An interview with Vanessa Ortynsky

An interview with Vanessa Ortynsky

Vanessa is one of those genuinely nice people. She is authentic and always up for a coffee and a chat. She is a very talented writer, Canadian born but can tell you all the best places to eat in Christchurch. Read more about her life in our latest blog.


"It’s quite rare in a society that benefits from our self-doubt and insecurities, but beauty is owning your quirks and celebrating the ways you stand out." 


How do explain what you do to strangers?

A little bit of everything. I write for print and online publications like Urban List and Style Magazine as well as my own blog ( I also work as a copywriter and digital marketer for small businesses and partner with businesses on sponsored content for my social media channels. Recently, I’ve started hosting events and helping new businesses host media events, so a bit of PR as well. I like to tell people I’m an ambassador for the city of Christchurch. 


Where did you grow up and what was it like?

I grew up in the Canadian prairies, in Saskatchewan, to be more specific. It’s quite remote and the climate is very extreme. Winters are some of the coldest in Canada and we really made the most of the summer months at our family cabin. My hometown has a population of 20,000 people, so there wasn’t much to do except for extracurricular activities. My sisters and I spent every spare second at dance competitions, sport tournaments and studying music. 


Family photo


What does a normal day look like for you?

Every day is different, some days I’m at my desk researching and writing articles, other days, I’m doing interviews, in strategy sessions with businesses (I do a bit of consulting work) or attending events. As a writer, part of my job involves knowing what’s happening across the country, so I try to always have my finger on the pulse of what’s new and exciting. 


When you were 15 what did you think you would be doing now?

I wanted to be a dancer when I was 15, but also knew that wouldn’t be a lifelong profession, so I really struggled deciding which path to take. I honestly had no idea what I’d be doing at thirty, but I’ve always loved writing and storytelling. I actually had a teacher during my high school years who told me my job hasn’t yet been invented. I still think about how right he was about that! 



What was your first full-time job?

I was the first employee for a small digital agency in Toronto that did website design, development, content management and social media. I wrote blog posts and created content for our clients’ social media accounts and websites. It’s where I learnt about marketing, pay-per-click advertising and search engine optimisation. 


Why Christchurch? 

Good question. My husband and I decided to move to Christchurch for a number of reasons. We were living in Toronto and felt a bit stuck in our careers, we noticed a lot of opportunity and room for both career and personal growth. He also grew up here and had a bit of a network, so that made the transition a bit smoother. As a writer, Christchurch’s rebuild has made it such a fascinating place to be. I’m constantly going on walks or bicycle rides to see all the new changes taking place. 


Have you thought about writing a book, what would it be about?

My husband and I co-wrote a blog post about what makes a great city and I’d love to write a book with him about our travels and our observations on the different cities we’ve visited and lived in. I think we’d share a lot of learnings from our four years in Christchurch. 


You’re a digital marketer too what got you into that, how did you learn, and what does that even mean? 

Digital marketing wasn’t a viable career path when I was at university, but as I started looking for internships, many print publications were investing more of their resources into developing their websites and social media channels. 

It was a difficult time as a writer and I was struggling to find a job at a traditional publishing house. I knew in order to stand out, I’d have to learn about SEO (search engine optimisation), AdWords and social media advertising. Digital marketing encompasses anything that involves marketing a business online. It’s a field that’s always evolving, which means constant education and upskilling. My first job in Christchurch was at a full-service creative agency and they were wonderful at providing excellent training opportunities for their team.  



If you could change one thing in the current world, what would it be?

Perhaps it would be to introduce a little more empathy into the world. Peering into another’s frame of reference and understanding beyond your bubble is immensely helpful. I personally believe it is the key to improving environmental, social, economic and cultural wellbeing.


What is something you think people don’t know about you?

I’m an introvert and truly confide in very few people. I think because I share parts of my life online, people assume I’m quite extroverted and an open book. 


Who influences you?

My immediate family are the biggest influences in my life. My parents are incredibly kind, compassionate and hardworking people and I’m constantly striving to be more like them. My two sisters (one is older and one is younger) both influence me to work hard and make time for what really matters. I’m a big sap and an empath, so my husband, Nick influences me to be more objective and think critically. He’s brilliant and has taught me so much in the decade we’ve been together. 


What does beauty mean to you?

Beauty to me is someone who is unapologetically him/herself, someone who is confident in their skin and doesn’t seek to conform to typical beauty standards. It’s quite rare in a society that benefits from our self-doubt and insecurities, but beauty is owning your quirks and celebrating the ways you stand out. There is so much beauty in diversity and I love that Indigo & Iris’ campaign champions diversity and truly represents all women. 


Thank you so much Vanessa! You can find Vanessa on Instagram @Vanessaortynsky or her website and read her blog here. She has also recently started to get into YouTube

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