This week, we had the pleasure of chatting with a friend and constant source of style inspiration, Jessica Wu
, whose candid nature is ever so appealing on social media. As a New York-based creative and one of our favourite Instagram captioners, we caught up with Jessica and discovered how she first got involved in the fashion industry, the things she's passionate about (spoiler alert: representation, diversity, and periods!), and how she stays grounded despite living in one of the world's busiest cities.
Who is Jessica Wu?
I'm a 23 year old model, e-commerce director, and stylist from California based in NYC!
Describe your personal style!
My personal style is primarily about comfort. Since my jobs usually involve running around a lot, I'd rather be comfortable than regret my choices at the end of the day. My closet is composed of thrifted and gifted pieces, but my recent hobby has been scouting designer vintage--I've found the best vintage Dior, Balenciaga, and Issey Miyake on the low and am building my wardrobe from there! But in all honesty, I'm usually in a comfortable shirt, a black mini, and ankle boots or sneakers.
What are the first things you do in the morning?
One of the first things I do in the morning is eat breakfast! I never skip breakfast out of habit and my go-to everyday is oatmeal, fruit, coconut, cinnamon, maca powder, and sometimes almond butter or a splash of almond milk! I find my day much more like the "start of the day" rather than a groggy morning when I have a nice albeit quick and small breakfast (obviously if I have time to brunch of cook a spread, I totally will!). I've also recently began stretching in the morning before showering (sometimes working out if I have time) and it definitely helps with beginning the day right. Then I usually take a quick shower and get ready (makeup takes like 10 minutes!) as quickly as possible. I enjoy my sleep so I usually give myself just an hour to do all this before I get out the door!
How did you first get involved in the fashion industry?
I used to be a blogger when I was in high school in California (lol), which I began after reading up and coming fashion blogs at the time. It was mostly a creative outfit basically for me to share my personal style and express my opinions about fashion shows and current events. I was able to meet a lot of people (who eventually also moved to NYC) and connect with them when I was attending college (the Fashion Institute of Technology). From there I became interested in styling and pursued projects by myself, building a very rough book and working tirelessly to expand and improve it, while also assisting stylists and editors here and there!
What or who influences your work?
I would say I'm definitely influenced by numerous people I work with and all my friends. On shoots specifically, I'm inspired by the teams that I work with on photoshoots and their creative and artistic visions; it's great to see the result of everyone's collective effort in a collection of photographs.
How do you keep yourself grounded and prevent yourself from burning out amidst all the business of life in New York?
I try to balance my work and personal life by incorporating hobbies and things I enjoy into my hectic schedule. I work out regularly, usually running along or in Central Park. I also love to cook and bake and that is a great de-stresser for me. My friend got me a doughnut pan last Christmas so I’ve been baking doughnuts (better than fried!) and they’re actually so delicious! I like to think that I get a pretty decent amount of sleep in as well-I'm usually running on 9 hours of sleep, anything less makes me feel not that well rested. Time management is important!
More than ever, we need to speak out against harmful issues that are prevalent in modern day society. What issues or causes are especially important to you?
Most of my instagram followers know that I am pretty outspoken about my menstruation and reproductive health issues. I've been having irregular periods with severe symptoms for several years now, and honestly, each month is not like the other. At first, I was posting publicly simply to complain and approach a personal and painful problem more humorously and lightheartedly, but then I became aware, through conversation with followers, that I was not alone in my problems and that bleeding is still a relatively taboo topic! I've talked with so many followers who told me their insecurities about their menstrual health or that they felt like they were alone in their struggle, but it was great to open up the discussion and be able to just talk, listen, and offer each other advice. At home, I also support local organizations such as women's shelters and City Harvest, a New York organization that provides food to people who need it the most (food waste and redistribution of resources are important issues to address!) On a larger scale, given the atmosphere of my country right now, there needs to be immediacy in how citizens can address social issues and participate politically to better society in their own ways. The international reaction to the most recent Zero Tolerance immigration policy implemented by the Trump administration proved that citizens do have a voice and much can actually be done when people are outspoken about what is wrong and unjust. It's easier than most people think to write to or call our local representatives, senators, and governors and tell them how you feel about all these issues. I don't have much trust in the political process, but because that's what we've been given, we should at least utilize it to our best advantage if at all possible!
How would you describe your relationship with clothing and how has it evolved over the years?
I like to think that an appreciation for fashion runs in my blood! On my dad's side, my grandmother used to always sew clothing for me, whether it was pajama sets or dresses and skirts (and made them for all 3 of my other siblings too). On my mom's side, my grandmother used to own a boutique in Taiwan where she carried a variety of clothing and accessories, a few of which I still own today. My mom has always been my biggest inspiration and I would credit her with having the most influence on how I think about style and clothing. I feel like when I was younger, I was trying to be more ostentatious than usual to make a statement about my interest and involvement in fashion (high heels in high school, cringe). My mom's relatively minimal approach to dressing helped me tone it down a little after high school and now my style is even more mellow than it was before! I don't necessarily consider that lazy or uninspired, but I feel like my own approach to building a wardrobe now is about curation of classic pieces you can always wear mixed with some crazy ones here and there.
When looking at the current fashion industry, what do you believe needs to change and why?
Representation and diversity have always been important to me as a minority working in fashion. Especially when it comes to modeling, I've been extremely lucky and fortunate to have been approached by a variety of clients that celebrate and promote diversity. There is still much more to be done when it comes to fair representation of all different types in the industry, but I think that we've progressed rather quickly in the last few years and hope that this upwards trajectory continues!
What have been the greatest lessons you have learned since the beginning of your career?
Ever since I moved to New York, from all the fashion media (realistic or not) I had consumed previously, I knew it was imperative to network and build a circle, whether it was personal or business relationships, or both. I consider myself a pretty social person so this wasn't difficult--I love meeting new people and making friends! Another obvious lesson is to be kind, humble, and work hard. I remember every person who did or said something mean to me and the nice people in fashion really stick out! Be loud enough to be noticed but don't let whatever people "know of you" overpower who you are, what you do, and what you stand for.
Is slow fashion important to you? Why or why not?
I definitely believe in slow fashion and think that at the mass market level, consumers are unaware of the implications of their purchases and need to be educated about shopping. The everyday shopper doesn't understand why their blouse is $10 and how many corners were cut, how many workers were severely underpaid, and how a wide range of labor issues contributed to that final price. I have not shopped fast fashion for over 2 years and I constantly remind myself and others not to, because of how easy it is to fall into these "deals!" The systems we have in place were built like that and operate this way so that the companies themselves make massive margins profiting off the backs of cheap labor, unethical work conditions, and countless other issues. Until more companies agree to band together and collectively defy the norm by finding viable alternatives, the industry won't change. It's also a slow process but I feel like many brands that I know and work with intentionally make the effort to run their businesses this way, and I appreciate that. It's a daunting task but we must start somewhere!
How are you sustainable in your day to day life?
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Personally, honestly, there is so much more I can do to be sustainable in other aspects of my life. I guess in relation to fashion, I avoid fast fashion; most of my clothing is from my mom's closet or is secondhand/vintage. On a daily basis, I make sure to recycle, and reuse glass containers and paper and plastic bags. I conserve energy by turning lights off when I don't need them and running my AC minimally in the summer!
What are you currently listening to?
I'm listening to Lykke Li's new album, Rhye, Kelela, Anne Dereaux, and Rina Sawayama. And Chopin always.
Favourite places to shop in New York?
My favorite places to shop in New York are ANTHOM, Frankie shop, Dana Foley (vintage), and all the local thrift stores! Online, I love The RealReal, Heroine, and Etsy! I've found some of the coolest things on Etsy.
Makeup or skincare product you couldn’t live without?
It would absolutely be CLE Cosmetics' CCC Cream. I will probably use this product for the rest of my life. It's formulated so light and applies virtually unnoticeable but makes your skin look so naturally dewy and fresh (and has SPF!)
What’s your dream project to person to work with?
My dream project would be producing a beauty campaign for a brand that I believe in and love! It helps to have experience both in front of and behind the camera, and I feel like I would have so much fun casting, conceptualizing, and putting together a team to create an awesome campaign!
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