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.
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.
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.
top image via