I wish I had been told that social media can be an important business tool, and yet on the contrary, isn’t a barometer for success. I have been overlooked and rejected many times because I have a small social media following.
As part of my series about “authors who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jen Principe.
Fashion stylist Jen Principe has worked with hundreds of clients over the past 12 years, hosted Los Angeles’ KTLA TV’s “How to be Your Own Personal Stylist” segment, been featured on Hallmark’s “Home & Family,” in the Associated Press, Focus, JMG, Calabasas Style, Ventura Boulevard and Sherwood Life magazines. In 2021, she was featured as a top celebrity LA stylist on the BBC Network’s “Inside Beverly Hills.”
Jen’s her new book, “A Common Thread: A Fashion For The Soul Book,” out June 7, is a one-of-a-kind fashion memoir that interweaves fashion with faith, while providing stylist tips to the everyday person. “A Common Thread” features an innovative QR code system for styling advice, and in it, Jen documents her life journeys — a soul stylist with a sole purpose: to help transform lives from the outside in. Jen shares her less than glamorous childhood in the book by unpacking the one constant in her life, fashion. Using her wardrobe as an outlet, Jen masked her adolescent trauma at home by changing her identity with different clothing trends. Learning the powerful psychological impact behind what we wear ultimately led to her dream job as a celebrity fashion stylist.
A portion of the proceeds from the book will be donated to The Phoenix Effect, Jen’s non-profit, in which she and her team provide curated and personalized photoshoot experiences for those suffering from debilitating diseases and/or trauma. Jen helps each “phoenix” reignite those parts of themselves that have become dormant during the healing process or birth a new, more powerful version of themselves. For more information visit JP Styles official website: http://jpstyles.com/about.html.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I come from a long lineage of orthodox Jewish Rabbis — 10 to be exact. My grandfather was the chief orthodox rabbi of Los Angeles from 1935–1973. While my father grew up in a very safe and structured environment, this couldn’t be further from how he raised me. When my mother abandoned our family (I was just six months old), my father’s romantic entanglement with our housekeeper triggered a web of lies, and over a decade of physical abuse, all of which needed to be hidden from my family and Jewish community. My family climate was needless to say, traumatic. My past has included its fair share of drinking, smoking, stealing, drugs, arrests, underachieving, overachieving, depression and low self-esteem. However, there were two constants that saved my life; faith and fashion. Each playing significant roles, weaving the threads of the unique pattern of my life story.
When you were younger, was there a book that you read that inspired you to take action or changed your life? Can you share a story about that?
“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho. His book is filled with simple yet inspiring wisdom about listening to your inner voice. He follows universal “signs”, leaving everything behind on a quest to find his purpose. He recognizes life lessons in everyone he meets. His personal journey pivots in many different directions yet, he stays steadfast to finding his life purpose. After reading his book, and feeling a similar calling, I began to look at my life from an entirely new perspective. I became open to the idea that my experience all had deeper meaning and ultimately served a purpose.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
In my book “A Common Thread,” there’s a chapter entitled, “If It’s Too Good To Be True, It Probably Is.” It’s about trying to force pieces that don’t fit in the hopes of advancing my career and wanting to be discovered. It’s about ignoring warning “signs” and being knocked down hard.
The biggest lesson that I learned was humility. As C.S Lewis to eloquently says, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”
Can you describe how you aim to make a significant social impact with your book?
I hope that my book inspires others to recognize the “god shots” in their own lives. To see that there are lessons all around us, if we choose to see them, and that trauma is not a final destination. On a more external level, I hope my readers and listeners understand the enormous impact our clothing choices can have on our experiences. Having your own personal stylist is a luxury that most people simply can’t afford. I want to solve this problem and share my styling knowledge with the world. “A Common Thread” has a unique scannable QR code that leads the reader to companion tutorials on how to build the ideal wardrobe from the ground up. This allows me to use my god-given talent to share my styling expertise and give the world an opportunity to find their own inner stylist along the way.
Can you share with us the most interesting story that you shared in your book?
I would be Chapter 3 — “Take A Trip Down Memory Lane.” This is a story about giving and receiving, and how one little act of kindness changed the trajectory of many lives. When my son Drew was 17 years old, he listened to his inner voice (God shot) and gifted a holocaust survivor a bracelet at a school assembly after hearing his very tragic story. His kind gesture ignited a very unexpected and unique friendship between 89-year-old Henry and Drew. During one of their lunches together, Drew learned that Henry had never been to Israel, and was unable to have his bar-mitzvah (Jewish right of passage at the age of 13) that Henry’s father desperately tried to give him in the Ghetto. He also learned that Henry had one surviving blood relative in Israel, and that Yad Vashem (the most prominent holocaust museum in Israel) had Henry recorded as deceased. After learning more about Henry’s story, it felt like an unfinished puzzle. Drew began a fundraiser to send Henry and his wife Susie to Israel to find the missing puzzle pieces in the holy land. What happens next was just short of a miracle.
You can watch Drew’s documentary HERE.
What was the “aha moment” or series of events that made you decide to bring your message to the greater world? Can you share a story about that?
Over the last 10 years, I could hear my soul whispering. As I began diving deeper into what seemed at the time a series of unrelated and seemingly inconsequential occurrences, I began to see a pattern. God was speaking to me in the one language that I understood: clothing. In Chapter 2, “You Only Lose What You Cling To”, I met a monk that helped heal an old wound and propelled me forward into writing my book. Once the floodgates opened, it was impossible to stop the flow.
Without sharing specific names, can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
I started a non-profit nine years ago called the “Phoenix Effect.” I curate personalized photoshoot experiences for those suffering from life-debilitating diseases and/or trauma, which is later memorialized in a coffee table book. Using wardrobe, hair and make-up, I help those in need reclaim parts of their identity that get lost during the process of healing. Every “phoenix” has left an impact in my life, but the most recent photoshoot with Becky was one of the most impactful. Becky found me on Instagram and told me her very sad and tragic story. Becky was born with Spina Bifida, and later developed Muscular Dystrophy. Several years ago, she was in a horrible wheelchair accident and has had 72 surgeries since. After being bedridden and in a body cast for a year, she’s lost some mobility in her arms and finds it impossible to dress herself and wanted some styling advice.
When I heard she was planning a trip to California, I arranged to have a Phoenix Effect photoshoot for her. However, shortly before her planned trip, I received a message with some very sad news. She was given a terminal diagnosis and wasn’t healthy enough to travel. So, I decided to fly my team to Salt Lake City to make one of her dying wishes, of once again being a model (she used to model when she was young) come true. We had custom clothing made with Velcro closures that she was able to keep after the photoshoot. It was one of the most magical days for everyone, and the letter she wrote me afterwards brought tears to my eyes. You can view all the Phoenix Effect transformations and letters on my website at http://jpstyles.com/giving-back.html.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Read my book; spread the word; and donate to my non-profit.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Leadership is using your talents or your voice to inspire others. Brene Brown is a perfect example of using her stories of vulnerability and shame to heal others.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- I wish I was told to always have a signed business contract. I’ve been burned several times by being too trusting. I’ve had to go to court twice because I didn’t have my fees in writing.
- I wish I had been told to be more selective on who I let into my life. In addition to the betrayal in my book, I have had two assistants steal from me.
- I wish I had been told that social media can be an important business tool, and yet on the contrary, isn’t a barometer for success. I have been overlooked and rejected many times because I have a small social media following.
- While this has created some self-doubt about the success of my book, I refuse to allow this to be a reality. It is my personal mission to show others that it is possible to have a voice and succeed with or without social media followers.
- I wish I had been told to keep my accomplishments to myself, not everyone wants to see me succeed. I’ve been terribly hurt by jealous friends.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Anais Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Writing “A Common Thread” was my blossoming. Pain pushes us. I had to probe the depths and heal the cracks.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
Esther Hicks. I have been listening to Esther (Abraham) Hicks for over a decade. Through her teachings, I have learned that we are spiritual beings having a human experience and to recognize that it’s the “feeling” that creates the reality.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
My virtual styling platform will be on my website Jpstyles.com, Instagram @jenprincipestyes and facebook jenprincipe
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!
Social Impact Authors: How & Why Author Jen Principe of JP Styles Is Helping To Change Our World was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.