Jessie Andrews’ journey in entrepreneurship was anything but traditional. The founder of the self-taught serial fashion brand did not finish high school, pursued a career in adult cinema and toured as a DJ and international producer. She then learned the ins and outs of the fashion industry on her own – all before her twenty-first birthday. Her Bagatiba The line quickly became a celebrity favorite – worn by the Hadids, Jenners and Kardashians – soon after, it launched two more brands: Basic swimming and Unlimited play.
During our interview for The Failure FactorI’m immediately struck by Andrews wisdom and grounded demeanor – she’s far from the “ diva ” I imagined she could be, and I quietly berate myself for stereotyping. She warmly comments on my “energy” before frankly sharing: what drew her to the adult film industry; how she kept a “good head on” [her] shoulders “when” the other girls were on drugs and partying; “and how she has reinvented herself since. I am even more moved when she describes the creation and construction of her brands, during which she led everything from design, to the brand, to web development, to production , social media, customer service.
As a therapist, I’m particularly interested in Andrews’ resilience – given the judgment she navigates on a daily basis. However, during our conversation, she reveals the mindset and strategy that led to her business success, including 2017 being Bagatiba’s first year of $ 1 million:
1. If possible, bootstrap
Andrews endorses a bootstrap mentality and advises against raising capital initially unless absolutely necessary. “To this day, I am simply reinvesting my own money, which in my opinion is slow and steady [and] wins the race. I think companies can of course do well when you have a ton of money and you [spend], but when you really take the time to allocate money to the right places, it really makes a difference. “
Mindless spending, watered-down ownership of the vision, and poor investor relations are just a few of the potential risks of fundraising. Depending on your overhead costs, a line of credit may be enough to get you started.
2. If you don’t know something, google it
In my experience working with early career entrepreneurs who feel stuck, this is often due to an overwhelming belief that they need to know everything. Andrews encourages self-study and she’s learned everything from deejaying to design:
“I would say it’s pretty convenient,” suggests Andrews. “Google is honestly the best tool. If you don’t know how to do something, google it. Don’t sit still and ask yourself questions you don’t know. It won’t come to you in a dream – just ask Google! “
3. Be prepared to get your hands dirty
Andrews is aware of the founder’s fame trend and insists he’s up for the less glamorous tasks involved in building a business:
[A lot of people] want to jump on what’s cool and new. [They] want brand and success – without hard work. [They] want to create a brand, but don’t want to sit down and ship. [They] don’t want to sit there and build a website on their own. I have friends now who want to have a brand, I tell them, “If you really want to do it you have to be dedicated … you have to want to work hard.”
Through dozens of interviews with successful founders, it seems the key to trudging through the dirty work is being deeply aligned with the mission. Be honest with yourself about Why you are starting your business – and whether your motivations are mostly intrinsic and enduring, or extrinsic and ephemeral.
4. Surround yourself with the right people
A theme I hear time and time again from entrepreneurs – especially solopreneurs – is the importance of a support network. The discomfort of inevitable uncertainties, challenges and disappointments is assuaged by unconditional love. “Keeping the right people around you who support you and love you no matter what – to your ugliest or your prettiest or your broke or your richest – as long as they love you for you, I think that’s the most important part, “Andrews points out.
5. Don’t forget the prospect
Finally – wise beyond her years – Andrews embodies an attitude of gratitude that helps her ignore noise, reframe challenges and stay focused on what matters:
“At this point in my life, I’m just happy to be alive. I’m so happy with everything – like business, life, creation, the things I know, people I know – I’m just happy to be here. “