Janelle Brunton-Rennie; Media Jam

The NZ Woman on what does being a ‘soulpreneur’ or a conscious entrepreneur really mean? How can you be one? We chat to Janelle Brunton-Rennie, Founder and Director of Media Jam. Leading the way in New Zealand on what it’s like to run a business led by tuning in and listening to your intuition and instinct at all times and how after facing some life challenges, repositioned her business to be aligned with who she’d become on a much deeper level.

So what happens when you’ve built a highly credible career in your field and you go through a major set of life challenges that change who you are as a person, your values and ethics, and ultimately what motivates you to get out of bed each morning? What happens when what you are doing no longer aligns with your new set of values and beliefs? We talk to Janelle Brunton-Rennie, Founder and Director of Media Jam about the series of events that led to her own ‘waking up’ and how this impacted and changed her life and her business forever.

“My name is Janelle Brunton-Rennie and I am the Founder and Director of Ethical PR company – Media Jam. Media Jam wasn’t always ethically motivated, and I was operating with the similar drivers as many entrepreneur’s and companies – driven mostly by ego and the dollar and from a place of forecast and fear.

My life really changed when I became unwell. I had spent years hammering my body, training for marathons and triathlons and even became a competitive body builder for four years, and the physical stress of the intense diet regime and training combined with the stress of running a successful business took its toll on me and I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease (an auto-immune disease of the thyroid), hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue. I was super-tired all the time, which was frustrating for someone who has taken a lot of pride in branding themselves a ‘lifetime athlete’. In essence, my body was overriding me, and telling me that my intense lifestyle was hurting it, and as much as I begrudgingly didn’t want to hear it and had been ignoring it for some time, I wasn’t going to be able to hit the override button anymore.  Our bodies are very good at telling us when something is off, but as a society we have become very good and distracting ourselves, ignoring, and masking the warning signs until ultimately the body will end up overriding us.

I decided to do something outrageous, to actually endeavour to make friends with myself and my body, and take full responsibility for my own journey back to health. I have read countless numbers of books and studies on optimal health, poor health and the contributing factors. I’ve studied meditation, mindfulness, Buddhism and gratitude.  I read about Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine and the chakras, energy blockages, pressure points and the meridians. I practised yoga, mindful walks and breathing techniques amongst numerous other things.

Once I started reconnecting and really listening to my body I was able to establish what factors had contributed to my becoming unwell in the first place. I could no longer work with beauty brands that contain parabens and chemicals that we shouldn’t be applying to our skin (think about how a nicotine patch works and it’s pretty clear that our body absorbs everything that we put onto it). I couldn’t work with brands that were contributing to the demise of the planet via polluting waterways with dyes or microplastics or using harsh pesticides and herbicides in their production. I couldn’t lend my voice to brands who don’t consider all humans equal and who use child or slave labour to manufacture their clothing so they can make top margins or brands that contain uncertified palm oil and are contributing to deforestation and the demise of the beautiful wildlife that calls those forests home.

I ‘woke up’ so to speak and realised that everything you buy is a vote for the kind of world you want to live in and you want your children to inherit, and I couldn’t work with brands who didn’t’ share the same set of values.  I wanted to be a voice for those who may not have a voice! I believe we are caretakers of this earth and that being eco-conscious is a responsibility we all share and I become passionate about using my voice and expertise to align and share the messages of brands, products and people supporting sustainable, exceptional and ethical business principles, ensuring that I do my part in leaving the world in a better place than when I entered it.

So I repositioned Media Jam (which was terrifying to honest but one of the best things I’ve ever done) to be aligned with my new values, and my team and I are openly (I say openly because we were operating in the closet there for a while about it) passionate advocates of health, well-being and self-care principles, natural and organic beauty brands, cruelty free products, eco-conscious labels, ethically produced fashion and leading New Zealand entrepreneurs with a conscience. It was a difficult but rewarding process, but in order to grow I encourage you to manage everything out of life that no longer serves you – this includes relationships, friendships, jobs, hobbies and clients! I like to use the analogy of a tree for this one, we must allow the leaves to fall in Autumn to make way for the new growth in the Spring.

My career highlight to date was achieved only a couple of months ago in May this year. I had the immense privilege of being named PR Person of the Year at the ‘NZ Best of Beauty Awards’ held at The Heritage Grand Ballroom and hosted by Bauer Media. It was such an honour to be recognised for putting my heart and soul into what I do each and every day. What I do doesn’t feel like ‘work’ though, it feels like I’m representing and working towards something that is so much greater than me. It was also extremely exciting that a PR company specialising in our ‘niche’ (although increasingly not so niche) field could take out a top award like this – and it just shows how rapidly things are changing!!!

There’s a quote from Mahatma Gandhi that states that “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony” and I honestly don’t think I’d ever been truly happy before now. There was always a gentle pull or nagging inside me that I didn’t want to listen to, I knew what I was doing to my body, and putting on and in my body by way of beauty products and food wasn’t necessarily healthy, and I ignored it for some time. Trust your gut. Energy doesn’t lie. If you feel something is ‘off’ or wrong or isn’t sitting right with you, there’s a very good reason for that.

I also read a great quote just this morning that said that “prayer is talking with the universe and meditation is listening to the universe” – listening to the universe is so crucial, make the time to ‘sit with yourself’ and check in to receive those all important messages.

There are so many exceptional New Zealand women I could name here that I admire! The first one that springs to mind is the phenomenal Makaia Carr who has also become one of my best friends. Makaia’s rawness and realness and her ability to connect with and inspire so many women is nothing short of extraordinary! What you see is what you get with Mak, she’s super honest, authentic and trustworthy and does business in a transparent and upfront manner that is to be more than commended. I also adore how she’s not been afraid to reinvent herself as she grows and changes as a woman. As women, I think we are all growing through and going through rapid changes and realignments, there’s a real sense of ‘waking up’ happening and movement towards embracing our true selves and each other, and loving and supporting other women in business as we go through these changes. The quote that says something like ‘if you’re not growing you’re dying’ springs to mind – change is inevitable and freedom comes from embracing and accepting that change and allowing ourselves to just go with it and grow with it. Understand and believe that “life is instructing me and I am faithfully responding”.

My vision for Media Jam is to continue to grow our client family so we have an increasingly large family of similarly motivated brands, sharing target audiences and key messages and ultimately contributing to a real shift and movement towards conscious consumerism and how people make choices about what they buy and why. We are so much stronger united and together!

I also want to use my own experience to help women going through similar circumstances or frustrations as to what I was, and to help and guide them to step into their own power, to honour and trust the process, and to connect within and follow their true calling!

I’m about to become a first-time mum, and I have no doubt that with this will bring a set of new challenges and joys. I’m looking forward to seeing how this new role will change my goals and priorities!”

Wishing Janelle all the best with her journey, and the most special journey of all next for her, becoming a mother. Congratulations Janelle.

You can visit Janelle on her Website, Instagram or Facebook.