Meet our Friday Muse, writer and content creator Jess Molina

11 April 2024
By Fashion Quarterly

With more than ten thousand followers and counting, it's Jess Molina’s personable and authentic content that have earned her a dedicated follower base.

As a repeat guest of our FQ Sleepovers and regular contributor to the pages of our print issues, Jess Molina likely needs no introduction. Blessed with a natural affinity for storytelling, Molina had long dreamed of being her own boss before she went full time as a content creator in 2021. Originally from the Philippines, she grew up feeling as though she wasn’t properly represented in the media she consumed, prompting her to begin her own blog at the age of twelve. Beginning initially as a side hustle, Molina traversed a number of different careers — including working as a TV host and magazine editor — before she was able to hone her true passion. Through her love for fashion, food and travel, as well her insight into topics like body positivity, she’s fostered an intimate but dedicated audience of like-minded individuals across her social platforms. 

We caught up with Molina to find out about her recent trip to New York, discover how she pivoted from corporate life to content creation, and got her insight on the ever-evolving social media space. Continue reading below…

In conversation with Jess Molina:

Tell us a bit about you, your background, and your career to date.

Hi! My name is Jess Molina and I’m a writer/freelance creative. I always struggle to define what I do as the scope of my work is quite broad. I’ve been a blogger since I was twelve-years-old, back in the day when blogging was such a new term that my parents called it “b-log”. I’m 33 this year so I’ve been oversharing on the internet for most of my life! From there I had a decade-long corporate career before going full-time as a creative in 2021. 

You’re a writer and content creator by trade, but you’ve dabbled in many professions over the years. What compelled you to start sharing content online more seriously and gravitate away from corporate life?

After such a long time of writing and creative work as a side hustle/passion project, I decided that I owed it to myself to pursue this and see what it could be if I actually dedicated time and energy to it fully. It was a combination of things that made me go after this – I was approached by my agency Liquorice to sign with them as one of their first talents, I found a part-time comms role for a charity with flexibility that I could do while I navigated being a full time creative and building my portfolio, and it all happened right in the New Year when I was ready for change. It’s still one of my funniest core memories, calling my boss at my old job at a big insurance/finance company and telling them I was resigning to become an Instagram influencer! 

In what ways do you feel like the social media landscape has transformed since you first started? 

Oh, it’s been absolutely incredible to see social media evolve since I first started. I’ve been on every blogging platform from Xanga to LiveJournal to Multiply. Then WordPress, Blogspot, and Tumblr… The biggest shift I’ve seen is the way social networking has turned into social media. When I first started blogging, I was doing it as an outlet and a form of self expression. Finally, here is a little corner on the internet just for me. And suddenly I had access to what felt like the world. People I may never meet, connecting with me through my words and blogs, sharing the same feelings, making me feel less alone. Even in 2012 when I first signed up to Instagram, I could never have imagined its growth and how it would end up being one of my main platforms for work. That sharing on the internet puts food on the table for me and sustains my living. I think that’s why Threads launching last year was so interesting – because it showed how much people were craving the social networking aspect of social media. I hope we get some of that back.

As a creative, what topics are you most passionate about exploring and creating content on?

I love sharing the things I’m interested in like fashion, beauty, food, and travel. But also don’t shy away from topics like social justice. I think there was an era of social media where the importance of having a niche was emphasised as a way of growing or building an audience but I’ve always disagreed with it.

I’m a full person with a broad range of interests. I’d rather share my whole self and find a community who is in it for me as a person rather than the content I provide them.

You’ve recently returned from a three-month stint overseas. Can you tell us about ways people used fashion as a means of self-expression and how they compared to Aotearoa? What are some areas we do well, and some areas we could do better in Aotearoa?

It was my first time being away for that long and even being that far from home. It was life-changing to say the least. I love observing what people wear in general but to do that overseas was even better! In Puerto Rico, people dressed like the vibe of the place. So vibrant and colourful. But they also really dressed for the weather because it was so hot. I found myself dressing to keep cool, wearing bike shorts and big shirts, and also a lot of caps. Interestingly, that’s also when I started getting comfortable with showing my arms in public. Out of necessity at first, because it was so hot, and slowly I started just embracing one of my biggest insecurities. In New York, the outfits were also weather dependent because it was winter, so I was thriving seeing all the fashion because I love layers! 

There’s no specific ‘style’ to what people wore in New York, but whatever they wore, they wore it with confidence. 

It was so inspiring to see people just wear whatever they want without caring! I think that’s something we need to do better here in Aotearoa. To get dressed just because and to not be afraid to be noticed and stand out in our outfits. If you like it and it makes you feel great, do it!

You were an ambassador for New Zealand Fashion Week: Kahuria last year – not to mention a model for Jockey. What did you take away from this experience?

The hardest secret to keep was the Jockey runway debut! I had to make up a fake story about running late and meeting my friends there instead so imagine their shock when I walked out. And of course, I’ve loved being an ambassador for NZFW. It’s a full circle moment because I attended my first NZFW in 2013 – I skipped uni because I won tickets to a New Gen show. The experience was incredible and it really felt like this huge celebration of our unique fashion landscape in Aotearoa! It made me feel even more passionate about what I want my place in this industry to be.

Do you have a favourite quote or mantra that you return to?

I have a few, depending on what I need at the moment! My favourite is “You can if you think you can” and “Everything is always working out for me”. If you have a favourite quote feel free to DM me. I live for words!

What have you got coming up? And what can we expect to see from you in the future? 

My friend and I were just talking about this last night and how I’m about to enter my second act… or begin a new book completely. I’ve only been back for three weeks and I’ve been observing how much I’ve changed since I went away so I’m in this space of not quite but not yet. I’m enjoying seeing this new version of myself emerge! Sounds annoyingly vague, I know. But one thing is for sure, I’ll be sharing this journey and documenting it as I go. I’m excited to share my writing more! I always hesitate to publish personal pieces but this year I’m just going to go for it via Substack, a platform I’m treating as a return to old school blogging. And I’ve also got a refresh of Loudly Quietly, my little pandemic passion project, coming later this year. That one I’m really taking my time with but I know it’s going to be worth it.

Quickfire questions:

If I could have dinner with any three people on earth, dead or alive, I would choose… All at the same time or do I get one on ones with them? Mindy Kaling, Nora Ephron, Michelle Yeoh. That would be so badass!

Best coffee spot… I’m a Daily Bread girlie! But there’s also a little spot near Elliot Stables/Albert St called Coffee Corner that do really great/interestingly flavoured coffees.

Last TV show I binged… Abbott Elementary! It’s brilliant and one of the sharpest shows right now.

My style icon is… Anyone who walks down the street feeling great about themselves because of their outfit. I feel that energy and it’s my biggest inspiration when it comes to style!

The destination I’d return to in a heartbeat… New York City. I miss it everyday.

The last item I bought for my wardrobe was… A taffeta dress that’s very much giving ‘prom’ for no reason at all.

The item at the top of my wish list… I’m really into denim right now. A denim dress, denim trench, jeans, even a denim bag! I aspire to go full Britney and Justin in denim, combined.

Imagery: supplied.


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