From Student to Business Owner with Olivia Jordan
Olivia Jordan is a total girlboss at the age of 19. She is a second year fashion student at Massey University, leads an all-girl lifegroup, manages her Gracious Beauty blog, a fashion, faith and lifestyle blog, and about to release her clothing line, Lila, on 10 June.
At a young age, she embodies purpose and grit and has a great heart to empower women to be confident in their selves.
Let's take a look at Liv's progress.
Thank you so much for volunteering your time and sharing your journey with us. Before we begin, tell us more about you and the person behind Gracious Beauty - your passions, hobbies, interests - that makes you Liv.
I am a very creative person. I am always making stuff and planning things. I am constantly on the go. I am not the type of person to just sit and do nothing *laughs.* Even when I am on holiday and have nothing to do, I always find something to do. I am also a very active person. I love to dance. I’ve danced pretty much my whole life through school. I’m also part of the dance team at Arise Church.
I basically spend a lot of time with friends and family. If I am not doing anything for Gracious Beauty or uni work, I am usually hanging out with my mum or with friends. So yeah. That is basically me. I’m extroverted but also introverted. I am a good mix between the two.
Oh same here. There are days that, “yeah let’s hang out,” but also some days that, “no, I just wanna be by myself.”
*laughs* Hahaha yeah. Sometimes, I’m like, “yeah nah, I don’t wanna hangout. Sorry.” But yeah that is Liv.
That’s so awesome! And you’ve mentioned in our previous conversation that you’re just 19 years old?
Yes I am 19. I’m almost 20 in July.
Oh wow! At the age of 19, you are doing something incredible in the world of fashion, and using that to inspire others. What was the path and experience that led you into founding Gracious Beauty, and what’s the heart behind it?
I’ve always loved to write and been into my writing. I used to write loads of short stories when I was a kid. I also made so many blogs all through school, but they’re really secret. No one knew about them because I thought ‘they’re gonna think I’m weird.’
*laughs together* And I always wanted to start blogging quite early on but I was too scared to do it. I was really inspired by Zoella Sugg when she started out and now she got billions of subscribers and doing all this cool stuff. I was always inspired by her but people around me were like, “oh, she’s so cringe,” *laughs.*
But in Passionate Conference 2016, it was around the time that I wanted to start blogging because ‘who cares’ and I was Year 13 at school and leaving anyways to do my own thing. I was trying to think of a name because I didn’t want to start it without a proper name, and it was in the conference that God gave me the name Gracious Beauty during the Changing Room session where they were talking about grace.
That’s where it all started really. He gave me the name and it has somehow stemmed from that. I guess the signs have always been there and I knew I wanted to do what I am doing now but I didn’t know where and when to start. Once I got that name, it all started from there.
The heart behind it is to inspire women to be confident and empower them through fashion, advice and lifestyle.
That’s so cool! It’s awesome how you have that drive of “if they can do it, I can do it too.”
*laughs* and that’s what I want to be for other people. Like I’m not famous. I’m just chill. I’m Olivia. A lot of people have already come up to me and say “oh my gosh! I want to do this because you wrote about it,” and I’m always like do it! You know? That is what I want Gracious Beauty to be, or what it is turning out to be.
Awesome! So when and where did the clothing line come into this journey?
I study fashion at university and I’m constantly making stuff. Last summer, I decided to start making more clothes for myself. I was trying to shop less and make more. Friends then started to ask me to make some for them too and encouraged me to make an Instagram account, and that started its small thing. It was called Gracious Collection because I didn’t know what else to call it but it linked to my blog.
A couple of months ago, I was talking about it with my mum and said that if ever I want to make it a full thing, she could help me. Now, we’ve come up with a new name and rebranded it. The clothing line is kind of just a side thing while I am at uni, but it will probably be the one I end up doing after uni. So, it is a good stepping stone.
And I just really love to make stuff and get a little extra money. *laughs together* ya know?
Yaaas! The hustle life girl! What’s the rebranded name?
Is that a combination of your name and your mum’s?
Um no. I was trying to do that but I couldn’t think of anything. My mum’s name is Carol so it’s quite hard to mix our names. So, Lila comes from my neice. She calls me Lila because she couldn’t say my name when she was growing up. Now, everyone in my family calls me that. So, it came from that because it’s my name but more of a nickname.
And it’s your own collection too and it’s coming from you so it makes sense.
Yeah. She was a very happy 8-year-old when I told her the name of the brand. *laughs*
Awwww. That’s so cute. Were there any drivers that inspired and pushed you to make your blog and clothing line, or was it more like okay, I’m gonna do this?
I actually talked to my mum about it. She was really supportive. She didn’t quite understand blogging then, and now she is more into it like she links me something, “oooh I saw this person blog about this,” and I’m like “cool mum.” *laughs together*
One of my best friends who lives in UK started her blog just before I did. We kind of do blogging together and she helped me out on all the logistics side of it which she had already gone through. So when I started, she just gave me all the advice and it started really easy. It was really cool. She is probably the main person.
She was my best friend in school when we used to live in England. It is quite cool that we get to do it together. Actually, we didn’t even know that we were starting a blog. So it was really random.
That’s so cool and amazing how you maintain your relationship even with the distance. You mentioned in our Insta convo that you lead an all girls life group. Have that been a source of inspiration too?
Yes, it has been. I led a mixed life group last year and when we were planning to expand for this year, I was trying to figure where I wanted to lead. I ended up going through quite a tough time. I ended up ending a really long relationship that I was in. Through that tough time, all my girlfriends were really supportive and I want to create that environment for other people - an environment of girlfriends for other girls.
I shared my interest to my leader to start an all-girls life group and surprisingly he said it was what we needed then. Now, I lead with two of my good friends. So yeah, they’re a real source of inspiration.
I often take the things I learn from life group and apply it to my blog and vice versa. It’s really amazing to have a specific group of girls to invest in and they invest in me as well. It’s awesome!
It’s really good that you have that relationship with them. Speaking of relationships and coming back to Lila, what’s it like working with your mum?
Working with my mum is literally a dream. My mum is my biggest encourager. It’s amazing to work with her. It was her suggestion to help me with this business. She’s my number one supporter.
I think our bond grew stronger. I just love hanging out with her. I would rather hangout with her than go out and hangout with friends sometimes *laughs together* She’s just so cool!
Just easily get on with each other ae?
Yes, and it definitely taught me to be more patient because I kind of have a short patience span that I got from my dad. *laughs together* Mum is such a patient and calm person. She’s really chill. She makes me chill.
Whenever I stress out about uni or anything else, she always says, “calm down. It’s gonna be fine. You always overthink,” and I’m like yea I know. *laughs together* Working with her has been really good and fun like I don’t even think about it as a business relationship but just my mum helping me out. She always have my best interest in mind.
That’s the dream right there! It’s always awesome to have a best friend in your mum, you know?
Yeah totally! She’s a seamstress so she has a lot of experience in making clothes. It’s really good to have her because there are times that I don’t know what I’m doing.
Since your mum is a seamstress, does that mean that your fashion aspirations started with her?
Yeah. Apart from my mum, I’m the only one in the family that sews. My sister doesn’t even know how to thread a needle *laughs together* I think I was definitely the one who picked up all those things from her.
Sewing also came from my nana as well. It’s kind of generational I guess.
With all these experience under your name and girls looking up to you, how do you remain humble in the presence of success?
I guess…I always stay true in the fact that what I am doing didn’t come from me, but from God. Everything I create comes from Him. I do my best to not get caught up with success and people admiring me, and always giving it all back to God.
In everything I do, I try to make sure that it is seen as a gift from God, not only to Christians, but to everyone else. I don’t want to come across that I am making clothes to make money or doing a blog just to get followers, but doing this for a higher purpose. I always remain humble with that.
I constantly remind myself of this because it is easy to get caught with all the attention. I also just remember that I am like everyone else. I go through the same things that everyone goes through. So yeah…
That's so good! It really is so easy to get caught up with the likes, the shares and people admiring you. It always really helps to just draw it back to our purpose and why we are doing what we are doing. Throughout this whole journey, what is a verse of scripture that you hold onto and why?
The verse that I always stick to since I came to church is Proverbs 3:5-6. This whole thing - Gracious Beauty and Lila - that was all planned by God even though it is something that I’ve always aspired to do. I think if I didn’t have God speaking to me about it, it probably wouldn’t have happened. Because all my strength comes from Him and I don’t have much.
I always make sure to lean on His understanding in all areas of my life, especially for Gracious Beauty and Lila. Because, you know, it is a big step of faith to start a business while you are still at university. To just keep leaning into God and trust that it will all go the right way.
Actually, that is also the same verse that I hold onto too.
Yeah, it’s my favourite verse. I constantly go back to it all the time.
Yeah, especially on days that we overthink aye? *laughs together* Yeah, just trust. Here’s a scenario, if a girl from your life group approaches you now and tells you that they want to do what you do, what will be your ultimate advice to her?
Literally just be yourself. Create what you’re proud of.
When I started I got caught up with how many followers and likes I am getting, and what people liked. But the truth is, you don’t need to get caught up with other people’s opinions and the followers. Just as long as you love it and enjoy it, that’s all that counts! Because if you are not enjoying it, there’s no point, you know?
Like when I started I didn’t start all this to make money and gain followers, but because I enjoyed writing about fashion, taking photos and those kinds of things.
So yeah, just be yourself and you will figure out who and what your brand will be. People just love when you are genuinely yourself.
That's so good! Now, we're going to ask you two questions that we usually ask all the women we interview here in Her Progress. Firstly, what does it mean to be a work in progress to you?
I always have something to improve on. There are things that I could always change, make it better and grow on, and I find it really exciting. I love to just keep growing. There are always new things that you can add on to or try to see what works and what doesn’t.
To me, being a work in progress means that you don’t just come to a standstill, but are constantly moving and growing.
I love that! As we continue to grow, we hit certain goals that we set for ourselves. Why is it important to celebrate these goals and yourself, and how do you celebrate you?
I think it is important to celebrate our progresses in life because then you start to appreciate your own growth. Even if it is just small. By celebrating each progress, you can really see how far you’ve come and it gives you the confidence to continue and branch out more.
I celebrate my progress in many different ways I guess. I share the wins with my friends and family. I often treat myself or just take a well deserved break!
We always want to support the women in our community. Are there any personal goals or business projects you are currently working on?
We’re launching Lila on June 10. That is really exciting! Apart from Lila and Gracious Beauty, I am currently in my second year of Fashion at uni and building towards my Honours project is my next big goal. I believe Gracious Beauty and Lila are all intertwined with that.
Another aspiration is to travel more like at least once a year. Next year, I am potentially going on a fashion trip to India for uni. And just continue to create content for Gracious Beauty. I really want to feature other women and their gifts into the blog so I’m still thinking on how to do that. But yeah that’s where I’m at.
Yes, content creation is never ending but it is a fun industry to be in, especially for a creative like you. You have such an amazing heart for people and it’s awesome that even from a young age, you have the heart to impact and impart wisdom to those around you. Liv, thank you so much for being a part of this interview. You are one heck of a girlboss from a young age of 19. We can’t wait for the launch of Lila and get our hands to it!
Thank you so much for having me!