Friday, January 15, 2010
Dreamers into Do-ers: Jess of Jess LC & Makeunder My Life!
Today we have the most lovely and inspiring Jess of Jess LC jewelry and Makeunder My Life. You all are in for a treat today, because if it you are looking for someone who is really living her dreams, Jess is your gal. You are going to want to bookmark this little interview because Jess has some really practical pearls of wisdom.
Q. A lot of us know your "story" of starting Jess LC when you were young and then deciding to build upon that after you graduated from college. Could you give us a behind the scenes peak into how you made that leap of faith after college graduation, while your peers were likely following different paths?
A. That's a great question. I decided to do Jess LC full-time because I knew deep down, that I was supposed to share the message of MakeunderMyLife (which is now my blog, makeundermylife.com). At the time, I thought I needed to write a book to spread the message. And I felt it was easiest to write a book while working for myself, staying in charge of my schedule. Had I gotten a corporate job like most of my business school peers, I may have never attempted to get that message out after a long weeks at work.
When I first decided to make that leap into full-time entrepreneurship, friends (and quite frankly, my family) gulped, scratched their heads, and wished me a half-hearted good luck. It didn't make sense to them. But I stayed true to myself and stuck it out. I wasn't making as much money the first year as my b-school friends, but three years later I'm much more successful than I was at the beginning and I love what I do- which is something that is pretty rare for people my age.
Q. If there are a few key people or words of advice that lit your path early on, who or what were they?
A. I had an advisor at the business school who asked me what I really, really, really wanted to do with my life. I easily could have said "I want to work for Coach and make catalogs" (which was something that I had thought about). But instead, I blurted out that I wanted to be like Oprah and Martha Stewart. I wanted to help women in middle to upper-middle class improve their lives and be their best. And she took me seriously and did everything she could to help me realize it was possible. That was a life changing time in my life. I later discovered my purpose is to share "making under" and I've worked to help spread that message however I can.
Another thing I did when I moved to Chicago was write on a big piece of paper (the only thing on my wall, at the time) "You get in life what you have the courage to ask for" - Oprah. And when I got frustrated with the slow growth of Jess LC those first six months, I would remind myself that I was asking a lot out of life: I wanted a successful business and a media message on a national scale. This helped me have patience and perseverance. I now feel another way to phrase that belief, from my experience, is "You get in life what you have the courage to work towards." Each morning I get up and write a post on the blog. I've learned that I don't need a book or tv show to help people right now.
And finally, there were moments where I doubted whether I'd be able to make the business profitable long term. I knew that if I asked my parents or friends for advice, they would say "You did such a good job trying to make it work. It's not your fault. Go get a job." This is simply because they were not entrepreneurs themselves. So instead, I asked my good friend Vicki, who owns a boutique in Ann Arbor, what I should do. She said I had to give it at least a year. This calmed me down a bit, and I stuck it out and grained traction.
Q. You always exude such confidence in your business and your lifestyle choices. Do you ever pinch yourself or did you just "know" you would be where you are now?
A. I definitely pinch myself! I always wanted to graduate from Michigan and move to Chicago. I also wanted to live near the water and run marathons (which I do) and for most of my high school and college I wanted to run my own jewelry business. Now I'm doing all of those things. And on top of all that, I know I am meant to share my message, and the fact that I'm doing that right now, at 25 rather than 35 is pretty darn incredible.
Q. On the rare occasion that you experience a bad day or week, what keeps you going?
A. Hah! This happens more than I would like to admit! To be honest, when I get down or worked up for that matter, I later get upset at myself for feeling those negative emotions. Right now I'm working on having compassion for myself when I get upset and not judging my emotional reaction. This is also helping me not become as reactive to other people or situations. But this is certainly a work in progress.
As for the business, there was a point where I realized that I was having anxiety and tightness in my chest because I wasn't sure if I'd be able to pay my bills in time (everything turned out all right, but I was really worried for a solid week). And then I had a light bulb moment: I was having anxiety attacks about my business because - this was it - this was what I wanted to do. There wasn't a "Plan B." I wasn't going to give up Jess LC when things got tough and look for a safer job. I was in this for the long haul, I was tested and I proved to myself how deeply I cared about my business succeeding. And then I was able to relax, knowing that my truest intention was to make Jess LC work.
Q. Your entrepreneurial spirit is so overwhelmingly obvious (in a good way!). Do you come from a long line of entrepreneurs or are you blazing a trail in your family?
A. Interesting. My first intuition was to type "trail blazing." But really, that's not true. As I grew up, I watched my mom raise my brothers and I while selling crafts for extra income. Part of our basement was her workshop. She'd always have people coming to the house to pick up holiday cookie jars or we'd deliver customer's "mop angels." I'd also go with her to craft shows as a five-year-old. So when my first pieces of jewelry sold when I was fifteen, it was the most natural thing in the world. To me, if you make something, you sell it.
Q. What is in store for you this year? Anything juicy?
A. Hmm... One of the intentions I have is to be more mindful of my spirituality. I've decided to read the workbook for A Course in Miracles. Each day for one year there are one page teachings which will help me keep the bigger picture in mind.
I'm also taking a year off from marathons and working on my speed by doing shorter races.
Other than that, I'm excited to grow a community around MakeunderMyLife.com. I can't wait to get more reader participation. We all are learning so much right now, and that needs to be shared.
Q. What is in store for Jess LC this year?
A. Oh you have no idea! I'm actually rebranding Jess LC (gasp!). There are huge leaps ahead of me. I'm designing completely new jewelry collections, getting a new website and logo, and working with some exciting new retailers. I'm almost pinching myself. But then I remember all the work that must be done, and I sober up.
One interesting thing to note is that I don't get to be "promoted" like my friends with jobs. So I decided to promote myself after two and a half years doing Jess LC full-time. I'm ready to take on new responsibility and risks. I also have noticed a trend: whenever I'm getting burned out or disinterested in Jess LC, that means that I'm ready to take it to the next level. Something will eventually spark my spirit and I suddenly have a mile long to-do list. The exciting vision drives me through all the dirty tasks that need to be done.
Q. What pearls of wisdom would you give your younger self?
A. Stick with it. Have intentions, not goals. Don't try to be perfect. Accept your faults. Follow your purpose. Relax. Help others and you will be helped.
Thank you, thank you, thank you Jess! Such thoughtful answers! Be sure to check out her blog and shop if you haven't already! I just love her risky choice of not having a "plan B" - such an exciting and exhilirating thought!
Know someone that is living out their dreams? Nominate them to be interviewed here by emailing me at goodlifeforless @ gmail.com