Before They Were Famous: Mickela Mallozzi
Mickela Mallozzi wasn’t born a YouTube star, but she was always destined for the world to be her stage. She’s a classically-trained dancer and the creator/host of the travel web series Bare Feet™, a journey through folk dances around the globe. In this week’s Before They Were Famous we find out her backstory – from her first
shoebox apartment in the New York City to her worst job ever, to her shining moments as a high school dancer and choreographer. For your chance to live the dream like Mickela and travel around the globe, enter a 1-minute video in Travelocity’s Great Gnome Nabbing Contest. It could be you.
Name: Mickela Mallozzi (Bare Feet™)
What’s new: The Bare Feet™ Web Series is launching on Canada’s top travel site, Travel + Escape in October! (TravelandEscape.ca)
I come from a family of immigrants – my father moved to the States when he was 19 and my mother was 11, both from a small town in Southern Italy. I grew up with a strong family upbringing, with cousins, aunts, uncles and other extended family all in the same place. My parents wanted every opportunity for me and my sister – I took all types of dance lessons, piano lessons, violin and flute lessons, and I was constantly painting and creating stuff while my sister was the computer genius. We balanced each other out.
In high school I was…
Part of every extra-curricular activity that had anything to do with the arts. My favorite was the dance program – I was a member of the school’s Dance Corps. which was a prestigious program for student dancers to choreograph pieces and to work in a professional setting with other dancers. It was a great learning experience to be able to adapt to all styles of dance and all types of dancers.
As a teenager…
I was constantly putting what some considered to be too much on my plate (nothing has changed since then). I did well in school, but my strengths were in the arts. I had great friends and somehow convinced them to tag along to all of my crazy performances or events – they were good sports!
My earliest memory of being intrigued by travel…
My mother was a travel agent when I was younger, and prior to me attending elementary school, she would take me with her to work. I would sit all day under her desk flipping through travel brochures – it was the 80’s, so there were plenty of colorful brochures to go around. I especially loved the aerial shots with an airplane somewhere strategically placed in the photo.
The worst job I ever had was…
One of the last jobs I had. I was temping through an agency – I lasted about a week because the first job they sent me to was a nightmare! It was a fire protection agency (of digital information for large corporations), the boss would address me as if I couldn’t speak English, he would have temper tantrums in his office, and the final straw was when he was over-the-top verbally abusive to the rest of his regular employees. I don’t know how everyone else stuck around. It was miserable! I was considering going back into the corporate world at that point, and because of this terrible experience, I decided it was the worst idea – I was right!
Did you ever work in an office or a cubicle?
I was lucky enough to work in the music industry where a majority of my time was NOT sitting in a cubicle. However, I did travel quite a bit, which I loved, and my job was to be the problem solver. I worked in artist management, and I learned so much from the people in my company. It was a constant game of appeasing the artists while keeping your own sanity – an amazing learning experience, to say the least! After leaving that job, I did freelance PR and marketing, and became a full time dance teacher.
My first apartment was…
A 250-square-foot, rent-stabilized studio in the East Village of New York City almost 10 years ago. I was moonlighting as a cocktail waitress while interning at a record label that eventually hired me. But that apartment was amazing – it was cozy and comfortable, and it was in the best neighborhood in NYC! I’m sure having such a small place helped inspire me to not stay there as often and travel more!
Was there a significant event from your past that caused you to hit the road?
Whenever I traveled on my own, I would naturally gravitate towards local events where dancing and music were involved. So one day I woke up, I’ll never forget it, and the idea of Bare Feet™ as an actual project just came together, like the last piece of a puzzle was put in place. And from there, it was a snowball effect with every idea for the blog, the web series, other future business ideas, revolving around Bare Feet™. I still sleep with a notepad by my bed, as most of my best ideas come to me right as I’m dozing off.
If I were not a professional roamer, I’d be…
I would love to be a rock star, like Joan Jett or Debbie Harry.
Did you study abroad in college?
I was an Italian minor in college, so I decided to spend a summer abroad in Florence – that was when I truly caught the travel bug. From there, I applied for and received a scholarship to study abroad the following summer in Rome. Until then, I had always traveled with family – after living abroad for a few months, I realized how much I loved independently traveling and exploring other cultures.
The biggest thing I’ve learned on the road is…
Embrace chaos. That may sound idealistic, but it really works. I am a complete Type A, super organized, list-making fiend, however, when I travel (after all of the preparing and research is done), I let the destination give me a true experience. Most of my best memories and moments while traveling happened completely unexpectedly and were out of my control.
Who pushed you to follow your dream of becoming a professional roamer?
My parents have always been supportive of whatever I was pursuing, and they have always made it clear that besides being independent and self-supportive, the most important thing in life is to be truly happy. Being a travel content creator doesn’t mean fame and fortune, but they see how happy it makes me and how hard I’ve worked on everything I’ve done for Bare Feet™. My mother is my biggest advocate!
If I could travel with anyone it would be…
Robert Downey Jr. – I’ve been a huge fan of his since I was a kid, and I know he’s a fantastic dancer. I think it would be a lot of fun to travel with such a big character, and he would be such a great dance partner!