In this installment of a new and occasionally occurring Creators for Good series, Lina Renzina – who handles talent relations and partnerships at the Ad Council – will sit down with a creator to learn more about how they’re using their voice to make a difference. And for more on the What and Why of the series, check out the first installment right here.
Chicago native Claudia Sulewski began creating videos as a middle school hobby. A decade later, she is living in Los Angeles as an actress and lifestyle creator.
Claudia’s interests are wide-ranging, and her work reflects that. Her creativity, expertise, and vulnerability when it comes to fashion, beauty, travel, and fitness have earned her a loyal fanbase of 4 million people across all social platforms. The impression she leaves on her audience is notable and lasting, proven only in part by her recent clothing and accessories collection with Nordstrom B.P., her role as Teen Vogue’s official YouTube host, and her 2019 Resolve Award for Channel of the Year.
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Sprinkled in among her impressive professional accomplishments are glimpses of her life with her family, friends, and recently adopted–and very adorable–pit bull, Peaches. This Valentine’s Day, to celebrate Peaches and shelter pets everywhere, we partnered with Claudia for our Shelter Pets Project campaign to help encourage her audience–and everyone–to #AdoptPureLove.
Lina Renzina: How did you get your start in creating videos online?
Claudia Sulewski: I started making videos back in middle school out of pure interest and the excessive amount of free time I had. I was fascinated by editing and the freedom I had with getting to say anything, do anything, and be anything online. Very grateful for prepubescent Claudia–she took the first step into what is now the biggest part of my life!
LR: You are known for your incredible beauty and fashion tips. How has your style and knowledge of beauty evolved over time?
CS: I think everyone’s style and taste changes over time. Experimentation is great! It gets you closer to finding out what makes YOU happy and the ways you can express that individuality. My perspective and thoughts on beauty have recently taken a simpler turn–I truly believe less is more on the day-to-day basis. I spent so many years trying to cover up and hide the things that made me me. At this moment, I value skincare, letting my skin breathe makeup-free, and wearing outfits that are comfortable.
LR: Congratulations on your recent clothing line with Nordstrom! Can you talk about what you learned throughout the process of creating it?
CS: Thank you! For so much of my career, I’ve had 100% creative freedom in everything I’ve done. BP X Claudia Sulewski was a true 50/50 collaboration between Nordstrom and me. The process challenged me to brainstorm differently and ease up on my desire to take control in every step. Wonderful things can happen when you work as a team to build and give life to one simple, small idea.
LR: Why was being a part of the Shelter Pets Project campaign important to you?
CS: Taking part in the Shelter Pets Project campaign was important to me because I feel so passionate and strongly about the message. Having adopted a shelter pet and knowing how much she’s changed our lives, I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. There are millions of cats and dogs waiting for the same chance Peaches got.
LR: What has been the most rewarding part of adopting Peaches?
CS: The most rewarding part of adopting Peaches has been the unconditional love she gives us. Every single morning and moment we walk into the room, we’re greeted with boundless joy. Not to mention–the more action and excitement we bring into her day, the more sleepy snuggles we get at nighttime.
LR: How has your life changed since adopting Peaches?
CS: Our life has 100% become more active and structured because of Peaches. Going into it, we knew it’d require discipline and responsibility, but through that we’ve fallen into a routine we look forward to every morning. Owning a dog might be the best excuse for all the walks and hikes we get to take now. Carving out time for Peaches gives us an opportunity to go out into nature, stay offline, and be in the present moment.
LR: You adopted Peaches over two months ago. What has she taught you in that time?
CS: Peach has taught us the magic of PATIENCE. Adjusting a new pup into your household and establishing your rules definitely takes some time (and some chewed up possessions), but she has completely made it her home.
LR: How did you decide to adopt a shelter pet? Were you always looking for a pit bull?
CS: We’ve talked about adopting a pit bull for about a year, dreaming of the day. My boyfriend grew up with a pit bull mix, so he was well informed and experienced with what to expect! I pretty much went in blindsided…Given the stereotype pit bulls have, we knew how many were in shelters out here, so we never questioned our approach with breed and adoption!
LR: What would you tell someone considering adopting a pet from a shelter?
CS: LOVE them, listen to them, be patient with them. Every sheltered pet has a different story and past. You’ll discover all their mannerisms and quirks along the way, but every pet just wants to give and receive love.
LR: You’ve talked a lot about your health and fitness journey on your channels. Have you learned anything about yourself on the journey that surprised you?
CS: I’ve learned that the less I stress and push myself to be a certain weight or size, the happier I am. I have definitely got through MANY phases of obsessing, dieting, calorie counting, you name it. It’s taken me a long time to understand that none of it is sustainable and my body will always be changing. The thing that’s surprised me the most is I am the most healthy and confident I’ve ever been, and I can’t even credit it to one certain thing. Every day is different, I find balance when I can, and most importantly, I pay attention to how I feel. For the first time, I’m listening to my body.
LR: You won YouTube Channel of the Year at the 2019 Revolve Awards! What did that mean to you?
CS: That was TOO much fun to receive! Definitely didn’t expect it–definitely blacked out during my speech. Any sort of recognition for the years and work you put into something feels really special. Revolve has been a supporter of the YouTube industry for many years now, so it was an honor to receive it from them. 🙂
LR: Who are your fashion icons? Whose career in the fashion and beauty industries do you admire?
CS: I think my biggest fashion inspirations are my friends! So many of them are killing the game and wear whatever they want. I don’t take “you become who you surround yourself with” lightly. In regard to careers that I admire, I love following multifaceted women who explore different avenues, like Shay Mitchell, and women who use their platform to push for change, like Jameela Jamil!
LR: What is coming up for you in 2020? How do you see your channel and content evolving?
CS: I’m always brainstorming new ways to level up my content and connect closer to my audience, so at the moment I’m focusing on “what sort of value can my work bring into people’s lives” and making sure I’m fulfilling my creative desires along the way.
LR: A lot of your audience looks to you for advice and inspiration. How does that affect you, if it does?
CS: It totally inspires me to dive deeper into conversations about mental health, motivation, self-growth, etc. Sometimes I feel pressure when choosing what I should or shouldn’t discuss, but reminding myself that everyone’s experience is different relieves that hesitation. The more honest and open I keep my videos, the better the response seems to be, which is always so gratifying.
LR: What creators are you most excited by right now?
CS: Lately I’ve been binging bestdressed (Ashley) on YouTube–her cinematography, storytelling and editing is incredibly thought out. Her passion and effort really pour through, and I always appreciate a good edit when I see one. Spoken like a true editing nerd myself. She’s too good.
Sulewski is represented by UTA and Mosaic.
Lina leads Creators for Good, the Ad Council’s talent engagement program, which matches traditional and digital talent with the organization’s purpose-driven marketing initiatives. Working directly with talent, these partnerships have reached millions to drive impact surrounding such important causes as suicide prevention, breast cancer risk awareness and diversity and inclusion.
Her background in theatrical producing, marketing and talent management is a testament to her passion for the arts, authentically reaching audiences through digital storytelling. You can connect with Lina on LinkedIn.