Welcome to Favorite Follow, a series highlighting NYLON's favorite creators and the stories behind some of their most memorable content.
For those looking from the outside in, Jenny Welbourn lives quite the aspirational life. Known as @wearilive on social media, the Colorado-born content creator first came onto our radar by documenting her thrift hauls and secondhand shopping trips in 2015, but in recent years, her channel has become more lifestyle-focused, showcasing her food diaries, moving vlogs, wellness rituals, and more.
“I went through a few phases growing up, but I always knew I’d end up in some sort of creative path. For most of my childhood I actually thought I would be a chef and came very close to going to culinary school,” Welbourn tells NYLON. “YouTube has been so special for me because it allows me to incorporate so many different interests into one and I love editing, so it’s an icing on a cake that I get to put it all together myself. I feel so lucky to be in a spot that allows me flexibility to grow alongside a ‘career,’ I suppose, and also lucky that it’s grown alongside me and people are still watching.”
It’s easy to become overwhelmed and consumed by the ways of the internet. As an influx of creators flood our social media feeds, there’s an exhausting pressure to stand out, but Welbourn believes that staying true to yourself is the only sustainable way to stay online. She also reiterates that what you see online is not the entire truth. “It’s easy to glamorize a lifestyle — it’s for sure insanely privileged in so many ways, but there are a lot of behind-the-scenes things that happen that I don’t think are possible to explain until you’re in it,” she says. “Following the ‘trends’ are helpful for growth but try not to get too caught up in them especially to build longevity online.”
Despite this, she remains grateful for the community she’s built over the years. “Being online has brought so much to my life and definitely encourages anyone who has something they feel called to share to go for it! You will attract what you put out and don’t get too focused on the outcome.”
Since amassing 295K subscribers and counting on You Tube alone, Welbourn reveals that there are quite a few special projects in the works, including one that applies “sustainable practices to create something physical for the first time.”
“It’s a crafty project that I’m working on for fun that should be done in the next few months,” she adds. “And I’m dabbling in some other areas of life: writing, acting, and more.”
Ahead, Jenny Welbourn, aka @wearilive, spoke with NYLON about how her YouTube has evolved over the years, her love of thrifting, online burnout, and more.
On How Her YouTube Platform Evolved Over The Years
“I started my channel almost eight years ago, and feels wild to think I’ve posted almost every week for that many years. In that sense, I get why it pivoted and flowed throughout the years alongside myself. I started my channel when I was stuck in my hometown after high school, longing to be in New York and at FIT, which was my dream school at the time. I was saving up money and working in restaurants while going to a local college and decided to start my channel as a way to be closer to what I wanted to do, which was really special for me at the time. It was a way for me to connect with something larger than my hometown and that’s why the internet is so cool in some ways. It’s gone through many phases.
Once I finally got myself to NYC is when I really realized I was so passionate about sustainability and that’s when my channel started to take off, as I think that passion showed through the screen. My channel has definitely shifted over the past three years since the pandemic hit. It was during that time I really needed to focus on my mental health and it seemed viewers also just wanted to feel close to others, which is when vlogging became more prevalent for me and naturally my content started to reflect where my focus was: self-growth and figuring out my path forward.”
On Living And Leading A Sustainable Lifestyle
“I had my real shift while being at FIT. I grew up in a small hometown and lived very close to nature. Moving to New York City, which I had never even spent more than four hours in prior, was such a culture shock for me. Honestly, the fashion industry gave me the ick within the first year of being there — labor exploitation within production chains, horrible environmental practices, and the fact that, at that time especially, it was normal to work for free under ‘internships’ to get anywhere. That’s when I started using my channel of more of an outlet to talk about the things I didn’t like, while still appreciating the role fashion has played for me in my life. I still feel the same and have been happy to see the rise in awareness, especially online. I think people are much more in touch now and have more access to information. For myself, sustainable fashion has taken more of an implicit role in my life lately, though it is still one of my most favorite topics to discuss and learn about and I’m sure will continue to be apart of my life forever.
I try to continue to stay honest with myself and pay attention to what I could do better when it comes to an individual level. I really don’t like when people come for each other online just to try to get by in a world that is set up for us all to make waste and, unfortunately, usually contribute to the exploitation of others just by existing. I’m glad people are more aware that we need different legislation to hold corporations more accountable. That doesn’t mean there aren’t things we can do but I like a ‘do your best’ mentality and only you know what your best is. We all are set up with a unique life and set of challenges and to assume we all are in the same place is naive. Kindness goes much further when it comes to sharing information. Routines, lifestyle, mental health, and self-care all relate to being able to show up for yourself and then show up for others. I make the assumption that, in this day and age, we’re all baseline a little stressed about one thing or another.”
On Her Personal Style
“I’m kind of all over the place in some ways, I like a lot of different things but also go with the flow most of the time and I think my style usually reflects that. I don’t like to put a huge amount of effort into being perfectly put together.
I can pinpoint that I’ve always loved flowy, oversized clothing like tees and denim. That has been and probably always will be the base of my wardrobe. I absolutely am most myself in a silky button-down and some denim. I’ve always loved the style of older people, dads, grandmas and grandpas and think I cop a lot of their looks. I also think my style runs more masculine but I do like adding some playful elements that have a more feminine feel. Each year I think my style’s a little more defined, which makes sense; each year I know myself a little bit better.
I’ve definitely been going through a big style transition right now that has me stumped moving to Los Angeles. I’m having trouble landing on how I would like to express myself here. It’s only been five months, so I’m giving myself a second to recreate my image which is fun and why I love style and fashion! I think in L.A., people in general dress tackier — no offense. I personally love it and think it comes from Hollywood and sometimes life feels like a simulation or maybe things aren’t really that serious? If that makes sense!”
On Thrifting And A Successful Shopping Trip
“I love secondhand shopping and finding unique pieces. I really love my hometown thrift shops; when I go back to Colorado, it’s my second stop — after my favorite food spot. That’s where my love for thrifting started and continues on. There are a few smaller shops which I love the feel of and I definitely prefer smaller, local shops to chains. A million things always catch my eye so I definitely usually end up with a big stack and, luckily, I have friends who are much better at ‘editing’ down my selections. I sometimes go in with an idea of what I need in my closet — new trousers, maybe a white button-down — or go in with the idea that I’d like a few more ‘fun’ pieces to spice up my closet.
Recently, I was back in Colorado over the winter and found an amazing knit, blue poncho for $6 that I’m still planning on wearing when I eventually host a housewarming party because I think it gives off an amazing hostess vibe. I also found an amazing leather racing jacket, which had actually been something I had been looking for, and I’m obsessed with it. Moving to Los Angeles has been a lot of fun because of the flea markets! When I first moved it was all I was doing on the weekends but now I’ve luckily cooled off a little bit on it. And to successfully thrift, you should have an open mind! That’s the fun part is that no one is telling you what you like and that’s always when I come up with the best finds.”
On Navigating Burnout Online
“When I started online, it was not so apparent that I would ever turn this into a career or make any money from it. For the first four years I made YouTube videos, I maybe made $10 total. I had a moment when I realized I really wanted to commit to it and see where it could go. Within the year, I had a few videos take off and realized I needed to quit my retail job in order to keep up with the sudden influx of emails I was getting and have more time to create. So wild to think back to that time and that three years later, I’m still doing it full-time.
It was such a struggle, actually, to finally be where I wanted to be, and took a while to adjust. It requires a lot of discipline to create your own schedule while managing all these expectations you and others have for yourself. When I get in slumps, I really try to lean back on the parts I love and enjoy the creative process. The hardest part for me is that YouTube is about my life, but my life is about YouTube. There hasn’t been a day in the past eight years I haven’t thought about my channel, but my channel is just an extension of me? The lines become foggy when every part of your life could potentially become ‘content,’ so it’s kind of a weird thing to process. I always say I’ll take some time off but it’s also hard when you’re fighting with algorithms or just wanting to take advantage of the amazing thing that’s in front of you.
That’s where the burnout comes from — suddenly monetizing being a person. It’s super strange. I love it though, and it’s been such a wild progression in my life. I really am at the place I could just faintly imagine in my wildest dreams. I do start to get a little stir-crazy if I think too hard about what it is that I actually do — filming myself brushing my teeth at times and putting it on the internet? [Laughs] I’m still learning how to balance it all and enjoy the process. It’s really pushed me to look inwards at a faster rate I believe. The more I have learned to like myself and feel confident in who I am, the less the other little things bother me, like silly comments or judgment from others, which have been nice to realize. Getting to that point is necessary to sustain being online. Overall though, I have such a lovely base of viewers who I learn a lot from!”
Follow Jenny Welbourn on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and her podcast “Too Sensitive” on all streaming platforms.