Name: Libby Vilner
Occupation: Graduate student, blogger, partnership manager at W.E.L.L Summit
Currently Reading: The Microbiome Solution by Robynne Chutkan
Favorite Spring Activity in Boston: Taking a walk outside
Favorite New Brand: Pacifica (for skincare)
For our readers who don’t know your backstory, can you explain how you got interested in the non-toxic lifestyle and blogging?
When I turned 17 I signed with a Modeling Agency, and while doing photoshoots, fashion shows, and events, they hide you behind so much makeup. One day, my older brother asked me if I knew what was truly within the products they layer onto my face. Clearly, I had no idea, just as so many others don't. He gave me some advice and said to do my research on the mainstream makeup that's out there. I began to slowly educate myself and therefore exchange my beauty and home products to non-toxic and organic ones. I thought to myself if I wasn’t aware of how harmful these mainstream products are, so many others probably aren’t as well! I began Life with Libby with a focus on raising awareness about this subject, and organic living in general. Organic living for me doesn’t just end with the products we use, it continues to the people we surround ourselves with and the ability to maintain authenticity within ourselves.
We read on your blog that you grew up in the public eye with a famous father in Israel. That sounds incredibly tough. Do you think your childhood experiences helped you in business by giving you a thicker skin when it comes to criticism, rejection or self-doubt?
Going through a rough childhood and teenage years, most definitely gave me a thicker skin and the ability to brush off the negativity that comes my way every day, especially ever since I began Life with Libby, because, I've been through worse, right? So, at the end of the day, I really hope to be able to externalize positive energy back into the world whether it be through an Instagram photo, a blog post, or an interaction.
At the same time, I do have those moments where I am self-doubting or allowed a mean comment or gesture to get the best of me, the question is how do you handle that form of negativity? I personally like to take that negativity and try and turn it back around into a positive through my support system, through my artistic outlets such as my blog, or even just by going to the gym.
To read more about my childhood story, head over to my blog.
What advice do you have for women who are putting themselves out there on the internet for their businesses and not used to this sort of attention and/or criticism?
I think the best advice I could give is to tune out the background noise that is the negativity, and really focus on your journey, and your goals. Try not to get caught up in someone's rude DM, or comment, or gesture, and just accept it with the understanding that with success comes the challenge of looking past the negative remarks and knowing you are good enough, making sure that this stranger or this person that is trying to infuse you with their negativity doesn't get under your skin, rather thickens it! It's also super important to have a support system that you can rely on those tough days. People that will lift you up and support you 150%!
What was one of the most difficult obstacles when you first started your lifestyle blog?
I think the most difficult part was learning and doing everything myself. I did not hire a company to create my website, or take a class on how to work Wordpress, how to edit and take photos, etc. I had to learn that all by myself, and it was one heck of a challenge but definitely extremely rewarding.
As someone studying to be a social worker and a current panel member of M.I.N.T. (Media Impact and Navigation), how do you navigate brand partnerships while staying true to your personal values?
I haven't had many issues with navigating brand partnerships in terms of my role as a social worker and a panelist on MINT, but actually, I have had to turn down many opportunities with beauty brands who are not non-toxic and organic. It is very important for me to stick to my values of a non-toxic lifestyle and give my followers who trust my word and what I stand for only advice that I would take for myself as well.
I recently able to partner with Athleta in order to help spread awareness about eco and sustainable fashion which I was very excited about because that's a collaboration which truly follows my values and lifestyle.
To learn more about MINT and my role as a social worker there, you can read my Q+A with them on their blog.
Any tips for brands that want to work with your brand or other social media influencers?
The biggest thing for me is to definitely skip the DM outreach and go right to emails, I can't tell you how many companies have tried to work with me through DM and I just missed the messages! I turn off my Instagram notifications because it gets too overwhelming sometimes.
What about someone looking to start a career as an influencer?
So many tips! One of them is to know that you and your brand will always be evolving! It's a growing and learning process which I am and will forever be a part of myself. You learn something new every day and implement that into you and the brand that you are creating. I
I also have a blog post about some of my blogging tips which you can read here.
You have a blog, Instagram, YouTube channel, Twitter, and Facebook. Anything else?! How do you balance all the components of your brand as a one-woman show?
Nothing new as of right now until the next big app comes along! I am also juggling school right now but am almost done! It will be nice to not have to worry about school days, papers and exams!
Balancing is extremely tough, what keeps me sane is staying organized and I do that through my planner, I am old school and need to write everything down, and make checklists. Without my planner, I'm a lost cause! And again, having a support system of close friends and family/loved ones is crucial. Taking some time out of almost every day to do something for you that has nothing to do with work (for me it's the gym) is also a huge aspect of being able to juggle life, it helps me stay grounded.
What’s next for Life with Libby?
More content and collaborations. Once I am done with school I will finally be able to for the first time work on Life with Libby almost full time so I am very excited for my creativity juices to start flowing even more and to really try and incorporate more of my social work background into some blog posts as well.
Come Meet Libby at Ladies Lounge 4/27!
Follow along with Libby at Life with Libby. All images provided by Libby Vilner.