Jillian Harris has called the Okanagan home for only a few years, but she easily comes off as a local when sharing her love of the area.
“I just feel like I’m your regular girl next door and I love to share my findings, my knowledge, why this excites me,” Harris recently told Global News in an exclusive interview.
Harris, the star of the reality TV series Love It or List it Vancouver, even convinced the show to shoot in Kelowna this season. Commuting between the Okanagan and Vancouver began to take a toll on the mother-of-one, who is due with her second child in October.
While Harris partners with many companies that resonate with her brand, when Tourism Kelowna came calling, it was a natural fit for both parties.
“She does have a huge following of fans that are interested in her activities, her favourite locations, her favourite experiences,” said Chris Shauf, Tourism Kelowna’s director of marketing and communications. “It just seemed like a great fit. Those are some of the key audiences we are trying to reach across North America.”
Shauf said the response has been immediate and positive.
Followers on Harris’ social media feeds not only watch her life in the Okanagan, they see her work to give back to her community through causes like Mamas for Mamas, the KGH Foundation and her new Little Leaders series that features shining young people in the community.
“We’re not philanthropists by any means — we’re not Mother Teresa,” Harris said. “We still love to buy lipstick, get dressed up and talk about shoes but at the same time, we love to give back to the community.”
Harris calls herself a conscious consumer and has started calling out manufacturers who use excessive or non-recyclable packaging.
While not vegan, a lifestyle choice in which people abstain from any animal-based products, Harris speaks often about her plant-based diet and lifestyle.
A recent partnership with Becel garnered much online criticism. Some people did not believe the non-dairy, vegan version of the spread resonated with Harris’ brand.
“I’m not black and white about everything for sure,” Harris said. “But I remind people to be conscious about where their food comes from, where their clothes come from and sometimes you still make a bad choice.”
Harris often features family in her online posts.
Her cousin, Tori Wesszer, is a food blogger and nutritionist who has accumulated more than 130,000 followers on Instagram, which she said is “an opportunity I don’t know I would have gotten at this stage of my career if it hadn’t been for her (Harris).”
Wesszer has solidified numerous paid partnerships with national brands as well. She is humble about her success and encourages others to take a small step toward their goals of shining online.
“I feel like we get so paralyzed with perfection, feeling like we have to get it all figured out before we start,” Wesszer said. “I’m a perfectionist but I’ve started to throw that out the window. You know what? Imperfect action is better than perfect inaction — you figure it out. You literally start somewhere. Mine was some ugly lettuce wraps.”
Both women told Global News they are living their dreams because of their opportunities online.
“I’m in love with what I get to do,” Wesszer said. “I wake up and I pinch myself and I feel so lucky that I get to do this.”
“It makes me emotional because I get to live the job of my dream and I get to do it with people that I love,” Harris said. “It’s so amazing.”
On Wednesday, as Global News’ special series on social media, influencers and branding continues, we look at what it takes to be successful and how to build a following online.