“Stay informed.” with Stephanie Villa & Ming Zhao

Stay informed on current events — I’m not saying to be a keyboard warrior but even if it doesn’t affect you directly, it’s important to know what the hell is happening in this world of ours. Seeing outside of your own bubble is scary but knowledge is power, people! At times it feels like wellness […]

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Stay informed on current events — I’m not saying to be a keyboard warrior but even if it doesn’t affect you directly, it’s important to know what the hell is happening in this world of ours. Seeing outside of your own bubble is scary but knowledge is power, people!

At times it feels like wellness or elevating one’s wellbeing, is diametrically opposed to high achievement and high performance in one’s career. The stress, mental energy, long hours, lack of restful sleep and preoccupation that result from a high-achievement life seem to directly inhibit wellness. And yet, in order to sustain the creativity, flexibility, mental acuity and resilience that are necessary for high performance, wellness and wellbeing of the mind, body and soul are also mandatory. So how do we achieve both? This is the question I’m hoping to answer through conversations with high-achieving leaders and influencers who are practicing their own philosophies about how to maintain their wellbeing.

As a part of our series about “Social Media Influencers Share Their Top Self Care, Wellness, and Beauty Tips, I had the pleasure of interviewing Stephanie Villa, a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle star known for her edgy style and fun, unique videos. Her YouTube Channel, “Soothing Sista,” is a destination for essential beauty tips, fashion and travel adventures, as well as girl-to-girl advice on finding your own voice, becoming the woman you’re meant to be and treasuring good friends. Recently, she’s found renewed inspiration in helping to educate women and men on sexual health and wellness — through her YouTube series ‘Sex Smarts.’ Stephanie’s growing brand commands consistently high engagement, and increasingly high-profile collaborations, including Nike, Sephora, YSL, Macy’s, Olay and Bose. Her ultimate hope is to help her followers build confidence and self-love.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory of how you came upon this career path and a little about how you got to where you are today?

Myname is Stephanie Villa and I have a YouTube channel under the handle ‘SoothingSista’! I first started making YouTube videos while in graduate school for Chinese Medicine in San Francisco. At the time I was going to school full time and working as a personal assistant. I really did not have much money to spend on makeup and skincare so I began watching reviews on YouTube to see what products were worth buying! I already had a passion for skincare and makeup and thought to myself, I can do this! YouTube really started off as an outlet to share my passions and I loved the community aspect of the platform. My girl Jenn Im really helped jump start my career by teaching me how to edit and sharing me on her channel. From there I created pretty much any content I wanted to — beauty, vlogging, educational videos. I feel really lucky that I have never been pigeonholed into a singular type of content and my viewers are so supportive of anything I wish to create.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who played a significant role in getting you where you are now?

My sister Ashley has played a huge part in my career as a YouTuber. When I started making videos she was an attorney at Lionsgate and began reading over contracts I was being sent. That snowballed into her negotiating my deals and then becoming my manager. I am so grateful to have my sister at my side — she is my biggest advocate in business and life. Working with family can be challenging at times but at the end of the day we always have each other’s back and I know for a fact we wouldn’t be as close as we are today if it hadn’t been for YouTube.

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting out as a content creator? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

I’m not sure if this is a humorous mistake (I guess I can laugh at it now) but I would say oversharing my personal life is something I definitely did when I began making YouTube. I started in my early 20’s and had a boyfriend at the time who.. let’s just say turned out to not be the best person ever. I included him in a few of my videos and posted a lot of him on Instagram. When things went south it was strange to not only have to deal with everything on a personal level but also with strangers prying into the break-up. After that relationship I was a lot more cautious about sharing that aspect of my personal life. I am now in a beautiful and stable relationship with a wonderful man and he is really the first person I’ve dated since whom I have shared very openly online. I would say to any person starting off on YouTube, remember that what you post online can live there forever and the people you share are a direct reflection of yourself. It’s not only ok but healthy to keep parts of your private life to yourself. If someone is pressuring you to include them in content, you need to evaluate their motives.

4As an influencer, you have worked hard and been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. In fact, perhaps most people who tried to follow a career path like yours did not succeed. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?

I think a lot of people come into this thinking, “I want to be an influencer!” and that is their only goal. People have to understand that creating content on any platform first and foremost needs to be a passion. I didn’t start making YouTube videos with the goal of being known by a lot of people and making a bunch of money. I wanted to share what I loved and find a community within my passion.

What I am seeing now within the beauty community are people trying to emulate how they think a YouTuber should speak or act — or even completely copy another person’s style. People are smart and can see when someone is acting like a person they’re not. Viewers are loyal to people who are honest. My biggest advice is — just be yourself.

Can you share with our readers some of your strategies you’ve used to build an engaged, loyal, and large online community? (You don’t have to get too specific here! Just share a general strategy + an anecdote)

As stated above, I try to be as real as possible. I can’t act for shit anyways so there’s no way for me to not be myself. I think people can see that and appreciate the honesty. I am very careful about the companies I work with and I will not advocate for products I don’t actually enjoy using. At this point I am grateful for the relationships that have been built with certain brands I really love but I will definitely turn down deals from them if they’re not the right fit.

I am also totally open to constructive criticism and welcome any kind of corrections that need to be made. I always want to put out accurate information and put a lot of research into certain videos like my sex ed series but sometimes I mess up. I frequently ask my subscriber to let me know if anything needs to be corrected. This really sets a precedent of respectful, open dialogue amongst myself and my subscribers!

Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview. In my work, I focus on how one can thrive and care for oneself in three areas: body, mind, and heart.

You are an extremely busy person with a demanding schedule, can you share with our readers two self care routines, practices or treatments that help your body thrive? (Kindly share a story or an example for each.) (for example: skincare routine, fitness routine, yoga, hair health, etc.)

Clearly I am big on skincare. I absolutely love doing treatments and my morning and nighttime routine can be quite extensive. You really show yourself so much love by taking the time to take care of your skin.

I recently adopted a little pitbull named Josie and not only was she the missing link in my life but our walks have really impacted me positively. I work from home and even though I do frequent businesses in my neighborhood, as many know, LA isn’t really a city where people walk everywhere. Having a reason to walk into different streets in my neighborhood has been so fun and I look forward to taking a break from staring at my computer and just exploring my area. I notice new and interesting things everyday.

Can you share with us two routines that you use to help your mind or heart to thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.) (for example: meditation, journaling, book club, etc.)

I listen to a whole range of podcasts but the ones that really affect me are true story-based ones from podcasts like Radiolab, This American Life, The Moth — whether they’re inspirational or depressing, these stories help me get outside of myself and a lot of times make me thankful for the life I have.

While listening to these podcasts, I love to cook. Sometimes it’s difficult for me to focus fully on something but when it comes to cooking I totally get in the zone. I can really hone in on this singular activity and at the end I get to eat something delicious… most of the time. 🙂

Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.) (this doesn’t just have to reflect physical beauty, could be “volunteer once a month, etc.)

  1. Buy some lingerie for yourself, put it on, look in the mirror and say, “you are that bitch”. I’m not joking. Then maybe have a glass of wine and dance like no one’s looking. I am very into this activity.
  2. Get into hobbies where you use your hands and can give you some instant gratification — embroidery, macrame, pottery, baking, etc. Being creative and holding something that you completed yourself is very satisfying and fulfilling.
  3. Stay informed on current events — I’m not saying to be a keyboard warrior but even if it doesn’t affect you directly, it’s important to know what the hell is happening in this world of ours. Seeing outside of your own bubble is scary but knowledge is power, people!

Is there a particular resource, a practitioner, expert, book, or podcast that made a significant impact on you and helped you to thrive? Can you share a story about that with us?

Like I said I listen to a lot of podcasts but in particular I love listening to Ologies by Alie Ward. She interviews experts in their field and as a listener you gain so much cool and interesting information in a very digestible way. Think of it like a PBS show with some swearing and a lot more laughs. I haven’t been in school for many years now and this is a way for me to learn about totally new subjects outside of my world. I am also so inspired by Alie Ward as a host — she is so freaking smart, funny, insightful, kind, etc, etc, etc. I really look up to her for her work ethic and just generally as a person. I went to an event Alie held in LA a few months back and she was exactly the person she portrays on her podcast and that is exactly what I aspire to be as well.

Do you have a story about the strangest, most bizarre or funniest wellness treatment that you’ve ever experienced? Was it helpful??

The most unique treatment I’ve ever experienced was a hammam in Morocco — you lay naked on a stone slab in a steam room and are absolutely scrubbed to the bone. I feel like a pound of dead skin was scoured off of my body and I emerged from that spa reborn. It is awesome. 100% would recommend.

As an influencer, you are obviously a person many people look up to. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Something I have really been concentrating on my channel is normalizing speaking about sexual health — ranging from birth control to UTis to masturbation. I think especially for Asian women, this is a really taboo subject but it is such an integral part of life and is not shameful. It was honestly a challenge for me personally to start making these videos because the thought of my parents watching them was so scary to me… but guess what, our parents had to have sex to have all of us so they know what’s up. I just want people to be safe, become informed about their own bodies, and not scared to speak about sex — not only on online but with their partners and friends in real life.

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