Updated: Jul 7, 2020
The world we know has turned upside down. Some days are more challenging than others but luckily there are so many amazing people that are keeping us happier, inspired or simply make you feel norma about the doubts you’re having. To bring kind and joyful energy to your life I decided to invite Jenny of @wearilive to be my guest of honor for this month's Shero Story series! I sat down with Jenny and discussed her eco-conscious journey that started shortly after moving to New York 5 year ago. Since then, Jenny inspired many of us to live more mindfully on her youtube channel that grew to 251K subscribers and covers various topics including lower impact fashion & lifestyle, plant-based living or simply openly talks about being sensitive.
So happy to have you Jenny. How are you feeling these days?
A mix of a lot of things! Overall, grateful. Overall, a little bit sad tbh. It's hard watching the world right now.
What do you like the most about your work?
I really enjoy getting to share information and things I'm learning with people. My favorite part about that is getting to do it creatively! I love making videos and it brings me a lot of joy to also incorporate things I find helpful to my own life or information around the environment, people etc.
What inspired you to launch your vlog and how long ago was it?
I started my Youtube channel about 5 years ago! I was living in my hometown in Colorado, longing to be in New York City. At that time it wasn't financially viable for me to move there but I was really into fashion and wanted an outlet to feel a little bit closer to where I ultimately wanted to be. The internet is a really amazing thing in that aspect - it really helped me build a community around what I thought I wanted to do at that time. I then moved to NYC the next year and kept making videos alongside various other jobs and school throughout the next few years.
First time we met you told me that sustainability wasn't always part of your work. What inspired you to live and create more in line with nature?
Yeah! So going off of the last Q, my original focus was just around my love for fashion and I was convinced that I wanted to work in the industry. The town I grew up in was quite small and I really had no real grasp on New York or the fashion industry at large. Once I moved to the city, started attending F.I.T I quickly realized that something felt off to me. Being surrounded by suddenly seeing how much people shop, how much I was shopping, and seeing H&M on every corner - I just no longer felt aligned. I also had a lot of issues in the "internships" required/encouraged in the fashion industry, most of which were definitely not paid. That's when I started to learn more about the poor ethics of many fashion brands at all levels, the horrible environmental impacts, and the overwhelming amount of marketing that goes into selling. I went through a few months where I wanted to quit, move away, and do something different. I then took a jump and decided to make a video talking about what I had learned and it felt really good and left me feeling extremely inspired to make a change in any way that I could. That was around 4 years ago, which is pretty crazy when most of the fashion Youtube was still constant "hauls". After that point, it all really shifted for me!
"Sustainability" is probably the most complex, green yet misleading word we all have been using a lot. What does it mean to you?
When it's used outwardly, especially in any type of marketing or in connection to fashion, I am not a big fan of the word anymore. It's kind of been taken in a way so I try to avoid it when I can to use the most accurate language I can. I think it's really important to explain things in a way that people can understand and the word sustainability has just become too confusing for many. On a personal level, it still has meaning to me. I associate it with longevity, connection, and community. Sustainability involves a true understanding of prolonging and bettering the life of the planet and all living creatures. I think that we've lost touch with the feeling that should come along with sustainability when it's used so incessantly as an advertising scheme to usually describe only one very small piece of a massive puzzle of what it means to actually be sustainable.
How do you choose what brands to work with. Do they have to meet certain criteria or is it more case to case?
I'm a libra. LOL. I think that everything always feels case by case for me because these issues are complex but I use a mix of gut feeling and concrete information from brands I work with. I do think that with a little sleuthing it's very easy to see who's just throwing terms around like "ethical" "sustainable" without actually much support of them as a whole or really incorporated into most of their business model. I prefer to work with small brands always, but I also am open to supporting larger brands who are genuinely looking to change. As a baseline, the products must be made fairly, in an environment that is safe and empowering to workers. Alongside that, I look at what initiatives they have in place for sustainability - maybe it's small runs, made to order, natural dyes or textiles, cruelty-free beauty, vegan etc. Those usually don't all get hit but I just try to find as much info that I can or figure out if it seems like a better option that could be shared with my audience.
How do you encourage your followers to integrate sustainable practices in their lives?
I like to be gentle. I think there's space for a lot of approaches to this topic and all are needed. Personally, it's always resonated with me most to just show in the ways that I have made my life and mindset different. I really don't like labels and try to only use them when necessary. Even with veganism, I prefer plant-based, because I'm not perfect and never will be and that's how I make these lifestyle choices sustainable, as in, being able to continue to make them for a long time. It's also extremely important to me to not shout at people to be different when I have no idea what their situation is like. I want to vote for people and support individuals who are fighting to make it easier for all people to have a better quality of life and that's how we're going to have a sustainable future. I think we can all make changes here and there in our lives and collectively we have to want systematic change.
If you could give one advice to someone interested in starting a youtube channel in 2020 what would it be?
You have to just love doing it! It takes a long time to get it started, a lot of hours, and time to let it grow. If you're in it for anything else than just wanting to create and share I think it will leave many disappointed. Otherwise, just start learning! I taught myself everything about video creating, editing, cameras etc. and use what you have! I slowly upgraded my cameras over the years from saving up from other jobs but just get started, you'll learn with every video! and be yourself! You have to be sure in who you are and what you want to put out there!
Last but not least. Youtube or Instagram?
Youtube! Instagram is kind of just a place where I play around and also repost things from people who are better at it than I am.