The greatest tool in a woman’s toolbox isn’t a cosmetic or a brush. It’s self-determination—the daily commitment you make to yourself and your future, and the hard work and rituals that create the foundation for that journey. Make Your Self is a series that spotlights the stories of women who fiercely embody this relentless pursuit.
When perusing Jenné Claiborne's CV, it wouldn't be a leap to assume that the food blogger and vegan chef had methodically planned her meteoric rise from the very beginning. Her blog, Sweet Potato Soul, boasts hundreds upon hundreds of easy-to-make vegan recipes. She has worked as a personal chef and certified health coach. Her YouTube channel is a runaway success, with nearly 500,000 subscribers. And at the start of 2018, she published her very first cookbook—endorsed by Chloe Coscarelli of By Chloe fame and John Mackey, the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods.
But ten years ago, Claiborne didn't necessarily envision herself as one of the most popular vegan food bloggers on the internet. Her initial career aspirations were actually in acting—and after circumstance led her to adopt a vegan diet, she began to wonder how she might combine her performative streak with a career in food.
"I realized that sure, I want to be an actress," she said. "But it would also really be cool to have a cooking show and write cookbooks one day." She began work as a private chef, and launched her blog, Sweet Potato Soul, as a fun aside. And once it became clear that her relatable writing style and recipes were attracting a more engaged readership than she could have anticipated, Claiborne knew that she might have something major on her hands.