One of my big goals for 2013 is to help increase awareness of the small business community and fierce entrepreneurs across the United States. I pondered for some time how I was going to do this. I came up with the idea of spotlighting some of my fave businesses and other entrepreneurs I met along the way. Throughout the Whats In Your Bag series I hope you will learn of new businesses to support & gain inspiration to follow your dreams.
I knew I wanted to start the series with sister dynamic duo: Jennifer & Tiffany of T+J Designs
What strengths do you believe your sister brings to the table that helps enhance your brand that you possible dont have yourself? My sister is very creative and artistic. I love her skills in DIY items with some of our chain bracelets, the ideas she brings to the table for new collections, and she does all the photography for our site which is an incredible feat! She has an amazing eye for photography and captures moments as well as details so perfectly. We have different styles so its great collaborating together in designing and curating for t+j designs.
How is it working with family? Do you bump heads or is it smooth sailing? Working with family is the best part, we were always close but even closer now. I probably talk to them 5 times a day either over email, Skype, FaceTime, text or by phone! From time to time we have disagreed but what’s key is open communication and remembering that t+j is a business we are growing. Our family does a great job separating business decisions vs family time. Everyone’s opinion is valued however when a decision is made it is about moving forward and onto the next. I love that I’ve learned so much about each family member from working together.
What has been your biggest accomplishment? Personal – having my son Grant. I was never one of those women that thought I would be posting Facebook pictures of my son everyday 🙂 but he has brought so much joy and love into my life. It’s the best thing to ever happen to me
Career wise – t+j Designs being featured on the Today Show and Who What Wear were probably the most exciting accomplishments last year. In less than a year of launching we built a brand that people responded to. It was an amazing feeling.
What are three books you would recommend to our readers? I’ll be honest, I don’t have the time to read now a days. In the past year I launched the business, my style blog, and had my son. I do love to read but the day isn’t long enough. The series of books people are always surprised that I love is Harry Potter. I read every one and have seen every movie!
What has been biggest lesson you have learned since launching? I’ve learned a ton but the biggest thing in life I’ve learned is to be patient :). I handle all the customer service issues and realize what a drain it can be on your energy. Don’t get my wrong I love hearing from customers but being nice can definitely get you farther!
What’s your advice to someone interested in starting their own business? Be prepared emotionally and financially and have the appropriate support system. And most of all be passionate about what you are doing! Starting and owning your own business is a 24 hour job, I work a lot but I love what I do so it doesn’t feel like work. But I’m very lucky to have a supportive husband that takes equal partnership in taking care of my son and also understands when I’m always on my computer or phone.
Where do you receive inspiration? Everywhere!! Magazines, TV, blogs (I love all types of blogs), art, what someone is wearing, celebrities. I take it all in. I love fashion so much I’m always looking for inspiration.
If you could have one famous entrepreneur as your mentor who would it be? Oprah would be an amazing mentor. Her success, her stories, they way she lives life and sees life. I love Oprah and was sad I never got to see her show as it ended around the time I moved to Chicago.
Do you feel your life is balanced between work + personal? I’ll be honest with this one, it is VERY hard to have work life balance when I take care of my son (I do have part time care) and have a start up business. But I do insist to have at least one date night at least once a week with my husband and dinner time every night is our time. Since having my son I’ve learned to slow down a bit and appreciate the now. Weekends are sacred and we try to do fun things. Watching him change every week is amazing so I cherish my family time.
What is your indispensable gadget: iPhone 5!
What’s your favorite app? Addicted and love instagram!! (@redsolesandredwine)
Favorite account to follow on Twitter: Too many to pick one but I love @imperfctconcept (of course), your always so inspirational and motivating and @_ifb I love their content.
Favorite item in your closet: My jumbo white Chanel bag is my favorite item in my closet. It was the first luxe item I purchased for myself when I became a director in merchandising. I was so proud of my achievement and felt I deserved a promotion gift.
What strengths do you believe your sister brings to the table that helps enhance your brand that you possible dont have yourself? My sister has great experience working as a merchandiser for big brands and she brings a lot of that experience to help with our company. She also has a great eye for style and trends and can often predict trends ahead of time which helps us a lot when planning collections as we have to plan so many months in advance. She’s also a great leader that can motivate me and the team to get things done or gets us moving on the next projects.
How is it working with family? Do you bump heads or is it smooth sailing? Smooth sailing! I love working with my family, it’s the best as we’ve grown closer since we started the business and even though every dinner now turns into a business dinner it’s great to have all of us be so involved. Communication is key when working on any team but especially with family when you don’t want to have hurt feelings or such, having open communication all the time really helps to not have any issues or friction.
What has been your biggest accomplishment? We’ve done so much that I’m proud of in the year and a half we’ve been in business but I’d say that getting our product on the Today Show which beat out hundreds of other retailers for a spot on their show was pretty exciting for us.
What are three books you would recommend to our readers? 1. Crush it! by Gary Vaynerchuk – for those of us that are solely using the internet to grow our business, this is a great book to get tips on how to use the internet and how Gary himself grew his business online. 2. By Invitation Only by Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson – I’m just starting this book but I’m a huge fan of Gilt and love this book written by the founders on how they started and how they changed the way we shop online. 3. Gone Girl – because you can’t always read business books you gotta read some fun and entertaining books once in awhile! I loved this book, so well written and every page kept me on my toes.
What has been biggest lesson you have learned since launching? The connection you make with your customers is quite possibly the most important thing to cultivate. Happy buyers are repeat buyers and keeping repeat buyers is just as important as getting new buyers. Do not spend all your time marketing to new customers when you have loyal customers that should be treated just as well.
What’s your advice to someone interested in starting their own business? Be passionate about what you do, but beyond that also be practical. You have to realize that being passionate is a great thing but also is the business going to be feasible beyond just what you like? Can you cater to the needs of others with your business? For us, designing a jewelry line often times means that we design based upon what we love, but we also realize that customers may not love our style so we try to expand our designs to different tastes and not just a focus on us and our tastes.
Where do you receive inspiration? Business wise – my family inspires me every day. I see the way we all work together on this business and it inspires me to do better each and every day. Style wise – for our line I get inspiration for all over, magazines, bloggers, vintage pieces, patterns from clothing that catches my eye. I love big bold statement pieces and am always looking out for things that can translate well into jewelry.
If you could have one famous entrepreneur as your mentor who would it be? Rachel Zoe. Celebrity stylists usually stay behind the scenes and are not well know but Rachel Zoe made herself into a very well known and reputable brand. I think she does a great job letting her personality speak within her brand and that she’s been able to expand her brand into something that she’s proud of. Branding is so very important in getting your product out there as many company can have the same type of products but your brand is what sets you apart.
Do you feel your life is balanced between work + personal? When we first started out, no, it was work, work, work. But I realized that I could not do the best job for my company if I did not leave some personal time for myself. Now, I have set hours that I work. Just like when I was working in the corporate world I will “leave” my office at a set time (harder said than done since I work from home) but I also leave my computer in my office and don’t touch it after hours unless totally necessary.
What is your indispensable gadget: iPad
What’s your favorite app? Instagram
Favorite account to follow on Twitter: I’m not on Twitter that much so I’m going to change this to Favorite account to follow on Instagram: WhoWhatWear
Favorite item in your closet: my shoes (ALL of them)
How are awesome are Jennifer & Tiffany. I am smitten with both ladies and their amazing business. As an added bonus to their lovely interview, the ladies are giving away a Minty Luxe Necklace to one of my readers.
To enter just follow the steps below and Rafflecopter will randomly pick a winner. The winner will be announced on Monday. US residents all. Make sure you do all mandatory steps to win.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
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