Written by: Kacey Perez | Interviewed by: Claire Grisolano
Photography by: Jana Schuessler | Makeup by: Nova Kaplan | Hair by: Joseph Orozco and Jenn Lagron
Produced by: Great Social Club
Now, more than ever before, our daily lives encounter more digital time than we know what to do with. But what happens when your digital platforms also become your career? Is there a balance between real life and what’s seen on screen or in your feed? And if that world is how you build your business, how do you make sure you don’t lose yourself in it? We talked with new author, Jacey Duprie, about what it means to be authentic in front of a digital audience and what she discusses in her newly released book, “Liking Myself Back”.
So you’re about to head onto a book tour. How does it feel to be doing this for the first time?
Oh, my gosh, it feels so exciting. Not only just to be going on my first ever book tour, but also to be kind of reemerging back into events in the event space. It’s been quite a long time. Not just with Covid and the pandemic and everything that’s been going on with the world, but also my personal life because I was pregnant and then I had a newborn, so I’ve kind of been a bit off the grid the past two years. It feels really good, kind of out and about. I’m really excited.
So for those of us just getting to know you, will you tell UA about the start of your career and how that led to you writing Liking Myself Back?
I guess a lot of people call me one of the OG bloggers, which still feels so weird hearing that because I felt like there were many that came before me. Although I did start out very early on in this industry. I’ve been blogging for almost eleven years and I started my social media account a few years after that. So blogging has really been at the core of everything that I’ve been about over the past ten to eleven years. And when I started, the landscape was totally different. Like, 100% different.
When I started, it was just me posting collages that showed what I like to buy, and here’s what I think you would like to buy and purchase. But more and more and more people wanted more and more and more of us in the family and pictures of me and what I was wearing and where I was eating and where I was going and every little thing I was doing. And now it’s like a 24/7 cycle of just sharing. So when I started, I really hate to say it, but I didn’t know what I was signing up for. But as the landscape has shifted, I opened up more and more, and before I knew it, I was sharing my entire life on social media, but also living behind this filter of what our lives really looked like. There was so much happening behind the scenes of my life, and just with me personally, I just felt like I didn’t feel as though I was living an authentic life for many years. I felt like I was putting up this beautiful, picture perfect, filtered version of myself that seemed really glossy from the outside. But on the inside, I was struggling big time with self acceptance, self love, liking myself back. And so really, that is the reason for why I decided to write this book. I’ve always been a writer at heart, and I always kept a Journal as a child, which a lot of the stories in the book are drawn from my past journal entries. I’m so thankful for that because otherwise it’s been very hard to pull those emotions back out. I wanted to show our readers, our followers and the people that have been with us on our journey for so long that behind the lens of social media, behind the curtain and the filter, there are actual real people with real stories and real life struggles because things can seem so picture perfect on the grid of Instagram. I wanted to shed some light that.
Yeah, absolutely. I think it really takes a lot to be so vulnerable in that way. Was that hard for you at first?
You know, it wasn’t hard writing it because I’ve always written my emotions and feelings down, and I’ve gone through a lot of therapy. My armor is kind of tucked away in the back bin in my closet, so to speak. I’ve healed, I’ve grown, I’ve learned. And so it wasn’t very hard to talk about it. I’m very comfortable speaking about my past and the things that I’ve gone through and the things that I’m choosing to share in this book. Because, again, not everything is in this book, right? I can’t share my entire life in one book, but the stories we decided to share in this book, I did feel comfortable sharing. I wouldn’t share anything that I didn’t if I’m still not 100% confident sharing it, which, again, there’s things that I didn’t and are not included here, but they don’t have value either to the reader or to myself. With that said, it’s actually harder now that the book is actually going to be in the hands of people. I have a lot of friends that are reading it now, and it’s an amazing feeling when someone has posted and asked something like, “Really? I thought I knew her, but I really didn’t know her at all.” They’re posting things like that on Instagram and sharing their experience reading the book, and it’s so beautiful and honestly makes me want to cry. I didn’t really think I needed any validation in my writing or the fact that I wrote this book, but I don’t know. Just getting those first few pieces of feedback has kind of, like, hit me in a very raw way. I don’t really know how to describe it, but I’m like wow, people are actually reading this and so it’s vulnerable. But also it excites me. It’s scary. I kind of get weirdly sad in a way. It’s just weird raw emotion that yes, it’s a very vulnerable story, but I also get excited about that Because what else are we doing if we’re not opening ourselves up to each other and one another? Otherwise, it’s just another filtered story. So it’s a hard feeling, but it’s a good one.
So the book is about turning self doubt into self acceptance. What were some lessons that you learned throughout the course of influencing that taught you to make that shift?
Well, I think that the work on having self acceptance is very long and it’s an ongoing process that really starts from within. I think finding the tools needed is not a “one size fits all” model for me. It took a lot of different things. It took me setting some pretty firm boundaries between myself and my work, my personal life, and my professional life. It took me putting my phone down at the dinner table, plugging out on vacation, not posting for 24 hours here and there, but also not announcing it to the world. So just sitting with feelings, sitting with news, sitting with information for just a beat longer than I used to, has been really helpful for me. And breathing through sticky moments on Instagram, to like dealing with trolls and mean comments. Instead of just getting all wrapped up in that moment and firing right back and being defensive, I sit with it for a second. I try to read it from every point of view or every piece of tone and the voice I could think of because tone can be so misconstrued on Instagram. Honestly, it took a ton of work for me to kind of let go of a lot of my past traumas. I’m really, really, into yoga now, and practice three to five times a week. For me, I’ve brought that practice into my everyday life, which has been a game changer for me. But yeah, it was really just learning that there’s literally no one in this world that can make me happy other than myself. I have Grant, I have my daughter June, and oh, my god do they make me the happiest of the happy. But they still can’t make me happy, if you know what I mean. Even if they’re sitting there dancing around and cracking jokes, I could still feel sad. It really is a daily choice, so to speak.
I do feel like that’s a piece of reality that we tend to look away from, like, our responsibility to ourselves. I think that’s really amazing. Speaking of little June, as a mother, how do you find balance in your day to day and career? I really don’t. I don’t have balance, and I don’t really like to have balance. This is what works for me. I don’t even really like the word balance. I just don’t think that there’s such a thing for me. I don’t believe in it. I’m the type of person that wherever I am in that exact moment, I’m giving, like, 110%, and I’m just there. And for me, that works because when I’m with June, I’m with her 100%. If you see me posting to my phone, obviously those are quick little ten second moments. But I’m not on my phone. I’m not thinking about anything else. I’m giving her my undivided attention. And when I’m away from her, if I’m actually taking the time to be away from my daughter, you better believe I’m going to make it count. Now, that’s not to say that I’m not thinking of her, missing her and trying to juggle the fact that she’s at school and I have 2 hours, I’m going to go do this. I’m balancing my life in that way, – energetically and emotionally and spiritually.
Jacey, that’s awesome. That is my new philosophy. I like that a lot. What has been your biggest challenge that you’ve faced on your road to success, and how did you overcome that challenge?
I think for me, this is still a challenge. It’s the comparison game. Everything and everyone is on social media, including dogs and children – you name it. I think when it’s hard not to compare and measure your success up against the success of others. So for me in my career, that’s been my biggest challenge, and I’m not competitive with other people. I’m just very hard on myself, which is what you’ll get, I hope, from my book. I’m a perfectionist. I’m a perfectionist because I am the child of an alcoholic. In my world in my childhood, I thought that if I were perfect enough, my dad wouldn’t drink. So I still struggle with that, and nine times out of ten when I’m doing that, it’s because I’m not giving, like I said earlier, that 100% energy at that time into that task. If I have the time to be worried about what other people are doing, it’s because I’m not doing enough for myself and for my work. If I were doing enough for myself and for my work, I wouldn’t have the time to even worry about what other people are doing. So anytime I start to worry about that, I’m like “alright, let’s refocus. Here what’s going on in the home front, because this has nothing to do with other people, their success or what they’re doing. It has absolutely nothing to do with them. It has everything to do with me. And the same thing can also be applied to my personal life. It’s the same challenges. It’s being a perfect mother, dropping my daughter off at school every single day instead of the nanny doing it, or being at every single event at every single moment, which is just impossible as a working mother. So I think learning to have grace with yourself and just know that you’re doing an amazing job, even if it isn’t what you think of the perfect mother being.
So do you find it easy to be fully yourself in the public eye?
No, I don’t. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I really do. When we’re sitting on the couch at home, and Grant and I were laughing, and I’m like, oh, my God, I think other people would find this funny. Like, last night, we were talking about leaving the toilet seat up, and we’re just kind of riffing, and I’ll laugh and whatever. But if I’m being honest, sometimes I’ll see a negative comment and it takes away from that moment, and it force you to put up a guard. So, I try my best to not listen to all that noise. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that sometimes it’s really hard to be truly, fully, 100% authentic on social media. And not just because of that negative noise that sometimes filters into the feed, but also just because of the world that we live in now. I mean, there’s so much information, and I’m absolutely no political expert or activist. While I want to use my platform for all these very important issues, and I do use my platform for important issues, I’m just not always comfortable speaking to them because I don’t want to step out of my lane.
I’m a fashion blogger, and I don’t I want to spread misinformation or false hope or negative energy. Maybe people are going on social media to escape from all this. I don’t always know exactly what to do. I’m human. So, yeah, it’s hard to be authentic. It’s also hard to open up about that, because that’s a little hard to understand if you’re not a social media influencer as, like, a profession. There’s a lot of things that go on behind the scenes that we have to think about, the brands that we’re working with and the projects that we have in the pipeline, and I’m doing my book next week, but there’s like a whole huge movement going on right now on social media that deserves a lot of attention. And I feel like an asshole for posting on my book when there’s real life issues going on, but I can’t control the timing of this. There’s just so many things going on behind the scenes. But it’s not always easy.
Absolutely. So specifically, what about fashion inspires you? And do you have any designers that are currently inspiring you most right now?
Oh, man. I mean, right now I’m obsessed with Toteme and Khaite. I love everything that Celine is doing at the moment. The Row has always been a favorite of mine. My best friend is retro VI. Her jewelry is always very inspirational. I have so many Tory Burch, Ralph Lauren, I think what inspires and excites me about fashion is that it can really transport you and whether that means transporting you into a comfortable, cozy sweater to curl up on the couch and watch movies with popcorn, or it transports you to walking into a dinner reservation. A beautiful dress with stilettos. It can alter the mood and it can alter your whole attitude. If you let it, you can, but you don’t have to. Which is also in my book. Clothing is just such an interesting thing, right? Because it’s the armor that we choose to go out and face the world in. It’s literally what we’re saying to the world about who we are, it’s a creative expression. It’s what keeps our bodies warm. There’s so many different ways you can kind of analyze clothing and fashion, but the actual fashion industry has always drawn me to it since I was a little girl and I got my very first green silk taffeta dress.
So what words of encouragement can you leave for future generations or upcoming or betting entrepreneurial women? I think my biggest piece of advice is if you want to do something, if you’re interested in anything to actually do it. I think that a lot of the girls in the younger generation, young ladies that are coming up and wanting to start their own business or pursue their own careers, they just need to have confidence in themselves. And I don’t mean confidence in like, posting Tik Tok videos. They seem to have a lot more confidence doing that than I ever did. But start before you’re ready. You know what I mean? A lot of people will approach me and be like, I think I want to start a blog. What should I do? And I’m like just start a blog. It’s pretty much free. Just make sure you like doing it and make sure you’re really obsessed with it before you go out and do all these things that you think you should be doing, worry less about what you think you should be doing and just start to do things that you really enjoy doing and tap into what really makes you click and what makes you unique.
You can follow Jacey on Instagram @jaceyduprie and purchase her book at all major bookstores.