Julianna Zobrist on Confidence and a Quirky Style Sensibility
As a songwriter, she pens her own lyrics. A co-author, she’s published a novel (Double Play, B&H Books). And as a style icon in her own right, the formidable Julianna Zobrist writes all of her own rules.
On a warm day in May, our team waited for Christian EDM singer Julianna Zobrist in a modern room tucked into a corner of the LondonHouse Chicago. Makeup palettes on display and flat iron hot, all that was needed was our cover star—and her wardrobe. Unprecedentedly, we gave Julianna, 32, the creative freedom to style herself for our scenic shoot at the LondonHouse Tri-Level Rooftop. When she crossed the threshold our eyes were dead-set on the medium-sized suitcase that she toted behind her. The precious cargo.
For Julianna, mom of three (Zion, 8; Kruse, 5; Blaise, 1) and wife of World Series MVP Ben Zobrist, our designated urban ethereal vibe came in the form of silky fabrics embellished with feathers and pearls, fishnet stockings, and acid-wash jeans. A departure from the traditional dress code for many Christian artists. My eyes zeroed in on a pair of Spice Girls-style Gucci platform sneakers. But to say that her wardrobe took me by surprise would be misleading. The opposite, in fact, it’s Julianna’s inimitable style sensibility that landed her on the cover of this issue—that and the Wrigleyville inhabitant embodies the essence of the Chicago woman: beautiful and unapologetic. But as the platinum-haired star enthusiastically mapped her outfits out, pairing a formal skirt with ripped jeans, I gathered that she must come across less-accepting conservatives. My instincts were right.
“Fitting into the status quo has been a huge challenge for me”
“Fitting into the status quo has been a huge challenge for me,” Julianna says. “Early on, I’d get polite suggestions on how to dress and what my music should sound like. I tried to write songs that would hit the charts but didn’t love them and aiming to conform to whatever a Christian artist is supposed to look like wasn’t believable.” What I know now about Julianna, is that inauthenticity is not an option. “The most powerful thing I can do as an artist, individual, and mother, is stay true to who I am.” She concluded the thought with a statement that resonated deeply: “Freedom breeds freedom and confidence in other people.” Sitting across from Julianna, I wanted to model her kindness, her poise, her confidence, proving her statement truer than ever.
Honesty and authenticity governs Julianna’s marriage, music, parenting, and lighthearted style. And that might be the most inspiring law of all.
Beauty Atlas: How would you define your signature style?
Julianna Zobrist: Incredibly eclectic. It’s a mix of funky and feminine. Shopping for clothes and makeup is like buying art—I don’t buy anything unless I feel an immediate reaction to it.
BA: As the daughter of a pastor, what was it like growing up with a funky-feminine style?
JZ: My parents gave me wings. There was no expectation of how I was going to dress. When my oldest sister described me to Ben (she introduced us), she said: ‘She’s smart and nice—she just dresses really weird!’ But my family has always accepted me.
BA: And now? As a Christian artist, are there ever times when you experience a particular pressure from a conservative audience?
JZ: Yes, a lot. I posted something on Instagram a few months ago on irrational expectations of femininity. Be skinny, but not too skinny. Have a butt, but we don’t want to see cellulite. Have an opinion, but don’t offend anybody. I poked fun of these double standards and got completely land-blasted. People thought I was promoting being skinny and uneducated. I had people tell me that as a Christian role model, I should be ashamed of myself. That was really hard because I have a tough time being misunderstood. The practical takeaway was that I knew the motivation of my heart. And if I allowed them to break me, I would be changing what I do and what I say, for the approval of others. And that’s not the way that I work.
BA: Is that what you consider being “shatterproof”?
JZ: A shatterproof woman is so intimately aware of who she is, that she’s able to walk in bravery and doesn’t apologize for life.
BA: Tell me about “Safe,” the latest single on Shatterproof.
JZ: “Safe” is about being secure in who you are and ultimately for me, that is a message of God’s love. To not have to worry about being accepted by the rest of the world, or fitting in when I travel to different cities. Just being confident in who I am and who I’m loved by.
BA: You were born and raised in Iowa and have lived in Kansas City. How does Chicago compare to other Midwest cities?
JZ: When we moved here, I was anticipating it to have an east coast vibe but it has much more of a Midwest feel. I’m a cornbread Iowa girl and to come to a place that is so metropolitan and progressive yet so equally balanced with a community feel, I get the best of both worlds.
BA: You’re a mom, wife, performer. How do you balance it all?
JZ: It starts with prioritizing. When Ben and I first got engaged, we implemented a rule where we don’t spend any longer than six days apart. Because MLB determines his schedule, we work my tour and appearances around his schedule to keep us in the same place, geographically. We never want to achieve major amounts of success only to look back and see that our family has fallen apart.
BA: Beauty mantra for your daughters?
JZ: I try not say things like: ‘You’re perfect the way you are.’ None of us are perfect. I don’t want to create a standard for them that’s unreachable. Additionally, being confident in myself has been the most powerful in breeding confidence in my daughters.
Read the full Chicago issue for the products our cover star can't live without and a custom Chicago itinerary that she created just for you.
Photographer Luke Schneider
Makeup Loni Hale