Jacquie Mahan – Co-founder and CEO of The Awesome Company

Wisdom comes from experience, mistakes, failures, successes and everything in between.

Jacquie Mahan is the Co-founder and CEO of The Awesome Company, an organic custom goods brand that celebrates what you think is awesome. It’s a simple yet powerful idea that Jacquie knew would resonate with others. So she channeled her entrepreneurial spirit and started The Awesome Company with her two dear friends, Meghan and Kathy. Together, they are committed to providing fresh, modern, and thoughtful designs for you and your home. They strive to be champions for organic farming, responsible manufacturing, and values-based shopping. Lastly and most dear to their hearts, they are dedicated to embracing and providing employment for people on the autism spectrum. Every item that The Awesome Company sells positively impacts the autism community.

When Jacquie isn’t working, you’ll find her at home taking too many pictures of her poodles, making quilts, reading books and hanging out with her family. She’s a graduate of The Art Institute of Boston and a proud midwesterner living in her hometown of Columbus, Ohio. She fully embraces the belief that weird is wonderful.

Where did the idea for The Awesome Company come from?

I came up with the idea last summer while taking a stroll on a beach in Nantucket. I wanted to start a new venture. I wanted to create something fun and artistic that would send positivity out into the world. I thought, “You know what would be cool? An art print that says PILATES IS AWESOME.” At the time, I owned a Pilates studio and was always looking for ways to snazz up the walls. I sat with the idea and then it occurred to me, if Pilates is awesome, then Yoga is Awesome, then sunshine is awesome, then anything could be awesome! Pictures of art prints, tees, tote bags and pillows popped into my head. A business that celebrates what you think is awesome. I thought to myself, this is a great idea. But a great idea isn’t anything unless you have a team to make it happen. I soon partnered with my two brilliant friends, Meghan and Kathy, and together we created The Awesome Company. We are an organic custom goods company that celebrates what you think is awesome. We are also dedicated to employing adults with autism because that is truly awesome.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I go to the gym, I drink a bunch of coffee, I eat some waffles and get to work. I have a lot of energy first thing in the morning. My friends would say I have too much energy sometimes. I try to work as much as I can in the morning and early afternoon because that’s when I’m most focused and productive. By evening, I am simmered down and ready to go home and relax with my kids and dogs. I am the kind of person who thrives in a routine. I love eating the same thing for breakfast and I love going to the same desk and chair every day. Keeping a routine makes me productive.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Ideas are brought to life by simply trying out the idea. I’m not scared to take risks and I welcome the possibility of failure. Failure is actually my favorite teacher. Failure keeps my ego in check and helps my sense of humor. Sitting with an idea doesn’t do anything. Hoarding an idea and not sharing it does nothing. One must share, brainstorm, then execute the idea. And when it fails, because it will, try again, and again, and again until you get it right. When you get it right, which you will because you never gave up, the feeling of accomplishment is wonderful.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I don’t know if it’s a trend, but the idea of profit with purpose as a business model resonates strongly with me. That’s what I’m trying to accomplish with The Awesome Company. Supporting businesses that are doing great things, providing high quality goods and services, and empowering their employees and community is something that excites me. I hope more businesses jump on the profit with purpose train. Making the world a better place should be a permanent trend.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I make it a habit to always surround myself with people that are smarter than me. If you want your business to boom, find the smartest, most innovative people you can and partner with them. They will bring qualities to the table that you don’t possess. Check your ego at the door, share the stage, listen to your peers, and let their big brains lead you. I love working with a team.

What advice would you give your younger self?

It’s cliché but I wouldn’t give my younger self any advice. Wisdom comes from experience, mistakes, failures, successes and everything in between. I would just tell the younger me to enjoy the ride. Oh, and maybe rethink the Andy Warhol hair style I thought was so cool.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

I don’t think business plans are important. It’s ingrained in us to have a plan, think before we jump, weigh pros and cons carefully, and cautiously forge a path. To me, that is a mistake. Throw the business plan away. Nothing is better than starting. Don’t get caught up in the planning. You’ll psych yourself out. Get moving, fall down, get up, take risks, then take bigger risks. My dad always told me that without big risk there is no big reward. Growing up in a house where being fearless and resilient was a requirement helped me find risk taking super fun rather than scary. I know most people disagree with my business plan philosophy.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

I recommend two things. First, read books all the time. Read lots of books about every subject that interests you. Read biographies and memoirs about people you think are cool. Read business and self help books to keep you motivated. The things you learn will help your business. I learn so much about myself when I read a book. Second, nurture existing friendships and make new friends too. Keep connecting with people. Stay close to positive, inspiring people and ditch the people that bring you down. Don’t work with ‘em. Don’t be friends with ‘em. Keep surrounding yourself with people who have good energy and are doing new and interesting things.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

The best strategy to grow a business is to trust your gut and listen to smart people with experience. Get to be good friends with your gut.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

My first business was an art gallery. I opened it when I was 22. I had no idea what I was doing. At the time, I only worried about having the best art on the walls and being “cool” to my peers. Yes, I had really great art on the walls but I was failing big time in other departments. Payroll, paying taxes on time, keeping inventory, watching the money going in and out wasn’t a priority. The business failed because I didn’t focus and I didn’t ask for help when I needed it. I vowed to do it differently the next time. I got knocked down so I got back up. That’s how I overcame it.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Give 10% of your profit to a charity close to your heart. Your customers will love it. The charity will love it. You will feel good. Your business will grow. Being kind and generous is always a great idea. That’s a pro-tip from my mom.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

My friend and business partner, Meghan signed up for Paddleboard Yoga which cost $100. I kept falling off the paddle board and Meghan kept steering her board in the wrong direction. We could have had a bad attitude about it all but instead we were laughing and learning new stuff. Investing money in experiences is hugely important. That $100 went to a small business that needed it. Meghan and I got to do handstands on paddle boards. Win-win.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

We use Shopify to organize our business. It’s an amazing tool. You can manage inventory, shipping, sales, literally everything with this software.
I also like the calendar app, COZI. It’s nice to have a super simple calendar separate from iPhones and google calendars which can get pretty complicated.

What is the book you recommend our community should read and why?

Read “You Are a Badass” by Jen Sincero and then read “You Are a Badass at Making Money” by Jen Sincero. She has the best outlook on life and she is vulnerable and fearless. I love that. I also really enjoyed the book “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. She makes being creative feel so important.

What is your favorite quote?

My personal hero is Mr. Rogers. I love his quote, “Discovering the truth about ourselves is a lifetime’s work, but it’s worth the effort”. Mr. Rogers was all about being true to yourself, being open to change, being kind to others and making the world a better place.


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