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Student Wellness and Empowerment

Allegra Shaw: If a Plan Fails, Make a New One

Allegra Shaw
Allegra Shaw
Uncle Studios Ribbed Collection Launch Photoshoot.

Mediaplanet spoke with Allegra Shaw — Toronto-based creator, YouTuber and Co-Owner of the sustainable clothing brand Uncle Studios — about students’ well-being.

What motivated you to start a YouTube channel?

I started YouTube because I was going through something traumatic. I was a little lost and I found this community on the internet that I wanted to be apart of. I’ve always loved fashion and beauty, and this was the perfect place to connect with others who had the same interests as me. Even more importantly, it allowed me the creative outlet I needed.

You’ve been open about your struggles with mental health. How has being an influencer affected your perspective about it?

My outlook is the same — mental health is as important as physical health and being in the public eye has just encouraged me to be even more thoughtful about my emotional well-being and the well-being of others. There’s not enough compassion and empathy online and that’s what I strive for with my community: creating a healthier online environment.

What advice do you have for students struggling with their own mental health?

My advice would be to take action now. I struggled the most in my fourth year of university. On the outside most people would think I was doing fine because I was getting good grades and I was socially active — but inside, I could barely function. When I started to realize “Oh, not everyone feels like this, not everyone is struggling like this,” I began to research ways I could help myself. I took advantage of the free therapists my school provided and then stumbled across meditation, which really changed my life.

As someone who owns both a home and a business, what advice do you have for students looking to achieve the same goals?

Allegra Shaw smiling and gesturing
Uncle Studios Ribbed Collection Launch Photoshoot.

First, don’t compare yourself to others. That creates way too much stress.

Second, living on a student budget is hard. I had a job all through university to help me, but I still wasn’t disciplined with money. And when I graduated, there wasn’t anything left. The first few years out of school were meagre and difficult. I also wasn’t thinking about being a business owner or owning a home at the time. I just focused on what I wanted to do and create, not what I wanted to own.

But if you do have those goals of owning a home and being a business owner already — that’s incredible! You’re already a planner. I’d say try and save as much as you can, even if its just $5–10 from every paycheque — it all adds up. I had an auto-withdrawal from my bank account when I was in high school and university — every time money came in, $2 came out and went into a high-interest savings account. I didn’t even notice it, but it accumulated and helped pay for some of my school bills.

How do you manage saving and maintain such a trendy wardrobe?

Having a capsule wardrobe of great basics is key. You may have to invest a bit at the beginning to get good-quality pieces, but you’ll save money in the long run. Then each season you can add one or two pieces that freshen up the wardrobe and can keep you up to date with trends. And don’t forget vintage and consignment stores!

What motivates you to feel empowered as a young businesswoman?

Anytime I’m asked this question I always come back to two pieces of advice:

The first is something my mom told me right after I finished university, when I was trying to figure out what I was going to do and was stressed about having some sort of plan. She said, “What’s the worst that can happen? You come home.”

Being able to live at my mom’s house after graduating to figure my life out was such a privilege, but what I took from this comment was beyond just being able to go back and live at her house. What she was also saying to me is that if plans don’t work out the first time, just make another plan. What’s the worst that can happen? You fail. And then you start again. If your business idea doesn’t take off, if you don’t get that promotion, if you hate what you’re currently doing — you can always start fresh. There isn’t a success schedule.

I’ve seen it in my dad as well; he’s had to completely start from scratch a few times. Seeing him reinvent himself has helped me to take bigger leaps and more risks in business. Go all in at 100 per cent. “What’s the worst that can happen?”

The second piece of advice is something I learned recently: everyone is replaceable. This really opened my eyes and humbled me. In any job, in any situation, I’m replaceable. It may sound harsh, but it stops me from getting an “I’m so special” attitude and it keeps me working hard and grounded.

To find pieces for your capsule wardrobe, head to Uncle Studios and get inspired by Allegra on Instagram @allegrashaw.

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