Jasmene Bowdry was living the American Dream. With a lucrative, high-level job in corporate America and enough disposable income to travel whenever and wherever she wanted, the sky was the limit for the fashion buyer. With a promising future working for high-end luxury fashion brands like Saks Fifth Avenue and a constantly increasing bank account, from the outside looking in, it seemed like Jasmene had it all figured out, but for some reason, she still wasn't happy.
Like most of us, Jasmene grew up with the belief that to truly reach a level of optimum adulting, you had to go to school, get a degree, find a good job, and retire. But as Jasmene matured and continued to excel in her career, she began to question this way of thinking. "It really just came to a point in 2015 where I was like, okay, how can I merge these passions of mine? I love fashion, I love business. How can I really merge all of that together and do something that really fulfills me?"
While she had pursued her dreams of becoming a boutique owner in her spare time away from work, reality hit her like a ton of bricks when she was let go from her full-time job and forced to explore other options. Although Jasmene had plans of leaving corporate America in the future, she learned to see her seemingly spontaneous misfortune as an act of God. She explained:
Courtesy of @JasmeneMache
"When you pray for things, God will make them happen in his time, and I was just like well this is just the time; that God wanted it to happen sooner than I did. So, to me, it was a blessing."
It takes a truly ambitious woman to shift her paradigm to see the obstacle in every opportunity, and for Jasmene, the now-owner of SHIFT StyleHouse fashion boutique, that transformation inspired the career of her dreams. As a young girl from Lansing, Michigan with a love for dressing up paper dolls, Jasmene never imagined that celebrities like Tyra Banks and Sarah Jakes Roberts would wear pieces from her boutique thanks to stylist J. Bolin, or that she'd have the opportunity to open her own pop-up boutique space in Macy's next month. But God has a funny way of pushing us into our passions.
Along with preparing for her brand debut at The Market @ Macy's in Lenox Mall on July 7th, Jasmene also spends her time as a business coach who helps women learn the ins and outs of starting their own boutique.
We sat down with Jasmene, who got real about most important things every woman should know when launching their own businesses:
Know Your Audience
So you've decided to get like our girl Jas and step out on faith to start a new business. While your first thought may be creating an Instagram page or finding a web designer, Jasmene advises that we apply a different method. Instead of focusing so intently on the aesthetic aspects of your business, get to know everything you can about your ideal customer.
Knowing your customer and honing in on your target audience to be more niche than broad is key to seeing success in your business. This is part of the reason Jasmene started her online coaching business, The Boutique Teacher. She told xoNecole, "Many times when people start boutiques, they want it for the masses. They want everybody to come shop. And when you're trying to sell to everybody, you sell to nobody."
"When you're trying to sell to everybody, you sell to nobody."
Take Your Time
Knowing your customer isn't just about filling out a worksheet, issa process. Doing the work can mean taking days, weeks, or even months to develop and evolve your business. Jasmene shared that because her target audience drives the core of her business, she uses this information to make any and every major decision that she's confronted with. "I really dove down into like, who my girl was. When I decided that I'm going to rebrand, it wasn't something that happened overnight. It was months of work and research to really understand who my ideal customer was. It was months of finding the perfect pieces that fit along with her lifestyle."
For Jasmene, getting to know her ideal customer meant using her imagination, even giving her target client a name. Once she made the decision to focus on that aspect of her business, she hasn't looked back.
Standing Out In A Crowd
Anyone who's ever dipped a toe in the fashion industry knows that thriving in an oversaturated market is no easy feat. There are new businesses popping up every day, b; so it's important that you find a way to stand out from the crowd. The SHIFT Stylehouse owner emphasized the power of staying in your own lane, because no one can do you like you.
As an introvert with just a dash of social anxiety, at times, it's hard for Jasmene to be in front of the camera. But, according to her, moving in silence isn't always the best move. She told xoNecole that the key to conquering your market is just being you, sis. "Sometimes you gotta pop out. Sometimes you do have to show yourself so that people can see you and understand you because people buy into the stories of the people they buy from; who they trust and love and who they can connect with. So sharing your unique story is really what will set you apart in this industry."
"Sometimes you gotta pop out. Sometimes you do have to show yourself so that people can see you and understand you because people buy into the stories of the people they buy from; who they trust and love and who they can connect with."
Stop Purchasing Vendor Lists
Starting a business is hard, but nothing that's truly worth having will come easily. The same is true when you're starting a boutique, and according to Jasmene, the easy way isn't always the most lucrative. I can admit that I've fallen victim to buying a wholesale vendor guide on a whim, hoping that it would help me fulfill all of my entrepreneurial dreams, but Jasmene informed me that this way of thinking was dead wrong.
"It's deeper than somebody just putting in the names of vendors on a spreadsheet. You need to build a relationship with wholesalers and manufacturers. You need to touch the quality of the product before you decide you're going to try and sell that to somebody," the style curator explained. "I see what a lot of starter boutique owners do is, they have the idea that they want to start a boutique and now they're like, 'Okay, well where do I source the product?' So they think that getting a vendor list is the solution to that."
Jasmene advised that although that vendor list may be specific to one audience, it doesn't necessarily mean that vendor's products will work for your ideal client. Vendor lists have the potential to stunt your growth, and if you're not careful, can be a real waste of money.
Feel The Fear & Do It Anyway
Courtesy of @JasmeneMache
Maybe you think you don't have enough money to start a business. Do it anyway. Maybe you think you're too old to step out on faith and leave your job. Do it anyway.
According to Jasmene, we will never truly feel like we have enough, know enough, or are enough to follow our dreams. Her mantra since leaving her job in corporate America has been, "'Feel the fear and do it anyway.' There's so much greater on the other side of fear. There's so much more outside of your comfort zone, and I was so comfortable working in corporate America. I wasn't fulfilled, but I would think that my paycheck was fulfilling me."
According to her, if she had one piece of advice, it would be: "Take the leap, take the risk. Never get too comfortable. Never. Had I taken risks earlier in my life, then the brand could have probably been so much further. But that's not something I harp on, there are no regrets. Everything happens in the timing that it is supposed to happen."
"Take the leap, take the risk. Never get too comfortable. Never."
If you're in Atlanta this month, make sure to check out Jasmene's brand, SHIFT StyleHouse at The Market @ Macy's while it's available for a limited time in Lenox Mall in Buckhead!
Featured image courtesy of @jasmenemache.