Here’s how she got her start. In collaboration with Pandora.
- By: Gina Marinelli
- Photographer: Jeff Allen
- Graphics: Rachel Pickus
Today much has changed. Welbourn’s living in New York and has created a full-time job from her ability to let others into her world—be it heartbreak, health, or an outfit she loves. Plus, thanks to a snowball effect of a few momentous “first” moments, Welbourn’s not only found success and recognition for her personal brand, but she’s also solidified her place within the fashion industry, driving to make it become more sustainable from the inside.
But as anyone dedicated to slow fashion can attest, changing the industry is a long game. It’s one that Welbourn is built for, as astrologer Alice Bell suggests after looking at her birth chart. “With Gemini rising, you’re someone who probably has a ton of different interests, and you always like to be learning and teaching yourself new things,” Bell tells Welbourn. “This goes along with your Sagittarius moon as well, which is another sign about learning. So you’re at your best when you’re constantly expanding your horizons and teaching yourself everything.”
To celebrate just how far she’s come, Welbourn revisited a few of the pivotal moments that have made her success possible. Meanwhile, Bell helped curate a personalized Pandora bracelet compiled of charms that chart the influencer’s growth and bright future head.
MY FIRST BIG MOVE TO NEW YORK
“I originally started my channel right after I had graduated high school. I was living in Colorado at the time, and I was very bummed that I couldn’t make it to New York for financial reasons. Throughout high school, I was very into fashion. I have a chronic illness, so a big thing for me was fashion because it made me feel good on the outside, even though I felt not great on the inside. That was my biggest catalyst: If I can’t be in New York—which, to me, was the hub of where all my dreams were—there’s an online community that I can create for myself. And at that time it was super, super small.
“I did that for a year while I was still in Colorado, working and figuring out how I can make that reality. Then the next year I ended up transferring and going to school at FIT. Moving to New York that first year was hitting a big goal of mine.
“The biggest difference for me was the pace. I think that a lot of people have to learn to roll with the punches and be more active. I can live in my head, so it’s really easy for me to not put things into action. But I had to adjust to New York, the ‘go, go, go’ mentality. I gained a lot of independence.”
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MY FIRST STEP TOWARD SUSTAINABLE LIVING
“I went to school for a year, and I started realizing there were a lot of things about the fashion industry that I didn’t relate to. The level of consumption and how much I had become involved in it wasn’t making me feel very good either. That’s where a huge mind shift came that first year I moved to New York. At that point I really shifted my channel to ‘If I’m going to do this, then how can I make this represent the parts of fashion that I do really still like and resonate with?’
“I guess the change in my mindset came first from when I went vegetarian my first year in college. I think that was my first really big light-bulb, click moment. That was the first time I could ever really grasp in a tangible way that if I eat this, then this is what happens. It’s really hard to actually have that click moment. I also watched The True Cost, which is a documentary [that focuses on the effects of the fashion industry on the environment], and that was probably the moment that I started being like, ‘OK, how can I shift the way I’m consuming?’ I went back to Colorado, and I remember that’s when I switched to just thrifting everything. At that point, I just stopped buying new cold turkey for a while.”
MY FIRST TIME RECOGNIZING MY POWER TO CHANGE THE FASHION INDUSTRY
“In my first videos talking about why I wasn’t going to shop fast fashion anymore and thrifting, it definitely felt like I started creating those because I couldn’t find them online. There are people online who were zero waste, but I think I lie somewhere in the middle: I wanted to stay in the fashion industry so I could change it from the inside. Instead of going the opposite direction of ‘I’m going to write off fashion or clothing consumption all the way.’
“Now, of course, we all see in branding and marketing where businesses are catching on that consumers, especially Gen Z, are so aware. They grew up with the internet and so much access to information, which I think is really special in some ways, to allow them to see a lot more that’s happening behind the scenes. That’s really inspiring to me, that there is a change from the brand perspective because of the way that consumers are voicing what they want to see. In the beginning I was very individual-action-focused: ‘OK, well, how can I just control what I do?’ Where now, I think that I’ve gotten a pretty good handle on my daily life. I really am trying to branch out more into some collective actions that we can take to make more systematic change, whether that’s creating laws around worker environments and all of these things that are also very necessary to change the industry.”