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Local fashion scene moves
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Some say a fashion blog is just another trend. Indeed, this phenomenon has spread among younger generations like an itch, and Indonesian youths are craving for this new "itch".

Given the fact that more and more teenagers or young adults are keeping fashion blogs these days, you could say this has become a part of culture, a lifestyle or a hobby.

Whether you loathe, love or simply don't give a thought about fashion blogs, this particular petite woman might just change your mind. Say hello to Diana Rikasari, a 25-year-old Indonesian fashion blogger, and the owner of the ever-so-infamous Hot Chocolate & Mint blog (dianarikasari.blogspot.com).

According to blogs.indonesiamatters.com, Hot Chocolate & Mint sits nicely at number 1 of the Top 100 Indonesian Blogs.

With so many devoted readers and fans from Indonesia and overseas, this multi-talented woman is becoming a fashion icon, just like a movie celebrity - only she is doing it via the Internet.

Diana has received several prestigious blog awards, including the IM3 Online Inspiring Award, which made her a Brand Ambassador for IM3, the Fabbest Fashion Blog in 2009 in the Tongue in Chic Annual Style Awards 2009, and the Best Fashion, Beauty, Sport & Entertainment Blog by XL Blog Awards.

Diana also receives loads of publicity from various media groups, after being featured in Go Girl!, Girlfriend, Cosmo Girl, Cosmopolitan, Sister, Media Indonesia and on the local TV channels - TransTV and O Channel - plus let's not forget her fabulous design collaborations with local fashion brands including Wondershoe, for her very own shoes collection, and Bloop Endorse for her clothing line (Bloop Endorse for Diana Rikasari, Ebony Afters).

During a recent interview with Diana, we dug up some history about Hot Chocolate & Mint. She revealed that the blog title itself came from her favorite Starbucks drink (Hot Chocolate with extra Mint).

"I started blogging in 2007. Up until a year or so ago, my blog was just an ordinary diary. Then I began to explore other blogs, and found that people were making these fashion blogs in other countries, posting photos of outfits, and since I also love fashion I thought *why don't I do the same?'

"After I did this, I got better responses from readers. People really liked it. But even now, my blog is still personal, which helps me keep track of the progress I've made in my life, because I also love to look back at the things I wrote and to learn from them.

"This is also a platform for me to express myself, in terms of thoughts and ideas."

When asked about the ups and downs of fashion blogs Diana said, "In the simplest context, a fashion blog is a rather selfish way to satisfy our inner fashionista side. We just feel good taking pictures of ourselves dressed up, so it's all merely about self-satisfaction. The trade-off: People label us as narcissists or shopaholics even if we're actually not.

"But in a broader context, fashion blogs allow bloggers to be involved in shaping upcoming trends both directly and indirectly. And we get recognized for it and become a brand of our own. Once we've reached this stage I personally don't see anything negative about it, except that we then have to carry a bigger responsibility in what we do, wear and blog about."

Diana added that the fashion blog phenomenon influences the fashion industry, because fashion bloggers are "real" people who basically love fashion, and who blog about what they like.

Fashion bloggers aren't governed by any institutions that tell them what to, or what "not" to say, and readers enjoy looking at blogs for their genuine reviews. To a certain extent, fashion bloggers have become influencers, and thus become one of many other sources of inspiration by players in the fashion industry, for example of Bryanboy, a Filipino fashion blogger (www.bryanboy.com) who inspired Marc Jacobs.

There are tons of other opportunities out there for fashion bloggers, depending on what you want to achieve. But one thing is for sure: Fashion blogs allow their owners to gain recognition. From there, it'll be easier for them to tap into the fashion industry and anything else related to it.

"I guess fashion blogs will last a long time in Indonesia since this is just the beginning. What I would like to see next is for the fashion industry to take fashion bloggers seriously and see them as partners instead of outsiders, considering that the fashion blog scene in Indonesia holds potential because the bloggers themselves are very talented and passionate people."

In addition, Diana provided some tips for readers who want to start fashion blogs (or blogs of any kind).

"First, blog about what you're really good at. Don't force yourself to create a specific type of blog just because it's trendy. Find your passion, because people can really sense that. Second, your blog must be rich with personality, so that people can distinguish your blog from the rest. Third, make continuous improvements and innovations - never be satisfied with what you have right now. Always explore other blogs, from Indonesia or other countries. Learning from others is good."

Just like her very own quote, "Fashion should never be selfish. Always dress down when needed", one should never be selfish when blogging. "Once you have made your blog public, people can read it and make various comments, either good or bad - but you should be wise and not criticize back, or try to be defensive or *selfish'. If those comments are constructive, then why not consider them? Last, always make your readers your friends: Because friends are everlasting."

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