I'm excited to introduce one of our clients & friends, Jennifer Worman, the dynamic blogger behind Red Soles & Red Wine and the CEO/Owner of the Fashion brand T&J Designs today! Besides being an inspiring business owner and mother of two, Jennifer is a fashion powerhouse. I love that she's never afraid to experiment with luxe prints, bold colors and an extra high pair of stilettos (seriously how does she walk in those!). Take a peek into her world, business and how she manages to balance it all so effortlessly.
Name: Jennifer Worman
Occupation: CEO/Owner/Designer of t+j Designs
Current City: Chicago, IL
1) How did you first get into the fashion industry?
I started my career as an auditor at KPMG and reviewing financial statements for large corporations. I knew that I wasn’t passionate about what I was doing and after 3 years in accounting I took a leap and went back to school for fashion. I did a one-year program learning the ins and outs of designing, merchandising, and the production of clothing. My goal was to get a merchandising job and found the best job within a month of graduating and started my career over as the assistant merchandiser to the VP of Janie and Jack. [editor note - and now we know why her kids are always dressed so cute!] I loved my job and worked hard, within two years I was promoted to Director of Merchandising for several departments.
2) What inspired you to start T&J Designs?
I moved to Chicago knowing only a handful of people and the job prospects in fashion were few. My sister inspired me to start my blog, Red Soles and Red Wine, and from there we discussed doing something on our own. My dad was always an entrepreneur so that spirit of working for ourselves was always there. Jewelry was a common item we loved, with my background in merchandising and business, hers in social media and blogging, we wanted to take a step and try it. We gave ourselves 6 months to see how it would go and here we are almost 4 years later doing it full time! We now carry jewelry and clothing exclusively designed by us.
3) When did you know this was what you wanted to do?
I would say I knew immediately I loved owning, designing, and working with my family. But it wasn’t until we had our products featured on the Today Show, 8 months after we launched that it really hit us that we had something that would work for all of us full time. It was our big moment of wow, this is happening!
4) What’s the most challenging/hardest part?
Time management, balance, and figuring out costs and how to work with all my factories is the most challenging. I love my job so it’s part of my life but working with China means I work every night checking email, deal with production issues from here, and travel there 3 times a year to make sure things are done accurately. I have two little ones and didn’t take a maternity leave; making sure I allocate quality time for my family is a priority to me. But overall balance is hard when you own your own business.
5) Where do you want to be in 5 years? Do you have any future goals or things you’d like to accomplish?
I do have sales goals in my head but I know based on my experience to take things day to day. I’m not sure where I want to be but I do know that I want my company to keep growing and be double the sales and size it is currently is at. We ‘ve had some great things happen and features so I love to be open to whatever may come. We all work hard and are very focused on sales and growth and hope we can continue to be successful in the years to come.
6) What do you attribute your success to?
Passion, motivation and drive are the keys to success and don’t expect things to happen, make them happen yourself.
(Above: Jen in her pretty dining room, designed by our firm. Don't you love that metallic wallpaper? Swoon!)
7) What does success look like for you?
Success for me is a moving target, I set goals and when I make it I set others. But overall success for me has to do with being successful in all aspects of my life. Success is being happy with myself, hitting sales and growing our customer base for t+j Designs, trying new things with my style for my blog and instagram, and being a great mom and wife. It’s a balance of it all and I may not be fantastic at all of it, but I feel happy about what I have achieved.
9) What's one tip of advice that you would share for anyone who aspires to be an entrepreneur in the fashion industry?
I think my background in fashion for 10 years working for big corporations really helped. I think in any entrepreneurial business have a good business plan and look at the financials. How much do you have to invest, how much do you need to survive, and what help (loan, friend, familes, husband) can you get to start off with. Being an entrepreneur isn’t just being passionate about the product or service or working for yourself, you need a great financial backdrop to be successful and maintain business.
A few of Jennifer's favorite things:
Drink of Choice: Red Wine or Champagne
Style Icon: Olivia Palermo
Most Prized Possession: My shoes (I can’t just pick one) and Chanel bags
I love: my family
My personal heroes are: my parents – they both work for me now and we have a great working relationship but I wish I could help them retire and relax!
I’m watching: Game of Thrones (just finished and man that was a crazy ending)
Last splurge: Christian Louboutin So Kate Denim Pumps
My Guilty pleasure: Shoes
Favorite vacation spot: Bora Bora
If I wasn’t a CEO: I’d love to be a: professional food and style blogger. If I didn’t own my business I might take the step to try to blog full time. I love blogging but I can’t allocate enough time to it due to work.
I’m afraid of: bugs and spiders. I’m deathly afraid of them.
What are the 3 things you think about most? If my kids are happy, if my parents are healthy, and everything at work.
If I had a warning label, it would say: Stress levels high, please hand her a glass of wine before speaking :)