When Jessica Chou drove her 2003 Volkswagen Jetta into the Los Angeles Auto Show, the people checking her in seemed confused.
“All the guys were like, ‘Are you sure you belong in here?’ And I was like, ‘Yeah, I know, she’s a real beauty,’ ” Chou said with a laugh.
She may not customize Ferraris with candy-red rims or rear-hinged doors, but the 26-year-old YouTuber from Culver City, known online as “Jessicann,” pitched something perhaps even more novel: Girls’ Garage, which she said is the first female-centric booth in the auto show’s 109-year history.
She raised almost $6,500 on GoFundMe to set up shop.
During the 10-day show, Chou will be explaining everything from how to check your tire pressure to how to make sure your coolant tank is full.
Stop by the Girls’ Garage at the Los Angeles Convention Center and you may snag a photo with her in her Rosie the Riveter photo booth.
How’d you get started?
Jessicann: There was one really big day for me. I was fixing my spark plugs because my car just broke down and AAA said, “Why don’t you do a tuneup?” I was out on the street fixing my spark plugs and a man walked by and he said, “What are you doing?” I said, “Oh, I’m changing out my spark plugs.” And he said, “By yourself?” I think it was in that instant that I’ve never felt more empowered than to answer, “Yes, by myself!” I was beaming with pride and excitement that I was able to change my spark plugs, and my car was functioning back to normal. I had to find a way to capture this to give other women that feeling of empowerment.
What’s the craziest fix you’ve ever done on your car?
J: My craziest fix was the fuel pump. My car was dead for a whole week, and I had no idea what the problem was. I was searching and searching online, and all signs were pointing to the fuel pump. I needed to buy this crazy tool to be able to take it off. I bought the new fuel pump, changed it out, I held my breath and started the car, and it worked. I could’ve cried tears of joy. I bought the part for, I think, 200 bucks so I saved a lot of money, granted it took me all day.
What was your first fix?
J: My first fix was probably a brake light or something, something simple. But even that is fun, to know that you could do that and not have to go to a shop just to get a little bulb switched out.
What happened when you drove in here today?
J: I pulled in and was like, “I have a booth here.” And they just kind of looked at me funny. I was like, “I know it’s not a Maserati, maybe one year it will be.” But it was really funny. And then we drove past a group of guys and they’re like, “Oh, they’re just letting people in to take pictures?” And I was like, “No, I have a booth here!” But I’m just excited to kind of stir up some commotion because this is the first-ever female-dedicated space here. Which is exciting, it’s about time.
Tell me about your name.
J: I actually hated this nickname in high school. My middle name is Ann, my first name is Jessica, obviously. One of my best friends called me “Jessicann,” and I just hated it so much. When I was thinking of a name for YouTube, I was brainstorming, and “Jessicann” is so positive. It shows that I can do things, and you can too. The word “can” is just so empowering.
What has the response been to your YouTube channel?
J: One of my favorite comments was a dad said that I was his daughter’s new hero, which just, like, made me cry.
What’s one must-have tool for girls who want to learn to fix their cars?
J: I recently bought a service manual for my car. It looks intimidating, almost like an encyclopedia for your car, but it has everything you need to know, step by step. A lot of times, your dealer will tell you, “It’s time to change this.” You can say, “Actually, you don’t have to change it until a year from now.” It’s kind of like my bible now.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.