On Thursday May 26th, the CEO and Founder of Stella & Dot Jessica Herrin, sat down with moderator and BlogHer Co-founder Jory Des Jardins. An inspired group attended the intimate event at the Commonwealth Club: Cultivate Your Entrepreneurial Spirit.
I took my seat in a sea of lively young women, most of them aspiring entrepreneurs with a few fashionable men sprinkled in the crowd. We gazed upon the Inforum set, waiting for our entrepreneurial idols to take the stage.
Jessica Herrin’s new book Find Your Extraordinary: Dream Bigger, Live Happier and Achieve Success on Your Own Terms was certainly well represented in the conversation. While she spoke I couldn’t help but think, “Wow, she should write a book!” Sure enough, she has, and it is a must-read for anyone looking to start a business.
An overarching theme of the book, as well as an idea that she emphasized for the audience is that she “...wanted to find success as happiness. We wanted to run the company instead of letting the company run us.”
Stella & Dot is a jewelry company that allows its representatives to work out of the home with the mentality “show, don’t tell,” while also in an effort to “democratize entrepreneurship” for women who want or need to work on their own terms--whether that be due to family or other reasons. This idea shines through her own career path in that “everything was done around starting a family, very purposefully.” Herrin was breastfeeding at the moment her career gained mobility, and was having kids all through her hard work. However, with her daughters in the front row as she spoke to the crowd, it was obvious that she is a conscious parent, in addition to being a great business woman.
Yes, boys and girls, it can be done.
After growing up as a trouble-maker in school with a mentally ill mother, and eventually a community college student who heard her teacher’s say “You are the biggest waste I’ve ever seen,” Stella & Dot shows us that truly anyone can be successful. However, Herrin does seem to have a few qualities that sent her in the right direction.
She states that while some people relax by relaxing, “I relax by doing.” She also seems to look at life and see a need, not a fault. She looks at ways to fix the problem instead of percolating on what’s wrong. In seeing the need for her own company, she simply said, “If not now then when, and if not me then who?”
Herron is quick to say she constantly made mistakes while building Stella & Dot, however, despite these “mistakes” that everyone must make while growing in any career, Herrin claims that she “either won or learned.”
To many aspiring entrepreneurs in the audience, Herrin gives a few key pieces of advice: “You have to be your own source of strength… don’t doubt yourself, doubt the people who doubt you.” She also addresses the common question, “How did you create overnight success?” To that, she simply replies, “Overnight success takes seven to ten years.”
So, for anyone who is struggling to make their entrepreneurial endeavor turn into gold, know that even our most successful role model faced challenges and rode difficult waves for years--all while giving birth to two girls, breast feeding, and having a great relationship with her husband.
Bottom line, Herrin says that a strong business takes confidence and passion: “Don’t look left and right for validation on your choices. Decide to make the choice on your own. A business starts with self confidence. Passion, authentic love, the right path, and a positive mind are the fundamentals of entrepreneurship.”
When we thought she was done spewing out one perfect line after the next, she was asked the million dollar question: Tell us in 60 seconds what you would do if you could change the world? To that, she replied, “If I had a magic wand, I would make it so that no one thought their gender, or race, or class, or sexuality would affect their future.”
Simply brilliant. And you, too, can reach her level of success--no holds barred.