Find balance. Easier said than done. But It is important to keep yourself healthy and happy first. Keep your priorities straight!
Every day is a challenge! We are constantly putting out fires, renegotiating the plan. We're in the midst of one of our biggest challenges yet - growing our production capacity. Check back and I'll let you know how I overcame this one.
Jessica, founder and CEO of Modern Citizen
I grew up in Los Angeles (with Charlotte!) and then graduated from Stanford University in 2008. I started my career in fashion and retail at Gap Inc., first in product merchandising and then in strategy and business development. The majority of my time there was spent within Gap Inc. Direct (the company's e-commerce division), where I focused on long-term strategic initiatives, mergers and acquisitions, and new business ventures for our online portfolio.
is the online style destination for the modern woman. We're building a direct-to-consumer, vertically integrated fast fashion brand — one that's uniquely focused on high-quality materials and forward design at an accessible price point.
My parents are both entrepreneurs, so I grew up knowing that I wanted to start my own business. My experience at Gap Inc. allowed me to understand a number of different facets of the fashion industry, and my time spent on the business side allowed me to look at the market in a more comprehensive, strategic way.
As someone who relies on e-commerce for pretty much everything, I’m continually fascinated by brands being built entirely online. What we're creating is a lifestyle destination focused on a specific customer, the Modern Citizen — a woman who is creative and sophisticated in terms of her taste, but is leading a busy, ambitious life; so what she needs are beautiful clothes that are also rooted in ease, versatility, and accessibility. We strive to offer pieces that are cool and wearable, but still chic — a more refined, elevated take on fast fashion.
If you could share one piece of advice to an entrepreneur, what would it be?
Surround yourself with people who naturally balance your strengths and weaknesses. Being an entrepreneur requires serious focus and dedication, and the experience takes so much out of you. It's important to have people in your life that can cheer you up when things get tough, or share critical advice at the time you most need to hear it; and most importantly, help you sift through the noise to figure out what success really means to you.
Any challenges you've had and overcome?
Over the last few years, I've experienced too many ups and downs to name — from legal to team issues, and everything in between. What I've learned is that no single challenge is ever make or break; it's about figuring out how to get back up and move forward after every setback. With time, each new challenge feels like it's easier to solve when you have the perspective that you'll come out the other end better and wiser.
SKIN & TONICS
Kerry, founder of Skin & Tonics
I’m a user experience researcher and designer by trade. I also happen to really love skin care, and built a hobby around it in the form of Skin & Tonics, a skin care blog that has grown into a fulfilling part-time business endeavor and allowed me to connect with other ingredient-obsessed science lovers around the world.
I’m also currently juggling a full time job and working with a partner to launch a new business venture. I have an entrepreneurial spirit. I am constantly looking for new ways to use my skills to help people.
Tell me about how Skin & Tonics got started!
I used to text my lifelong friend, Erin, every time I read about or tried some new skin care product. Erin suggested I start a blog about all my finds – so I did exactly that. I started out just writing it for her and a couple of other friends – I never dreamed it would take off the way it did!
You constantly share your wisdom in skincare, but do you have any advice for new bloggers?
Know your core mission
When I start any new endeavor, I’ve found that it’s much easier to grow organically and stay on track if I have a solid understanding of what I’m truly trying to achieve at the outset.
When Skin & Tonics first began, I mistakenly thought my core mission was to write a beauty blog. The flaw in that thinking is that maintaning a blog isn’t mission – it’s an activity. My mission, as it turns out, was to get other people excited about skin care and the science behind it, empower them to make educated purchases, and inspire people to do their own research. Once I had a clear understanding of my mission, my readership grew exponentially.
The same is true for all of my projects – when I understand my mission, success follows, and I’m able to avoid distractions that would cause me to stray from my primary objectives.
Don’t force anything that doesn’t feel right
Trying to force an idea, partnership, or project that doesn’t quite fit with what you’re doing is an easy mistake to make, and if you’re not careful, it can lead you astray from your core mission.
In blogging, I often see this manifesting as a partner or sponsorship that isn’t the right fit. It can be hard to say no to a sponsorship opportunity – this is especially true for new bloggers because it can feel legitimizing when a brand wants to work with you. The acknowledgement can make it difficult to approach these offers objectively.
I learned very early on that working with a brand, product, or strategy that didn’t quite match up with my core mission not only made blogging more difficult – it also took the joy out of it. I’m now very selective about whom I will work with, and how I will work with them. I look for creative ways to join forces with brands - I specifically seek out avenues that aren’t focused on selling products, but instead truly provide educational value for my readers.
Be brave enough to step outside of your comfort zone
We never grow if we don’t take chances. If there’s something you want to do but it seems bigger than you, don’t let that intimidation get the best of you. If it fits with your core mission and it’s something you really want, you will grow into it, and eventually, you will even grow past it. Suddenly you’re achieving things you had no idea you were capable of. No one has ever obtained success by chickening out.
What would you say is your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge has always been time. There’s not enough of it. There is so much I want to do, and not enough hours in the day. I’m constantly reprioritizing my goals, learning better approaches to manage what time I do have, and looking for ways to spend less time meeting obligations and more time doing what I truly care about. It’s a continuing struggle.
Jiabei and Yun Ah, cofounders of Ampere
Meet Jiabei and Yun Ah
We've been friends for over 10 years and we bonded quickly over our love of fashion. After living and working in New York for many years, we decided to leave our corporate jobs and start a luxury lingerie company! We were inspired to create a lingerie company that is a luxurious experience from start to finish because we believe lingerie has the power to make a woman feel beautiful and confident. Ampere’s
lingerie is made from the best materials, designed to flatter a woman's figure and is comfortable enough to wear every day. To Ampere, that's the definition of luxury.
We also designed our lingerie in 28 sizes - more than double the number of sizes most brands produce. They also use a sizing convention that is based in centimeters for smaller, incremental changes in each bra. This allows for more women to find their size because we are altering our bands, straps, and cups by smaller increments. By offering smaller bands (starting at 28) and larger cups (going up to F-cup), we wanted women of all shapes and sizes to find the perfect fitting Ampere bra.
Why did you want to start a lingerie company?
Lingerie is a daily necessity yet a constant source of frustration for most women. We were disappointed by both the product and the experience of shopping for lingerie. Jiabei had a difficult time finding something she loved in her size and Yun Ah hated being fitted by a complete stranger in a public space. They decided that they could make something beautiful, luxurious and high quality for women all around the world and struck out on their own to provide women with amazing lingerie.
What makes Ampere unique from other lingerie stores?
Women have not traditionally purchased lingerie online. You never know how a particular piece will fit until you try it on in person. This can be especially daunting for men, who want to gift lingerie, since they aren't usually as familiar with the ins and outs of lingerie sizing. This is why the home try-on program has been such a key element to our success. Once women are able to try on our lingerie in a variety of sizes they realize the convenience and comfort of purchasing lingerie online. No more lines, gross dressing rooms and random sales associates!
It's really impressive that despite coming from corporate backgrounds, you were able to design your own lingerie! Do you have any advice for those aspiring entrepreneurs that want to change careers?
Our best advice is to just dive in and start! Your brand should be true to who you are. You will be talking about it every single day and being able to speak about it with passion will inspire everyone around you. Starting your own company comes with many challenges but it's nothing that you cannot overcome!