Boss Lady: Jena Baffone

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we chat with Jena Baffone, founder of the Delaware Furniture Exchange and Passionista Fashion Truck. Jena shares with us what it means to empower women to live positive and organized lifestyles along with advice for future #bossladies.

Boss Lady: Jena Baffone of Passionista Fashion Truck - Social Stylate

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.
I am currently the owner of Delaware Furniture Exchange (DFE) and Passionista Fashion Truck (PFT). DFE is in its 6th year and we sell upscale, gently used, furniture and accessories for the home. PFT is a mobile women’s Fashion Truck, sort of like a Food Truck just with amazing, new, and trendy women’s clothes and accessories. In the past I have worked 10yrs for a banking industry and was a realtor for 6yrs.

2. What prompted you to start the Passionista Fashion Truck?
I felt PFT would serve as a great compliment to DFE. I didn’t want to do used consignment clothing, so I felt being mobile I can come and go with new, trendy items for women. Plus who doesn’t love clothes and accessories.

3. What is your buying process like? Do you do a lot of trend research?
I deal with trendy companies from New York & Los Angeles. I grew up with 80s fashions and have watched the trends repeat themselves at some level – I am about keeping up with the current trends but making sure it has some “staying” power. Florals, Paisley, Stripes, Lace, Suede, Fringe, Ruffles, Flair, Straight leg, Skinny each had a era of their own. In the right style these pieces you can have for a while instead of just 1 season. I like to phrase it Timeless Trends.

4. If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before you started your business, what would that be?
Trust and believe in yourself, think positive that you can do it, what’s the worst that can happen you make mistakes, mistakes are the learning process, oh and you will make them but you can also correct them.

5. What has been your most successful form of marketing? (In terms of obtaining new customers)
Even with the enormous social media world we live in today and online ecommerce sites that bombard the internet – I still believe engaging face to face with the customer is mostly successful for me. Human Interaction is key for both businesses that I have, providing excellent customer service in this aspect is still just as important. Don’t get me wrong social media is huge but both stores actually depend on foot traffic. So if you make someone feel special and engage and they like their experience they will tell two people which is where social media comes in to play. Let them say it on social media what a great experience they had coming into the store and so on.

Boss Lady: Jena Baffone of Passionista Fashion Truck - Social Stylate

Jena just won the 1st year Best Concessionaire Award this week at the Delaware State Fair.

6. How do you measure success based on your efforts as and owner? Is it purely financial? Crossing off everything on your daily list?
I LOVE LOVE when people compliment on the choices I pick for the store or when I get pictures of how they re-decorated their homes thru DFE or they went to a special occasion with an outfit from PFT. I pride myself in providing something for everyone. When your customers are satisfied the financial aspect typically comes with that but don’t get me wrong you need to make money at these types of businesses otherwise you’re a 501c3 that you cant claim. LOL.

7. When it comes to building your brand, what is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
When you connect with your customers and have a passion for what you believe in you’re building your brand. Don’t think that building is ever going to stop though branding is a constant in motion. I am a big believer in the “look for less” whether in your home or in fashion. Majority of the people would love to have that high-end leather, tufted, nailhead chair for 2K but can’t afford it. It goes the same for clothing, I want people to feel great in what they wear but not spend a fortune. Your home is about “living” as well as fashion is about “looking good” in what you wear, the two are really connected. If I can give my customer unique finds at an affordable price, I am branding my businesses.

8. Where do you hope to see the company in 5yrs? Would you ever turn in your truck for a storefront?
DFE is a bricks & mortar and PFT is mobile. Right now I have the best of both worlds within the 2 businesses right now. I was able to start PFT because of the fantastic employees I have which makes things easier. I think it’s about timing for opening a store – it may happen.

9. What inspires you and fuels your creativity?
Well both businesses are ever changing on a daily basis. I receive original items for DFE on a regular basis and it’s never the same and PFT the scenery is always changing so creativity is extremely important in both businesses. This is where confidence in your ability to think on your feet and go with your gut, just do it comes into play. Also, knowing you can tweak things along the way of the journey of owning a business helps too.

10. What advice do you have for those looking to go from employee to entrepreneur?
I once read a book that said “know a little about a lot” I think it was Rich Dad Poor Dad. Marketing, Accounting, Branding, Social Media, Time Management, Hiring Employees, Tax Codes, Ect. I feel I know enough about all of these that I stay within my strengths and hire other people to do the other jobs. Hire good people and don’t be afraid to ask for advice from specialists in their field.

11. Who is a #BossLady that inspires you and why?
There really isn’t one specific person that inspires me. What inspires me are women that over come obstacles to achieve their goals and are willing to talk with other women about their journey in how they did it. There was a women’s speaker series in my area that I attended for several years 1x a month for 6months. I had the pleasure of hearing approximately 30 of these successful women overcome such hardship and turn themselves into successful empowering women. Alison Levine, Barbara Corcoran, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Condelezza Rice, Maya Angelou just to name a few I have seen. There is one thing they all had in common – they never stopped wanting to learn.

Just for fun…

Your happy place is: Watching a Sunset not matter where
The one item you can’t live without: The internet (but it would be nice to try to live without it)
Favorite Instagram account to follow: All of them
The last show you binged watched: James Bond Movies
Cocktail of choice: Skinny Mojito – Club Soda, Tito’s, Muddled Lime, Mint
Song you could dance all day to: Diana Ross – I’m Coming Out
Trend you wish would disappear: Pattern leggings – there is something about wearing pattern things on your butt cheeks.

BossLady-JenaBaffone-SocialStylate

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Boss Lady: Kate Hersch

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we chat with Kate Hersch, founder of August Morgan, an amazing line of hand-embroidered linen cocktail napkins. Kate shares with us what it means to empower women to live positive and organized lifestyles along with advice for future #bossladies.

BossLady-KateHersch-AugustMorgan-SocialStylate
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.
I live in Austin, Texas and am a wife to Robert and mother to Lily and Gus. I generally work from the morning after drop off at school until 4 when it is time to pick kids up and begin the evening routine of dinner, homework, sports, etc.

As a family we love to travel and eat. You will never starve in the Hersch household!

I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a BFA in Art History. After graduation I went to work at Sotheby’s in New York. I was in the Bid Department in Client Services. I was the person on the phone bidding for clients in the salesroom.

At Sotheby’s my friend introduced me to needlepoint. I was hooked. I never get on a plane with a piece of needlework. Unbeknownst to me, needlepoint would kick start another career…..

2. What prompted you to start August Morgan?
When I moved to back Austin I would frequently go to thrift stores and see old needlepoint pillows. I knew the amount of work that went into them I decided to “rescue” the needlepoints.

I then began August Morgan as a pillow company. I took vintage needlework and had them remade into a new pillow with a canvas back, invisible zipper, and down insert. The pillows were modern with a tip of the hat to the past. They were sold in stores across the US, in Barneys NY and on Anthropologie’s website. I loved creating these, but they were time consuming and produced a small profit for a lot of work.

I then came up with four designs for embroidered cocktail napkins, and now we have over 40 designs. The napkins, like the pillows, were traditional with a twist.
Now I have my clothing line that is like my pillows and cocktail napkins; traditional with a touch of whimsy.

Boss Lady-August Morgan-Social Stylate

3. You (semi) recently added clothing to your product assortment. Do you find that more challenging to sell/work with on an e-commerce platform?
I actually think it is easier to sell clothing than cocktail napkins online. There are some serious e-shoppers out there!

4. How do you make August Morgan stand out against competitors?
I don’t worry about competitors, but I do fiercely protect my own designs. My cocktail napkins are constantly being copied and I have a great lawyer. We send out cease and desist letters a few times a month. This is expensive but worth it to me. I won’t let anyone take the glory for my hard work and creativity.

Boss Lady-August Morgan-Social Stylate

5. What has been August Morgan’s most successful form of marketing? (In terms of obtaining new customers)
Finding Instagram tastemakers to promote my dresses.

6. When it comes to building your brand, what is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned?
Not to be trendy, as that is not my personal style and it should not reflect my company. To be true to my vision and taste.

7. Where do you hope to see the company in 5 years?
More clothing and more fun. A broader lifestyle company.

8. What inspires you and fuels your creativity?
Watching other women create, succeed and work hard.

9. What advice do you have for those looking to go from employee to entrepreneur?
Just do it. Do not care what anyone else thinks and says if you want it bad enough.

10. Who is a #BossLady that inspires you and why?
I admire Aerin Lauder for her personal style and how it is reflected in her beautiful products.

Just for fun…

Your happy place is: My annual winter trip to Jamaica with my family and two other families.
The one item you can’t live without it: my dogs! Golden Retrievers are the best!
Favorite Instagram account to follow: @awkwardfamilyphotos
The last show you binge-watched: The Crown
Cocktail of choice: Vodka soda with a lime. Preferably Stoli. I’m old!
Song you could dance all day to: This week it’s Wish I Knew You by The Revivalists
Trend you wish would disappear: Active wear when one is not exercising. Let’s leave that at the gym and dress for the day.

Boss Lady -August Morgan-Kate Hersch

 

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Boss Lady: Sarah Zero

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we chat with Sarah Zero, founder of Wellstruck, a Delaware based brand design company. Sarah shares with us what it means to empower women to live positive and organized lifestyles along with advice for future #bossladies.

Boss Lady - Wellstruck - Sarah Zero - Social Stylate

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.

I’m based in Delaware, where I live with my husband and pup (#SmallsPup — yes, she totally has her own hashtag). Lately we’re into day trips near home, sitting at the bar when we go out to eat, and binging on Master of None.

I have a degree in Visual Communications and over 10 years of professional branding experience. I’ve worked in-house at a brand department at a large corporation; on a small team at a boutique agency that specialized in nonprofit branding; and even as adjunct faculty, teaching Visual Communications at the college level.

That led me to found Wellstruck, a brand design company. I love branding because it helps entrepreneurs get clarity, confidence, and credibility. It’s rewarding to connect business owners to clients who truly value their expertise.

2. What is a typical work day like?

I spend my mornings at my local coffee shop, Brew HaHa! I get there around 8, order a large green tea, open up my laptop, and knock out all of the frogs on my to-do list. By the time I leave the coffee shop around 11, I feel like I’ve already had a super productive day.

Then I head home, take the pup for a short walk, and watch mindless TV while I make myself lunch. I’m a big believer in recharging to maximize productivity.

I schedule client calls for the afternoon (from my home office), along with any intense creative work that requires my big monitor or lots of desk space. When my husband gets home around 5, that’s my cue to wrap up work. I check back on my to-do list and set my priorities for the next day, then close my laptop around 6.

3. What was your inspiration behind starting Wellstruck?

I have always wanted to own my own business, even before I knew what I wanted to study in college. After falling in love with the world of branding, I was even more interested in starting my own business because of the lack of women-owned branding agencies out there. Branding is a very male-dominant industry that glorifies working insanely long hours — I want to play a role in changing that up. I believe I can do great work without sacrificing everything else in my life.

4. What has been your most successful form of marketing for the company?

Our most successful form of marketing has been Wellstruck Lady Boss. I founded Wellstruck Lady Boss in 2014, and have hosted these intimate monthly gatherings for women business owners since. It started as a passion project inspired by my genuine desire to build a community with real relationships. I think the fact that we don’t think of it as a marketing effort is exactly why it has been so successful. Genuine relationships take time, but they’re worth it for many reasons.

5. What advice would you give to women who aspire to be entrepreneurs?

You will never start with a finished product. Get over it and get started! The sooner you start, the sooner you can iterate. Iteration is how you perfect.

6. What are your favorite roles to play in the company?

I love when a client sees her potential from our perspective. There’s always a moment — sometimes it’s when we finish defining her brand; sometimes it’s closer to the end when everything is more refined. When it happens — ooh! Goosebumps every time!

7. Where do you hope to see the company in 5 years?

I want Wellstruck to be known, and I’m interested in growing it from a lifestyle business (that depends mostly on me) to a legacy business (that depends more on my methods). Right now I have solid methods formed, and I’m figuring out how to systemize as much of it as possible without sacrificing any of the goodness that comes from one-on-one client experience. I’m excited to eventually add smart, talented designers to the team and teach them the methods!

8. Who is a #bosslady that inspires you?

Allegra and Rasa from Birchtree Catering! They are strong, smart, hard-working, and damn good at what they do. I look up to them more than they know!

Photography by Brittney Raine

 

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Boss Lady: Frances Thrasher

Boss Lady is a series that shares personal insights from creative women in business. This week we chat with Frances Thrasher, creator and founder of Kindred Skincare, a Wilmington-based company with 100% organic oil cleansing skincare products. Frances shares with us the journey that led to her passion for health, which ultimately became a successful skincare line.

Boss Lady: Frances Thrasher of Kindred Sknicare

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your career?
I went to Georgia Tech and studied Textile Engineering. One summer I was overexposed to chemicals in a polypropylene plant, and this created a lifetime of skin sensitivities and allergies. The change in hormones during my pregnancies intensified the problems. By my second child, I couldn’t even use any soaps or shampoos. I was developing allergies to additives, thickeners, and foaming agents. I did some research and I started using olive oil.  I got tired of smelling like olive oil all the time so I took an online bio course and started playing around with soaps and moisturizers (all oil based). Eventually I created the Kindred Skincare line. I just made it for myself and then I realized that there was a big market for it. My plastic surgeon friend used the products during her pregnancy and saw amazing results. She, along with my mom and sister pushed me to create the line.

Where did your name and brand come from?
The name Kindred symbolizes the extension of family through kindred spirits and our universal interconnectedness. The look and feel of the packaging reflect both the science and the personalized customer care reminiscent of a classic neighborhood apothecary where the local practitioner knew the name and the families of the each and every person in need of effective holistic healing remedies.

What is a typical workday like?
There is no typical workday. I am a one-woman band so it really depends. It depends on the amount of orders I have, the amount of supplies I have to work with, and everything else that I have going on in my life. I hand batch everything and that takes a long time. I could also be in my shop dabbling in other products, delivering local orders to stores like Houppette, or I could be sending my products at the post office to my clients in Brooklyn, Florida, or Oregon. My family is incredible and helps me if I’m ever in a pinch.

Where do you get your ideas and inspiration?
I get my inspiration from all over the place. I’m always taking in feedback from clients and trying to work with them to develop new ideas. I also love to go horseback riding in my free time and that is a big influence for me. Being in nature really inspires my whole lifestyle. One of my favorite practices is Shinrin-Yoku, a term that translates as “tree” or “forest bathing.” Research has determined that when you immerse yourself in nature by “walking through the woods,” the body responds, practically communing with the surrounding environment, giving way to a host of benefits: a reduction in both stress and blood pressure, an improvement in mood, energy and sleep as well as an accelerated recovery from illness or surgery. I believe in natural and organic approaches to caring for your body. Your skin is your largest organ, therefore what you put on your body Is just as important as what you put in your body!

Who is a Boss Lady that you look up to and why?
I can’t choose just one. I have so many. Everyday I meet such talented and passionate women. They’re in the stores I go to, they’re clients, and they’re all so different. They all have had completely different paths that I am just in awe of. I have really grown to love and have deep friendships with these women. To me, you don’t have to be a flag-carrying woman. We’re all little pieces of the bigger picture. We are all empowering with our shoulders back and our heads up. I have so much respect for these women that I interact with every single day. They’re all juggling a lot, and yet they are keeping a good attitude and just doing it well.

What is your best form of marketing?
I definitely use Instagram to gain traction with my company. I’m not super into Facebook or Twitter or even hiring a sales team. On Instagram I’m able to not only showcase my products but who I am as a person. I think it’s really important that people invest in that aspect as well. I can really show them that I live up to the lifestyle that I’m so passionate about. It shows a real-life aspect to my company so people know I’m not just a business tycoon. I’ll make cold-calls to people to get their input and throw my name out there. I also get a lot of business through my website and e-commerce. After people buy products they’re always telling their friends. Word-of-mouth has helped my business tremendously.

What do you think is in store for the future of your company?
I like the small, apothecary feel to my line. I’m a small business so I’m looking to build smart growth that won’t be too overwhelming. It’s a big market and I know the more I open people’s eyes to the magic of oil based skincare products, the more they’ll be all over it. I’m starting small with the Indie Beauty Expo in Dallas where I’ll show off my product. I want others to see the necessity and power of good oils. I am so excited for what the future holds because I really took a leap of faith with this line and it has given me so much.

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