Her Instagram following is at more than 75K and counting. Her sprawling Hinsdale home is gorgeous. Her family is straight out of a Dolce and Gabbana fashion shoot. And she has such a draw—such a magnetic social media presence—that luxury brands like Prada and Gucci send her products to try and share with her growing audience.
Who is this mythical (and oh so enviable) woman?
Meet Amanda Ivanelli, devoted wife, mother of three (with one on the way), and founder of a blog titled Luxe Mama. She’s just as beautiful in real life as she is in the photos posted daily on her Instagram feed and other social media outlets, but there’s more to this story. As she is eager to explain, being a social media influencer is about more than fabulous clothes and a few clicks on an iPhone. In many ways, Ivanelli is CEO of her own enterprise, a full-time job that takes a lot of careful planning, creative vision, and a level of discrimination about which brands she chooses to partner with.
“Fashion bloggers may come off as materialistic or just showing off. But actually, we are real businesswomen,” says Ivanelli, who agreed to share her story and invited us into her freshly remodeled home one day earlier this summer. “We are creative and looking at the next generation of marketing. We are the new digital age.”
Ivanelli, a graduate of DePaul University, has come a long way from her modest origins in southern Illinois.
“I grew up in a small town around mostly farmers. My graduating high school class only had 53 people in it. I worked from the time I was 13,” she says, adding that she had a job as a dishwasher at a friend’s family’s restaurant. “I saved up all my money because I had dreams to move to the big city.”
Her story is almost a textbook Hollywood film treatment: Girl graduates from high school in small town, moves to the city a few days later, and takes on the world with nothing but a suitcase and a dream.
“I had only been to the city two times before on school field trips, but I was completely hooked,” Ivanelli adds. “I didn’t know a soul and met my roommates the first day I moved in. I couldn’t get out of my small town fast enough.”
She would start DePaul University in Lincoln Park that fall and continue to explore her new life. In her sophomore year, she and a friend were at Oak Street Beach and got invited out into the Lake Michigan “play pen,” ending up on a boat owned by west suburban businessman and entrepreneur Carl Ivanelli.
“It turned out that we lived two blocks apart from each other in River North,” she says of her husband. “We’ve been inseparable since.”
Today, the couple has three boys—CJ, 6; Luca, 5; and Bruno, 2—with Baby No. 4 due in November. They had been dividing their time between a home in Florida and the one in Hinsdale they have been renovating, but with her kitchen design perfected and most of the finishing touches in place, the family is content to settle into Hinsdale full time.
“Carl grew up in the western suburbs. We researched all surrounding neighborhoods but knew we wanted a suburb that transitioned well from the city, a place with a walking downtown neighborhood feel,” she explains. “We fell in love with Hinsdale.”
When Hinsdale Living visited the family’s home recently, the children were being entertained by Amanda’s sister, a college student who came down from Wisconsin that day to help. Carl stopped in during his lunch break for a family photo, and Amanda led us through the rooms she has curated as carefully as the looks on her blog.
“One thing my readers don’t know about me is I’m actually pretty private. It takes a lot for me to open up my life on social media and share with them. It’s something I’m working on every day,” she says. “I use my Insta story section to show off my readers a more personal part of my life.”
That could include everything from a family vacation or a moment as a busy mother of three trying to find some “me time.” And when she says it’s a full-time job, she’s not exaggerating. Even during our photo shoot, boxes of luxury products arrive for Amanda’s approval.
“I’m really selective about the brands and products I work with. I turn down dozens of potential paid sponsored posts a week. This is because I truly believe my audience and readers have a built a trust with me,” Ivanelli continues. “They know I only sponsor products I would actually buy with my own money.”
The marketing of these products is a part of her social media influencer presence but deciding how she will “tell the story” is something that takes careful strategy and planning.
“I shoot every two weeks with a professional photographer,” she says. “I love being creative with my brand campaigns. I still try to post the normal ones I snap on my iPhone. Readers love to relate to you as a mom or non-blogger too.”
Sound like the perfect life? Maybe, though Ivanelli is quick to point that that putting yourself into the public sphere requires patience and a “thick skin.”
“The Instagram world can be cruel and criticize you, but I’ve learned to ignore it and stay positive. I feel like I can post anything I want and put myself out there because I’m happy with who I am. I don’t let criticism bother me and I’m really good ignoring the negativity,” Ivanelli adds. “My focus is keeping my page the real me. Everything I do is actually really what I’m doing. I’m actually going out to dinner with my husband and traveling with my kids. It’s just pretty cool that I can monetize that through my real pictures.”
As the fourth Ivanelli baby is due to arrive, it’s likely that Luxe Mama’s focus will shift a bit. Could there finally be a girl for the “boy mom with girly taste?” Follow her on Instagram at @aivanelli or luxemamablog.com to find out.