We had the good fortune of connecting with Jacqueline Potter and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jacqueline, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
When I graduated college, I quickly entered the world of advertising and loved it. I loved the pace, the challenges and the social nature of it all. Cut to my early 30’s when I was married and struggling with infertility. I quickly learned the challenges of balancing a successful career with other elements of life. I suddenly couldn’t throw my entire self at my job and I was finding I wasn’t as “successful” as I had once been. I tried to find different rolls with more flexible hours and workload, but I was flying blind and what I was trying to build wasn’t working. I was incredibly frustrated. When COVID hit, I decided to take a step back to be home with my son while my husband, being a firefighter, faced the frontlines of a global pandemic. During the time at home, I connected with a variety of women who had similar frustrations with their career. While they all had different circumstances, the constant was what they had built wasn’t working. Collectively was born out of wanting to help myself and others around me. I felt that women needed one singular destination when they hit a wall with their career. Together with Christine Calegari and Sarah Miles, we built that destination. By aggregating and vetting various resources such as life, financial and career coaches, marketing resources and recruitment tools, we created an environment where women have trusted advisors at their disposal. Thus far, we have helped women make career changes when they felt stuck, reenter the workforce after taking time off, as well as launch their own business.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I fell into advertising shortly after I graduated college. I began as a temp answering phones at a SD Media, a rep firm started by Steve Dveris, where I ended up spending close to seven years learning and growing. The key to Steve’s success was not just based on his own business acumen, but his ability to recognize good talent and no, I am not referring to myself. I am referring to the amazing group of women who made up his team. I learned so much about not only business, but about life during my time there and I am still friends with all of them to this day. My next step was to head over to a rapidly growing digital start up where I learned about the relentless world of digital advertising. I loved it. It was extremely competitive and demanding and I jumped in head first. I again, bonded with incredibly smart women who were just as driven as I am. These women are some of my life lines today when it comes to major career decisions. I’m pretty sure we referred to each other as our “foxhole” at one time.
As my career grew, I continued to learn, grow and form amazing relationships. Slowly I realized that more people were coming to me for advice. A lot of them women, and a lot of them frustrated with the landscape. At the time, I didn’t really have much advice to offer as I was still navigating it myself, but this was a major moment for me down the road when we were building Collectively-Sarah, Christine and I didn’t need to have all the answers, we just needed to know who did.
As I moved from company to company, I was lucky enough to encounter some incredibly smart people who took the time to help me grow, hone my craft and be more self aware. I will never forget one women, in particular, who was by far my toughest boss, but who also gave me the most opportunity. I met her via a past colleague when I was 9 months pregnant. She not only listened when I pitched her a part time role on her team, but encouraged me to put a business plan together and that she would consider it. We built a roll together and she was my advocate at the company. We gave it a shot. It didn’t work. She had to let me go. But man, was I grateful for the chance. I will never forget the day she fired me. We were both emotional-not because there were hard feelings but because something we wanted to work didn’t. But that was ok! She gave me the chance and that was HUGE. We all need chances in life. Some work and some don’t.
After that experience, COVID hit and I made the choice to stay home for the year. Enter Sarah and Christine and the birth of Collectively.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I have lived in the LA area for almost 7 years now, but in my defense, I was pregnant for one and a mom for 3 so I would say I had 3 solid years of really getting out and exploring the city. The first stop I always take my friends is the beach (I realize this is a given-but man it never gets old).
We live in the south bay so we love:
Tacolicious-We are from the Bay Area and used to frequent the one in SF
Slay-great for a date night
Nicks-solid food and fun bar
Shellback-for when we want to feel 25 again
Other great spots:
Hamasaku-an old coworker and dear friend and I used to treat ourselves here.
The Rose in Venice-awesome for a long brunch or lunch with great food and cocktails
The Venice Whaler and Hotel Erwin’s roof are great happy hour spots right on the beach which is always a crowdpleaser for visitors.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Where do I start?
-My Husband, Robbie who has always supported me in whatever adventure I take.
-Christine Calegari and Sarah Miles, my Cofounders who Collectively would not exist without
-My parents who have pushed and supported me my entire life
-The countless mentors who I have met throughout my career-in particular the strong and successful women who I have learned so much from.
Meg Stone Photography