Women in Spotlight: Jessica Egbu
When there is an occasion and I meet someone who has also grown up internationally, I find there to be an instant connection. Of all places to meet such a beautiful and exceptionally tall creature, Jessica and I met years ago in San Francisco when we were both working in retail, the obligatory job role for creatives figuring out their path to success. There was always something so reassuring about her sense of self, which I suspect is attributed to the uniqueness of her upbringing.
Born in Reading, UK and with a childhood experience of being raised in Bedfordshire and Southern California, Jessica has the prudence of understanding the economy of her personal experience that so many of us could hope to have growing up. The influence of being born outside of America provides for a certain sense of freedom and other worldy approach to life. Jessica herself has cultivated a minimalist style focused on light and the design of a space that is not mutually exclusive to the American way of life. In my own experience, being foreign provides for a sense of awareness that you are not always like the people around you, and it is up to those of us that feel that way to do something magical with it. Her vision of art and the luxuries of life have evolved, like anyone else, over time. The physical evidence of her personal evolution is apparent with her proclivity for travel and putting herself out of her comfort zone, such as her exploration of the vibrancy of Mexico City, the beauty of the landscape and muted colors of Maui, and the roaring ocean and crowds of Rio De Janeiro.
On a warm afternoon during New York Fashion Week ( you can see Jessica's coverage here) Jessica and I captured her amongst the trees of Washington Square Park, with weather somewhere between summer and fall. I was able to photograph and interview a woman who understands the value of finding beauty in unusual places.
What was the inspiration for pursuing a career in the world of blogging/fashion and how did you navigate the path that led you to where you are now?
As early as I can remember, I was stealing white printing paper from my dad's study and illustrating my own magazines. It wasn't until I was 16 years old when I made a Tumblr account that I realized that this could actually be something I'd be known for. My friends were constantly asking me for clothing advice and I never thought anything of it. Then the blogosphere came about and girls like "The Blond Salad" by Chiara Ferragni were constantly inspiring me with how they documented their everyday outfits and where to find them. To me, it was an amazing outlet and I can't think of anything else that gets me as excited. I've started several blogs over the years but my main one that stuck, TheOxfordist.com was born September 2013. I think the path that led me to where I am now (and still growing) is consistency. Keep at it! The more you post, the more content people will see what you're about and then will be willing to share with other people.
Is there a recent project you are most proud of and why?
I'm really proud that I was able to survive and thrive during this most recent New York Fashion Week and document collections for my blog. I've gone through a lot of professional changes over the summer and was feeling a little down because of it. As a last minute idea, I decided to go to NY and attend the 20+ shows I was invited to. The whole week, although exhausting, was definitely a self-esteem booster from my not so lucky summer. I'm so thankful for all the people I met, both professionally and casually!
What is a creative ritual that you feel like you need to do in order to stay motivated?
Funny enough, I've recently been inspired by other "greats" creative rituals. Currently reading "Daily Rituals" by Mason Currey; a collection of some of the great authors, dancers, inventors and other amazing creatives of our time and in early history and what they did everyday as part of their on-going character. It kind of grounded me if you will because it reminded me that I was a regular person, just like them.
What do you envision as professional success and where do you see yourself in 3 years?
Personally I envision professional success as being in the position to change the game within your respective fields. It's one thing to have financial stability or a great routine going that blends well into your personal life. However if you've roamed the Earth for 50 something years and haven't impacted your colleagues or others in your professional field in anyway positive, then can how can see your career as successful? Haha, I get that it's a pretty harsh and sometimes unfathomable standard to have, but I believe in it. I one day hope to look back on my life and be proud that within the career I was so lucky to choose for myself, I inspired someone.
How do you want people to remember you?
I want to be remembered as the girl who always put God first and who never left the house without highlighter on her cheekbones.
Who has been a positive female influence in your life that contributes to your own personal evolution of character?
Tough question, there are so many. My mother, my sisters Amanda & Nicole, Nina Simone, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Issa Rae, Alexa Chung, Christina Caradona, and definitely Beyoncé.
What do you enjoy about living in San Francisco and how does living there keep you inspired?
What I love about San Francisco is that it's always felt like home to me. Despite any difficulties I've experienced my 7 years of living here, the city has never made me want to immediately jump ship. I enjoy the characteristics of each neighborhood, like the pastel colored houses of the Sunset District or the infinite amount of dogs you see walking past on Valencia St in the Mission District. What's also great is that I still have yet to discover some of the little nooks and crannies that make San Francisco what it is. You're always discovering here and that's what's keeps me inspired to stay and explore.