Until a few weeks ago, I didn't think too much about the exact date of June 19, 2018. Even if I went back to check my 2018 calendar, I would have found a day filled with regular business meetings. Although Jada Jo was incorporated on June 19, 2018, I had little to no idea of what it was going to become.
Turning passion into purpose
I used to make jewelry for friends using beads and materials from Michael's craft store. I was soul searching in 2018 when I chose to incorporate a business and decided I would casually launch a jewelry business. Anyone who knows me likely recognizes my passionate personality, which means a casual business approach is not in my DNA.
I've collected many lessons along the way
I feel like I've learned so much, but even today I am still learning, and will continue to learn about building a business out of the things I love. This journey—and it truly is a journey, not a destination—continues to be so much fun. I believe our world balances yin and yang, good and bad, black and white. Trying times awaited me along this road, but success and failure work together to translates into lessons.
Brené Brown talks about how, if you look at the audience of TED talks, they are an audience of failures. It has taken them more attempts and tries than anyone will know to achieve their success. I strive to remind myself that my "step backs" (my terminology for failure) offer me a lesson that produces two steps forward.
Defining success on my own terms
I can't stress how crucial it is to consider, define, and write down what success looks like for you and your business. Since I came from a strong business background, I could easily focus on financial and growth expectations as my measurement of success.
Don’t get me wrong. Financial milestones and business growth have a place in my hierarchy of success, but "impact" quickly became very important to me. If my business positively impacts those who buy my jewelry, who work with and for the brand, and for those to whom I give back, I consider Jada Jo a success.
My apologies to other entrepreneurs
I received an official MBA in 2007, but I am now getting my MBA in entrepreneurship. The lessons reach a scope I never imagined. I never run out of brilliant ideas. I admit "brilliant" might be self-perceived, but all of those ideas require money, human resources, and time.
Also, I don't always calculate the barriers standing between me and the execution of my ideas. Barriers don't mean execution is impossible, but they can mean they aren't a possibility today. That lesson took awhile for me to learn. For that, I want to apologize to my entrepreneur friends to whom I expressed my ideas when I didn’t have the lessons of a start up under my belt.
Learn to trust your instincts
I learned to trust my gut instinct. That instinct has led to me work with talented people and to take advice from those I admire and trust. My instincts have gone against recommendations at times, but I have to know the reasons for that decision.
I also have to take one more check after my initial gut check. Does a decision align with my brand and my business? My father introduced me to The ONE Thing by Gary Kellar. Does the decision I'm pondering align with the “one thing” I have chosen in key areas of my business? Often that second check answers my lingering questions.
Assessment leads to growth
Every three months I do a comprehensive assessment of what is working—and what isn't. I have a tendency to throw everything at the wall and hope something sticks. With six months of data, I can start making calculated decisions to determine if it is not working or make a deeper investment if it is. I also go back and ask myself if everything I am doing aligns with my four pillars, which are the foundation of my organization. To be transparent, that answer has not always been “yes,” even as recently as today.
Over and over, I recognize in myself that simplicity and minimalism don't work for me. After all these years of packing for short and long trips, I am still terrible at it. I love options, diversity, and finding inspiration in the moment of packing instead of working from a concise list. However, I recently received the best advice from a friend, and it couldn't have been more timely.
Finding focus in the midst of passion
“Just because you're passionate about something does not mean it should be part of your brand.” The message resonated so strongly with me, I can feel its echo even now. I want to pour everything about what I love into Jada Jo, from music to art to under-resourced communities to…the list goes on. Yet I know if I try to cram everything I love into one space, it will get crowded. I strive to focus on the foundation of Jada Jo, so I don't lose focus by attempting to include everything that has ever mattered to me. The jewelry is travel-inspired with intention and meaning that tells a story I design into every piece.
Celebrating the anniversary of Jada Jo
Who would have known June 19th would forever be the anniversary of the launch of my jewelry brand? Jada Jo allows me to learn so much, and hopefully my (growing!) business positively impacts those who wear my jewelry, those whose cultural stories I share, and the communities to which I give back.
Thank you for joining me on this journey. The best is yet to come, my friends!