Being a successful Entrepreneur means taking care of the people who work for you.”
Jelt Belt launched in February 2014, out of a quaint office in downtown Bozeman, Montana. Jelt’s Owner and Inventor, Jen Perry, started Jelt out of pure necessity. As an athletic, busy working mother and business owner, Jen discovered a need for a functional belt to keep her jeans from sagging and her kids from cringing. With her passion for the outdoors and the company’s headquarters located at the base of the Rocky Mountains, Jelt evolved from being a comfortable, flat belt to wear with jeans to the perfect belt for hiking, biking, skiing, golfing, traveling and everyday fashion.
Jen made sure Jelt would stand out from any other belt on the market. Not only is it modern-retro, with a nod to 80’s fashion, but it is also made from 100% recycled water bottles, has a patent-pending buckle design that won’t show a bulge under fitted shirts and an inner gel that grips to pants. The fact that there are no metal parts means it is great for traveling and can be worn through security checkpoints. Bonus!
The best part of the Jelt brand is our commitment to giving back—to organizations supporting veterans, children and the environment. We are also making a difference with our Montana manufacturing, which helps incarcerated women gain valuable job skills and build self confidence, prior to release. Our company strives to help people live a productive life.
Jelt is dedicated to making a difference by enhancing lives with responsible and sustainable fashion. We’re never too serious – always ready for a good time and constantly growing through new adventures.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts with a 7 a.m. alarm to get up feed the dogs, feed the kids and maybe feed myself. On the best days, I get to play tennis for a few hours and then go into work, where the office is hustling and bustling. Getting some exercise right off the get-go makes the whole day better.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I am constantly thinking of new creations for my belt company—whether it’s new belt designs or suspenders, or different ways to utilize leftover product and re-purpose it into dog collars or coin purses. We’ve even made some art pieces with the excess inventory! The ideas come to life when I pitch my ideas to my VP and my staff, who either nix it or give it a thumbs up. From there, I have a production liaison who I send drawings/sketches/etc., to. He makes Cad drawings of it and has it bid out for us. Piece of cake, right?!? – Except then, you have to come up with the money!
What’s one trend that excites you?
Well, I’m starting a trend now—“Move over rowdy socks, it’s time for retro belts!” I’m also a bit obsessed with the rainbow motif that will be all the rage soon. Great retro belt ideas are swirling in my head…
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Being a successful Entrepreneur means taking care of the people who work for you. The Entrepreneur is the Creative Visionary for the company and not usually the one taking care of the books or the day to day operations. I make sure to empower my employees by giving them autonomy and positive feedback when they are doing their jobs. I always encourage them to attend family events and leave work to go to their child’s performance or game. Being a good leader means allowing people to be their best selves.
What advice would you give your younger self?
OMG. Where do I start…
1- Don’t worry about what other people are thinking of you. Just be yourself. No one is watching.
2- Make sure to spend time with your parents and grandparents. They won’t be around forever.
3- Don’t date bad boys. They are just taking time away from your friends, who will be there for you forever.
4- Go to class. You might really learn something and retain it!
5- Follow your heart, but let your mind steer.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Just like all people. It’s easier.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Laugh at yourself regularly. It’s cool to be human and make mistakes. Just learn from them.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I hired a V.P. who is a genius with Marketing, Budgets and Personnel management. She has helped legitimize my company. We are more profitable, have a game plan and are accountable for every move we make. I couldn’t operate without her.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There are so many… again, where do I start! One failure that comes to mind is attending the wrong trade shows. I have done this at least three times! Make sure to research trade shows that fit your product and audience exactly. First and foremost, you have to KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Edible dinnerware—sort of like those taco salad bowls or flat tostada shells, but actual bowls and plates that you can eat! There would be sweet and savory choices made out of all kinds of delicious foods. That way, you don’t have to do dishes!! (I’m already thinking of the 17 people I’m hosting at my house for the holidaze…)
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I took my V.P. out to dinner to show her my gratitude for all of her hard work. Professional becomes personal in a great way.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Our Shopify platform for our website has the best apps to add on that simplify every aspect of the user experience. Klavyio was expensive, but worth every penny. Check it out.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Alchemist”, by Paul Coelho. Here’s a quote: “People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.” I’m an English Literature major, so reading books on business is very difficult for me, but I do it when told to.
What is your favorite quote?
If not now… when? (It’s my motto)
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.