Candice Jones ’15 is an entrepreneur and content creator who started building her following of nearly 176,000 YouTube subscribers and nearly 100,000 Instagram followers when she was a biomedical sciences student at UCF.

Now she’s using her brand to empower others, especially women of color, through her new venture, Everything She Is Co.

Jones discusses how she has grown into an entrepreneur since graduating, important lessons she has learned along the way and how she’s leaving her mark on the world with her platform Everything She Is Co.

How did your college experience help you decide what to pursue after graduation?

I was a biomedical sciences major, which is not the path I ended up taking in the long run. I had always thought I would become a doctor. The longer I was in the major, I started realizing that I was not as connected to the field as other students, or had the same passion they did for it. I was trying to hold on so much because I told people this is what I was going to do, so I felt I needed to do it.

During that time I was also creating content and it was something that was a light when I felt those fears and felt like such a failure at the end of the day. Creating my videos was something that made me feel accomplished. I saw my following growing; people were actually resonating with these things that I was talking about. I talked about my college experience on my channel. I talked about depression and that confusion of not knowing where to go and opened up about what I was going through at the time and using that as an outlet.

In 2016 I finally let go of what I had been holding onto and allowed myself to pursue what I’m doing now. That time at UCF gave me the opportunity to get to know myself and to figure out what my journey is. My time at UCF taught me the importance of collaboration and teamwork. As a full-time content creator and entrepreneur, working with others is essential to my success. Luckily, UCF instilled in me the importance of valuing others input and perspective. I really appreciate it because I don’t know where I would be if I didn’t have that experience.

How did you get your start into content creating?

My mom used to relax my hair. When I went to college I didn’t have anybody to do it. I didn’t want to do it myself because it’s not something that you should just try and do on a whim. I decided I was going to grow out my natural hair and embrace my curls. That was around the time where the natural hair movement was becoming really popular so I was documenting my journey and doing tutorials on how I would take care of it. It was mainly focused on natural hair. I took that route of empowering women in that way and encouraging people.

When did you realize that you had started something big?

At the time, I was just putting videos out there. I didn’t care about how many views it was getting. There came a point where I wasn’t posting as much and I wasn’t paying much attention to it and then I graduated. While I was job searching, I went back onto YouTube and realized my first video had 60,000 views. I had 13,000 subscribers from that one video. I was like what?! I said, “OK what video am I posting tomorrow? Clearly I need to keep it going because there’s something here that people enjoy watching and is adding value.” So I just capitalized on the time I had between graduating and job searching.

What does your hair say about you?

I feel like my hair says that I’m comfortable with who I am and who God created me to be. I think being able to embrace it as is says a lot about how I treat myself and how I can embrace who I am as a whole. At the core of it, I love who I am as a person inside and out. I used to straighten my hair vigorously and I used to damage it so much because I felt like I needed it to be straight in order for it to be accepted and for me to look pretty. For a lot of Black girls, having straight hair is associated with looking nice and presentable. To break out of that was revolutionary — that my ’fro is enough no matter where I’m going. I think that is still a challenge to some people. But just embracing it how it is, I think that’s powerful.

What have you learned along the way about yourself?

I think the most important thing that I’ve learned is to trust myself. Our parents and family are meant to nurture us into productive members of society. And my parents did an amazing job at that. But also I think there was a dependency I had on their approval and I think that the biggest thing I’ve learned with being an entrepreneur is I can’t base everything on the opinion of others. I have to trust my instincts.

You’ve started a new venture, Everything She Is Co. What is your vision for it?

I call it a lifestyle platform, and we are partnering with brands that align with our vision to help provide tools and a community to help young women feel seen. We have our digital community and Facebook group which is a sisterhood of sharing and leaning on one another. A lot of my community right now is young, minority women, so we want to provide the tools for them and say, this is from people who look like you and probably have the same experiences you can resonate with. I want to show women how to better take care and love themselves.

How do your guides and workbook contribute to your mission?

I speak a lot about my journey in my career, and that came with a lot of transitions in my personal and emotional life that I wasn’t necessarily prepared for. My self-love workbook was born out of that. It was something I used for myself because I just needed help unpacking the issues I was having and I did the research to figure out the questions I needed to ask myself to release some of the shame and guilt I was feeling. I want to give young girls the tools to grow into womanhood, and my self-love workbook is one of those tools.

We recently partnered with Révolutionnaire, [an education and action platform], to provide a free, digital guidebook, The Recharged Revolutionary, for community change agents to pour back into themselves. Fatigue and burnout are common issues in that line of work, and this guidebook is something that could help them think about how they can take care of themselves. We think that balance is important. I plan to partner with more brands to theme guides around different topics and provide more of these types of books in the future.