A Q&A with Mara La Vas (a/k/a @CIassy)

You may have seen some of her work online and may've ran across her photos a while back on IFWT. You may have even seen someone wearing her designs. Today's interviewee, she's both private and open with herself and what she wants to do. After a few years in the working (I've secretly been trying to get this interview since probably 2011, 2012), I finally got the chance to catch up with the lovely Mara La Vas of maralavas.com. I asked her about her entrepreneurial spirit, her thoughts on the world, social media and thirst traps. The Nebraska-born model, designer, entrepreneur and "regular girl," even though she says she sucks at these sorts of things, brought her A-Game (so, I just think she was being modest). More after the jump.

SOTB: As is customary with most SpeedontheBeat.com interviews, can you introduce yourself to the readers?

MLV: My name is Katie. Online, the name I go by is Mara, or Katie, or...I don't know.

SOTB: I know you must get asked this a lot, but how did you get started in modeling?

MLV: I started out networking myself. I still do. Still manage and promote myself several times throughout the day on several different websites. Online conversation threads used to be really big—not really as big anymore—but, those helped a lot. Finally, I found a few photographers and went from there. The past three years, except when I was out of the country and working with a different one, I have only worked with the same one photographer locally this whole time. I think it’s a trust thing I have with people.

SOTB: I remember you popped up when TwitPic was still a thing. How did you parlay those views and the like to actually making a brand for yourself?

MLV: Twitpic was just for fun. Now, there’s Instagram. Now, there’s Vine. Now there’s your life, in front of everybody, everywhere, anybody, anytime—it’s crazy. When Twitpic was hype, I spent more time on Stickam.com and Skype, meeting more people off Stickam, before it got shut down. The views are cool but they honestly mean nothing, in reality to me—especially when I know some people in the industry buy most of their views and get hyped up to be nothing they are. They’re pretty easy to point out, like when somebody has 200k views and nobody has shown any comments or feedback. That’s that stuff I don't like—especially when you can "buy" them now. I way rather’d see what people actually comment and have to say about the stuff I post. I prefer feedback more than anything. Any feedback, good or bad, is fine with me.

SOTB: What marked the transition from regular ol’ “Katiestar” to where you are now? Was it, like, trolls and catfishers taking your pics and making their own profiles or was there something else involved—like a notation of you being on some next-level shit?

MLV: Katie Star and Mara La Vas are both just names I made up. They both make me sound like I’m in industries I’m not and doing things I’m not. It’s fine though. I know who I am and who I’m not. I don't even tell people my real name anymore, I just say It's Mara. It’s funny people see me out and really think that’s my name. I have had some catfish [experiences], even the show reached out. I didn't have enough evidence I guess, I would never compare myself to some "Next-Level" stuff. But, most profiles I found that I got shut down of people stealing my visuals? Most ended up being men rather than women, honestly.

SOTB: Do you tend to get a lot of misconceptions about you or what you do?

MLV: I work a 9-5. I work a clothing line, model on the side, and travel in the free time. What else?
SOTB: What are your thoughts on “thirst traps,” curving, and so on in social media?

MLV: Social Media isn't real. I’ve met a lot of people from online to offline. Really hasn't changed much, just the people have. Some good, some bad. Some great, some miserable, some more miserable. Social Media is just a soft spot for people. A place to get away. I’ve always sat online just asking, “where can this thing really take me?”

I’ve been saying that since I was 7 years old with my AOL Username asking people online there A/S/L? (age,sex,location) when it was hot back in the day. I had one of the first ever AOL screen names "Sk8child" (since I skateboarded). So I’d play in the chatrooms, selling accounts on RuneScape to nerds like me on eBay. Crazy days.

SOTB: I’ve gotta ask: what are your thoughts on some of the current events in our world?

MLV: The world is crazy…ugh. The Michael Brown thing, I’m not too sure on what to think about it. 

Once they finally force a body cam on every single police officer I know the cops will still find ways around it, in itself to get away with things, like murder.

SOTB: I can only hope. Getting back to our main focuses, do you have any other projects in the works?

MLV: I have a few. I can speak on anything about anything, I’ve been saying I'm going to be a real estate agent forever and haven't pursued. That’s my main focus. I’ve said I’m going to put a calendar out. I just haven't had the resources. But, now I do.

SOTB: What would you consider to be your crowning achievement?

MLV: In my perspective, I still have a lot of work to do. I have a lot of things I want to work on that I haven't even started up. More in the works, since some have gotten in some places & some hands. But, there’s a lot more to do still, and still a lot more people to meet.

SOTB: How’d you feel when Funk Master Flex shouted you out? I know the link’s probably dead at
this point, but that’s got to be a pretty big deal.

MLV: Flex is a powerful man in the industry. I only keep in touch with people like him—powerful people who are doing way better than me. So, thanks Flex.

SOTB: Where do you see yourself in ten years? And what steps are you taking to make sure your dreams become reality?

MLV:  In ten years, if everything goes as planned, we will have to see what I have previously planned.. All I’ve got to say is "It's all in the plan."

SOTB: What advice would you give to other aspiring models and the like?

MLV: Don’t take naked pictures. Ruins the whole art sake in it. If you do end up naked taking pictures, make sure it’s worth it, I guess. Also, don’t let anybody take advantage of you. You are your own canvas.

SOTB: Now, would you consider being a model a “job?” I have it in quotes since the term “job” is pretty subjective.

MLV: Modeling is not a real job. It's for fun. I ask females what they do. If they just say model, it’s an automatic, like, "Okay, bye Felicia" look I give them. Kinda, barely but it’s how I feel, I used to label it for myself, on a lot of my social media. One day, I realized it just makes me look worse and took the entire "I’m a model" label off everything. I think I've earned a little bit of respect since then…maybe.

SOTB: If you weren’t going into business for yourself, where could you see yourself today?

MLV:  Probably some hot secretary doing the same thing every day, dressing up for nobody special, working a desk job, filing papers for some lousy guy. I’m not saying I’m NOT currently behind a desk, but I’m definitely not dressing up at the moment (laughs). But that will never be me. I am building my own empire.

SOTB: In your spare time, what do you find yourself getting into?

MLV: I rarely have free time. When I have free time, I travel or go out and just have a good time with great friends. I love traveling. I can't stay in Nebraska for too long at any time; I have to leave just to stay sane.

SOTB: Sounds like me and Baltimore. So, if you had to pick one person to work with, in any facet of your brand, who would it be and why?

MLV: With modeling, I’ve been back and forth with Charles Wiley. He's down south and is a powerful photographer in the industry. I keep holding it up and I keep telling him I’m gonna go down there. So, that’s one of the next places I need to visit.

SOTB: Piggybacking off the last question, if you could change one thing about any facet of the world, what would it be?

MLV: I got three: Poverty, water, & Global Warming. Yes I believe in it.

SOTB: What’s more important: sex, love, or money? And why?

MLV: I’m not that big on sex. It takes a lot to open up—ask any ex. I always fall too deep into love, Some I never broke up with, Just let myself fade away. Money comes and goes, so love is more 
important. I just haven't had great experiences with it.

SOTB: Where can people reach you/find you online?

SOTB: Do you have any final thoughts and comments?

MLV: I thank you for the opportunity for the interview.

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