During an in-between phase in her life when she wasn't quite sure about her path into adulthood, Jenn Im found that her passion for clothes and styling always remained constant. In an effort to channel her creativity and find an inspirational outlet, Jenn and her friend Sarah started a fashion and lifestyle YouTube channel aptly titled Clothesencounters.
Now running things solo, YouTube has evolved from Jenn's side hobby into her full-blown career. She continues to partner with major brands and launch projects of her own, and has racked up almost two million subscribers in the process. Aside from Jenn's truly unique and trendy style, her endearing personality and reliability make her channel a must-watch. She always remains transparent with her audience and is committed to creating innovative content that encourages her viewers and herself to grow. We chatted with Jenn about how the YouTube space is changing and how she stays on top of her game while building her brand.
In what ways has YouTube changed since you first started?
The YouTube community has definitely gone through some changes since I started. I began creating YouTube videos in 2010 with my friend, Sarah, and I was going through a bit of a mental and life rut. I was attending community college and living at home with my parents. I remember feeling really frustrated and stagnant. Filming YouTube videos became my little escape. It felt cathartic to create something and send it off online. I feel like a lot of the first and second wave creators began this way. YouTube was merely a creative outlet, not a career. However, I think it’s incredible that it’s transformed into this commercial beast because it has created so many jobs that have never existed before. So many creators have gained their financial independence through YouTube and it’s groundbreaking.
What are the best and worst parts about being a YouTuber professionally?
The best part of being a YouTuber is being able to be your own boss. I love being able to schedule projects and plans on my time. Growing up, I never thought that I would be the one to call the shots and make all the executive decisions, but being a YouTuber has taught me to build a business-savvy mind and put my work ethic to the test. You’re either building your own empire or building someone else’s. I’m so grateful to say that I’m building mine.
The worst part of being a YouTuber is putting your life up for discussion. I’m a sensitive person and occasionally there will be that negative comment that cuts deep, which can stick with me for days. I’m learning to develop a thicker skin though and reminding myself that someone’s perception of me is only a reflection of them.
As someone who’s content revolves mostly around fashion and beauty, how has your personal style changed over the years?
I would say that my personal style has remained all over the place. Haha! With the age of the internet, styles are more fluid than ever and my style has always reflected that. Throughout the years, I’ve learned to wear items that fit my body better. When I was younger I threw on whatever regardless of what it looked like on me, but today I make sure that an item hangs well on me.
Congrats on your engagement! As lifestyle content/vlogging becomes more and more popular on YouTube, and as OG YouTubers such as yourself grow up, how do you think hitting and documenting these major milestones (marriage, kids, moving house, etc.) is going to change the YouTube space?
Aww, thank you so much! I feel like a lot of OG YouTubers have already paved the way for documenting and sharing their milestones online. For example, I love itsjudyslife. You can watch her get engaged, married, give birth to her first daughter, and then twins!! Viewers are literally growing up with their favorite YouTubers and I think it’s amazing. This is the real reality TV. So many of my other favorite YouTubers are starting to get married and pregnant. It’s wild. I can’t wait to share these milestones with my subscribers as well. I think documenting the human experience is beautiful because it connects all of us together. We’re not alone and there’s a lot to be learned and shared from these moments.
What’s the next major project you’re working on that you can tell us about?
I’m coming out with my own clothing line. I’ve been working on this project for SO long and I’m so excited for it to launch at the end of this summer.
“You're either building your own empire or building someone else's. I'm so grateful to say that I'm building mine."
How do you stay organized and motivated while working for yourself?
I’m a meticulous planner. My life runs through my Happiness Planner and the calendar app on my laptop and phone. The moment something comes up, I’ll log it on my phone. If it’s a large project, I’ll section it off into pieces so I don’t get too overwhelmed.
Any major challenges you’ve faced in your career? How have you overcome them?
A big challenge in my career has been dealing with burn outs. Every few months I get to a point where I’m mentally exhausted and burnt out, but I’ve never let myself take time off to recuperate. I’m always chugging along. I think I may be a little addicted to working. I’m slowly overcoming these phases by adding more people to my team. Instead of taking on every task and project by myself, I’m learning to delegate them to different people. It’s impossible to manage a brand by yourself, so I’m surrounding myself with people that can help build this with me.
What has been a favorite brand of yours to collaborate with and why?
I love collaborating with Revolve. I’ve been working with them for over a year now and they make the collaborations so easy. First off, I love everything on their website. Second, I love that they trust the creator to shoot content that’s authentic and seamless. We know our audience best and they give us a lot of freedom. Third, I love how they never half-ass anything. Everything goes above and beyond. Go big or go home.
How about YouTuber? Who are some of your favorites to watch?
I love watching my best friends on YouTube. It’s amazing to catch up with them with their vlogs and stalk them from my house. Hahaha. My favorites are Stephanie Villa, Sophia Chang and Weylie.
What are three hidden gems in LA?
1. Echo Park Lake is my favorite place to have picnics. I love eating outdoors and feeling the breeze. This park is perfect to unwind and relax.
2. Dessert Monster has the BEST ice cream sandwiches. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I’m always down to go there.
3. Yangji is my favorite place to get Korean food. I swear their kimchi jiggae will blow your mind. If it doesn’t, I’m sorry… we need to end the conversation here.
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
Confident yet vulnerable.
Who’s your MISSBISH? Tell us who she is and why she’s an inspiration to you.
Frida Kahlo is my current MISSBISH. I’ve been going back on old journal entries and found an old post discovering Frida Kahlo. She was one of Mexico’s greatest artists and her story has been so fascinating to me. She endured so much and has always put self-expression at the top of her agenda.
Photography by: Christina Choi