Through hard work and risk taking, she’s crafted social media into a successful career
Growing up with a family experienced in the field, accounting seemed like the obvious career path for Polish-born Ania Boniecka. However, with years of modelling experience under her belt, she decided to quit number crunching and focus full-time on her fashion and lifestyle blog.
Boniecka and her family came to Canada in 1999, 10 years after her older brother had already immigrated. New to the country, Boniecka — then 13 — says she wasn’t really into sports and “never really had talents.”
“The only thing I had going for me was I was tall,” says Boniecka, who was 5’10" and had reached full height at 13, and began modelling a year later.
“That was sort of my introduction into fashion, but I was never really into it a hundred per cent because we’re Polish ... my parents were always really strict.”
Born into a family of accountants, 29-year-old Boniecka says, “I’m always about pleasing my parents, even now.”
Boniecka juggled her modelling career with her post-secondary studies and says she spent some time modelling in New York City whilst completing her bachelor of commerce at the University of Calgary.
While she was still in school, Boniecka began working at her brother’s accounting firm in Calgary.
After graduating from the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary, she worked at her brother’s firm for a few more years.
“I kind of worked my way up from a filing clerk, to working (with) clients, and then eventually I managed his firm. Throughout all of this, I still kept modelling just around the city... I wasn’t doing any international things anymore.”
Soon, however, the stress of accounting began to take its toll on Boniecka. She started to lose interest in the field and found the people "very boring and dry.”
“I got a little lost and I wasn’t really sure what was for me,” she says.
Boniecka says she has always been interested in photography. Growing up, she played around with film, Polaroid and even her webcam, before the current “selfie” era.
From offices to deserts
To learn more, she started doing shoots with a photographer friend, Jason Eng, purely for the sake of being creative.
“I would model, I would style them ... we would take a lot of trips together.”
“It’s an industry and people do this for a living. It’s not just a hobby anymore.” -Ania Boniecka
Boniecka recalls a road trip from Calgary to Marfa, Texas, as particularly memorable. They stopped to shoot fashion stories at popular landmarks around the States, including the Salt Flats in Utah, the Very Large Array in New Mexico — a radio astronomy observatory with huge satellite dishes — and Cadillac Ranch in Texas.
“Marfa has this really cool Prada store in the middle of the desert, which is like an art installation,” says Boniecka, adding that photographing famous spots has always been a theme for her blog.
She says targeting these landmarks for her photo shoots helps bring attention to her posts.
“People always search those out, so it’s a really great way to connect with people outside.”
Despite her modelling ventures across the States, Boniecka was still employed at her brother’s office. It was during this time that her blog, Ania B., came into fruition.
“Nobody was really taking submissions of fashion stories for magazines. We were shooting all this amazing content, but we didn’t know what to do with it. So I started a blog,” says Boniecka.
Finding a focus
Fashion wasn’t always Boniecka’s main focus. She took a drawing class and began posting her sketches on the blog, as well as any images off Tumblr that she found inspiring. It started out as a personal collection without Boniecka realizing it would one day be a hit.
She noticed that fashion magazines were starting to show an interest in fashion bloggers, so she contacted a “Canadian fashion magazine and wanted to be featured.”
They wrote back telling Boniecka her blog didn’t really have a clear focus, and to find one and try again.
“I took their advice and I focused,” she says. People had always commented on her clothes, so she decided to concentrate on documenting her outfit choices.
“I did that for like six months. I wrote back to the magazine and then they featured me.”
Shooting her own outfits soon became limiting however, because she "didn’t have a consistent photographer.”
She began shooting street style, which is the documentation of people’s style on the street, for FASHION magazine, thrilled that they wanted to pay her for it.
But after meeting Tyler Stalman, now her husband, the pair began shooting more of Boniecka for her blog.
At this point, Boniecka says the blog really took off. The couple wanted to be together, so Boniecka took a risk; she quit her accounting job and relocated to Victoria to be with Stalman.
“It was really scary,” Boniecka says of the move. “But I did it and I haven’t looked back since.”
Building an online presence
When she arrived on the island, Boniecka dedicated her newly found spare time to working on the blog, determined to make this her career.
She made the blog her priority and says her following "just grew and grew.”
Now living in Calgary with Stalman, Boniecka says social media is playing a huge role in her career.
“My engagement on Instagram is awesome,” says Boniecka, who has an impressive 111,000 followers.
“It’s my favourite platform to use because I get to exercise my imagination.”
Boniecka says her blog readership is similar to her Instagram follower base, and says “Snapchat is a place where people feel most related to me.”
Fashion line brands and PR agencies started getting on board with Boniecka’s blog as the blogging community in Canada began to grow.
“It’s an industry and people do this for a living. It’s not just a hobby anymore,” she shares.
Being unique is absolutely critical in order to succeed in the blogging sphere, says Boniecka.
Much like Boniecka herself, her blog is known for its simple, sleek and elegant style. The design is crisp, white and minimalist, and has a very fresh and modern vibe.
Boniecka and Stalman work together to create original content that is sharp and consistent.
Her style incorporates a lot of high fashion, but she says she doesn’t have one single style.
“The blog is all about trends and how fashion changes all the time, and so I need to be able to adapt to those changes and also play with them.”
Boneicka says style is not about blindly following trends, but knowing what fits you and what looks good on your body type.
“I feel a big mistake a lot of people make when they start a blog is they try to emulate something that already exists ... I think you’re doing yourself a disservice by trying to copy somebody else because you’re not able to put your true self forward.”
- By Emily Thwaites