On the cover of her new book, Julianna Zobrist sits confidently in a multicolored cloud of tulle, but she's just as comfortable in a Cubs T-shirt (sequined, of course). Now her 120,000 Instagram followers who are treated to daily posts documenting her edgy style can connect on another level. With her new book, "Pull It Off," the Christian pop musician, social media influencer, fashion muse and mother of three digs deeper into her own life.
Zobrist recently held a book signing at Ikram, Chicago's mecca of high fashion, where she spoke about her book's message of empowerment, confidence and self-expression.
I caught up with her as she zigzagged across the country on her book tour, and we talked about fashion, facing your fears, and life with Chicago Cubs World Series MVP Ben Zobrist, a Eureka native.
This interview has been edited for space and clarity.
Q: What did the book's message of empowerment grow out of?
A: We all have insecurities, and we struggle with them. And I realized that we are all alike in that way.
We are all talking so much about empowerment, or fearlessness, or that we don't care what people think, but yet we still do, and we still need to know how to be empowered.
Q: Do you see a connection between people's insecurities and their obsession with social media?
A: I think that insecurity is natural, but I think that we can feed it.
If we are insecure, a lot of times, that can manifest itself in comparison or in competition with other people. We can get to a place of true confidence, which is not just positivity and not just girl power. I call it holistic or redemptive, meaning that I'm not everything, I'm not fearless, I am who I am. I have my things that I'm good at, and I have my struggles.
When you can look at yourself and dig a little deeper and know who you are -- with all of the cracks and crevices and broken parts. If you can own that, then you don't have to compete with other people, because they have different gifts than you, and they have different talents than you, and they've been given different opportunities.
To me, the most confident people that I know are celebratory of others.
There's a part in the book where I talk about courage and the part of the brain that fires when you're in the act of being courageous.
We all have fear and insecurity. It's something that we all deal with on a day-to-day basis, so what are the tools to push through and continue to pull off what we want to do on a day-to-day basis?
You have to address the fear and insecurity and allow it to fire in your brain and press through that door. And on the other side of that fear is where your courage and confidence and your brilliance lies.
Q: What's the difference between image and identity.
A: I think that we inappropriately tether who we are to the way that we look.
I know that I have done that. When I've had babies and I find myself crying on the closet floor questioning who am I -- and what am I doing with my life -- all because I've gained weight and I don't know how to get it off, and feeling insecure about myself and where I'm at.
At those moments when you find yourself on the closet floor crying because your image has changed, those are telling moments. I think that we've given way too much value to the way that we look.
Q: The fashion crowd prides themselves on being original. In the book, you point out that what we call self-expression isn't really that at all. Why is that?
A: Often what we think is self-expression is actually others-expression. There are so many trends -- and that's not bad -- but we are more apt to express ourselves -- or call it self-expression when we know that it's going to be met with approval.
I think true self-expression does take into account that if you're being honest about how you feel, and how you want to dress, then it has nothing to do with the input of others. It's more about digging deep and knowing how you want to express yourself.
Q: In the book, talking about your style, you mention a quote that you regularly tell your kids: "You don't have to like it; you just need to appreciate it" That applies to a lot of aspects of life, don't you think?
A: Yes it does. It also applies, itself, to things like the art museums that I take my children to. If they want to move on, and if my youngest is really into a Jackson Pollock painting -- you don't have to like it. It's not about us all liking the same things. I think that would be incredibly boring, and that honestly is where trends come from -- this false consensus that we all think and act and love the same things. Well, that's simply not true, and it limits creativity.
It's more important to understand one another and to value understanding than it is to be right.
Q: What is the foundation of self-confidence?
A: Worth. When you know your worth and your value, then you feel and you know that it is of utmost importance to be true to yourself. Because you know that you have that worth. And the world deserves to see that.
For me, day to day, it's much more about the work, and the grind, and the growth than it is about the accomplishment. It's always the growth.
Q: How do you hold on to self-expression?
A: For me, it's believing that -- and it comes down to my faith -- God doesn't make mistakes -- and that we're all meant to be the person that we are. And so in a way, you're reflecting a part of God's character just by staying true to who you are.
Not one of us is able to do that perfectly.
Q: Why do so many people feel the need to blend in, follow the crowd with their style?
A: Because they want to be liked (laughs). I've felt this. We feel the pressure of fitting in. That's why my message to my children and people on Instagram is "fit out." If you feel like you're not fitting into the world or the trends or to the fashion statements, then you're onto something really good, because it's honest.
Q: You and Ben both have packed schedules. This month you said that he had one day off, so you were trying to rearrange things so that you had some time together. How do you find "together time"?
A: (Laughs.) We have to schedule it. We have a six-day rule, where we try to not spend any longer than six days apart. That's sort of the foundation that we try to arrange our schedules out of.
Every spring we sit down, and we have about a six-hour meeting with my team and his.
It really comes down to priorities, perspective and passion. We prioritize our family first and foremost. And we both are always spurring one other on to be the best at what we are passionate about.
There's a lot of mutual respect. The mutual understanding of what the other person wants. Especially when it's a hard time. If he's walking through a difficult time in baseball, then I'm the one reminding him of what's on the other side. Or if I'm in a moment of self-doubt, he will comes in and champion and encourage me. When one person is struggling, the other person picks them up.
Q: You and Ben each have huge social media followings. How much time a week do you spend managing it?
A: I do one post and one story a day, so not too much time. It's just designated time.
Q: Is Ben as active on social media as you?
A: No, (laughs) you might get one post a month from him.
Favorite Chicago haunts: The Art Institute. I'm a High Renaissance girl.
Chicago restaurant: Boka
First app that you check in the morning: My calendar
What's your best "me time": I read. Right now I'm reading Marcus Aurelius' "The Emperor's Handbook."
Fall fashion staple: Balenciaga cut-out boots
Go-to gift shop in Chicago: Ikram -- I love going there and getting pins.
Statement accessory: My safety-pin earrings. I'm always wearing these.
On your fashion wish list: Head-to-toe orange
Beauty essential: I love the Charlotte Tilbury highlighter
Can't travel without: ChapStick!
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