Mandana Ansari

CREATOR / FOUNDER - GIRL & THE BAY / 9 TO THRIVE

I'm a lifestyle blogger, digital marketer, brand strategist and tech nerd who is absolutely obsessed with the internet's ability to make the world a smaller and more connected place.

What hobbies, causes, or activities are you passionate about aside from your work?

I love so many things, but above all - spending time with my family can't be beat. I have a cousin that's 12 years younger than me and two nephews (12, 14) who are always extremely honest with me, but also my biggest fans. They give me the feedback nobody else would ever share with me, but they also tell me when I'm doing a kickass job and shouldn't care what a troll has to say about me. There is nothing more sweet or inspiring to me than love, and the love of family is the most consistent of all.

What’s something you do at your business that’s "weird" and not commonly done?

It is important for me to be honest about the process. Life isn't all curated, picture perfect moments. The unpleasant, sad, real, mundane moments are all on the road to getting that perfect shot and sharing that special moment. The thing I've started recently doing is posting a photo that I don't love - if I see things that make me insecure, I push myself to press share. Why? Because it's real, it's my life and it's going to empower someone to be more authentic online too.

What inspired you to start your business?

I have been working with startups to multi-billion dollars brands for over a decade, helping them share their stories to connect with their target audiences. Through this, I organically built a community online. I had toyed with the idea of building my own brand to better connect with them, but it wasn’t until my best friend lost her battle with lifelong depression and took her own life that I made a move. She loved the Internet—whether it was a hilarious meme, career advice, blogs, inspirational quotes or self-help—it provided her with joy and inspiration to persevere on the daily. I wanted to turn the intense pain and grief I was experiencing without her into a legacy that could live on, but also help others feel less alone and more understood on their journey of chasing happiness.