A PURA Muse is a woman who inspires us with their content, business, work ethic, values or beliefs. This woman is aligned with the goals and motivations that we strive for each day here at PURA Botanicals (if they are already a PURA lover, it makes it all the better!). Our muse is working to elevate their community through their business, volunteerism, or their commitment to wellness, and they consistently advocate for well-being & intentional living.
PURA'S SPRING MUSE: YOUTUBE STAR WITHWENDY
Meet YouTube sensation WithWendy - our newest PURA Muse. Born in Calgary and now residing in Toronto, Wendy is best known for her ‘Can She DIY it?’ sewing videos on YouTube. Using fun and quirky editing techniques, Wendy guides her viewers through the creative process of recreating several iconic fashion moments such as the Lirika Mitoshi Strawberry Dress, Louis Vuitton harness, and the instantly recognizable Fjallraven backpack. Wendy is also an upcycling genius and her YouTube channel has garnered a following of over 1.4 million subscribers. Down to earth and instantly relatable, Wendy’s creativity will capture your imagination and we were fortunate enough to chat about her creative journey, the importance of self-care (especially since having a baby mid-pandemic), and where she finds inspiration.
How did you go from studying business (marketing) and chemical engineering to a YouTube channel about making your own clothes?
Ironically, it wasn’t my passion for sewing, but my love for YouTube that was the catalyst for a very drastic pivot. Business and engineering was safe and ‘parent approved’, but I was captivated by YouTube early in my university days. I was drawn to editing video content and the very existence of a platform like YouTube triggered a deep sense of fulfillment for me. I never really considered myself a ‘fashion expert’, but I grew up sewing. My mom introduced me to sewing and as a child, I would use her scraps to create outfits for my dolls. Until YouTube came along, I had all the skills to teach sewing, but they lay dormant. For me, teaching something useful through YouTube was how this part of my career journey began. Cumulatively, the videos I have created on YouTube are like a visual metamorphosis of my learning journey - from sewing to fashion and to speaking about the importance of sustainability.
What does sustainable fashion mean to you and how do your tutorials inspire a fashionable, low-waste lifestyle? Where do you look for inspiration?
As I spent more time sewing my own clothes, cheap and fast fashion became somewhat of an oxymoron. I started asking how it was possible to make clothing so cheaply when I knew first hand the effort involved in creating quality garments. Sewing in general is a fading hobby and these days, we are so very far removed from the reality of how our clothing is produced. Sewing or altering my own clothes has taught me that there are so many details often overlooked in fast fashion and discarding ‘on trend’ clothing made me increasingly uncomfortable. I often think that the way fashion is packaged and sold has blinded us as consumers to the actual processes behind the scenes. Two of my most popular YouTube series are ‘Can She DIY it?’ and ‘Fashion Upcycle DIYs’, where there’s a satisfaction in witnessing a garment come together, laughing together at all the work that goes into the details, and celebrating the freedom of expression that comes with sewing.
I rely on a chaotic mix of influences for inspiration. I love pop culture and where better to go than social media and browsing the Internet? I compile the trends that are of interest or popular and ask myself if I can add anything to the creative conversation. I clearly love the fantasy element of fashion. In some ways, the world of fashion is a fantasy projection and I enjoy capturing the journey of a piece of cloth into an inspirational garment.
What is your favourite PURA product and can you share some of your self-care practices?
PURA’s Overnight Watermelon Mask is such a star skincare product. It hits all the right points for me - it’s comfortable, nourishing, and has a gentle, botanical scent. Plus, the jar somehow lasts forever!
Before I had a baby, I would describe my self-care as a winding path. I had more flexible time available, so I wasn’t focused on specific ‘self-care’ practices. After having my daughter, I learned to take care of myself efficiently. I would ask myself, “How can I emerge feeling better after just one hour?”. I made a list of things that simply and truly nourish me - going for a walk, taking a shower, or doing my make-up/skincare routine. I could tell there was a larger benefit to taking care of myself even when it does take work to plan and schedule.
When do you feel most beautiful/or your best self?
I used to conduct a funny little quiz with my friends and ask them if you could be any animal, what kind of animal they would be and why. For me, I always envisioned myself as a horse - wild and free, feeling the wind ripple through my hair. I feel the most myself when I am comfortable with my own pace and don’t feel steered or pressured by circumstances. Paradoxically, having a baby has definitely made this more challenging, but also all the more beautiful. My daughter has taught me so much in the way of slowing down and to see life as moments to treasure and look forward to.
Any advice for your younger self or for those wondering if a creative career is for them?
I am so glad I took the leap into embracing a creative career. My biggest piece of advice is simple - ‘you don’t know unless you try’. I find that us creators often dream of masterpieces and I’ve learned, through my own trials and errors, to embrace a more iterative process. Sometimes we forget how long a career can be, but it can live for a very long time. I encourage others to view their creative work as on trajectory instead of culminating in a single work. We are all on a journey and I try to be vulnerable with my followers and encourage them to learn from both my mistakes and triumphs.
Follow WithWendy on YouTube or Instagram.
Interview by Marla Boehr.