Janine Jellars is a veteran writer and content producer, who has written for many publications such as ELLE South Africa. As she delves into the world of entrepreneurship as the founder and editor of TRUE Content, a content and social media marketing agency, the 34-year-old continues to make strides and waves in the creative space.
“I am a passionate storyteller. I’ve done everything from editing magazines, to running social media response teams. Creating content and telling brand stories are two things that excite me the most about my chosen field. Some other cool things I’ve done include interviewing Rihanna and hanging out with her team in Barbados,” Janine said.
Janine has achieved so much in her career but sometimes one can forget to revel in the moments and reflect on how far you have come. Janine cherishes her journey thus far, from graduating to interviewing the world’s favourite former first lady Michelle Obama. “Interviewing Michelle Obama was an incredibly humbling experience, that I will take with me for the rest of my life. I was the only local journalist to interview Michelle Obama on the Obamas state visit to South Africa. However, my greatest achievement is still being here. I feel incredibly grateful,” she said.
So how does Ms. Jellars continue to push boundaries and reach for new heights?
“I think we’re very format driven when it comes to how we see content in South Africa. Content creation feels like a siloed experience, when that’s not really how people consume content. I’m always interested in playing with different platforms and formats,” she said.
“I’d like to finish the novel I’m working on and get it published; I’d like to go back to school; I’d like to travel more. I’m also interested in exploring different kinds of businesses. Who knows, maybe I’ll change direction completely?” Janine added.
Staying motivated and at the top of your game isn’t always easy, especially in the fast-paced, competitive and instant gratification societies we live in. Janine said she is most inspired when she travels and outside of her comfort zone. “Getting lost in strange streets, losing my bearings. I feel able to think more clearly when I’m truly away from what’s considered ‘urgent’,” she said.
“It’s okay to fail. It’s okay not to be perfect. You’re still worthy, you’re still loved, just by virtue of being you and being here. At 16, I felt very pressured, I felt like everything was incredibly high stakes. I was in matric and desperate to get to varsity with as good a bursary as I could secure. There was no other way I would’ve been able to study, and I was incredibly focused on that. By nature, I’m a perfectionist, which society has always seemed to sell to us as a ‘good trait’, but it can be extremely toxic. I’ve found that it’s created a lot of anxiety, inertia and toxicity in my life. I wish I’d learned earlier that it’s okay to not have it all figured out, that it’s okay to fail,” she added.
Janine said she treasures the small moments in life such as taking time out to spend with her partner and enjoy being in the moment and appreciate life.
“Any time I spend with my partner away from the hustle and bustle is bound to be filled with laughs. I’m incredibly generous with my time, energy and money. My worst fear is running out of time…” she said.
“If ever there was a ‘South African dream’, I think I’ve lived it. I was born to a single mother on the Cape Flats and now I live a middle class existence in Joburg’s leafy suburbs. This is testament to hard work, loads of sacrifice by many people (primarily my family) and progressive policies. Given this, though, I constantly have to check myself (and be checked), use my social capital for the greater good and hold myself accountable to my principles,” she added.
Being a Black woman in the current socio-economic landscape no matter where in the world can be a bit of a minefield, but, Janine believes that it is one of her superpowers and there is no greater time to be a Black woman than now.
“We need more spaces in South Africa to discuss this moment we find ourselves in as womxn and femmes. ‘Wokeness’ is becoming a commodity, something marketable, but we also need non-commercial spaces to discuss what society through a feminist lens. What I hope to achieve? I would like to contribute to the greater feminist conversation in the country and on the continent. Feminism is a verb. I’m trying to be more active in how I express my feminism. I’m challenging myself to put things on the line in the name of uplifting women in South Africa, whether it’s money, position, privilege. Right now, I’m focusing my energy on mentorship, giving advice/ editing/ etc and funding projects,” she said.
Janine has become somewhat known as the Queen of natural hair as she has been quite active in the natural hair movement, even writing ‘The Natural Newbie Guide’, a free to download eBook for women hungry for information about how to better take care of their hair.
“For me, the natural hair movement has always been quite personal. I’ve never been one of those people who is anti-anything-other-people-do-with-their-hair. I think it’s important to normalise natural hair and expand what we see as a beauty standard,” she said.
“Representation is getting better, but we still have such a narrow view of womanhood in media. We’re going through a ‘sebenza girl’ moment where everything seems really focused on success, hustle and entrepreneurship. I think there’s space for more depictions of our humanity,” Janine concluded.