Name a big tech company and chances are Jen Szeto has worked with them. Google. Facebook. Instagram. The San Francisco native is responsible for making sure some our most loved advertisements go from an idea into your living room screens.
“I am a commercial producer and I work in the advertising and production industry. I oversee clients and creative teams and making sure projects are delivered on time and they would be broadcast on television and web.”
Szeto came across her line of work purely by accident, and fast forward to the present, she now works alongside her husband at the design and animation studio, Oddfellows.
“I didn’t really know what kind of path I would take growing up and I experimented a lot in college. In my later years of university, I came across the newsroom and I was editing. I really, really enjoyed it because it tested my brain in a creative way. I interned and after college I just started freelancing.”
“I’ve built up my career over ten years now. Originally, I thought I was going to be a stylist or art director on set. Life’s path just took me in a different direction.”
Life it seems, has come full circle for the San Francisco native, whose artistic passion project ‘Window of Imagination’ launched in 2014 and has infiltrated the Instagram-sphere with close to 20K followers and counting. gram: Instar
“Window of Imagination is my visual diary where I chronicle creative expression through fashion and travel. Instagram was this hot new thing at the time. I post a few fashion images and as time grew I just learned to tailor it.”
“It kind of blew up quickly, I think within the first six months. I went from a tiny audience and then I was on the Instagram suggested user list and it really catapulted my audience in a short amount of time. Ever since then it has been an organic kind of growth.”
“I originally created ‘Window’ as a necessity to exercise that creative portion of my brain. I love what I do, I love producing but it is a little bit more managerial. Just using ‘Window’ as an outlet really fulfilled me. When I hear people, who get their start from Instagram and they become great photographers or amazing stylists or inspiring art directors – I’m already in that business, so I’m working a little backwards.”
For Szeto, hard work is something that runs through her veins. As the daughter of Chinese emigrants, she takes nothing for granted and understands the importance of sacrifice.
“My parents sacrificed a lot to bring all of us up in a comfortable environment. I think that’s a common theme in Asian cultures, or at least in the generation I grew up in. If you grew up in emigrant families then the parents often sacrifice everything for their young to succeed and then pay it forward when they can no longer.”
“My mum basically worked two to three jobs at a time when I was growing up and she unfortunately had to retire because of some medical issues. She was also a stay at home mum who took care of me and took care of all the children.”
“She made us feel super comfortable and she instilled these values that are priceless that I hope to pass down to my future children, she was just a model figure for me.”
It’s perhaps no surprise then, that Szeto’s key to success is all down to one word – family.
“Family is always first. My parents constantly instil that in me. I grew up in San Francisco, I’ve only lived in the Bay area and my parents live in the Bay area. My mum happily forces us to get together once a week, it is important to see each other and connect because no matter what, your family will always be there for you.”
As her forges ahead with the burgeoning online business ‘Window of Imagination’, Szeto has big dreams not only for her soon-to-arrive website (a companion to her highly successful blog) but also to expand her creative empire.
“I would hope that one day I could creative direct and art direct larger shoots through ‘Window of Imagination’, one day I hope that I could collaborate with great photographers and models and stylists and art directors and we can create something great as a team – where it is not just me in front of a camera styling myself and my forcing my husband to take my photo (laughs).”
You can follow Jen on Instagram here.