HANCOCK, Mich. (WJMN) – Janet Steward of Hancock is known in the TikTok world with more the 52,000 followers as Yooper Janet.
“A year ago when quarantine started, my friend kept sending me TikToks and she’s like, ‘Hey you should watch this, check it out,’ said Yooper Janet. “And I’m like, ‘Ehhhh I don’t know, not another social media thing right?’ And so I just started watching them and I wanted to like people’s stuff but you can like it unless you have an account and so I’m like, ‘Okay I’ll just get an account.’ So I got an account, started liking stuff and I’m like ‘I can do that, like I can do that.’ And then one of them of my baby went viral and it got like four million views, like something crazy and I was like, ‘Oh, maybe I’ll be that mom that just shares stuff about her kids.”
After a snowstorm in mid-October, Janet decided she would show her followers what what it’s like to experience the kind of weather that happens in the U.P.
“They’re like, ‘You’re not from the U.P. You don’t have that thick accent,'” said Yooper Janet. “And I was like, ‘Okay. I’ll do another one.’ And so I did another weather report and I was like, ‘Oh hey there, Janet you’re favorite Yooper coming at ‘cha with your daily weather report.’ And people just started eating it up and so now I’m just a big goober on TikTok.”
And she’s right, Yooper Janet isn’t from the U.P. Her family lives in the Copper Country because her husband is the assistant coach of the Michigan Tech Hockey team but that isn’t stopping her from showing people the beauty and uniqueness of the U.P. while also showing her Husky pride.
For people who aren’t from around the area, Yooper Janet mostly talks about the weather.
“They don’t believe you when you tell them that we get like 250 inches of snow and so just showing them the giant snow piles and like talking about the snow go that brings all of the snow to the snow dump like people think that’s so funny,” said Yooper Janet. “So I talk about that and I do unique things about the Upper Peninsula. Just unique places to go, visit, facts just different things like that, that I’ve never heard of until I moved here.”
She also connects with other people in the Upper Peninsula and builds relationships over U.P. things. One example is the Michigan Tech/NMU rivalry.
“I never would have met him [yooperman906] especially during COVID when we’re not really around people like I never would have met him at all. And there’s lots of like smaller businesses,” said Yooper Janet. “There’s a guy up where I am. His TikTok is Dollar Bay DJ. But he’s from Texas. He lives in Dollar Bay now but I would have never connected with him if it wasn’t for TikTok.”
Yooper Janet says it’s interesting how the world seems so big but when you connect on a social media platform it can become so small.
“Like one day we were sledding at Finlandia,” said Yooper Janet. “They have like a big sledding hill in the front and this group of people was off to the side and they kept looking at me and I’m like, ‘Why are they looking at me?’ And the dad came over and he’s like, ‘I don’t mean to be weird but we’re from downstate Detroit and are you Yooper Janet?’ And so I was like, ‘Yeah.’ And he was like, ‘Can we do a TikTok with you?’ And I’m like, ‘Yeah let’s do it.” And so it’s just really funny because I’m just a regular person. I never meant for any of this to happen it just kind of happened.”
It’s not just to be silly and spread some smiles, Yooper Janet has also been able to do good for her community through this platform,
“I lead a mom group,” said Yooper Janet. “It’s called MOPS, Mothers of Preschoolers and we did an angel tree this year. We just put kids names on the tree and then what they wanted for Christmas and it was families that couldn’t afford stuff for Christmas this year. And so we were doing that and I was like, ‘Shoot, we should do one of those Venmo challenges that I see on TikTok, see if my followers would send a dollar, 50 cents, whatever they could afford.’ And then we can use that to buy more gifts for these kids and I ended up like getting $2,000. And so we were able to help out I believe it was 26 families.”
So, what does the future hold for Yooper Janet?
“I have no idea,” said Yooper Janet. “As long as it’s continuing to produce something good and helpful. It’s actually been very helpful for me, even my mental health during COVID and shutdown where you can’t be outside as much, you can’t go to places as much. It’s been a really good like fun outlet for me and so as long as it continues to be fun and positive, I’m kind of open to anything.”