The features I was interviewed for were printed in two local papers this week. The first was a centre-page spread in the South Shields Gazette (I heard the "Ooh, you're a centerfold!" from FIVE people!). And I just discovered yesterday from my friend Catherine that there was a full page in the Sunderland Echo too (and was kind enough to scan it for me)!
This is the one from the South Shields Gazette:
and from the Sunderland Echo:
Because they're sister papers, the text was indentical:
"Thank goodness for real women like Messy Carla!
By Johnny Wilson
A NEW generation of internet-savvy bloggers are helping make fashion accessible for 'normal' women.
Couture fashion is all very well on catwalks in Paris, but not that practical for women in the 'real world'.
With style bibles tending to use only impossibly skinny models, it's little wonder the average British woman tends to feel totally disenfranchised.
Thank goodness, then, for women such as Carla Benstead.
Speaking at her family home in Hebburn, the 20-year-old Sunderland University student described how since setting up her website – MessyCarla: A Fashion Blog In A Size 16 – in October, she has made it her mission to make fashion more accessible for curvier women.
"I always enjoyed other fashion blogs," said Carla, who has a 16-year-old sister, Nadia.
"However, they were often done by skinny girls in the US, and were too close to fashion magazines for me. Fashion mags are not real. You can't walk down the street in Newcastle wearing a haute couture dress.
"I'm just a normal girl in the North East, and thought it would be nice to set up a website for girls like me. I wear UK high street clothes, as do most other girls, so I thought I'd do something about that."
Having set up her blog – a mix of personal anecdotes, fashion advice and gossip – she used social networking sites Facebook and Twitter to rapidly expand her fan base.
In just six months she has gone has gone from getting a few dozen hits per week to more than 2,000. Take a look at the site and you can see why.
With a striking cover page designed by an American web-designer friend; it is colourful, humorous and easy to navigate.
Here is a woman who understands what her readers want, and is able to give it to them in her own unique style.
In tribute to her achievement, just last month she won a blogging competition with national retail chain New Look.
Her prize; a guest blog for the shop, and tickets to The Look Show, a fashion extravaganza held at the Saatchi gallery in Chelsea laid on by Look magazine.
Here she met a host of high-profile names such as ex-Shugababe Keisha Buchanan, singer Beverley Knight, and girl group of the moment, The Saturdays.
"It was fantastic," she said. "It was great meeting them all. Beverley Knight was really nice and down to earth. Pixie Lott also performed one of her singles."
Another famous friend, who could come in very handy in years to come, is Malaysia's top fashion designer Bernard Chandran, who invited her to a private dinner party when he was in London to pick her brains.
"He was so lovely. What I like about him is that he said he's inspired by women's imaginations and personalities, rather then their body shapes."
Clearly revelling in her new-found fame, she felt confident her career would go from strength to strength.
"I've done promotional work for Simply Be, and I'm in contact with other high street names.
"I want to do more product reviewing and go to more fashion events."
Her mum Madeline Benstead, likewise thought great things were ahead for her eldest child.
"I'm really surprised how it has taken off. She has done blogs for about 10 years, but I didn't know what one was until recently. It's amazing how people find out about it," she said.
"I'm very proud that her site has grown so much in such a short amount of time. It shows that people appreciate what she is saying. I really hope she continues to do well."
And for those thinking of starting up their own website, Carla had these words of wisdom.
"Make sure it's informative, creative and offers something a bit different. Above all, always have fun with it."
She put down the secret of her success so far to sheer enthusiasm and adaptability.
With her foot now firmly planted in the clothing industry's door, 'real' women should feel happy they now have a kindred spirit reporting on their behalf.
"I enjoy it because fashion is an extension of your own personality. It always evolves, and blogs give you the chance to write about it."
And what of her fellow South-Tyneside based web sensation, make-up guru Lauren Luke?
"She is a big role model for many of us normal girls in the North East.
"She is one of the pioneers in the internet beauty industry, and promoted the link to my blog on her Twitter page.
"I hope I can be as successful as her."
You can visit Carla's fashion blog by following this link."
Rather good, no? I've recieved some lovely tweets and emails from girls who found the blog via the articles.
So if you're one of the local newbies - HELLO!!
As well as the newspapers, the highlight of this week was my lecturer Rob mentioning this blog in my Media & Modernity class! FAME AT LAST!
Also for a bit of light-heartedness - one of my best-friends Daniel has dedicated this week's Big Gay Monday to me! I was actually hooting with laughter, so go check it out?
Daniel's a journalism student, and dead-set on writing "The Exposé of MessyCarla". I reckon it should be his dissertation title in a few years.
I always love your comments, follow me on Twitter, and feel free to keep asking me questions on Formspring.Me!