Zoey Jean

photo by Hailey Marie

photo by Hailey Marie

We got to catch up with Minnesota babe Zoey Jean in her creative spaces, and dig a little deeper into her lifestyle brand / movement, LUMINOUS.


To start it off, tell us a little bit about yourself!

I'm an almost 21 year old, full-time photographer and content creator! I mainly focus on product and lifestyle photography, but have recently aquired a few social media management positions as well. Last February, I launched an Instagram movement called Luminous, which turned into a lifestyle brand in September once we launched our online shop. So I guess I'm sort-of a duel small business owner! I'm really passionate about people and bringing them together in community - helping people realize their capabilities and watching them flourish. I'm constantly up for adventures, road trips, and catching flights to new (or old favorite) places as often as I can! Also, I really love my Jesus and His church, and I actually see myself being a worship leader and a really cool mom one day! haha

Where were you born?

Actually in Pennsylvania

Woah, that's super close to here [New York City]!

Yeah! My family has East Coast roots & our little part is the funny part that ran away to the Midwest so my dad could become a pastor

Did you grow up in PA, or did you jump around as you were growing up?

We jumped around a lot, but I would say my hometown is Eau Claire, Wisconsin! That's where a lot of my crucial 'growing-up' years took place

So, you were born in Pennsylvania, grew up in Wisconsin, and where do you live now exactly?

I just moved to Minneapolis in Minnesota this past August! I absolutely love living here. It's a major city that a lot of people don't necessarily know about, but that's what I love about it! I joke that we're the ACTUAL Portland because it's so quirky an soul-filled here, yet hasn't been overrun by everyone wanting to travel here and be here! Everyone in Minneapolis has such a strong sense of individualism, yet community is evident. Everyone is cool being just exactly who they are, yet we easily come together.  It's a beautiful place to call home, because I LOVE to travel and experience other places, but Minneapolis is such a good space to come back to. 

How did growing up in all these different places shape you as an artist? Did it influence or affect you in any way?

I think growing up in so many places just gave me my 'adaptability' quality that I hold really highly in my life. It just pushed me into living an open-minded life because everything was constantly changing and you just had to either 1) be miserable and hate it or 2) decide that things are gonna be rad & explore all the things in front of you that you haven't yet experienced.

My creativity growing up was actually more music-based. My whole family is gifted in music. I danced and sang a lot, but then grabbed onto photography my junior and senior year of high school

So once you pair that attitude with a camera and the strength of your  own voice, things just happen! haha I think that's how I ended up how I am today. 

You’re a traveling photographer, and I love how your Instagram feed makes us feel like we're along for the ride. How are you cultivating community there?

It's absolutely bonkers how one app has had such a huge impact of my life. I would not know half the people I do or have half the amazing friendships that I have without it. I'm the type of person that LOVES to be inclusive - I want to bring people together into things -  and people crave the feeling of being a part of something. It makes them feel valued, and they should - cause they are valuable! So whatever I'm doing/wherever I am, I love to share that with my friends & followers - especially since I live quite a ways a way from a lot of them. It's a way to be creating community outside of location.

I think it's that whole thing in the bible how it's like "love your neighbors" "well who is my neighbor" "dude ... everybody"

I just wanna be a connector of people, and I think we can best do that by being genuinely ourselves, because we are all not that different.

Also I know dude is not used in the bible but Jesus was a pretty cool guy so...

I see that community is a big thing with your brand, "Luminous" – How exactly did “Luminous” come about, and how is it taking shape? Also, how can we live luminous?

Luminous came about really randomly and suddenly, but seemed like exactly what I was supposed to be starting/doing. I just know so many people who I think are BRILLIANT - just naturally wonderful, life-bringing, uniquely themselves, and they have this spark about them that you just want to be around. I describe those people as luminous. I wanna stir up people to keep living like that - to be bright, positive, and realize the influence they hold in carrying that sort of lifestyle. People are naturally drawn to positive people. It's a fact. But those people often don't know just how much of an impact they have, and are unaware of their capabilities. I am all about helping people realize their capabilities and reminding them how awesome they are. 

Essentially, Luminous is a way for me to do that while running a business and being my own boss. I never want to work for reasons I don't believe in, or things I'm not passionate about, so instead of just a movement, I'm pushing it to be a lifestyle brand that can eventually financially support myself and other artists/people involved. People live luminous by simply upholding the lifestyle of all the stuff I talked about above. You're you. You believe in the power of positivity and choose to spread it around. You're on the road to believing in your own bright capabilities, and you're about encouraging other people to realize their own shine as well.

I love everything you said! We think very alike. That’s exactly it!

Thanks! See stuff like this gives me encouragement and its like DUDE there are people out there just like you, me, us, who wanna see this stuff through and will be behind it!

Yeah, the feeling is definitely mutual

And as far as Luminous - I'm not putting any strict/straight ties to God or Christianity or anything like that - even though alllllll the underlying messages are there. For example, our main motto is "choosing light over darkness” but we could also be a low-key star wars enthusiasts club?

hahaha YES!

But I mean, dude if people are gonna get attached that way, that's fine by me!! People sadly get too turned off by 'christians' and companies that are straight forward about those beliefs, but I know God can work through what I'm doing even though I don't plan on slapping ‘Y'all need Jesus' on my shirts haha

EXACTLY! At first, I really thought that it had to be done that way, that it needed to be more in your face but in a less tackier way than "Jesus is my homeboy" or "Jesus Christ written in a coca-cola font" but then I noticed that, what God really wants is for us to be and do our best, and if you do that, you are doing exactly what He wants, worshiping Him with all you got!

YES YES YES - the moment in life when someone told me "it doesn't matter so much what you're doing in life, as long as you're loving God & loving others," was LIFE CHANGING to me.  So many people are like "I'm waiting to hear what God wants me to do" and its like DUDE He has told us in the Bible what we're supposed to do! We're to love Him, and love others. Know Him, and make Him known. So whatever career path you chose is fine as long as Love is your lifestyle - God will work the rest.

We put too much pressure on ourselves, and God's just like, “Dude, I'm right here. You're overthinking this."

Does what you do bring value in what you believe?

I don't really stand for doing things that don't hold meaning. When I had day jobs it was sort of a struggle because they seemed meaningless, so I had to pull them back to the points that they are giving me life experience and monetary sustainability to accomplish the bigger picture of what I'm supposed to be doing in life. But I would never do something if I didn't believe in it, or thought it had no value.

I was talking to Jessie the other day and we love how you share such intimate pieces, about meeting with your tribe, or feeling overwhelmed — how does your craft, or your art really, keep you grounded in such a social world?

I have so many thoughts going on about that right now, I'm trying to gather that haha

I think it comes down to ... I just have this .. feeling, or wiring ... maybe I should call this the Holy Spirit? haha - but in my gut I'm always like - "don't fade into the masses".  I don't just want to be another 'influencer' or try to perfect my life. Who was ever like "she's so perfect - I relate to her so much cause I'm perfect too" like ... ahhh ... no??? Nobody's perfect, and I want that to be obvious. I just want to be real, and be me, and connect with people through TRUTH. But do it in a tasteful way because I don't know, that's just what people are receptive to these days? 

In other words, it feels like what you do and how you do it just becomes a form of worship - - wouldn't you agree?

I mean, I've honestly never looked at it that way but now that you say that, I do totally agree. And I mean I guess that's the goal, the ultimate, to live a life of worship that reflects Christ. So if I'm doing that in any way, that's rad.

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

I don't really go looking for inspiration ... I kinda just shoot what I want. I'm a feeler, haha. A lot of my ideas just come from myself, or are brought to me by other people and then expanded in my own way.  The past few months have been a lot of me working on taking my ideas from my head into something tangible that others can understand. But I don't know, I'm kind of just like a sponge and I absorb things that catch me, they just hang out inside my mind and heart, and one day they'll pop out into ideas. With creativity, I think if you search too much or try too hard for inspiration, that's when you come up dry and it's really too try-hard.

What do you feel most gratitude for?

Wow. I LOVE THIS QUESTION, because gratitude is so essential in my life! Right now,  I feel the most gratitude for God - who He is and all that He's given me! His grace, his wisdom, his generosity, his timing - I could go on forever, but that's what Heaven's for, right??! Haha literally everything about Him. I'm grateful that He's planted me in this beautiful city and home to live in during this season of my life - with these GOLDEN friends I have who are just so good and true and loyal and REAL. I also feel so much gratitude for my parents and brothers because now that I've grown up and out of the house, and have different people coming into my life, it makes you realize how much your family-life actually formed you into the human you are today.   And I quite like who I am. So I'm grateful for who THEY are and all the goodness they have poured and continue to pour into my life. 

In your opinion — what does the world need more of?

Selflessness.

A lot of our problems point back to being selfish. It'd be amazing if people were living for more than just themselves. 

But this world is screwy and there's nothing we can do about it except be the best versions of ourselves, and for me - because I believe in the saving grace of Christ - strive to do all that I can through the power of the Holy Spirit living in me to make some sort of impact & bring His kingdom here on earth.


TEN:ONE

For some strange reason, the negative voices are often the loudest in our lives. There could be ten positive voices in your world and one negative voice, or ten positive situations in your world and one negative situation. And yet the negative one will always trump the positives! Critical words are crippling and a tough situation can be all-consuming.

Read More

Censored Communication

I have always known what I wanted to do when I grew up, I just didn’t know there was a name for it. I went through many phases; moments where I wanted to be an astronaut, an archeologist, a biologist, a spy, a pop star, an actress, a gymnast, a painter and the list goes on. I was very creative as you can see! It's funny because I have always been a very passionate person. When I decided to be an astronaut I was only in kindergarten and I remember it was after a project that I had in school in which I was talking about Pluto (back when it was still a planet). All I could think about was how I wanted to go visit the planets and how cool I looked with an astronaut helmet. Not long after that, I decided to be a pop star. That's when I started to sing and dance to everyone that crossed my way. Funny story, quite often people that knew me back when I was kid still remind me of those days — even if I don’t have a clue of who those people are, apparently they’ve seen me dance and sing before. Then, when I was around nine years old, I got really into Mexican "novelas" and wanted to be an actress. I actually sent emails to a bunch of TV stations asking them to hire me, but I still haven't heard anything back... I wonder why? Up until a few years ago I found out what I’ve always wanted to become; a journalist.

I was very curious little girl growing up and I loved getting to know people. I remember whenever I sat down with a stranger — strangers that my parents knew… hey, I wasn’t that reckless! — I would always ask them a bunch of questions about their life, their dreams, what made them happy, etc. You could say that I was interviewing them, but I didn’t know that at that time. One day I made a microphone out of a roll of toilet paper and a styrofoam ball. Let's just say I became unstoppable with my very own home-made microphone. I would see my mother cooking and I would tell her that she was on my TV show and she had to teach my viewers how to cook. I would create my own set and ask my little brother to record me with a VHS tape recorder — he was never too happy about it — and I kept on interviewing people. I had so much to talk about and I loved when someone would stop to listen to me. As I grew up I came to learn there was actually a name for all of that my heart was yearning for. It was a profession in which I would actually be paid to talk and share my opinions, that was the dream!

Since then I have been on a journey to become a journalist. Through it all, reality has knocked on my door and made me realize that speaking my heart out is almost entitled as offensive. We are living in a world that preaches about freedom of speech — theoretically "everyone" is entitled to their own opinions and they should respect different opinions — but what we see in practice is people being extremely judgmental of the opinion of others. This type of judgment can lead people to be afraid to speak up, and perhaps something even more dangerous where their judgment can lead others to second guess what they believe, and if they are not very certain of their own beliefs then they can be corrupted by someone else’s opinion. Pretty often I hear this “[that] all paths lead to God,” but ironically enough if one was to say that, "Christianity leads to God" it becomes unacceptable. It comes off as an offense and some might even take it as an attack. Our so called “free world” is full of suppression and it’s a world that associates being a Christian with something negative.  

Being a Christian within the communication business I have to deal with the fact that I am and will constantly have my opinion censored due to my faith. Yes, I have to deal with it, but thankfully I do not need to accept it. What our society has forgotten or simply doesn’t know is while the world condemns, Christ forgives. While the world is corrupt, Christ is justice. And while the world hurts, Christ heals. What many do not realize is Christians are not little saints that dictate what is right or wrong. Those who think that they have that power to do so are hypocrites and they do not represent me. Mark 2:17 says: “On hearing this, Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’” Church is a place for the sick, where they find healing through God, a God that is the definition of Love. And this is what defines me and want to be associated with. I do not want to be labeled as a church-goer or by my religion. Religion does not defy whom I am and what I believe in. There are many churches and religions out there but there’s only one God, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He is eternal and His love is constant. I want to be known by my faith and actions, just as C.S Lewis wrote in his book Mere Christianity:  “The Christian does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us.” I want people to see God in me so they can see His love in my life. I get to experience this genuine joy and freedom because God has set me free, and everyone is welcome to experience it too.

I believe God needs His people to be influent in this world so his word can be proclaimed and exalted. He enables us all with the power to be great. We just need to find the will and courage to accept the challenge to listen to His calling and being His follower. I am knowingly going against the flow, but I couldn’t be more certain that I’m on the right track, because God Almighty is by my side. By studying communication I learned that a good communicator successfully conveys a message, and I decided that I can only consider myself successful if I live to convey about the most important message, the message of Christ.

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JOURNALIST | YOUTUBER | BLOGGER

Born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil, Beatriz Cavalcante, currently resides in New York City.

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