Jen Szeto, Blogger, Window of Imagination
Jen Szeto is a blogger who doesn't blog. But never fear! All of her sartorial genius is brought straight to you via many a stunningly statuesque Instagram post. After deserting numerous web pages for the joy of living IRL, this virtual nomad found a home in Window of Imagination - her travel inspired fashion feed. And boy, are we glad she did. Not only is Jen a joy in every way (warm, hilarious and charmingly foul-mouthed) but she has some majorly wise words for anyone on the brink. Today Lisa Says Gah grabs a cozy coffee with Jen at The Mill and dishes on sticking to your convictions, having passion in all pursuits and going forward with a full heart. Enjoy!
LSG: Hi Jen!! Tell us a little bit about your life outside Window of Imagination.
Hello! I live in the Mission with my fiancé, Colin, and our 2010 Honda Element, "Bruce." I’m a Freelance commercial advertising Producer by day; professional daydreamer, wanderer, and “Windower” by night. I’m an OG Bay Area native and have been residing in SF for 13 years now.
LSG: What inspired you to present your personal style digitally?
I’d always wanted to start a personal fashion / travel blog but never mustered the energy to create a full-blown site. I already had a few failed blogs under my belt (one was about my relationship with Colin which creeped him out, and two others never made it past “Hello, welcome to my blog”), so I was hesitant to put my efforts into another one. In 2013, after returning home from my first trip to Paris and feeling inspired by all the well-dressed women that littered the city, I decided it was time to start documenting my personal style. Instagram was the hot new thing at the time, so I turned to my seldom-used personal account to capture my OOTD flat-lays and quirky poses. What started out as a half-joke quickly turned into a hardcore hobby after I had gotten some surprisingly positive attention and feedback from it. In May 2014, I decided to break off from @jenszeto and start another account that was solely focused on artful fashion, travel, and landscapes.
LSG: How did you pick the name?
I was lying awake in bed at around 2 am and decided I wanted to start the account right then and there. I was cycling through a bunch of fashion related names but found all of them were already taken. Then, I fell asleep. But I quickly woke back up and started staring out the window trying to come up with more names. Then it dawned on me, I'M ALWAYS STARING OUT OF THE WINDOW. Sounds weird, I know. But as a kid, I would have these intense zone-out sessions where I would stare out of a window and get lost in my brain for minutes at a time. I’d just let my mind wander and meditate, do whatever it needed to do, and then snap myself back into reality. I remember doing this multiple times a day, and I looked like Kylie the Possum from Fantastic Mr. Fox every time. But I realized the window was the portal to my imagination, where all the magic happens. And that’s how 'Window Of Imagination' came to be.
LSG: How long did you roll the idea around before getting started?
Oof. That depends on how far back you want to look at the timeline. I can remember being into fashion since I was an awkward kid with crooked teeth and pigtails, but blogs didn’t exist when I was nine. Realistically, though, I’d say on and off for about six years. I remember when bloggers started popping up and gaining a lot of unique buzz back in 2007, but I was intimidated and never devoted the time or energy to start my own. Thank Baby Jesus for Instagram!
LSG: What have you seen result in the most growth?
Individually, my combined fashion & travel photos get a lot of love. I guess people like to escape and see new things as much as I do.
On a whole, consistent vision. Instagram is an interesting psychological mind-fuck of a platform where you have to capture your audience’s attention and tell a whole story in a 1x1 square + short caption in under 5-10 seconds (which I assume is the average time a person takes to make a judgement call on your photo before moving on to the next). Don't get me wrong— I love it, but I knew going in that I had to be creative, concise, and impactful. I’m lucky to have Colin as my backbone and tell me when I'm off-brand, and I was fortunate to be able to practice my photo editing skills through my personal account before starting Window Of Imagination. So, once I "dialed in my presets" for Window, I stuck with it and haven’t wavered much from it since.
LSG: Biggest lessons in the first year?
The first three months will feel hard to keep up, but stick with it. Overshoot content so you have something in your back pocket for days when you're going through a creative block. Obsession and attention to detail are essential to success.
LSG: What kind of advice would you give people thinking about starting a blog / Instagram? Mistakes to avoid?
If you have an awesome idea that’s burning a hole in your head, take the risk and put it out there! Don’t be afraid of judgment; critics are key to helping define your vision. And don’t be afraid to lean on your community, they're out there and will support you. Whatever you do – be strong in your convictions, be passionate about your pursuits, and go in with a full heart.
LSG: Tell us about your LSG shop picks! Why did you select what you did, and where would you wear this outfit? What do you love about each piece?
It was hard to choose because I wanted to wear everything! For the first look, I went with the Demy Lee Color Block Sweater because I've been wanting to infuse more color into my wardrobe and thought this piece struck the perfect balance. And it's softer than kittens! I thought it paired well with the Demy Lee Swing Skirt, which is equally soft and classy. I love the high-waist cut, and I'm going through a major skirt obsession right now, so choosing this was a no-brainer. This look would be perfect for work or daytime gatherings.
For my second look, I went for the Helena Quinn Jumpsuit because jumpsuits make me happy and this one teleported me straight into the 70s. I love the low back and wide leg details, I'm a sucker for both. This jumpsuit definitely deserves to be on a dance-floor!