This post is part of the series ‘She’s a boss!’ where I introduce you to bad ass ladies with hustle, drive, success and female friendships that you don’t want to mess with.
She’s not a GirlBoss. She’s a Boss!
Sonni Abatta may no longer be living in Pittsburgh but you can’t take the Pittsburgh out of this girl. “When I first moved to Orlando I would ask people ‘You don’t put fries on your salad?’ I legit thought that is how people ate their food growing up.” Sonni and I are drinking iced coffees and reminiscing about our similar childhoods in Pittsburgh. Growing up just a few miles down the highway from one another our paths probably crossed multiple times, but it was not until this morning at a local Starbucks in Orlando that we finally met.
We’re all guilty of seeing someone on Instagram and thinking “I dig this woman…I bet we would be friends IRL.” That’s exactly what happened when I stumbled across Instagram and found Sonni’s page. Truthfully, I knew who Sonni was as she spent quite a few years as a local anchor on Fox News but digging into her social media world I got to know who she was through her honest posts, Insta-stories and her blog. We had a few social media exchanges, double-clicking a photo and sending out that ‘I like this post’ red heart to the other person and even stopping to ask, “Where did you get this awesome sweater?” (Target and on sale!)
With multiple friends who are married, divorced, some with kids and some remarried there’s this thread amongst women that no matter where they are in their lives and career we can still learn from one another, support each other and ultimately create beautiful friendships. I knew I just had to meet Sonni and I knew I just had to introduce you to her. Guys welcome to our FOURTH She’s a Boss with Sonni Abatta.
With a fierce tenacity and determination, Sonni graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a degree in Humanities and Arts and went on to score a coveted job at the local CBS station in Pittsburgh, KDKA. “I was young and had to fight my way through to prove my work ethic and intelligence and I was there for six years,” she tells me. Yet, after visiting her sister, who had moved to Orlando, she met the man she would one day marry. “My contract was up at KDKA and I knew I wanted to be with my husband so I thought I would see what was available and ended up getting a job at Fox News [in Orlando].”
Leaving behind her Italian-Pittsburgh roots Sonni moved to Orlando and carved out a successful career covering multiple large-scale events such as the Casey Anthony Trial and even the George Zimmerman case. However, what those of us do not see when we flip on the TV for a quick news bite is the energy and effort our local anchors pour into each story. In Sonni’s seven years with the local station she got married and had children and the long, strange hours were starting to take their toll.
“I did it all but it was the night shift that was great in a lot of ways but also exhausting. You are free to do school drop off, nap time, all of the mommy stuff and then still go and put in 8-9 hours. I would get to come home [in the middle of my shift] and have dinner with the kids. I had a routine, I would take my make up off in three wipes, go in and feed the kids and put them down as my husband was getting ready for bed and I’d head back out to the station.”
With a routine under her belt, and a third child on the way Sonni made the decision to step away from the news desk and start her own ‘lifestyle mom blog’. “I never really thought about blogging before I left, I just knew I needed to leave,” she tells me. And in true Sonni fashion she opens up in an honest way that makes you sink back into your chair and think “Oh awesome, I’m so not alone here.”
“I realized that you can’t have it all…at least all at once. I do think you can experience everything as a woman in this life to its fullest, you can have a thriving career, a family and be really passionate about them all. But I fooled myself that I needed to do it all at once. I was grateful for the opportunity, my boss was amazing but I needed to regain my strength as a woman and find me again.” While Sonni had a healthy following on Facebook and lots of content, she decided to move everything over to her blog and start a community of like-minded women.
“I always liked writing…I’m a writer at heart and it’s my passion, I love creating and telling stories and sharing stories. People find strength in other’s honesty and that’s true especially in motherhood. I just want put [my experiences] out there and even just let one person know you aren’t alone.”
Sonni’s passion for authenticity comes across through all facets of her life, whether it’s a quick two-minute vlog on how hard motherhood can be or with a new friend over coffees at Starbucks. Sonni and I stray from our conversation multiple times to discuss our lives, real and authentically as if we had known each other since our days in Pittsburgh.
“My work ethic and authenticity are two qualities I feel like I truly encompass and I look for that quality in other people to get a read on them and I appreciate their realness,” she tells me. While our love of french fries on salads is a huge commonality for us it is when we dive deep into a recent Instagram post of Sonni’s that our Instagram friendship takes a turn into a real-life friendship.
A couple of weeks ago on Instagram Sonni bared her soul with her followers explaining how when it came to the lifestyle/mommy blog world she was navigating uncharted territories as she could easily talk about politics but a style post where everything is under $100? Maybe not so easy. I tell Sonni that she shouldn’t apologize for knowing these things, she’s spent 13 years in the news industry and probably knows what is going on better than most!
She laughs and tells me that as soon as she left news she was handed quite a shock, “It’s so weird to know there’s a world happening at 5 p.m., not everyone is at home watching the news?” She wonders if she can really add another layer to her blog.
“I want to explore other topics in the lifestyle blog world, but I don’t want to lose my footing in that [news] world,” Sonni asks an interesting question many bloggers ask themselves: Can we find a mix to the world of blogging?
“Niches force you to distill yourself to a feed or a tagline and I’m hoping that because women, by definition, are multidimensional and complicated in a beautiful way, I hope that we can evolve, that we can brand around ourselves and not a specific topic. We are our own brand, the caption and stories are more compelling than these beautiful photos in our feed and it can add another dimension.”
Sonni is constantly working to share her experiences with others whether it’s an Instagram story of her sharing her favorite of-the-moment-podcast, or the newest lipstick she just found and loves, or even her trying to relay the oddities of motherhood while three little ones use her as their own personal jungle gym.
Even after we have our coffee and part she asks if I would really want to read her thoughts on topics in the news and I emphatically shout “YES, of course! it’s who you are” as we walk to our car. And it’s only days later that she’s emailing me that she has done just that, with her recent post about the Megyn Kelly/Jane Fonda catfight in the news. Sonni, like every other woman, is multi-faceted and shouldn’t be judged by their designer jeans, or cute booties but should be taken seriously as women in this society with a voice, and a strong voice at that.
“There is such strength in storytelling. You’re stronger when you share your experiences.” And Sonni is doing just that.
I hope you enjoyed virtually meeting Sonni as much as I loved chatting with her in person. I always think it’s so great to meet other women who are in different pockets of their life but who at the heart of it all, support other women. Leave a note in the comments, who are your IG-crushes that you are dying to meet? Have you reached out to say “Hey! I like what you are doing?” Let me know and tell me who else you’d like to see me add to this series!