For our third #sheislimitless profile, we interview JaKenna Gilbert: globe-trotter, storyteller, and head of digital for L’Oréal Luxe Scandinavia.
Introducing JaKenna Gilbert: globe-trotter, storyteller, and head of digital for L’Oréal Luxe Scandinavia.
Ever since she was a little girl growing up in small town, USA, JaKenna Gilbert knew she wanted to experience everything that the world had to offer. After university, JaKenna went on to conquer life in New York City, then travelled the globe, lived in some of Europe’s most exciting cities, discovered true love, and settled into a profession that combines her passions for understanding human behavior, harnessing digital innovation, and raising the profile of quality made products. For Gilbert, the one constant has been that she’s, “never stopped traveling, learning or growing.” JaKenna admits that during her life journey, she has never been, “exactly sure where I'd land, but I’ve always been confident that my decisions would lead me to where I was supposed to be all along, living the life that I've always wanted.”
As the current head of digital for L’Oréal Luxe Scandinavia, today JaKenna is a creative strategist responsible for a wide range of creative communications and e-commerce acceleration for the L’Oréal family of products. Known for her energy and passion, JaKenna is the epitome of the kind of modern, ‘limitless’ woman that inspires us to dream bigger, work harder, and seek out more balance in life (see below!).
So, go ahead and sit back, settle in, and drink in some cool, refreshing wisdom from our inspiring third #sheislimitless profile on the multi-talented JaKenna Gilbert.
What can you tell us about the professional journey that brought you to where you are today?
My career has taken shape because of two important realizations over my lifetime. First, I'm pretty obsessed with people and how they behave. At Duke University, I studied Evolutionary Anthropology and Psychology and I've always been interested in observing humans, understanding the human evolutionary journey and all the impacts that has had on our psychological development, our group vs. individual mentality, and our desires. Secondly, along the way, I also developed a strong appreciation for luxury products and the principal of investing in true quality—which shouldn’t be confused with brand flaunting and frivolous spending. What I have come to appreciate most is the thoughtful consideration, quality materials, and intricate processes that go into luxury goods.
As the digital world has emerged as the ‘the new frontier’ in understanding the evolution of human behaviors, I've focused my career in this fascinating space. These days, my work at L'Oreal Luxe spans a wide range of creative communications, from media strategy and execution to e-commerce acceleration through our brands' owned platforms and e-retail client collaborations.
Along the way, what were some of the biggest obstacles that you had to overcome?
To be totally honest, I've never thought of obstacles as being impossible to overcome. I wasn't scared when I first left home. Then, when I started working, if I didn't like a job, I went out and found another one. When I decided to leave New York, I spent two years traveling around Europe to network and find my footing. And that kind of organic discovery came very naturally to me. To be honest, the only aspect of life that ever truly terrified me was commitment. Seriously. I never thought I would marry and I was scared of the absolute vulnerability required to trust and love someone fully. But as cliche as it sounds, that all melted away when I met my husband. I learned, over time, that vulnerability makes you stronger, that love and trust are powerful drivers for human beings and that one person can change your life.
It sounds like you’ve really embraced the concept of ‘limitless’ in your life?
Yeah, I think so. For me, being ‘limitless’ means having the strength to jump into the unknown and the confidence to know you'll land on your feet. I was born in a small town of 9,000 people in a cornfield called Rock Falls, Illinois (USA). I love my hometown and my family who lives there, but I knew to my core that I was going to leave someday. When I was 18, I went away to university and I kept moving further and further away, first to New York for eight years, then to Amsterdam for two years, and now here I am in Copenhagen. I jumped into this journey not exactly sure where I'd land, but confident that my decisions would lead me to where I was supposed to be all along, living the life that I've always wanted.
In your life, are there women who have helped inspire this level of strength and confidence in you?
Absolutely, I definitely draw inspiration and strength from the women in my life. From my mother, for her unwavering love and devotion to her family and her community. From my friends, for the wisdom and kindness they have shared with me and that has helped me work through my own insecurities. Also my colleagues, past and present, who brave the world everyday as strong, confident women and who continue to pave the path for all of us.
What’s one key lesson you’ve taken from the influence of these inspiring women in your life?
I would say one key lesson is the importance of balance in my life and the value of being fully present.
With the ubiquity of technology and Social Media in our lives, it's not easy for any of us to stay balanced these. How do you find balance in your life on a daily basis?
One way that I stay balanced is through living an active lifestyle: I run regularly, practice yoga, and play volleyball as often as I can. Those three physical activities are my perfect triangle for maintaining a balanced body and mind, and each activity is very personal for me. Running gives me strength of mind, endurance and the feeling of freedom. Volleyball gives me the power to be present, I'm completely consumed when I play, thinking of nothing else, at the same time, it fuels my courage because I let out a lot of anxiety and stress when I play. And yoga, gives me the calmness and intuition to trust myself fully, while stretching and strengthening my muscles thoughtfully and purposefully.
Any tips for those of us looking for a bit more balance in our own lives?
I think my best tip would be this: try to find your own sense of balance through a variety of activities that each give you something valuable. Ask yourself, ‘what does exercise mean to me and what does it do for me?’ If swimming clears your mind, make time for those laps. If trying new yoga poses brings you personal accomplishment and strength, find your studio and commit to those classes. Whatever you find, try to just focus on yourself for a little while every day to bring yourself that balance.
Okay, last question. What’s in your closet these days—what are the fashion essentials for a modern, brand-building, globe-trotting, game changer like yourself?
For me, it’s all about classic, clean cuts—comfortable, yet elevated styles. Edited, not numerous. Solid colors, and mostly black. Sneakers are essential, but you won't find fifty pairs in my closet, you'll find the same pair in various states of worn because I buy my favorite sneakers over and over again and I wear them almost every day. As a modern, working, active woman, I can't teeter around in uncomfortable high heels or wear impractical clothing, that’s just not my vibe. I need something comfortable that allows me to dash from meeting to meeting and from the airport to dinner with my husband.