In the evolving world of content creation, Allegra Shaw has emerged as a prominent voice in the fashion and lifestyle space, captivating audiences with her genuine approach, relatable style, and commitment to community. Getting her start as a hobbyist on YouTube, she has since grown to be a recognized entrepreneur and co-founded her own fashion line, Uncle Studios. With a community of nearly 1 million subscribers and accolades from prestigious publications like Vogue and Cosmopolitan, Allegra Shaw opened up to us about her experiences, values, and the impact she hopes to make in the fashion industry and to her audience. Welcome to the January cover story.
You began your journey as a lifestyle and fashion entrepreneur in 2011 with a YouTube channel that now boasts close to 1 million subscribers and over 114 million views. Can you share the story of how you got started and what inspired you to create content in this space?
I started creating YouTube videos in 2011 as a hobby, and then I kind of fell into becoming a content creator. I was posting makeup tutorials, get ready with me’s and daily outfits, with the intention of sharing my personal journey and hoping to connect with people. I slowly started building an audience, and I don’t think I realized where I was headed in the beginning. It wasn’t until I finished university that I started to pursue it more professionally, but I have always loved the community I’ve cultivated there.
Your content is known for showcasing easy, casual style, engaging tutorials, and an honest, laid-back lifestyle. How do you think your approach has contributed to building a community of viewers who share your values of travel, hard work, and personal growth?
I always try to be mindful of the content I put out knowing I do have influence on my platforms. When I started content creation, the word influencer didn’t exist, so I don’t think I went into it with the intention to “influence.” I’ve always just shared my personal journey and lessons I’ve learned growing up online – hoping it might resonate with someone else going through something similar. I never try to be preachy with it since what works for me might not work for you. Something I always go back to is gratitude, so I hope that’s something that my community takes away from it all – that a moment of intentional gratitude can change everything.
You’ve been recognized by esteemed publications such as Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Elle, and others. How does it feel to have your voice and insights sought after by prominent fashion and lifestyle media outlets, particularly on topics like sustainability in the fashion and beauty industry?
I’ve definitely always had a love for fashion and beauty since a child. As an only child, I had a wild imagination early on and found beauty and fashion were the best avenues to create all the different versions of myself that I wanted to be. To be asked for my insights on it now is beyond what I could have ever imagined and is still very much a pinch me feeling.
In 2017, you co-founded Uncle Studios with Shirin Soltani, focusing on clean fabrics and community. Could you tell us more about the inspiration behind Uncle Studios and the values that drive your brand’s mission?
Shirin and I started all this very naively, with a love for fashion as an avenue to make you feel good. We loved putting on outfits together, and shopping. We both felt our best in a white tee and jeans – styled different ways to reflect how we were feeling that day and who wanted to be. With it being our favorite piece, we were set out to make the perfect version since we kept rebuying ones that just wouldn’t last. Six years later and it’s still the same fit, which we’re really proud of. Be good, do good is the ethos of the brand and for us it reflects what fashion and business means to us. Fashion has always been more than clothes for us, and that confident feeling you get when you’re in clothes that fit right, and you know were made with love and intention, really empowers you. When you feel good, you’re in a position to do good. As a small business, if we can make mindful steps to do and be better, we hope our community sees the efforts and expects the same from bigger corporations.
In your opinion, as a society, what would make the most impact towards a more sustainable fashion industry? What would be most impactful for brands to be working on to be more sustainable?
There are so many aspects at play, but it really requires effort from both the brand and consumer. For a brand, the use of eco-friendly fabrics designed with longevity in mind will go a long way. Brands should strive for transparency in their supply chains, providing information about the production, sourcing, and labor conditions, and promote recycling programs to encourage consumers to return old clothing for recycling or repurposing. It is essential for consumers to support these efforts by making informed and sustainable choices when making purchases. For us, sustainability and mindfulness go hand in hand. We design our pieces intentionally to serve a variety of purposes in your wardrobe so that when you do choose to purchase with us, it’s a piece that lives in your closet for seasons and can be styled with whatever version of yourself you choose to be that day. When you shop mindfully, you are practicing sustainability in the most attainable way.
Uncle Studios prides itself on being transparent, engaging with its community, and creating a sense of family both online and in real life. How do you maintain this sense of community and transparency, and what role do your consumers play in shaping the brand’s direction?
We set up 1-2 in person activations a year, where we really try to build an uncle world for our customers to experience and interact with. We always try to have these immersive spaces feel familiar and seeing returning faces coming back event after event really makes it extra special for us. The team is always there, really hands on and we’ve gotten to know quite a few members of our community on a first name basis. We’re open to feedback and make direct changes in our clothes and how we go about business to serve them. We always say they’re our boss, so we keep them in the forefront of everything we do.
You are actively involved in charity work, supporting causes like the Daily Bread Food Bank and Charity Water. Can you share what motivates you to give back to these specific charities and the impact you hope to make through your support?
Yes, I make monthly donations to both! Daily Bread Food Bank is an incredible organization close to home, so I’m happy I’m in a place where I can help. Charity Water supports an amazing cause on a more global scale, and I really love Scott Harrison’s drive to make a difference. Clean water, food security, and women empowerment are causes that I’ve always been passionate about and hope to continue to help with, whether with my time or a donation.
You split your time between Toronto, New York City, and Los Angeles. How does this diverse lifestyle and travel experience influence your content and the work you do at Uncle Studios?
Travelling is such a huge part of my life, and I’ve been so privileged to revisit places that start to feel like second homes. While most of my travels are for work, the change of environment and routine always sparks new ideas for me. Like I was saying earlier, I feel like there are so many different versions of myself within me and getting to be in New York and Los Angeles regularly lets me live out different parts of me that I might not get to explore as much in Toronto. Since both my work on my own brand and Uncle feel like such extensions of me, these city’s cultures really help cultivate my taste and fuel my creativity which plays big roles in my work. Travelling as often as I do also makes me appreciate my time at home so much more, and forces me to be more present.
Outside of your professional life, you mentioned enjoying cooking and reading. What are your favorite dishes to make, and what’s on your reading list?
My mum made pasta a lot for me as a kid, and I’ve continued to love it and make it for myself. My go-to’s are pesto, and spaghetti al limone.
I’m currently taking a break from business development/self-help. I feel like fiction is serving this chapter of my life more. I just reread Old Man and the Sea, and currently on my nightstand I have French Exit.
Can you share some upcoming projects or goals you have for your YouTube channel and Uncle Studios that your audience and fans can look forward to?
Personally, I’m currently in what I’d like to call a transitionary period in my life (re: mid/ quarter-life crisis). I’m taking some time to really think about the sort of content I want to continue making, and where I want to take my personal brand. Not 100% sure what that’s going to look like yet, but I know I’m getting closer to figuring it out. With Uncle Studios, we just released our FW23/24 campaign and I’m really proud of it – it feels really true to the brand and the pieces are really incredible. We’re entering a brand-new category next year, which I’m really excited about. Otherwise for the first time in years, I am doing vlogmas. By the time this comes out it’ll probably be done, so go back and watch!! You can catch up on my month of December.