We had the good fortune of connecting with Michel Janse Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Michel, alright, let’s jump in with a deep one – what’s you’re definition for success?
Success is such an odd concept, because it is something we all strive for yet something we all define so differently. For me, success is having the ability to wake up and be truly excited about your work every day. It is also bringing value and joy to other people, and finding/building a community with similar values to you. I don’t have a desire to be massively wealthy or widely known, but I have an overwhelming longing to continue to create as a profession because the process is so fulfilling for me. I believe anyone can achieve the materialistic definitions of traditional success easily, but people don’t feel fully satisfied until they appreciate their relationships, their work and their community.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
It’s funny to try and explain my business ventures because oftentimes I don’t fully know how to verbalize what I do. In once sense, it feels like the “traditional LA thing” that so many of us do. Yes, I moved to LA at 18 to audition for more than I was able to in Texas. And yes, I still work (as often as possible during this “lockdown” of sorts) in that world. When I moved here, I got a job as a line cook in a restaurant. I fell in love with the food world, and ended up getting my degree in nutrition. This led me to having my own original show on Tastemade titled Pretty Healthy. That lasted 3 seasons, but I never would’ve guessed the unexpected way that it shifted my career path. Tastemade encouraged me to increase my online presence in the lifestyle space (as we were in pre-production for a Tastemade Home show that ended up being cut), so I started a YouTube channel. Being able to fully conceptualize, produce, film, host and edit content was thrilling for someone who has only ever been in front of the camera. I truly enjoyed it, and it eventually became profitable. Though that specific show for Tastemade never went anywhere, it led me to content creating which is now 90% of my job. I have loved creating what I call my “online friend group”. It brings me so much joy. In January of this year, I decided to start a more traditional business on top of that. My friends know that loungewear is my love, and I launched a loungewear line called Janse the Label in April. And let me tell you, it has been a LEARNING experience. I am committed to providing only the best quality of products (for example, our first products were made from organic cotton, produced in a factory powered by windmills, thoughtfully embroidered and pieced together here in LA, and shipped in 100% recycled materials). However, I also truly desire to make the price-point as accessible as possible. As I am sure you can guess, doing both is nearly impossible and leaves no room for profit. Learning how to compromise on my vision without compromising on quality has been hard. We have been in the process of creating our next few items for months and months. I understand why so many brands simply resell wholesale items, as creating products from scratch are extremely difficult. But I am relieved to have a great team helping me try to achieve these dreams. I can’t wait to see where it goes!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh man, such a TOUGH question. I honestly have such a craving to explore LA again after being stuck at home for so many months! Obviously, the beach. Growing up in Texas and going to the seaweed-filled gulf coast every summer, I always am excited to show friends how pretty the water is in California. I live in Pasadena now so I miss the Westside. I would probably pick up a Blue Bottle, head to Malibu for a beach day… and be extremely cliché and take a friend to Malibu Farms. I think LA has such fun food too. I would probably take a friend to get mushroom tacos from Loqui before they leave also!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My husband, Brook, for always being so supportive of my endless crazy (and quite frankly, risky) ideas. My parents for never hesitating about my untraditional career path, and my community at Mosaic for helping to keep God at the center of it all.
Website: www.micheljansesmith.com www.jansethelabel.com
Other: Janse the Label IG: https://www.instagram.com/janse.thelabel/ My New Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/not-quite-average/id1528188629
Jessie Jean Photography