We had the good fortune of connecting with Jillian Hertzman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jillian, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Honestly, the initial reason was to get out of the job I was working in. It was a great job on paper – I worked in consumer insights as a qualitative research director. I focused mainly on generational insights – specific to Generations Y/Millennials, and Gen Z. This meant I was doing projects where I’d connect with people all over, through online platforms and in person. I was able to dig into topics that were both interesting and relevant, to help brands better understand and meet the needs of their young customers. BUT, in reality, it was a LOT of work. I wasn’t saving lives, but the workload was crazy, the deadlines were always yesterday, and our team was never fully staffed. I figured that working for myself, I’d be able to ditch the unrealistic timelines, workloads, ways of working, and ridiculous office politics, and start doing things my way. I’d work on the types of things I was personally passionate about and skilled in, I’d make my own hours, and I’d finally have a work life balance. The only thing that really concerned me was money. I think for most people, moving from working for someone else to working for yourself comes with the fear of not having a steady paycheck. And that fear is still a part of my every day. But the benefits listed above make it worthwhile.
It took a while, but I finally left my full time qualitative research job after 14 years, and was SO ready to do my own thing. That ‘thing’ was something pretty far from consumer insights. I wanted to put my fashion design degree and love for clothing at the forefront of my professional life. It wasn’t easy – I spent years thinking about leaving that job. Which was a good thing, as I needed years to save up money, continue making contacts and learning new things, and get my life ‘set’ before I knew that I’d be sans regular paychecks. And then, I winged it. Yes, I had a serious love of browsing the racks, and picking wardrobe pieces out for friends and family, and finding amazing deals, and college experience making patterns and sewing my own creations, but I had zero information on building a business, on financial planning, on website design, on small business tax laws, on accounting, and all the other stuff you just don’t know if you’ve never built your own business. I started with one business – Styled By Jillian, a wardrobe consulting biz (think personal shopping, closet edits, outfit creation, etc.). And after a year or two, the development of a second business – Jillie P, a line of one-of-a-kind modern wearables made from vintage, upcycled quilts. From the start, the business side of things was a bit piecemeal and slow, but I picked much of this information up on the way. The creative part was easy, the rest, not so much! So, I taught myself how to build a website on SquareSpace, I signed up for LegalZoom – free calls with lawyers and accountants!!, I went through a few different accountants and got a QuickBooks account, I set up a Yelp.com business profile, and I (am still working on) perfecting my social media posting skills. It’s a huge work in progress. And I’m closer to where I want to be, but not there yet…and not sure when I’ll get there!
Now that I’m a few years into it, the knowledge that my work is doing good for people and not falling into the black hole of a client’s research budget is so much more fulfilling than any of the research work I did. I love when a Styled By Jillian customer tells me they feel great in their clothes, and they’re confident walking out the door for the first time, or a Jillie P client tells me how gorgeous and unique their one-of-a-kind upcycled vintage quilt jacket turned out, that they’re stopped on the street every time they wear it, when they’re asked what is it, where did they get it, and told how beautiful and unusual it is. Those are the things that make all the fear and worry and unknown tied to entrepreneurship worth it.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
One thing to note, I still do freelance research consulting, and that’s been my main income source – another reason why my past job, and the length of time I spent there were SO integral to my success as an entrepreneur. The work allows me to continue working on the continued growth and development of my two businesses, and eventually, phasing out the research work. My initial business endeavor came easier. The work of Styled By Jillian was something I already was doing for those close to me, helping them feel comfortable and confident in their clothes and love their clean, organized, streamlined closets, so it came more naturally and it didn’t require a lot of capital (if any) to get started. Because it’s a service, I didn’t need huge sums of cash to get things rolling – no office space or production supplies, just me and my skills! Jillie P is another story. Perfecting an actual sale-ready product requires much more hands on work, space to do it in, and capital to keep it going. But I was only working on it when I didn’t have other work from Styled By Jillian or the research consulting projects. Which meant it took extra long to get off the ground. And I knew nothing of building a clothing brand. Almost five years after I started working for myself (about two months ago!), I joined a sustainable fashion incubator called Factory 45. With Covid-19 drying up most of other work opportunities, it was the perfect time to get serious – if Jillie P was going to be a real brand, a real success, I needed some professional help. Thus far, it’s been extremely informative and a LOT of work, totally daunting and very exciting, and I think, well worth it. Come 2021, we shall see the results!! All said, it takes a lot to start your own business. Taking a risk on your sanity, your finances, your confidence…its terrifying. But you never know what will come to be unless you try! So why not?
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh boy. I live in Hollywood so I’ll highlight some of my favorites on the east side of LA.
Highland Park: Mason’s Dumpling Shop – incredible fried dumplings, and I dream of their seaweed salad and woodear mushroom sides. yes, the veggie sides are that good! Wild Terra – right across the street from Mason’s, its a tea shop + herbs/herbal remedies and all the fun stuffs that come along with it. neat stuff if you’re looking for a gift for someone who loves tea or natural tinctures/remedies.
Los Feliz/Hollywood: Bhan Kanom – in Thai Town, its a thai desserts wonderland, much of it homemade in the store. favorites include their peanut crackers (more like a cracker cookie hybrid with TONS of peanuts) and mango sticky rice with salty coconut. Stamp Proper Foods – an awesome local restaurant/coffee shop that I spend all day working in, and eating in. Great food, good music, and a very cozy, local atmosphere. Down the street (Hillhurst) is All Time, another tasty lunch spot with a slightly more upscale vibe, and Spitfire Girl – a very cool spot with interesting jewelry, housewares, books, and other random stuffs. great for gift buying or buying for yourself. Griffith Park/Griffith Observatory/Greek Theater – gorgeous natural beauty, amazing views, tons of walking trails throughout. Don’t miss this!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Ha, it’s my parents! They were supportive from the very beginning – they had confidence in me, and believed that if I wanted something badly enough, I’d do all the work involved in making it happen. And if I failed, they’d be there to help me get back on my feet. I have the BEST parents.
Other: working on my jillie p business, so www.jilliep.com is a work in progress!