Visiting Jac Vanek's instagram and website is like time spent with your wittiest, sassiest, frankest BFF. From t-shirts to tank dresses, coffee mugs to iphone cases, her printed message is the antithesis of some cursive and wistful Oh darling, let’s be adventurers Pinterest pin. Like the unapologetic Amy Schumer or the wild-hearted, deeply passionate Patti Smith, Jac’s words rally us to buy that plane ticket, grab a second slice of pizza, wear lipstick, and follow one’s heart forever and always, because she's doing it and, really, how else would you want to live? We caught up with this girlboss to learn what it takes to found and run a successful biz, who inspires her the most, and how the Jac Vanek brand reflects her ever-evolving, personal self-discovery.
Your Beginnings. Inspiration/ Advice for Young Girls and Women.
Something Corporate’s song Ruthless deeply influenced your brand. You note, “I would be a completely different person today if I never was introduced to Something Corporate.” Tell us why.
Something Corporate made me fall in love with music in such a raw, honest, and powerful way I had never experienced before. And it was more than just the music itself. They opened up this whole community of other like-minded people, taking the road less traveled and following their unconventional dreams in life. I finally felt like I belonged somewhere and I finally felt like I found my people for the first time in my life. This was a turning point to the beginning of my journey to self discovery, and it was filled with lots of eyeliner and studded belts.
You were blogging back in the LiveJournal day + you started out selling branded rubber wristbands featuring catchy hashtag-like phrases. How did your brand develop from there? We’d specifically love to learn your thoughts about the internet in relation to being an entrepreneur…AND how the democratization of media helps people share positive, sassy, fearless messaging to empower women and men.
It’s funny, because back in the day before “blogging” and “social media” were even a thing, being “MySpace famous” or “Live Journal-famous” was kind of a joke. People would be like “ohhh yeah they have a million obsessed MySpace friends, but how will that ever be useful in the real world?”. And now, when you look at brand voice and marketing in 2015, that’s the NUMBER ONE thing brands struggle with…for people to be engaged in a personal and powerful way.
I started selling my bracelets through MySpace bulletins, where I would constantly be replying to and engaging with my customers. I was sending product out to musicians, which was my form of celebrity seeding in my focused music scene. I was building a foundation to my brand and forming an intimate connection to my customer before I even knew what the hell I was doing. Social media is a serious game changer for entrepreneurs, no matter how big or small you are. Your reach is virtually endless, and you have a free platform to design the voice of your brand however you please.
What would be your #1 mentoring tip for female entrepreneurs, young girls in school, or women graduating from high school?
I think it’s very important to truly figure out what lights that fire in your heart, what moves you, what gets you up in the morning. I always want to be honest and transparent when it comes to giving advice to young entrepreneurs because starting your own business is really damn hard. It’s important to have thick skin, and it’s important to be brave, because you’re going to run into obstacles and people are going to try to break you down. That’s just a part of life. But if it’s something you truly love and believe in with your entire heart, the risk is always worth it.
The Discovery Beauty Bag Collaboration.
We’re super happy to collab with you for our Beauty Bag…the quote is: Live Your Own Life. All your words are our words to live by. They’re so inspiring and fearless. For example, this one and this one really speak to our souls. How did you personally become so strong in your identity and voice?
I’ve always thought as my brand as an extension of my own personality…I’m a snarky little smart ass, so everything I create makes sense with that attitude. I think it’s really important to be honest with yourself, whether that be in your personal life or professional life, and I think the honesty within my brand translates to my consumer. I’m able to connect with people through humor (most of it self deprecating), which is a great equalizer for us all.
A BadAss Brand. Innovation + Development.
How do you come up with your quotes/phrases? Do they come to you in your dreams, when you’re talking with friends, journaling? Do you sit down and brainstorm ideas for products…or something else?
My brand is super collaborative, so a lot of my verbiage comes from every day hangouts with my friends and from conversation with my consumers. I have a notepad in my phone full of hundreds of stupid sayings and I’ll just jot something down when it comes to me….a lot of times this is during a night out and the idea seemed a hell of a lot better after a few drinks. So when it comes to actual design time, I’ll go back to the encyclopedia o’ ideas and sift through the bullshit till I find some gems.
Babe alert: A Beautiful Sassy Mind
We love your instagram bio, “ I make things that speak to your sassy soul.” Besides you, who’s the sassiest of them all? If you could have dinner and drinks with 3 female artists, icons, politicians, authors, etc. alive today or not, who would they be and why?
Malala because…I mean, where do I start? At the age of 18, she’s accomplished more in the realm of human rights than most of us will accomplish in a lifetime combined. She should truly be a role model for everyone in this world, both men and women.
Sophia Amoruso (founder and CEO of NastyGal), because she is an insanely relatable role model for me. She created a 250 million dollar brand from literally nothing, she’s only a few years older than me, and she’s turned my dream into a reality.
Amy Schumer because she inspires me on a personal level for being unapologetically herself. She hasn’t changed to fit the “Hollywood” mold, and has instead created her own path to success by being true to her core. She’s fucking hilarious and I want her to be my best friend.
Do you consider yourself a feminist?
100%. The fact that this is even a conversation still blows my mind. The idea that men and women should be treated equally?! NO WAY!
What blog, instagram account or Tumblr inspires you the most?
@seinfeld2000 because I like to pretend that Seinfeld is still on today.
On Beauty (and The Bachelor)
How do you define beauty?
To me, beauty is confidence. Like every other girl, I have struggled with some major body image problems growing up, and it wasn’t until I consciously practiced self love that I truly began to see real beauty in myself, both inside and out.
We love your “if all else fails put on bright red lipstick” bag and we see in this photo that you found Nick Vail somewhere in LA. So, what’s your fave lipstick brand/color AND who is your favorite Bachelor?) IF you watch the show?
Hahaha! By the way, that was NICK’S idea to be my JV model for the day. My favorite lipstick is NYX matte lip cream in London and my favorite bachelor is Arie because he is so babealicious it should be illegal.
Your bucket list IS strange, and we LOVE that. That one time you climbed on Giant's Causeway in Ireland to recreate the cover of Led Zepplin’s Houses of the Holy is pretty amazing. How are you going to top that? (e.g. what else is on your bucket list)?
Oh man, the bucket list is never ending. Bungee jumping (twice) in New Zealand might have been the scariest thus far, but I want to top that by going skydiving in the Swiss Alps (sorry mom!). But I think my next big international vacation is gonna be a South American one, which will include the classic Machu Picchu hike.
What’s next for Jac Vanek – for you personally…and for your brand?
WORLD DOMINATION. Just kidding (not really). I’m constantly learning and growing, both personally and professionally. My brand is part of my journey to self discovery, and it’s exciting to share it with everyone along the way.