Raya T Shearer is a member of the #paid editorial team and is known by her followers as the creator behind @stylecontroversy on Instagram.
Where are you from?
I am Bulgarian, but I have lived all over the world, from Bulgaria to South Korea to Spain to South Africa to Austria and more. I became a Canadian citizen this summer after moving to Toronto 9 years ago and now call the city home. I also have residency in Hamburg, Germany where my family has been living for the past decade. Living in these various cities and experiencing their cultures has helped shape the person I am today. I look forward to calling many more places home throughout my lifetime.
What is your day job?
I am currently a social media freelancer. I am also working to obtain my Professional Writing degree from UC Berkeley and writing a book. It’s never too late to make your dreams come true.
How long have you been in the creator sphere?
I started dabbling in personal blogs back in 2009, as I was wrapping up my studies in Vienna, Austria. I created my first official blog – Fashionably Present – back in 2010, while working towards my Fashion Marketing degree in Toronto. I had no idea where I wanted to take it then. I started Style Controversy back in 2016. I’m still evolving and so are my platforms.
Is this something you saw yourself doing 5 years ago?
Full-time? Definitely not. I am still making sense of it all. But I love meeting other inspiring people and putting my own creativity to the test, while partnering with brands I believe in. So wherever this journey takes me, I know it’s one I’d like to continue exploring.
Who inspires you?
So many people. And things. And places.
I used to think hard when figuring out who my real idol is, but the truth is – my heroes change as I evolve. The list of heroes and people I look up to now is very different from the one I had as a kid…even from the one I had 10 years ago. I’m inspired by so much, especially the cultures that I’ve encountered throughout my travels. I’m inspired by cuisines and the stories of the chefs behind them, by beautiful clothes and the culture of the people who created them, and by nature and how it looks so, so different around the globe. And while this may sound narcissistic, I am inspired by myself and the person I become when I am immersed in these things. There’s a reason my platforms are lifestyle-based: I don’t believe in narrowing my interests and inspirations down to just one or two categories.
Who is your favorite creator?
My current favorites in the Travel & Food categories are: Isabelle Cheng from @allons.y , @hypebelly from Toronto, as well as Alexa Fernando from @ajfernando . I also admire Meghan, @meghanyuriyoung and her ability to touch on topics like anxiety and depression. She’s not afraid to be vulnerable in front of her audience and I have insane respect for that.
If you could meet any creator, who would you meet and why?
Hannah Bronfman. I am in awe of her determination, her hustle, and her love for life. I’d love to spend a weekend talking about her fierce motivation, cooking, beauty, and creativity.
I’d also like to meet my favorite poet, @christopherpoindexter, over a glass (or two) of bourbon.
Share with us your proudest piece of content to date.
To be honest, I’m not sure I can narrow it down. I loved working with Bulldog Gin and participating in their campaign to raise funds for the OSPCA. As a proud bulldog mama, I had so much fun working with all of the adorable bulldogs who took part in a race to celebrate the project. It was an unforgettable day and I had a lot of fun creating the images for our cocktail collaboration.
Tell us something interesting that we would never been able to guess, if we looked at your Instagram feed.
I LOVE hosting people for dinner. And lunch! And breakfast! I absolutely love cooking for people and bringing different people together for a meal. I love bringing different personalities together in one place and I believe that food is the best tool to do that.
What do you see yourself doing in the next 5 years?
Writing. In 5 years, I hope to have my first book published and be working on another. I see myself continuing to create but on a different level.
If you could restart, is there anything different that you would do?
Not much. I would definitely have written and created more. Even through the darkest of times. I strongly believe in the power of sharing our weakest moments, alongside the great ones.