Melanie Santos is a 29-year-old cosmically connected New Yorker, millennial Latina, wife, mother, and self-love and mental health advocate dedicated to shining her light in an effort to stimulate change. She is the creator of MelanieSantos.co, a brand that promotes mental, physical, and spiritual wellness as the source to activating the goddess within.
Fifty Shades of Magic: How would you describe yourself?
Melanie Santos: I am a modern-day healer and vessel of God’s love using the internet to educate and inspire people, specifically women of color, to cultivate wellness and shine their light. I am goofy, but always sharp. Gully when I need to be, but always sophisticated.
FSM: What initially attracted you to your specific career path? Was there a specific incident or moment that motivated your decision?
MS: Though I am a Communications and Marketing professional from 9 to 5, I am a mental, physical, and spiritual wellness content creator from 5 to 9. My first blog, born in 2013 as MEL À LA MODE, came from a need for public creative expression. About a year later, my creativity suffered during an intense battle with depression and anxiety – a battle I almost lost. I had to make a decision to quit blogging or express myself honestly. In 2014, I wrote my first mental health piece which planted the seed for my mental wellness advocacy work. Through years of personal development of all kinds and on all planes, my once little online space has become a total empowerment brand, helping women unlock their goddess by aligning their mind, body, and soul.
FSM: Have you faced any particular challenges as a woman within your career? What have you done to overcome those challenges?
MS: I started blogging and content creating before it became a “thing,” so as a young Latina, I encountered tons of challenges in trying to get people to back what I was doing and how I was doing it. For one, I was 23-years-old when I started my first blog. Some people thought I didn’t have enough life experience to talk about life and how to change it. Also, I was a young Latina creating dialogue about mental illness by being open about my own; something unheard of amongst Latinxs. In 2018 mental illness still carries stigma, especially in marginalized communities, but because I continue to unravel antiquated beliefs by sharing stories and challenges of my own mental health journey, I’ve been able to help numerous people seek healing and help themselves.
FSM: What does “empowerment” mean to you?
MS: To me, empowerment means creating an internal shift in the perception of a challenge while promoting confidence and bravery so that one can be inspired to step up and face that challenge head on. Empowerment is the act of helping one activate the power they already have within them.
FSM: How do you empower your community? What message are you trying to send to those who look up to you?
MS: My community is built of [mostly minoritized] women who have been conditioned to think they aren’t worthy of certain opportunities because of who they are, what they look like, and where they come from. I use my own life experiences blended with self-love, self-care, and spirituality to motivate my tribe to reach deep within, connect with their higher selves, and manifest their best lives by living intentionally and loving themselves, and the world, unconditionally. Today’s society profits from our mental, physical, and spiritual illness, so educating women on wellness is extremely important to me, and to the betterment of the world to come. I think it is my life’s purpose to be a light in the darkest parts of this world, so I try to shine as brightly and honestly as I can, as much as I can.
FSM: Mentors are very important in our growth personally and professionally. How have mentors helped you flourish?
MS: I’ve always been envious of women who boast amazing mentors. I can’t say I’ve had any in regards to the work I do. There wasn’t anyone doing what I was doing when I started, so I had to blaze my own trail and figure things out as I went. After several breaks, brand refreshes, and theme changes, I’m still just taking it one day at a time.
In terms of personal development, mothers and sisters have helped me save and change my life. My mother, an immigrant from Cuba, has no idea how much she has inspired me to be better. I don’t know how I could ever thank her except continue to make her proud. And my soul sisters have come from far and wide, but they know who they are and what kind of immense impact they’ve made on me and my spirit. Motherhood and sisterhood are so incredibly important, not only to women, but to the world as a whole.
FSM: What advice would you give someone looking to enter into the same field that you are currently in? Perhaps share some mistakes you made along the way...
MS: I think that it is essential for any content creator to be honest and inject some degree of vulnerability into their work. People wade through seas of curated photos, captions, and blog posts daily, but what they really want to see is something they can feel. People want to connect, so it’s important to give them something they can connect to. Love and pain are our biggest teachers. Think about what you can teach the world with yours. I’ve made many redundant mistakes as a content creator, but the only thing I ever got right was choosing to be honest about myself.
FSM: What’s your favorite quote that you use as inspiration?
MS: “We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, handsome, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?” ― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love
I am slightly obsessed with Marianne Williamson. Her book A Return to Love created a major shift in my consciousness when I was in the sunken pits of depression a few years ago. I recommend this book to everyone as often as I can.
FSM: Fifty Shades of Magic’s mission is to identify the innate magic that lies within each woman. What is your innate magic?
MS: All women are undoubtedly magic. I think my magic lies in love and helping other women find their own.
Keep up with Melanie Santos on twitter @MelaniesantosCo + Instagram @melaniesantos.co