Success truly doesn’t come overnight. You have to stay committed and work hard to accomplish the goals you want to accomplish. Also – you can’t do it by yourself.
Jennifer James is a creative professional and successful entrepreneur who founded and is currently Chief Executive Officer for plus size athleisure/activewear line Active Ego. In December 2016, James earned her Master’s in Business degree from the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. After having her first child, James went into full gym mode to lose the baby weight. Immediately, she noticed a void of quality activewear for plus-size women, and decided to create fashionable, yet durable pieces for all curvy women to enjoy. In 2014, James launched Active Ego, and with the success and awareness of the brand, the JJ Collection was conceived and launched in 2017. James’ mission is to further develop this exclusive line of active and leisure lifestyle apparel that serves and provides options for plus size and curvy women who have been underserved in the market place.
Where did the idea for Active Ego come from?
During my last pregnancy I had a really hard time finding apparel that had personality! I was considered plus sized and the activewear options available to me during that time were dull and limited. Not a lot of tangible options. Out of frustration I stepped out on faith and decided to go down this journey of creating my own brand for what we know and understand today is an ‘underserved’ community.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
Everyday is truly a new day. I wake up early every morning to meditate and to get a workout in and from there its all about tackling the tasks for the day. My days are long but filled with great new and developing opportunities.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Let me first say this. I am nothing without my team. I have the best supporting group any leader could have. They are the ones that bring my ideas to life. From our designers, marketing, merchandising analysts, sales team, etc. the list goes on. We get together weekly strategizing how we can bring our brands ideas to life and I truly look forward to that week after week.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Just apparel in general excites me. We have positioned ourselves to center our core values around ‘inclusion’ and making our apparel for everyone not just for some. Athleisure is a category we are really excelling in and its very exciting.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Using Sunday’s to prepare for the upcoming week as if I am going into a fighting ring. I literally plan out my days as best as I can and get organized so my team is aware of what the goals are for the week.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Success truly doesn’t come overnight. You have to stay committed and work hard to accomplish the goals you want to accomplish. Also- you can’t do it by yourself. That is one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make is wanting to do it by themselves.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
There is no such thing as having a work life balance as an entrepreneur. Its all about flexibility. Some weeks/months are tougher than others and I am not able to be the best mom I can be, or wife, or friend. Its hard for me to fit all of it in in a day. I have had to learn to be okay with failing in one or more of these categories some days. The goal is to try not to fail too much in the same areas week after week ????
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Save, save, save money. Live on a strict budget for a few years. Even when you are making good money or you are having a good financial year, live like you make close to nothing a year.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Building a team based on quality and not quantity. I have the best members in the best positions on my team. We are lean but effective.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Not doing enough research before spending money. There are so many resources out there and tutorials on YouTube, etc. you could use before you begin spending extra money on things.
What is one idea for business that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Apparel brand that focuses on ‘inclusion’ of all women in the activewear/athleisure categories.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
From my first company sales. It was an online order I received and it was the best because in that moment I realized that someone other than me was interested in my apparel.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
YouTube. With building my online e-commerce website and just maintaining my website in general. Very helpful.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Soar” by T.D. Jakes
What is your favorite quote?
“Be yourself, everyone else is already taken” -Oscar Wilde
• Stay committed to your idea even when no one else can see it.
• Be flexible with your time and process.
• Building and establishing a team is about quality not quantity
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Jennifer James on LinkedIn:
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.