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Behind The Scenes With Jilly: Life Before The Bachelor

I am so excited to be sharing a new blog series with you today. I will be sharing with you inside information on my life, my interests, my career, what I believe in, whats important to me and a whole lot more!!! The lovely Mackenzie Wilson helped curate the idea that you still don’t know a lot about me that I want to share with you. The struggles and triumphs that I have also been through in my life and my career to get where I am today. I will be sharing with you my insights and knowledge on building and empire in television, home design and fashion. It will include even more career related content so that you yourself can come to me for advice, inspiration and ideas on your own business, life, relationship … the list goes on. First up I am sharing with you my life before The Bachelor and how I got to where I am today.

before bachelor

Q: Take us back to life before The Bachelor.

A: Ahh… LBB (Life Before Bachelor)  … While from the outside, friends and family saw me as a busy body in a successful restaurant design career, I felt a little worried about my future. I was short on funds and always looking for love.

I worked at Browns Restaurant Group, where I lead the design team but also oversaw project management of new restaurants, general branding, menu development and acted as a personal assistant for the owner.  I loved my job, but always felt like I was destined for more, and … I’m not a “corporate person” so I always questioned WHERE that would take me? I had all of these qualifications but I didn’t feel as though I was going in the direction I was ‘supposed to be’ and to be honest I think my work felt the same. They loved my energy & creative contributions, but executing it smoothly and in an organized manner was NOT my strong suit. (think of a tiny little tornado! lol)  I never knew ‘what I was really supposed to do’ with my life.  I knew I was capable of grand things, but I didn’t know how I would get there. I knew i would one day make a wonderful wife and mother … but didn’t know how to get to that next level…  As far as work goes, I really ‘get it now’  and  I realize there was no way for me to know, I just had to create it! I kept following my intuition and saying ‘yes’ and figuring out the rest after. There were consequences to that, but I think the pro’s have far out weighed the cons!


Q: After The Bachelorette you must have had tons of opportunities coming your way, I’m sure it was exciting but was it also overwhelming?

A: UMMM it was terrifying and looking back I kick myself for saying no to a lot of them. There was interest for me to be on Dancing with The Stars and I flat out turned it down on the spot. I was worried people would think I went on the show (Bachelor and Bachelorette) for money. I know now that those thoughts were silly. You can have an amazing relationship and an amazing career; for some reason I thought it had to be one or the other and people would judge. And hey, the relationship failed even though I put it first so I should have just seized the opportunities while I could, right?

But not all is lost, one great thing about the way I dealt with things is I really held off until the RIGHT opportunities came my way that were ‘on brand’ for Jillian Harris. I didn’t know what THAT meant back then but now I see, I said ‘Yes’ to all the right things, starting with Extreme Makeover Home Edition and now moving into Love it or List it Vancouver TO this day, even though I am still not a wife or a mother (I am SO excited for that time of my life!!) I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the amazing opportunities I have, but it takes a lot of focus to know what to say ‘Yes’ to … and what to say ‘NO’ to.



Q: Speaking of saying ‘No’, how important is it to your work/life balance now?

A: I’m still not THE best at the word ‘No’ … even TODAY, my day is a complete gong-show because I took on too much. But you know who I REALLY need to say no to more often??? ME… I say YES to myself too much. I need to just chill and be okay with saying no to projects and no to myself. Does my garden really need to happen today? NO. Do I have to do the dishes today? NO.  I’m getting better but I still need to work on that!


Q: Let’s talk about building your own personal brand, how did you find and develop it?

A: Ahhh.. that has been most fun for me in the last year or two.  For me, it was my fans, friends, followers and family that helped me identify my brand. When people tag you in posts that remind them of you, or have a clear vision of the kind of unique individual you are – THAT is your brand. YOUR personal brand will be the most successful if it mirrors YOU. What was my brand? It was fun, loving, highbrow/lowbrow, achievable, approachable, all about family, outdoors, travel & not taking myself too seriously. It was about an unapologetic love for clothes and throw pillows & a need to create in the kitchen without high maintenance recipes. It was about showing MORE of my real raw side (I really want people to know things about me I haven’t revealed yet!) and not just about the ‘designer’ Jill… but the ENTIRE Jill.  So, I kind of developed my brand around that! Juggling social media, connecting with fans, emails, imagery & saving enough energy for my on-screen career isn’t easy, but when it all comes together and I’m well-rested, well-fed and have a personal balance you realize how addicting it can be!

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Q: What do you think other women can do to promote themselves and their own personal brand, regardless of the industry they’re in?

A: Have CONFIDENCE and know that you WILL screw up and it’s ok!! Screw ups are (sometimes) free education, when they happen be grateful they happened and learn from them. I also think it’s important to identify WHO YOU ARE and make no apologies or alterations for it. Opinions are like assholes – everyone has one and most of them stink.  Lol, thats one of my favourite lines from my Granny. It’s not to say you don’t listen to people, constructive criticism is great… but if an opinion goes against who YOU KNOW YOU ARE … then you need to move on. TRUST your intuition. YOU are NOT perfect and you are unique. That might not jive with 100% of your following but that’s ok!! I’m still learning this and frankly when it comes to social media, it’s scary. People are quick to judge and they do NOT sugarcoat their feelings, and so while I say ‘be who you want to be’, if you make one off-color joke be prepared to get an earful.  Take THIS post for example … I STILL to this day do not see the harm in this post, and neither did my friend Dana. We were in AWE of the reactions to this and the thought to take it down crossed my mind several times. It gave me SEVERE anxiety for days, but my decision to keep it up reminded me I can’t be dictated by everyone else’s beliefs or concerns. While I can appreciate being a public figure and being a ‘role model’ I most CERTAINLY will not conform and shape to EVERY SINGLE person’s beliefs about what is right and what is wrong. I will make mistakes, and own them, or I will learn at MY own pace…. it’s hard, but I truly think it’s the right way to go so I don’t become a little robot! LOL ….

Criticism is hard to handle for anyone… just dont let it distract you from your goals and I’m not talking just life goals, or even week goals. Don’t let it distract you from your goal to sip coffee in peace, or answer the phone with joy.

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A: What advice do you have for keeping your cool and not damaging your image by sending a heat of the moment post on social media?

Hahah ummm well, I can’t say I’m the best person to answer that question. I get really worked up at people who choose to be negative on social media. I mean if we are talking social topics, politics I get it, if it’s meant to be a debate great, but just your run of the mill Negative Nancy, I really don’t get it. I have fired back many times. The best advice I can give is really try to fire back with love. Sometimes we confuse our hurt with anger, and sometimes we just need to ask ‘nit pickers’ to clarify. I always try to be fair, and bring it back to being positive, TYPICALLY this method is the most powerful. But I’m not going to lie, some people can be just horrible and cruel and in that case, I think you can firmly ask them to leave your platform. Or call them Turkey Tits which I just recently did because someone called me “GROSS & skinny” on facebook. At that time, Turkey Tits just felt right. lol. All I can say, is be careful, because once you fire back and get defensive, you start a war and it WILL be a distraction from your day, which is TOTALLY not worth it. Either delete, respond with love and firmness or block.

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Q: Most people don’t like negotiating. What have you learned about putting your foot down and getting what you feel you deserve professionally?

A: I’ve been so lucky to work alongside some of the best negotiators out there, my old boss Scott Morison was a master negotiator and my agent Bill, well he’s just the best. While I’m sure I have much to learn in the negotiating game, I think I’m pretty good at it. The way I look at it is you never know unless you ask and if you truly feel that is your worth, then you MUST ask.  Read the book ‘Nice Girls Don’t Get Rich’ it’s one of my favourites.  Don’t EVER feel like a bitch or a diva because you’ve set a standard, said no, or fought for what you think you are worth.  It’s especially hard for women because of this stigma, but when men do it they are heroes! My dad once told me, “The first person to make the offer is the loser”, so I use that often and let offers come to me and negotiate my way up from that. Always sleep on an offer and really decide the next day if you are happy with it or not (if you have that luxury! LOL).


I would LOVE to hear your comments and opinions on our first career based blog post … what did you think?!?!



Leave a Reply

  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! Such a real post. Love seeing how authentic you are on all your social media. “Turkey Tit’s” made me laugh out loud. haha You are such an inspiration to me!
    Love Amanda 🙂

  2. I loved this post Jill! It is so nice to get the “insider” look into how you have build the amazing brand that you have, I can’t wait for more on this series! And the tips are amazing….I have followed you forever now (like really forever and it was because of your gorgeous design skill and personality not just because you were on tv, although I did LOVE your bach season) and usually stay quiet but I just wanted you to know you are a huge inspiration for me. Lots of love and big hugs xx

  3. LOVED this post!! Always love to hear your insights on life, and learn more into your wonderful personality. You’re a huge inspiration anddddd can we just be friends?! Excited for more blog posts to come!! (Also – was in Kelowna for the first time this past weekend for a work retreat and would have dropped DEAD if I had seen you!)

  4. Thank you for this post!! It was so interesting to read bits about how you have become who you are…..I know many women struggle to figure out their career goals and life goals …women really do deal with so much more pressure, especially when it comes to wanting both a family and a great career! Thanks Jill!!

  5. I really enjoyed your post- such a thoughtful, sincere post. I am certainly looking forward to this new blog series. I really dig your “brand” and style…. I love how one day you can wear a flowery dress then the next day mix it up with something more edgy like leather legging. I am always finding inspiration in your outfits… makes me put together new outfit combos from my own closet!

  6. Loved this post!! I’ve always wondered how you grew your career and established your brand – thanks so much for sharing!

  7. Really enjoyed this post, Jillian! So often bloggers will write pieces like this and give really basic life advice based broadly on their lives. However, you showed us some challenges you personally have had to overcome and continue to work through all while remaining authentic to yourself. That is what we are all here for after all… You! <3

  8. This is amazing! I absolutely LOVE the authenticity. And everything you’re saying about criticism is ON POINT! I know you don’t need my or anybody else’s approval, but this really resonated with me, so THANK YOU for sharing. I feel like it’s something I’m just FINALLY learning at 26. I’ve been collecting some of my favorite quotes as of late to meditate on regarding EXACTLY what you’re talking about, and they really help to put things in perspective and I’ve been finding myself living my life more fearlessly.

    -“When you are humble, nothing will touch you—neither criticism nor praise, because you know what you are.” -mother theresa
    -“What others say about you says much more about their character than yours.”
    -“It is impossible to live without failing at something; unless you live so cautiously that you might as well have not lived at all.” -jk rowling
    -“There is only one way to avoid criticism: do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” -random wise philosopher on Instagram, lol

    People are going to criticize you no matter what—whether you live your life as a people-pleaser or you live your life wholeheartedly and true to yourself so you may as well enjoy the ride.
    KEEP DOIN YOU!! You’re a beautiful soul.

  9. Love, Love, Love this post did I mention LOVE, It is really reaffirming to myself and the direction I am choosing daily to go with my life in all aspects. Thank you for opening up and brining up good points, revealing “ah ha” moments and shedding even more light. It’s was great to read this and feel oddly validated in my life journey by your life’s journey.

  10. You go, girl! Love this post (and the post you almost took down… so funny!) People need to lighten up. You are crazy talented and glad you are sharing part of your story with us!

  11. Thanks for the article! I love hearing about others obstacles in the working world.I especially love hearing about yours because I am a huge fan (We also have the same birthday, but I’m 3 years younger:) ) It’s funny though, you referenced the instagram pic you posted that caused controversy. I don’t think it’s bad at all and I totally would’ve done the same thing. People are harsh on social media sometimes. Many people spend their time reacting, instead of waiting a moment, then THINKING about how to respond in a way of not hurting someones feelings.
    You inspire me on a daily basis to keep loving life to the fullest, laugh often, smile more and to enjoy every step of the way! Thank you, thank you. xo.

  12. All i can say is THANK YOU! THANK YOU!! I really needed to hear this Jillian! I recently graded as a certified Interior Designer in Vancouver and I now find my self questioning where do i go from here. You are a true inspiration to me! Thank you for going above and beyond for us! You are going to be a great wife and mother some day!! Keep up the good work and if you ever need someone to work along side of you give me a shout (;
    Alanna xox

  13. I am going to be making a big career shift and I want to say thanks for sharing. Even though I am of a simular age you are my online mentor.

  14. Jillian, SUCH an incredible and valuable information! By far one of your best posts to date!! Thank you for sharing your journey.. As a designer myself, I have been a true fan of your work and inspirational lifestyle ever since Penelope (Jean) became my PR agent back in 09′ and spoke so highly of you (I think right when your bachelorette season ended, my Bachelor season began airing on FOX, hence why I missed your season – we were in filming process – but that was when she spoke to me about you for the first time and I was sold! 😉 . Anyhow, Keep up the epic work and thanks again for the Camera & photography tips on Insta last month, was a major help in FINALLY getting my new DSLR! xox ~Tali.

  15. I watched your season of Bachelor and Bachelorette. I love your show Love it or List it, kind of wish you would come to my home and redo a few rooms 🙂 You and Todd are funny together. You will find what you are looking for when you are least expecting it. Best of luck

  16. Hi Jillian, I have been a big fan of yours for quite a while now and wanted to thank you for this latest post! I really appreciate how open you are about ‘you’ and the advice that you’ve provided in here. Looking forward to future posts like this!

  17. Really enjoyed reading this. As a professional female I also have to deal with the bitch card if I am assertive about something. As you move on to become a wife and mother, I look forward to continue to follow along your journey. I am at a similar life stage and it is always nice to read posts of someone who I can relate to. 🙂

  18. Love this insight into you and the tips, Jillian! As a woman working hard to grow her own business, its value is priceless.

  19. Loved the article! Would enjoy seeing more aimed in this direction! Where did you take your design degree? Did you also take a business diploma? Do you think being on the bachelorette opened up opportunities for you to be on other shows like love it or list it? Much love,

  20. I absolutely loved your season of The Bachelorette! After seeing how confident you are, you inspired me to be unapologetically me. Thanks for sharing this with us. XO

  21. insightful!! One of my questions for you is: how in the hell do you manage all those social media platforms?! Especially snapchat and periscope since those have to be done in real time. Does your family and friends ever give you the third degree for being on your phone? 😛

    1. Yessssss… and it is very hard to turn yourself off from the social world when there is constantly something going on!!! You have to set boundaries though.

  22. Very inspiring! I respect you so much as a business woman and entrepreneur, it’s wonderful to hear about your journey and lessons learned along the way. Looking forward to hearing more!
    xo Heidi

  23. Such great advice and very relatable to me as a career woman in her early 30’s. It’s engrained in girls/women to always be nice, pleasant and likable to EVERYONE and that’s just not possible. I’ve been trying to be more confident and assertive at work and I am finding that when I speak my mind, people listen and I am taken more seriously and with more respect. I can’t imagine having to keep thousands of social media followers “happy” and I think you’ve always handled yourself with class. I don’t blame you for talking back to them either…there are some crazy people out there! I noticed that you’ve been spending time with Kaitlyn lately as well and this is all gold advice for her too. People have been unfairly cutting her down in the worst way possible on social media and I really feel for her. She’s lucky to have you in her corner.

  24. Great article! I enjoy everything you share and love your personality! Can you tell us where your blue and white dress is from in the top picture?

  25. I want to know how you juggle your busy day, do you have a morning routine? or go to bed at 9 to make sure you are rested for your hectic day ? do you practice yoga? how do you keep a balanced life? I struggle to keep a balance with my love life, career, friends,, etc! share please 🙂 XO

    1. I struggle too BUT… I either go to Yoga FIRST thing in the morning or last thing at night (9PM)… and then I get home get into bed and work away at my emails from the day for about an hour or so until I pass out!!! When Justin is there it’s a different story and I try to “turn myself off” from the social world at night. It is really tough to balance but you have to focus on your own happiness and needs before you can focus on others. Oh and my morning routine is jump out of bed in a panic, grab a starbucks and run to set to get my hair and make up done on set!!!!

      1. Thanks Jill! It’s comforting to know you share some of the same struggles , good tip on the yoga time. #everydayImhustling lol


  26. This is such a fun post. I have really been enjoying your periscope videos. Your very real and I have always thought you were down to earth and fun and it really shows through your videos and this post. It was nice to see read a behind the scenes type of post. I love that you showed a raw side and talked about having kids and getting married. I’ve been married 5 years and no kids yet and we want them. Trying to manage career changes and wanting to start a family soon can be difficult. Thanks for sharing that 🙂 I’m really thinking about going to the Conference your speaking at in Vancouver. I’m in Virginia now so it will be a bit of flight. Do you think there will be a lot of good feedback for someone who is new to blogging but knows how to use social media?

  27. I am in awe of everything you do! Like seriously!! But in a totally non-creepy way of course.. Lol. Thanks for sharing so much and for always being yourself, it’s refreshing. As a young 20-something, I hope to find myself with similar career success one day. And if you ever need an extra pair of hands on staff (Mexican maid or not..) I’ve always wanted to travel out West 😉

  28. Great post! Loved hearing about your journey! Learning to be authentic and yourself is a big challenge, but so worth it!
    – F @out_in_on

  29. I loved you on the bachelor, but have enjoyed watching you so much more now. I’m inspired by your love of what you do and how tight you hold the ones you love. I think it’s wonderful that you took one opportunity in your life and turned it into something so wonderful.

  30. From someone who is currently in the process of trying to identify my own personal brand this was exactly what I needed to read!! Thank you for always being real! Xx

  31. Major props., girly. I’ve always been curious to know how your career unfolded, and I applaud your bravery. Love seeing you stand up for yourself, and your humility in the process. You make it look effortless – way to make an Alberta girl proud!!!

  32. I love you Jillian! You are such an inspiration to me and I aspire to be a career woman like you one day! Keep on bejng you and inspiring millions!! Xo

  33. How do you balance your relationship with all the jumping to and from business deals?

    Now that you are financially reaping the benefits of your hard work, how do you treat yourself?

    What’s your cosmetic routine? Have you gone down the route of more permanent measures to look fresh onscreen and off? You never look tired!

    Do you find that you often have to have your ‘face on’ to go out in public? How is that?

    How tall are you? Do you find that you’re naturally petite and high energy or do you have some added pressure to stay tiny for your ‘brand’? If so, how does fhat pressure affect you? Just curious how you balance the delicious dishes and tasty cocktails with physical fitness havingyour schedule!

    How do you know Kaitlyn from the abachelorette? She seems like an awesome girl, why was it so hard for her to find love in YVR when there are SO many bachelors roaming around the city?

    1. Steph please tell me where all these bachelors in Vancouver are… because from where I’m standing, there are a whole lot of guys who like to keep their options open, and very very few who are actually interested in real, honest relationships.

  34. I absolutely loved this post!! Such great advice! I was wondering if you had any advice for women like myself who are just out of university and trying to figure out what’s next? Thanks!

  35. Thank you for this great post!! I really loved the part about how you went about building your brand! Would love to hear more on that and how to do it!

  36. I admire your strength but also the rawness to admit that negativity can get you down. This has been a personal struggle for me, it’s hard not to let it get the best of you

  37. Hi Jillian,
    Thank you for sharing your before & after story. This past year while on mat leave I began following your career on social media and have taken tips from your design style on LIOLI Vanvouver. Yup – white kitchens are amazeballs.

    Your words are inspiring and thought provoking. They’ve come at a time where I feel as though I really need to make a grand career decision myself returning to work after my leave. This has made me very anxious. As you said, the idea of heading into unknown territory is a scary one, however it is with confidence that we get up off the ground if/when we fall. I am working on that confidence. Keep up with the career blog as I know I’d find it very personally helpful.

  38. Thanks Jillian,
    You are a beautiful person with a wildly beautiful soul. Thank you for sharing with us. I love how personal you get and that you are so delighted to share! Very inspirational, raw and true!

  39. There are very few tv personalities that I follow, but I have to say I truly admire who you are. I’m guessing your road here wasn’t always rosey, but from the outside I see someone who persevered, stayed true to who they are, and let their natural light shine. Thanks for sharing more about your journey and for the great advice!

  40. Hi Jillian,

    Thank you for sharing your story!!!! I am 15 years old and am very proud to say that one of my role models is a successful, beautiful, funny, and hard-working women…and thats YOU!!

    You have inspired me to set goals, achieve my goals, work hard, and still have fun (Oh and you have inspired me to dress nice…LOL!!) ! I would love to someday be a successful business women just like you are, and I am thankful for all the tips you have shared about success!

    Thank you for sharing a part of your story with the world! I am very proud to call you my role-model!!!
    xxx Ashley

  41. I love this post Jillian! I’ve been following you on social media for years, most recently on Periscope. You are my favorite! Not sure if you’ll read this but I just wanted to say thank you for opening up your life to us and showing us how amazing you are. You are so down to earth, so funny, kind, and caring. You are an amazing woman, your friends and family are so lucky! Thank you for showing us that your life is not as perfect as it may seem on Instagram. Just love your personality and your style. All the best to you.

  42. Awesome article! I’m a fan of you as a person and a professional and was just reading because I enjoy your posts. I was surprised at the awesome advice on branding and agree 100% you have to listen to what others see in you and create the career path of your choice. I started my show Monica Goes back in December because I was tired of hoping someone would read my mind, create the show I wanted, and hire me specifically. It’s tough to narrow down what my “brand” is and keep going in the right direction so I love to see what other successful women have to say about it. I think you are a beautiful person and a role model for many women. Thanks for your words of wisdom.

  43. Think this is a great idea and a good way for your fans/followers to get to know you better. I’ve been in the entertainment industry for my entire life and I did wonder where you disappeared to right after the shows. I was delighted to see your return on EMHE. As my favorite Bachelorette ever I was a little disappointed in your final choice but even more disappointed that it didn’t work out for you. With your combinations of gifts I’m confident in your future and look forward to watching it unfold and getting to know more about you through this blog. Good luck!

  44. I appreciate your honesty, yet it worries me that you don’t see how your Instagram post perpetuated racial stereotypes. It feels problematic that the one adjective you used to describe your housekeeper and friend was “Mexican”. Why focus on her race, rather than her personality? If your housekeeper were white, I doubt you would note her race. This may feel like a small thing to you and I realize that your friend didn’t find it offensive, but to many Hispanic individuals, this language can feel like yet another reminder of how they will always be seen as an Other.

  45. Love it! I’m always feeling lost career wise, your post made me feel a lot better. Thank you Jillian for inspiring me, always. I love following ur journey.

  46. Jillian, I realize I’m late to the Jillian Harris party since I’ve never seen one episode of the bachelor shows. I first saw you on LIOLI and I really admire your work. Your looks and talent make you the total package. Best of luck to you.

  47. love getting to know more about who you are and what life experiences made you. A big fan of all you do and Im a kelowna girl so of course Im team Jillian!

  48. I absolutely love this!! You are so such an inspiration to me in SO many ways. I follow your blog and instagram and get so excited when I see a post. I am very career oriented, and love reading about your career success, and what it took to get there. I also am slightly obsessed with your taste. Keep the fashion posts coming too! 🙂

  49. How might you recommend people break the “corporate” mold and create their own schedule/career/lifestyle without the exposure you have received on TV?

  50. Just what I needed to read! Everything you said rings so true to me and to see someone else go through the same struggles as I am now makes me feel less alone! I especially like your Granny’s quote about opinions(lol) I will def use that saying! You are a true inspiration! I can’t wait to read more 🙂

  51. Awesome post! Thank you for sharing. You seem to be someone who genuinely wants to help others. It is such a beautiful quality. I just love your personality.

  52. As a senior in college and someone who is a total fangirl of you, I really appreciated reading this! I think it’s great you’ve started this “getting to know Jilly” series. You’re a wonderful role model. I’m a Mass Comm major with a PR tract and so hearing advice and how you got to where you are today is really inspiring and helpful.

    I’ll be reading that book over the next semester!


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