueled the sartorial passion of my twenties, and I still love bold choices that challenge and empower me. The right outfit is transformative.
TG: I love athletic, casual, fancy leisure wear. Simple, airy, minimal, and classic. I think it comes from years and years of being in cross country and track in college and before. Sure, I love dressing up, but I love being comfortable with just a little bit of structure. It’s great because I can get away with it in California.
Tahereh, you wrote a really great post on getting to know your clothes, i.e. using two skirts in one look or replacing shirt buttons with statement earrings (GENIUS). Have you always dressed this way or is it something you’ve learned over the years? Do you have any other tips & tricks for making the most of what you own?
TM: My personal style is a constantly evolving, forever fluid thing. It changes just as I do, and the more I get to know myself, the more I understand my own tastes. I always, always hear people say things like “Oh, I could never pull that off” and I always think—why not? Style starts from inside; learn to love yourself first, and you’ll always look amazing.
You are both so busy with your work outside of the site, and you both do creative work for a living. How do you manage to keep burnout at bay? Do you have any tips for balancing a creative career with an equally creative hobby?
TM: Make time for the things (and people!) you love. If you wait for a free moment, it’ll never come.
TG: This is definitely something I’m still figuring out. What’s important is to nurture the part that makes you want to create so whenever I do feel like I’m overwhelmed, I’ll take a break andchange things up. Switch my perspective. Before I know it, I’ll get inspired and refreshed!
What is your favorite part about working on the site? Styling? Baking? DIY? Anything that you would like to do more of?
TM: I really love the styled shoots, and I’d love to build more sets and outfits. But I think we’re learning and fine-tuning our interests from moment to moment.
TG: I love all the parts! But of course, we’re focused on some more styled shoots—those are always so much fun.
What’s coming up for Still in Cursive this year?
TM: We’re having conversations about collaborations and we’ll be traveling a whole lot in the coming months, so there’s a lot on the books this year! But we’re still focused on making sure we can manage all this and our full-time jobs, so our fingers crossed we’ll be able to do everything we want!
TG: We definitely would like to do more editorial shoots. We have so many ideas but the challenge is to balance our workloads. So we’ll keep creating and seeing what comes from it!
Interviewed by Kerri Jarema
See more from Lydia Magazine’s Summer 2015 issue below!