For me, to actually get something done, it helps to just commit right away. To decide to do something, and know that all of the details can get figured out later, because they always do.
Brooke Moreland is a co-founder and the COO of Jewelbots. A powerhouse fashion-tech entrepreneur, Brooke Moreland joined forces with Sara Chipps in 2014 to create Jewelbots, a design-conscious wearable tech brand that helps teenage girls connect with one another and with technology. Previously, she founded a style-focused photo-sharing app, Fashism, that launched in 2009 and was backed by Ashton Kutcher and Project Runway’s Nina Garcia. She went on to become the general manager of Fashion GPS, the software platform that powers New York Fashion Week and events for the world’s top luxury brands including Chanel, Gucci, and Dior.
Where did the idea for Jewelbots come from?
My co-founder, Sara Chipps, founded a non-profit called Girl Develop It in 2010, which teaches low-cost software development classes in over 50 cities. One thing that she kept hearing from the women who would take the class is that they wished they had realized that software development could have been an option for them as a career choice when they were younger. I was one of these women. When I started my first company, I was so clueless about building technology, which is kind of a liability for a tech CEO! I wanted to join forces with Sara and create something cool – something that could potentially capture the attention of a girl who would not necessarily identify herself as ‘techie’.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I love taking time for myself in the morning to set myself up for a productive day. I usually wake up around 6AM and go workout. I either do some kind of dance class or yoga or just go for a bike ride or a run. Then I come home, make and eat a substantial breakfast and walk to the office. I check email and make my to-do list (on paper) and then get on our daily standup on Google Hangout. Because we have a remote team, these daily check ins are very important. In the office, it’s just my co-founder Sara and I so we tend to talk to each other all day long. It’s like one long conversation punctuated by a series of pauses that never really starts or stops. When she puts on her headphones I know that means she needs to focus and then I try to do the same. I try to pick one task, like writing an article or a thoughtful response to someone and knock it out before I allow myself to chat. It’s hard because I’m very social and easily distracted, so I allow myself conversation as a treat. In an effort to be more inclusive to our team working remotely, I try to put more conversations and ideas in writing, over Slack, but that doesn’t come as naturally to me. I’d rather just say something the second it occurs to me rather than type it out, but I’m trying to change that habit!
How do you bring ideas to life?
For me, to actually get something done, it helps to just commit right away. To decide to do something, and know that all of the details can get figured out later, because they always do. For example, we decided to create the “Take Your Daughter to Hack Day,” on a whim. We wanted to have a hackathon for kids and parents to let them make cool stuff together to help identify and cultivate our future user base. We just decided to do it, picked a date and told people it was happening. Sure we had to get sponsors, choose curriculum, and sell tickets, but once we decided to just commit then we knew we’d eventually solve all of the other problems. And we did.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I love the on-demand space because I am extremely lazy. I once made a list of all of the apps and services I use for on-demand on a weekly basis and there were like 30 things on there! It was kind of embarrassing, but also awesome. Free time is a wonderful and precious resource and I try to maximize it where I can. Also, did I mention I was really lazy?
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I think I have become extremely good at adapting to scenarios pretty quickly. As an entrepreneur, things can change on a dime and you always have to think of a plan B. Investor decided not to come in? The product doesn’t work the way you wanted? New hire changed her mind and took a different job? Just figure it out! It’s a good skill to be able to not mourn all the bad things that happen and things that fall through, and I think I can do that pretty well!
What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?
I had a sales job where I had to basically pitch “news” videos to TV stations that were really corporate PR videos paid for by the companies but made to look like actual news stories. I worked there for three months and I don’t think I ever made one sale. I liked the people at the company but I hated hearing no. I hated picking up the phone. I felt ridiculous. I had a pit in my stomach every morning because I didn’t want to hear the rejection. I feared talking on the phone to strangers so much that I listed this as my worst job, and I’ve worked at McDonalds! But I did get used to the rejection, to talking to strangers, to being assertive and learned to not take things personally. This was my first job in New York, so it also got me to the city where I quickly learned that there are many opportunities here and there was no need to stay in a job that made me miserable!
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
That’s hard to say. I had a previous career in TV and film editing and I loved it. In college, I studied photography and worked for the campus paper. I’ve had great life and career experiences that have nothing to do with what I am doing now, but I still don’t think I would trade them. But, I definitely would not have dropped my computer science classes in college. At the time, I didn’t connect with the stuff we were learning to the cool stuff that I would be using on the internet in the future. I was a little short sighted. Also, the classes were at 8AM and that totally cramped my style back then. So dumb!
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Go to bed. Seriously. I know a lot of successful people who stay up all night trying to solve problems, but that just doesn’t work for me. Often times at the end of the day I feel overwhelmed, stressed, worried. But, I really do shut it down at the end of the day. I go home, go on a bike ride, do a tequila shot, anything to take my mind off work. Then I try and get around seven hours of sleep. Sure, the problems are still there in the morning, but sometimes after a night of sleep, so are the solutions.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
For us, doing a Kickstarter campaign has been incredible helpful. We spent a lot of time crafting it, thinking about how to tell our story, shooting an awesome video, picking out the right design elements. I think crowdfunding can be so cool, and really lets your community see behind the scenes as you grow and build. It’s not for every company but for us it has been great. We’ve had a great response so far and and so many people that would not have otherwise heard about us are now fans!.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The first company I started went out of business in 2013. Professionally, that is basically the worst case scenario for an entrepreneur. I got over it in much the same way as any other loss. I grieved and wallowed about it for a few month – I felt sorry for myself, I went on vacation and drank too much. Then I shook it off and started to think about what was next. One of my investors at the time told me, “don’t worry, this isn’t the only think you are ever going to do.” I took a lot of comfort from that.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would really appreciate a service where I could get a new outfit messengered to me in an hour. Sometimes there will be a last minute important meeting I need to attend, or an impromptu party invite, and inevitably it will always be a time when I wore sweatpants to the office or have just spilled salsa down the front of my shirt. Sometimes I just need a new outfit in a pinch and I don’t have time to go home and change or go clothes shopping. I see this idea working as an ecommerce or rental business. But, either way, can someone please get on this? I will be your biggest customer!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why? (personal or professional)
I spent about that much the other day on BBQ supplies for a summer cookout. Being outside with friends and family in the summer is my favorite thing ever. Good food and booze is always a good expense in my book!
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I really love “Bossy Pants” by Tina Fey. I “read” the audio book several times when it came out a couple of years ago. It was so funny that I was laughing hysterically to myself on the train. Tears were literally streaming down my face and people stared at me like I was insane. But it’s not only funny, it does have some sound advice for women in particular and touches on topics like discrimination, being part of the conversation, motherhood, and work/life balance.I am seriously considering “reading” it a fourth time.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Two big influences that I think everyone should know about are Rachel Sklar and Glynnis MacNicol, . Cofounders of @theli_st, a network and visibility platform for professional women, to which I’m an advisor. They have influenced my career and thinking tremendously. They do nothing but tirelessly prop other women up and are both brilliant, funny and amazing and are a total delight. Everyone should be following them to hear what they have to say.