Inspiration for me is everywhere, but making an idea a reality requires a lot of hard work, planning, and having people you trust around you that offer expertise in areas you don’t have.
Amanda O’Brien has a B.A. in English Writing with a career in marketing, having worked in several different industries over her career from software, manufacturing, media and advertising, to financial services. She has always been passionate about personal style and fashion with a particular love for vintage clothing and home goods. She saw an opportunity to create a new type of womenswear brand that brought together a vintage, 1970s aesthetic and a need she identified in the fashion industry to produce clothing that would fit women of a variety of body types. After doing research she realized how many of the garment workers, 80% of which are women, across the world are not paid fair wages or have decent working conditions, this also includes the U.S. She also learned about the negative environmental impact of the fashion industry and is working to change this. Jean Franklin is operated out of Los Angeles and is a completely women-run business. Jean Franklin aims to help further important causes — through paying fair wages, getting involved in helping the homeless population and creating educational opportunities for women in the LA area. Amanda’s goal is to spread the word about sustainability and the ethical practices all businesses should be focused on.
Where did the idea for Jean Franklin come from?
I had grown frustrated with trying to find a womenswear line that I identified with from a personal style perspective that also met certain good business practices – paying fair wages to its garment workers (yes, even in the U.S. this is an issue!), clean and healthy working conditions and also environmentally responsible production. I also wanted to create a clothing line that could fit a variety of body types. After doing research on the fashion industry, I realized how much work needs to be done to change how the industry at large operates and I wanted to be part of driving that change.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts with an early morning. I get up at 5 a.m. and have a scheduled routine that involves walking my dogs, eating breakfast and meditation before I start work. I also make sure to have scheduled times to work out in the evening as a way to unwind from the day and get some good sleep. I make my day productive by having very specific lists and a plan for each day, including any appointments and times I need to do certain meetings or tasks.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Inspiration for me is everywhere, but making an idea a reality requires a lot of hard work, planning, and having people you trust around you that offer expertise in areas you don’t have. For me, I try to balance creating new products by ensuring they are made of the best quality (which takes time). It’s all about quickly testing products and ideas, learning, failing sometimes, and making it better the next time around. Most importantly, it’s not giving up and continuing to work at the idea or knowing when to move on to the next one if something isn’t working.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Quality over quantity. Slow fashion.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I don’t check social media first thing in the morning and wait to check email until something on my list requires me to do so. I’ve found that a great way to get things done.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Just go for it. It never gets easier so be willing to work hard for the projects and things in life you’re passionate about – stay diligent and you’ll make your own path successful. There’s not one right way to build a career that you want.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
Find people to work with who share your passion and vision, not just experts in their work.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Don’t be afraid to test ideas and fail. Track and have a way to measure what you do so you can identify what works and what doesn’t. When something works, keep finding ways to make it better. I always try to remind myself too that everything I do is for my customer and about my customer, it’s not about me or the brand.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Defining exactly who my customer is and isn’t. Creating details personas or snapshots of who these women are in life. Talking to real women about their shopping habits online and in person – going to events and listening, then further defining those personas.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Several years ago, I decided to start a personal styling business, but I jumped right in to doing some of the marketing without a solid plan or focus as to how I was going to reach my potential customers. In hindsight, I hadn’t found what I was passionate about yet so I eventually let the project end. I continued to do research and better define what it was I actually wanted to focus on.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I came up with this idea recently since I like to cook, but always seem to have ideas for meals or come across recipes when I’m not at home. Basically there would be an app or service that would be able to take your pantry inventory (food you have in your kitchen) and allow you to order or pick up the remaining ingredients to make your meal.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Surprising my team with food! Have a team and thanking people for their hard work is so rewarding both personally and for the business.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Evernote for organizing myself and making specific lists to keep me sane. I also use Slack with my team.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“A People’s History of the United States” by Howard Zinn, an important read on the history of the United States.
What is your favorite quote?
“Feminism isn’t about making women stronger, women are already strong, it’s about changing the way the world perceives that strength“. – G.D Anderson
-Have a routine that keeps you healthy and focused
-Don’t be afraid to test ideas and fail quickly, learn and try again
-As a leader, you don’t have all the answers, listen to your team
-Build a business that helps people and the planet
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Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.