To mark International Women’s Day, we’re introducing you to some inspiring YouTube creators who are shaping our shared future for the better. Although they come from different communities and industries, these women are working to spark significant change through their channels. From sustainable shopping to changing the game for renters to sharing the experience of Muslim women through music, each uses their voice and talents to advance social causes. Meet Wendy Liu. —Noa Nichol
Please tell us a little bit about yourself to start.
I began sewing at a young age making outfits for my dolls with my mama. When YouTube came around, I started sharing my sewing adventures on everything from fancy dresses to everyday outfits and now I get to do that full-time for over a million subscribers. I’m a regular at my local fabric and thrift stores, and I live in Toronto with my partner Dan, a cat named Sagwa, and our toddler.
How did you achieve (and continue to maintain) your amazing YouTube following/fame?
If you go back really far in my uploads you’ll notice my videos have shifted over time from being very clear and instructional to more inspirational and having a good time hanging out together. Over the years, the reasons people come to YouTube have changed and I like to think that I’ve adjusted to give viewers what they’re looking for in a DIY sewing fashion channel. I also do what I can to make sewing exciting for me so I have plenty to share with my viewers. I’ve been attending sewing workshops, researching fashion history, and it’s incredibly rewarding to see how my skills and expertise have grown via experience.
What do you like about YouTube as a platform (as opposed to other forms of social media) and how do you use that platform to influence and inspire those that follow you, and to create social change?
YouTube is just how my mind naturally creates content and so I always gravitate to it over other forms of social media. For example, I don’t think I’m quick and witty with the tweets, I can forget to ask my friends to get a nice photo of me for Instagram, but as soon as I have a project I can start picturing the shots needed to share that process with others in a YouTube video. Every time I review my videos I ask myself if I end the video feeling more creatively invigorated, more seen, more proud of my accomplishments, and if those are fulfilled then I believe it will inspire others to achieve that for themselves. I have not always had social change as a pillar of my channel, but the practice of sewing has revealed to me the intricacies of fashion construction and the ugly side of the fashion industry, so now I strive to educate myself and others.
What topics do you cover/share most? Where do your passions lie?
Sewing can be incredibly tedious, that’s the painful truth all sewists know, but it is also deeply rewarding to wear items you made. This is the duality that I cover the most through my videos: the struggle… the triumph! When I read comments that say things like “watching Wendy sew has given me a new appreciation for how my clothes are made” that’s a huge win.
Have you ever dealt with haters/naysayers on social media? If so, what’s your approach?
Thankfully my followers are so supportive and understanding that I don’t deal with haters often. Once in a while, I read a comment that is critical of something in my video, then I find out it’s a video that was posted years ago and I get to pat myself on the back because I know I have grown since then.
What have some of the highlights of being so prominent on YouTube been for you?
Having followers come up to say hi when they see me never gets old, everyone is always so kind and I wish I could fully convey how meaningful it is to meet them in person because YouTube work can be quite lonely sometimes.
March 8 is International Women’s Day; what is the significance to you, and how are you using your voice to create change, establish community and help women and girls feel seen and understood?
I wouldn’t have my channel without my mama sharing her love for sewing with me. She equipped me with a skill that is rewarding, an endless road of learning, and deeply humbling (because everyone makes sewing mistakes eventually, ugh!). Making your own clothing is a form of self-expression and I hope to encourage all people, but especially women, in feeling confident in who they are and how they are seen.
With so many people following you on YouTube, who are some of your favourite female accounts to follow?
This is such an impossible task, all the time I discover more amazing women on YouTube! I’ll say these days I’ve been watching a lot of Naomi Cannibal and Mine Le for pop culture and fashion history, Alexandra Gater and The Sorry Girls for home DIY and fellow Torontonians (we’re making over our own home so we need the inspo), and Rachel Maksy and Micarah Tewers for their can-do DIY attitude. Thanks so much for having me VITA Daily!