BABE #286: JESS MEKO - Visual Director + Editor, The She Laughs Project
Jess is the digital culture coordinator for Grace Bible Church, the visual director and editor for the She Laughs Project and a part time sales associate at J.Crew. At Grace Bible Church, she handles social media, leads a team of photographers and collaborates with the team on all things creative for service programming and promotional plans. At the She Laughs Project, she’s in charge of social media, curating images and blog posts for their writers and assisting in all design aspects. Because her primary roles require a whole lot of creativity, Jess welcomes the change of pace in her part time gig at J.Crew, which allows her to temporarily turn off that imaginative switch. Her story is one of self acceptance, finding your voice and always, always checking in with your mental health.
Hometown: Woodbridge, Virginia
Current city: Virginia Beach, Virginia
Alma mater: Virginia Tech
Degree: B.A., Literature and Language, Creative Writing
Very first job: Working at the stables to pay for riding lessons
Hustle: Visual Director + Editor, The She Laughs Project; Digital Culture Coordinator, Grace Bible Church; Sales Associate; J.Crew.
How do you spend your free time?
Reading, running, drinking coffee and blogging.
Favorite fictional female character? Why?
When I was growing up, I read all the Nancy Drew books. There was nothing more inspiring than a smart, strong, independent female hero. She’s still my favorite!
Go-to coffee order and/or adult beverage?
Chai latte with almond milk.
Current power anthem?
“Killer Queen,” by Queen.
If you could have coffee with anyone in the world, who would it be?
Tell us about your hustle.
As the visual director and editor of The She Laughs Project, I run the project’s social media accounts, curate images and blog posts from volunteer writers and assist in design aspects. As the digital culture coordinator at Grace Bible Church, I create content for all social media accounts, lead a team of photography volunteers, collaborate on our creative team for service programming and implement promotional plans.
What does your typical workday look like?
A typical workday depends on the day for me! The perks of both jobs is that I can work them from home, from a coffee shop or from my desk at the church. The She Laughs Project has taken a break for the past few months while we pray over our next steps forward, so my days look like heading into church for the main part of the day and then working the part-time job I have at J.Crew. I have to get into various mindsets as I jump from job to job every day. While I love how leadership-minded my job is at Grace, I love getting to slip into an associate role every now and then at J.Crew. It helps break up stress and allows me to get a creative break.
Tell us more about The She Laughs Project.
The She Laughs Project mission is to empower women to discover their identity, authority and freedom in Christ. The founder, Yasmina Prosser, created this project based on the verse, Proverbs 31:25, which says, “She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” Yasmina started the Instagram, added me as editor and it grew from there. I’m really passionate about women finding their identity, authority and freedom in Christ. I didn’t know it at the time, but in the several years I’ve been a part of this project I’ve had to find each of those things [for myself] in a whole new way. I’m finally in a place where I understand who I am, the power I carry with my voice and the freedom from fear that comes with that knowledge. I want every woman to know this for themselves. I think it would empower women and change our world.
How does your work and platform allow you to advocate for the causes you feel most passionate about?
I am so passionate about advocacy. I think for too long the Church has been silent about social issues. I think we should be using our voices and our platforms to advocate for causes. I feel so honored when I get to post about social issues I feel passionately about—and so I do it. My advice [to other women] is to be wise, but to let yourself be heard. Don’t shy away from hard topics. Approach them with an open mind. Start the conversation. Social media can be a great place to begin some of those conversations.
What’s been your biggest career milestone?
My biggest career milestone to date would be planning, organizing and executing our church’s Women’s Gathering last November. When I started working after college, I really didn’t know who I was. I didn’t have a voice and I was very timid. But this Women’s Gathering made me step up in way that really helped show me more about myself and gave me a voice. I had to battle my fear and anxiety and overcome it. In the end, I left feeling more empowered and confident in who I was.
How has being a woman affected your professional experience?
I’m so grateful for my church. It’s not like this everywhere, but at Grace, our pastors believe wholeheartedly in women leaders. I have always felt empowered and listened to there. But I understand that this is far from the case in so many other spaces. I think it’s crucial that we give space to women leaders in churches, to speak and to lead, entrusting them with more than stereotypical gender roles. Church leadership is heavily male-dominated, but I do see it changing. I think as our generation (with open minds) rises up and speaks out, the tides are turning and women are being given more leadership opportunities.
Are you involved with any other side projects?
I am really passionate about racial reconciliation in America. I’m currently involved in a ministry that puts together racially diverse groups to dive into curriculum meant to create conversation and dialogue about race.
What does your approach to work-life balance look like?
Something I did lately that has changed my work-life balance is delete my work email account off my phone. If I’m not in front of my laptop logging my hours, I shouldn't be checking my email! It’s been so helpful in maintaining a healthy boundary with work. I always need an hour or so in the morning to meditate and build up my inner peace; it helps when I walk into a hectic or busy environment to remain calm and clear-headed. Sitting on the couch, turning on a favorite show and drinking coffee is my favorite way to unwind in the afternoon after a long day.
Career and/or life advice for other babes?
Work hard and don’t sacrifice your emotional health. Whatever you have to do to create healthy boundaries, do it. Check in on your mental health, see a counselor, take medication, never be ashamed to get the help you need. Your work will flow from the life you’re stewarding on the inside.
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