She’s the 25 year old year old model from Tyrone who’s proved that life is more than just a beach with her honest account of travelling and building a new life for herself in Australia.
Gemma Kennedy’s blog www.gemkenblog.com shares practical hints and tips on travelling as well as details on her role as a traffic controller, fashion and beauty inspo and advice on how to cope when homesickness hits. Over on her Instagram expect a healthy dose of wanderlust mixed with a down-to-earth take on life Down Under.
The Style Edit caught up with the bubbly blonde last time she was home to chat travel, starting over and the importance of keeping it real.
What inspired you to take the leap with starting your blog?
I knew for quite some time I wanted to start my blog. I often drew sketches of what I wanted my website to look like. After a lot of encouragement from family and friends I finally decided to put the sketches into play and, with the help of a friend, developed my website. When I initially thought about moving away I knew I wanted to share my experiences, especially with my family. My mummy even made an Instagram account to keep up to date with me! It also makes for amazing memories to look back on and read over; kind of like an online diary.
What’s the biggest misconception about moving abroad?
That life’s a beach 24/7. I have difficult days too and it isn’t all easy breezy just because you live in a sunnier/warmer climate. When you move abroad people tend to think that you are on holiday all the time but in reality you need to work to pay the bills! The first few months can be difficult as you need to look for a new place to live, a new job, make new friends and essentially build your new life. I always advise anyone who moves out to always push past the three month mark because by then you have started to settle into the way of things.
What drew you to travel and in particular, Australia?
I have always wanted to travel. My adventurous side was heavily influenced by my family. Having someone so close to me venture off to America to live when I was young triggered my desire to travel and follow in her footsteps. My parents have always told me to see as much of the world as possible. I knew when I graduated university I would jet set but I had to work and save for a year after graduating first. Australia was more my boyfriend’s suggestion than mine, I had no preference really on where, I was just up for the adventure.
“I always advise anyone who moves out to always push past the three month mark because by then you have started to settle into the way of things.”
At what point did you notice your blog and social media starting to take traction?
One of the first blog posts I ever wrote was steps to take when moving to Australia.
The traction that blog post got was insane, it still gets a lot of clicks to this day and people still message to thank me for the advice in such a detailed post . With regards to social media I remember being on a treadmill in a gym in Bondi, I was replying to my DMs and I accidentally hit ‘decline all’. That evening I put up my first ever question box on Instagram. I answered maybe 10-15 questions most of them were about my traffic control job. I remember waking up to go to work the next morning with a few thousand new followers and my phone going non-stop. People were so intrigued by my job. That and the help of my friend @sineadheg and also @lmdmakeup who both gave me amazing shoutouts and support. LMD really pushed me over the 10k mark when I began my East Coast trip with the kindest words. Now we have developed a real friendship too. I am so grateful for the people the world of Instagram has brought into my life.
What do you think separates you from other bloggers and influencers in the industry?
I am me, I speak from the heart and I don’t bullshit my followers. I am selective on brands I work alongside. Ive also turned down some opportunities offered to me because I feel they aren’t suited to my audience. I want to use my platform to influence people on life experience, positivity and mindfulness. I want my followers to see the experiences on my page and make it their goal to do the same themselves because I have built this life for myself.
How would you describe yourself in three words?
What do you wish more people knew/understood about you?
I am a pretty open book and share with my followers the good and the bad. I show it all because I am a normal girl and I feel when I share all my experiences it’s more relatable to my audience. I am a very emotional person, I really do wear my heart on my sleeve and I cry out of happiness as well as sadness!
What advice would you give to young women contemplating taking the plunge to move across the world?
DO IT! Feel the fear and do it any way. Book the flight and I promise the rest will fall in place. You are never really alone when you travel, the friends you make become your little family.
Join travel groups on social media, ‘Irish Around Sydney’ is an amazing facebook group where people offer advice, share accommodation, job opportunities and everything in between.
Say YES to everything, social events, BBQs, cinema dates, lunch on Saturday with your new work colleague – yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Saying yes to all opportunities led me to have this life in Sydney, I have made best friends for life by simply saying ‘yes’, even if it meant going somewhere on my own.
What are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?
Homesickness – something I haven’t been able to overcome but rather suppress the feeling when it arises by boiling the kettle, making a good cuppa Irish tea and calling someone from home for a chat, cry and a laugh! I also take myself to the beach and remind myself why I am here and how lucky I am to be able to do what I am.
An ‘obstacle’ I often create for myself is booking and doing a million and one things at the same time! So if I am stressed about money or funds I will work 12 hr shifts six days a week because I know I am working towards something amazing.
I try not to view things as obstacles but more a learning curve or opportunity. I take everything in my stride and know it will all pan out how it is meant to. If I feel stressed or anxious about anything I always talk to my boyfriend, family and friends. I will put a plan to action in place and I just take a step back, a deep breath and go again.
Do you think people have misconceptions about bloggers?
I think it is very easy to look at a blogger’s Instagram account and wrongly believe that we all live a perfect life. Don’t get me wrong, I do live a life that I love but I also have bad days where I deal with waves of overwhelming feelings. I get stressed out, I get scared, I feel nervous. Although I try to show myself as raw, open and honest as possible, there are days I don’t want to come on and flood my page with negativity. Some days we all just need a good cry without thousands of people watching us! I guess what I am trying to say is never take a filtered Instagram account and compare those best bits to your raw unfiltered life.
I also think people misconceive that bloggers only talk about certain things because they are paid to do so and not because they genuinely use the product/service. People don’t understand the hard work that goes into sponsored content/affiliations. I myself wouldn’t work with a brand if I didn’t believe in the product. I have built up a level of trust with my following and that’s more important to me than anything. Don’t be sceptical if you see #ad #sp on your trusted bloggers page, this is how we are able to keep creating content for you!
Have you had any experience of negative comments or trolls and how do you deal with it?
I have an amazing bunch of followers, 92% of which are female (girl power!)
My inbox is always filled with positive uplifting messages and gratitude. Luckily I’ve only ever had two really nasty messages, the first I replied to and the second rolled off my back. I’m not going to waste my time or energy on negativity!
“I guess what I am trying to say is never take a filtered Instagram account and compare those best bits to your raw unfiltered life.”
The likes of Suzanne Jackson (SoSue Me) has made the move from blogger and influencer to businesswoman, is this something you can see yourself doing?
I really look up to SoSueMe, she is an absolute girl boss.
I would love to monetise my Instagram and make something of myself. I have a few ideas up my sleeve and I am prepared to work my ass off! Watch this space!
A lot of high profile bloggers have admitted to struggling with body image, is this something you can relate to and how do you keep positive?
I don’t think this is a thing only bloggers can relate to. This is something almost every single person in the whole entire world struggles with. We all have some sort of body hang up or insecurity no matter how big or small it may seem. I try not to let my inner voice speak to me in a negative tone. Ask yourself ‘would you speak to your best friend how you speak to yourself?’ I can bet your answer is ‘no’. We all need to change our mindsets to think more positively about ourselves instead of constantly putting ourselves down and verbalising what we don’t like. We are all our own worst critics. Changing how you mentally speak to yourself honestly has the power to change your life.
What advice would you give your 18 year old self?
Believe in yourself and have faith in your abilities. Listen to your parents’ advice – stop with the back talk! Spend time with people that help you grow, distance yourself from those who don’t.
Have you a five year plan?
I don’t know what I’ll be doing in a month never mind five years!
What other countries are on your bucket list?
I want to go and see as many places as possible. I have a list as long as this article! Five places on the ‘next list’ are Japan, South East Asia, Singapore, Africa, Canada.
Other than your friends and family what do you miss most when you’re away from home?
The food! Chinese, salt & chilli chicken half and half with curry sauce… my mouth is watering typing this! My Mummy’s home cooking and baking, Sunday roast, Monster Munch, Pic ‘n’ Mix & Primark.
What are your packing essentials?
I always pack myself a plane kit so I can pamper in the air and chill out. Items included are a facemask, lip balm, hairbrush, hair bobble, toothbrush /paste, facecloth, mini face wash, deodorant, fluffy socks.
“We all need to change our mindsets to think more positively about ourselves instead of constantly putting ourselves down and verbalising what we don’t like. We are all our own worst critics. Changing how you mentally speak to yourself honestly has the power to change your life.”