Steven Sievert woke up one morning feeling uninspired.
After graduating from college, he realized life in Wisconsin hadn’t changed and his peers were living relative stagnant lives. “Most were still living for the weekend in a career that they were less than thrilled with,” he recalls. Being a creative and having passion for filmmaking, it was a difficult to imagine the rest of his life in the suburbs, where opportunities are few are far between.
One day, he decided to drop everything and with only $1,500, packed up his 1997 Toyota Carolla, took a few belongings and left for Los Angeles. “The cold forces you to wake up earlier,” he says in one of his YouTube videos, documenting his cross-country travels. In another segment, you see him making a couple of tuna and peanut butter sandwiches or eating three-day old bratwurst that heated up in his car. His money is spent on showers, which cost a shopping $12, and coffee at Starbucks, where he finds WiFi to upload his videos.
Eventually when he made it to LA, he was forced to make a decision: find a 9-5 job, or keep pursuing freelance videography. He chose the latter and now continues to live in his car. “I’ve been living in my car, I’m all in, fighting to make my dreams come true,” he tells Very Good Light. “I had to make sacrifices to make my dreams come true.” While it might not be the ideal situation, and one where many won’t be able to understand, it’s one that Steven feels is right for him.
In his homelessness, he still finds ways to maintain a normal life. Today, he’s become comfortable with his newfound life, like getting used to making his car into a bed. “I fold both of the seats down and stretch out my legs,” he explains. “I’m over 6-feet tall and it’s not that bad.” As for showering? He’s found a way to use gyms for that purpose, like getting a Planet Fitness membership. That, or he finds a beach and showers there.
To make ends meet, Steven edits videos and gets a little income from his own YouTube videos. But it’s also his social media that’s gotten him chance meetings with people he’d never thought he’d meet.
A couple of months after documenting his journey, he was discovered by Octavio Molina, the founder of OctavioHair, a hair care line based out of Los Angeles. After scrolling through Instagram one day, Octavio found Steven and was intrigued with his free spirit. Immediately, Octavio wanted Steven to be the next face of his brand’s hair campaign.
“He seemed like a creative and driven individual,” Octavio tells Very Good Light. “He’s incredibly authentic and kindhearted, which made us so passionate about making him the face of this campaign.” What made him more inspirational, Octavio says, is that Steven’s living on his own terms.
“He chose to follow his dreams and allocate his funds to travel and camera equipment rather than a personal residence,” Octavio tells us. “Societally, we tend to be so judgmental on how others live their lives if it doesn’t fit into what we consider the norm. He’s making bold choices to reach his goals and that’s what we stand for as a brand.”
The campaign was something different for Steven, but something he felt natural doing. “The shoot had a 1950’s rockabilly-type feel so I was able to channel my style idol, James Dean,” he tells Very Good Light. It’s obvious that the novice model is a natural. More so, he hopes the photos inspire others to live their own lives authentically. “I hope [these photos] inspire confidence,” he says. “To me, the 1950’s rockabilly was the epitome of cool. The ultimate badass. So my hopes would be that it could infect others with that confidence as well.”
Today, Steven is still living his best left, his Toyota Carolla in tow. Currently, he’s in Mexico, filming, meeting locals, learning to surf, and eating some fine cuisine. Freelance video editing, he says, allows him to do everything he wants just as long as he can find WiFi. “You can’t beat watching a sunset from a hammock while crushing out some work,” he says.
As for the near future, he’s going back to the Midwest for a wedding and then back to LA for the summer.
“I want to continue making Youtube videos, traveling, and picking up a camera every day to practice my craft,” he says. “Right now, I just have to stay disciplined, motivated, and most of all patient. My dreams aren’t going to happen overnight and I know that. I’m in it for the long haul.”