The Femme Stories is a blog series celebrating the makers who inspire and empower their community, and continue to gift us with their creativity, these are their stories.
Vanessa | Raised By Hippies
I met Vanessa when we were both living in Toronto, I was just starting Copious and she was a fashion blogger who was hugely supportive of the local design community. She was always at FAT Runway Shows & coming to local markets to support designers like myself, Birds of North America and Dessert and Skirts, just to name a few. I instantly loved how genuine she was, Vanessa wasn’t in this for the free clothes, in fact she bought from me, she worked to get our names out there because she was passionate about Canadian Made clothing. Vanessa has brought that same passion to her new brand, Raised by Hippies, where she is bringing us all the music history from the 20th century.
What is Raised by Hippies?
Raised by Hippies is an educational media brand. I am giving you historical knowledge about music, but it is also entertainment, it’s sort of fun! This is honestly my personality since I was a kid. I remember in the sixth grade, kids used to call me hippie because I was giving the peace sign all the time.
I first found your new brand on Instagram, but you started posted on Tik Tok long before this, what prompted you to start?
I’ve been working with social media in various ways for a long time and I have always found it to be fascinating, and unique to our generation. With the pandemic, I was stuck at home with my kid and I was living far away from most of the people I knew, so I needed a new project and it was my partner who told me about Tik Tok. He was the one who said, this is more interesting than how the media is portraying it.
At the time, Instagram and the algorithm, as we know was very oppressive, making it hard to start anything new. I was frustrated with the whole thing and thought why not try a different app and see where it goes? One day I posted one of my videos and it got 1000 views, this had not happened on Instagram I was sort of baffled, but I kept posting to Tik Tok and before I knew it I was getting 5000, then 20 000, then 100 000 views on videos!
What did you do before Raised by Hippies and does it influence you today?
I worked in fashion, as you know, for a long time. I worked at boutiques and with designers as a consultant, plus I had a fashion blog, which, of course, you and I have worked together in the past. This was all my introduction to social media, it helped me figure out how to approach people for interviews, and how to get on a schedule and keep consistent, which is so key. I learned a lot from those years and am very grateful for the experience. I still keep one toe in the fashion industry, I teach in the fashion department at Stanford College.
Your videos are mini documentaries! They are extensively detailed and full of cool content, what does it look like to put one together?
I try to be really diverse with the topics that I choose, and I try not to stick to one genre, I like to add more Soul and even a little bit of Hip Hop and Country music in there, all kinds of different genres and different eras. I am usually making a video about whatever I'm listening to at the time, and once I have decided on my topic or focus, then it is a matter of finding the story. Sometimes is the most interesting thing about the band or that artist, or it is about their biggest song or biggest album. If I decide to focus on a band that has an extensive discography, for example, I just started research on The Beatles, with this I will do more than one video, I will create a series. With The Beatles, I want to focus on a video per album to help bring more information about this prolific band. For each video, I do a lot of research and then I write an essay to make sure I have all the key points, next I pick an outfit and background and start recording!
What does it looks like to build a huge audience on social media and then turn that into a business that pays you for your time, effort and work?
Yeah, absolutely. I have actually started working with a bunch of brands recently, and even posted a couple of sponsored videos, which has been really fun. It started with smaller companies, music apps, and things like that, they would contact me about advertising videos, so I had started working them into the middle of a story, this was how I first started to get paid for this brand I have built.
Fast forward to getting contacted by the management company of bands, like The Clash, The Kinks, and Aerosmith, it’s nuts! Some of the emails I get, shock me, but I am so grateful. Recently I started working with a PR manager, who’s helping me with the financial side of it.
What are your future plans for growing your brand?
So much! I have books in the works, and a merch line, I would love to get back into fashion and have a line inspired by vintage clothing, but first up I am starting to work with Sirius Radio.
What is your favourite concert ever?
Paul Simon 100%
If you could only listen to one band or musician for the rest of your life, who would that be?
It so depends on my mood and this answer would change daily, but based on The Beatles series I am working on now, I would say The Beatles.
Lastly what are you currently reading?
Glitter Up the Dark: How Pop Music Broke the Binary by Sasha Geffe & Face it by Debbie Harry
Vanessa is a genuine person and I truly believe the digital creators we connect with the most are those that can move past the screen and into our hearts. Her passion and love for music are so clear that the Raised by Hippies
videos pop off your screen and you are scrolling to learn more about your favourite bands, singers, and all their songs! I personally can't wait for her Sirius Radio program to not only get all the details but the songs that go along with the artists as well.