As promised, before I share a new #JJONME look, I wanted to be sure to introduce you to not only the brand and the fabulous pieces that are offered, but I wanted to allow you the opportunity to meet the creator, THE Diana Pou. She has poured her heart and soul into this project and it is evident through her works. Here is a very brief interview that she and I completed just to allow her ideal target market a bit of background knowledge on Jessamine and James Clothing Company.
Sit and Chat Session
K: Okay, so of course we have to know what on Earth ignited your spark to simply leave everything behind and focus on your online business?
D: I have worked in retail for over 10 years, and as someone whose size has fluctuated, I have noticed the lack of options for larger sizes. I was working in a boutique that stopped at a size large, and I had customers, at least once a week, ask for larger sizes. I lost out on sales because of not having the size they needed. I saw that women of a certain size and background still wanted unique, high quality boutique pieces to fit their lifestyle, the same type of store their smaller peers were frequenting. It finally hit me that this was what I was supposed to be doing! So from there, it was really just about putting one foot in front of the other, figuring out the next step and taking that leap of faith. I haven’t looked back since!
K: Where did the name of your company come from? What was your thinking process with creating the business name?
D: I started with a piece of paper and a pen, just writing down words that came to me. I was thinking of words associated with fashion, with curves, words I just liked for whatever reason. I would keep coming back to it every once in a while, adding things to it. I was working on the name while also giving myself reassurance that this was what I was supposed to be doing. So, I got to thinking, my grandfather was a business owner, a jeweler. The name of his business was The Saluda Jewelry Company; my dad was a business owner, a farmer. The name of his business was The Cock and Bull Farm. So I thought to myself, ________________ & _______________ Clothing Company. That really helped me to visualize what would be a good fit for the company. James is a family name; my brother, dad, and grandfather are all named James. When my mom was pregnant with me, she considered naming me Jessamine, which is also the South Carolina state flower. So as an ode to my family and the state I grew up in, I came up with Jessamine and James Clothing Company.
K: When it comes to deciding what clothing items to purchase for sale, how do you decide? Do you base it only off of current trends when buying?
D: This has been the trickiest part for me so far. I don’t have any experience in buying clothes (other than my personal shopping habits!) so it has been interesting to decide what to buy. I decided to start by creating collections with overarching themes, like certain patterns and colors. So far I have focused on buying to fit the collections, while thinking about what has sold best for me in the past, as well as what I personally like. Of course trends do play a part in this process, and I use Pinterest and Instagram to help me visualize what pieces I want in the shop. I have also toyed with the idea of putting polls on social media, asking my customers directly for their feedback. One thing I feel that is missing in the plus-size market is cool girl graphic tees (visualize the kinds that are sold at Anthropologie or Free People). I’ve been on the hunt for a supplier for these but haven’t found anything yet. Stay tuned!
K: What has been your greatest challenge in creating and maintaining JJCCo?
D: To be honest, the greatest challenge has been getting and converting customers. I expected it to be slow at first but I still have high expectations for myself. I spend most of my time looking for ways to get new customers and expose people to my brand. I get frustrated because at times I feel like I’m not working; I’m spending hours and hours on Instagram following customers in my target market. Or I’m glamming up to take pictures to use for advertisements. Instagram and other social media platforms, in general, have completely changed the game, and that means I have to spend a lot of time building my presence on these sites. It’s not my strong point, but I’m learning and consistently working on being better. I’ve also been thinking of ways to sell outside of e-commerce without having a brick and mortar location, such as festivals and pop-ups. Another idea I’m working on is hosting Jessamine and James Sip N Shops, where customers would host a party (at my house or theirs) and invite their friends over to shop. I would provide bubbly and snacks and the host would get special offers and incentives for having the party. I’m confident I’ll get there, it just takes time, and I’m looking forward to seeing how far I’ve come in a year from now!
K: What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs that are looking to begin their business?
D: If you have something that you want to do, and you believe in it, you should do it. Don’t be afraid to fail. It’s a good experience to fail, as long as you learn from it. There is no reason why you shouldn’t trust in yourself and your ability to do something. I didn’t know how to start a business back in May; I just knew I was going to. Once I made that decision, it was only a matter of researching to find how to go about starting a business. There are tons of resources out there to get you started and keep you going. Do research to make informed decisions and believe in you; those are the keys to success!
Do you feel obligated to shop Jessamine and James now? I believe that this brand, this company, this fascinating person behind it all will go extremely far! Build your brand, take your “No” and learn how to make it your next “Yes!” Be sure to shop Jessamine and James Clothing Company! If you have questions on the fit, feel free to reach out! Diana is very approachable and eager to assist! So am I!