In 2010, you could find beauty and fashion vlogger Jenn Im in community college. Although she had no idea what was in store for the future, Im chose Communications as her major because she knew that she liked being around people. “I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was never the best student, and I think I put a lot of unnecessary weight on it,” Im recalls. One day, Im decided to take out her camera and film a summer fashion haul video with a friend. “When I started my channel, I felt like I finally found something that I was good at—it became my passion. It was a safe yet open place where I could be myself and share a bit of my life.” Now, you can find Im being a boss lady, juggling her YouTube channel, which boasts over 2.2 million subscribers, and her fashion company, Eggie. Im discusses her path to YouTube, having a career on social media, and self-confidence in our Fall 2018 issue.
Could you give a quick rundown of growing up and finding your path to where you are now?
I’m Korean American, and I grew up in Los Angeles. I feel really lucky that my parents immigrated to California because it’s given me access to so much access to music, fashion and culture. I started my Youtube channel in 2010 while I was going to community college. I was in a rut, seeing my peers head off to prestigious universities, while I had no idea what I wanted to do. I found solace in the Youtube community. It was a safe yet open place, where I could be myself and share a bit of my life. I could post about my thrifted finds, my opinions on fashion and beauty — and people would listen! The connection was cool and inspiring from day one. It was a side hobby that I loved, so I continued to do it even after I transferred to UC Davis. Once I graduated, I found the time and momentum to really go go for it, full time.
What are some of the challenges you have faced with a career on social media? What did you learn from them?
I’ve learned that you need to have a thick skin to be in this industry. I’ve always been quite sensitive growing up, so at first, I took rude comments to heart. Even if I received 100 positive comments, the one or two negative comments would stand out most—and cut deep. I became really obsessed with reading comments especially when I first started. I was constantly refreshing and reading pages of comments; I began searching for the negative in all the positive. And you can always find things when you’re look hard enough. For a long time I struggled with wanting everyone to like me… It was only last year that I realized I didn’t have to let it affect me so much. It’s impossible to get everyone to like you. You can be the juiciest peach and there’s still going to be someone who doesn’t like peaches.
A good friend once told me: if you have the power to think that you’re a piece of crap, you have the power to believe that you’re Beyonce.
As in your fashion choices, you are not afraid to express yourself on social media and show who you are! How do you use social media to connect and interact with fans?
Connecting with my subscribers always brings things full circle for me. I’m pretty meticulous about answering comments on my YouTube channel; it’s the most direct line of communication to my audience. When I first upload a video, I spend an hour responding to comments, and it’s by far my favorite thing about what I do. I love feedback, seeing what people have to say whether it’s positive or constructive. It’s helped my evolve my content, my brand—even myself.
Since starting YouTube, how has it gone from being a hobby or creative outlet to now a full-fledged career? When did you realize how large of an audience you were reaching?
It’s pretty insane to think that I started Youtube because I had no idea what I wanted to do. I was never the best student, and I think I put a lot of unnecessary weight on it. When I started my channel, I felt like I finally found something that I was good at—it became my passion. I’ve always loved documenting growing up, whether it was writing my feelings in a journal or picking up a video camera and filming moments in school. I’m grateful that it’s evolved into this.
When Youtube became my full time career, it got a little tricky, especially in 2016. I was experiencing a lot of burn out because I wasn’t expanding my team. I was doing everything on my own and put so much pressure on myself to do everything alone. It is called “YOU- tube” after all. I didn’t know how to search for help.
Now in 2018, I have an amazing team, and we’ve got a well oiled machine. Each part came together slowly. I found an amazing manager, Ashley, who helps me think big picture and always has my best interest at heart. Then Ben started to help me film. I got a graphic designer to create fresh imagery. Now I have a video editor who helps me create beautifully polished videos. I can now focus more on the creative side; now I’m able to juggle my channel and my clothing line, Eggie. The only way I could have grown was to find help. I’m so happy that I’m in a position now where we all work harmoniously together to create a channel I’m proud of.
The first time I realized the size of my audience was on my first trip to Singapore in 2014. I randomly decided to have an impromptu meet up at a coffee shop nearby. When I arrived, I was shocked to see hundreds of people in line. My jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe that people would just come out like that. It’s easy to forget what a few hundred people look like in real life, because on social media we can get so desensitized.
What is your favorite part and least favorite part about being a digital content creator?
My favorite part of being a digital content creator is being able to be my own boss. I like being able to set my own schedule and having full control on what I decide to do. I’ve realized that you’re either building your own empire or building someone else’s. I feel very lucky that I can focus on mine.
My least favorite part of my job is the fear of knowing this may all be over one day. It’s a major incentive for me to push so hard because I don’t know when it will all end. Social media is an exciting but also rapidly changing landscape. One year you might find yourself soaring, the next may be a struggle. My rise has been slow and steady and for a long time because I don’t want to peak. I want to keep creating and building. I’ve come to terms with the taking things day by day and doing my best to maximize the opportunities in front of me.
As a fashion YouTuber, people look up to you and are constantly inspired by your style. What inspires your personal style and how did it develop?
My mood inspires my personal style. I love that I’m able to express myself through the clothing that I wear. If I want to feel confident and strong, I’ll throw on a matching suit. If I’m feeling casual and loungy, I’ll wear a hoodie and some biker shorts. Style is so fluid now. I love that I don’t have to be boxed in.
Since starting your YouTube channel, how has your style changed/stayed the same?
I would say my style has evolved, but I focus a lot on fit. Before, I was trying on whatever silhouettes were trending, regardless of what it looked like on my body. Now I know what shapes look best on me—what amplifies and what brings me confidence. If I wear something floor length, I know to cinch my waist to look leaner and taller, while still showing some body..
What would you advise girls who are struggling with finding self-confidence?
No one is as hard on you as yourself. Self confidence comes from within, and you truly have to realize that you are your best champion and worst enemy. But only you can define your self worth. The mind is a powerful thing. It can convince you to think whatever you believe. A good friend once told me: if you have the power to think that you’re a piece of crap, you have the power to believe that you’re Beyonce.
Outside of YouTube and social media, what do you enjoy doing? What are some of your favorite hobbies or passions?
I really enjoy reading on my Kindle or listening to audiobooks. It’s my favorite thing to do in my off time. It’s hilarious how much I enjoy it, considering how much I hated reading in school. I love getting lost into different worlds and learning new lessons.
I’m also big on journaling. It’s a good record of how I’ve learned and grown over the years.
What’s next for you? Any other upcoming projects you’d like to add?
I’m excited to continue growing Eggie and my channel.
STORY JANICE KIM
PHOTOS ADAM RINDY
Read more in print and digital: Volume III, Issue No. 004 – Fall 2018.