May 31, 2017
#GathreGood with Kortni of Kortni Jeane
-Hey there Kortni Jeane. Give us the history on you! And would you mind sharing some things that many may not know about you?
I grew up believing in magic. There was nothing more exciting than the belief that a person could fly, that unicorns are hiding in the forest and one day I would end up at Hogwarts. Through my parents I knew one could accomplish anything their heart was in and that failure is all part of the journey. I grew up with 12 siblings, yes you read that right, TWELVE and each and everyone of us has our own strong personalities. I fall between boys and shared a room with my older brother so the love of super heros, race cars and barbies was all part of the childhood dream. My brother would take ballet lessons with me and I would go to tumbling with him. I am a very social/anti-social human, I love meeting new people and putting faces to names from behind the screen but I wouldn't mind curling up to a good book day after day (maybe in another life?!). My mom is an avid sewer and instilled my creative spirit of design. In high-school I took any and every class possible that involved the sewing machine, including being the teachers assistant only so I could just sit in class to sew. For years I had plans on doing many things not involving sewing but when the close of senior year came I decided design was the path I wanted to take, but still with little direction on what I wanted to pursue.
-Now tell us the backstory on Kortni Jeane?
My senior year of high-school I had an amazing teacher who was determined to better and expand the sewing curriculum so she picked a select few students who had experience to test-drive a swimsuit sewing class for the state. I was eager to sew my life away so I was ready and willing to take on the task. Although I was pleased with my projects and creations I HATED the class. Swimsuit material is so hard to work with, stretching and sliding constantly it requires more focus and effort. But the first swimsuit style I made in the class was a hit that my sisters and friends all wanted me to make them one. Being a high-school student I was happy for the extra cash as I started to custom make swimsuits. That summer word had spread so quickly I had strangers knocking on my parents door asking "Is this where I get a swimsuit made". I opened an Etsy shop when I moved to Los Angeles to start school at FIDM where I learned about a whole new world of fashion and the jobs I could pursue. There were so many careers I had set my eyes on but none being a swimsuit designer running her own show. I graduated with a Fashion Design + Business Management degree with many job offers on the line, I was completely overwhelmed with and extremely excited about! But with so many orders knocking on my etsy door and pressure from family and friends I was convinced into starting Kortni Jeane. I moved home, put all my savings into my first production run through a factory I had created a relationship with while living in LA, and put my education to work! I was by no means an instant success, starting and running a business is A LOT of work and involves so many tasks one would never even think of. But I worked hard and continue to learn EVERY SINGLE DAY to put myself out there and make dreams reality.
-Would you have ever imagined Kortni Jeane would be where it is today? What has been one key factor to your success?
When starting Kortni Jeane my intentions were never to make it my full time job. Although I thought that would be awesome it wasn't ever something I thought was realistic. But there is a larger demand than I had pictured in my head and the growth has been humbling and exciting and scary and OH SO FUN! I give my success to social media and the power to be able to connect with and create relationships with people all over the world! I would not be where I am today without my amazing supports and customers who stand beside me.
-What does a typical day look like in your shoes?
Ooo, this is always the hardest question I get asked because every day is so different. Being an online based business, believe it or not, majority of my days are spent sitting at my computer answering emails, running the backend of the website making sure everything is running smoothly, keeping customers up to date and informed and so much more. I sit through so many production and design meetings to make sure what I envision is what ends up in your hands!
-Did you ever picture yourself running a business?
Like I mentioned before, my thoughts from the beginning never crossed my mind that this would become a full time job. It was always my hobby, something I loved to do but wasn't thrilled on. But now that I do it I cannot imagine doing anything else! When I started Kortni Jeane I was working elsewhere so I could support my business and life (I was a newlywed with no money to spare, thanks husband for taking a risk on me!). I worked a full time job during the day for a year and a half and did Kortni Jeane at night. And the day came that I had to choose, do I want to make Kortni Jeane the real deal or keep is small. Obviously, I quit my job and took on the risk of Kortni Jeane and couldn't be happier.
-Failure is a part of success. What has been one of the hurdles you’re most proud of overcoming as you’ve created Kortni Jeane?
I feel like I have more failures than most (so that makes me more experienced right?! ha). I think one of my biggest hurdles was taking the step of moving Kortni Jeane out of my basement and hiring + entrusting employees to help me. I didn't know I was such a control freak until I was faced with the fact that I couldn't do it all on my own. I had my way of doing things and wanted it done that way, but as I let go a little I now love the ideas I am able to throw around between my team and make Kortni Jeane the best we can.
-Is there one talent or skill you wish you had known before starting a business?
Ahh, this is a good question. Although I went to school for this very thing I now do, I feel like I mostly have learned as I go. I did NOT understand Instagram (or social media in general) when I started Kortni Jeane. I literally thought it was a photo editing app. But once I understood the concept and reality of it all I was able to grow tremendously! But I do like to say to anyone thinking of pursuing starting their own business is be prepared for a never ending work schedule. It calls for early mornings and late nights and any spare moment you have will go to running the show.
-#gathrelove How has it been working with your husband?
AMAZEBALLS! Can I say that?... Its honestly wonderful. I am the type of person that can spend 24/7 with my husband and not get enough still but I know that's not always the case. Nico actually runs his own business as well. So although we help each other where we can we both have our own tasks and responsibilities to take care of. I do hope one day our jobs bring us together more so we can spend more time with one another. The good thing about both being entrepreneurs is we understand the concept of busy.
-If you were to take a new dream-chaser to lunch, what advice would you give him or her?
Oh what I said above! Plus, make sure you LOVE and are passionate about what you are about to pursue. Its only worth it and it will only work if it is something you are truly spirited over cause it is going to consume you.
-What do you do to treat yourself?
This is actually something my husband and I were discussing a few days ago, as we do not want to burn out. As we were talking though we realized we usually just go so hard, like work our butts off till we are completely exhausted and then run away for a few days or a week to somewhere that's not home and recoup our energy and passion and then we get right back at it. We love to travel so if we work hard we will play hard! Side note: you can never escape work when you run your own business so even when we 'escape' we have to keep up on emails, answer employee questions and make sure everything isn't completely run down by the time we return. But these escapes cannot happen very often so I do try to celebrate small victories in-between and mostly that's with food because I love food. I have to remind myself to step back, take a breath and enjoy the moment. I often get wrapped up in trying to always improve, always make things bigger + better or whatever it is that I miss the fact that I am doing good and things are going well and people are happy. Its always important to enjoy the journey and seriously treat yo self!
-If you weren’t running a majorly successful swimsuit business, what would you be doing with your time?
Assuming the funds were constant I would travel the world. I get so inspired by seeing the world I would be like a kid in a candy store traveling from place to place and indulging in all the food!
-We noticed you’re remodeling a house? How would you describe the style you’re going for?
Mid-century modern! I am in love with white so anything I can convince my husband into needing to be white it will be white. He loves darks so we are bringing a lot of wood and fun light fixtures to mix our styles but over all I would say we are mainly inspired but mid-century modern and cannot wait to do our big house reveal when we are done with the reno!
-Between remodeling, being a wife, and running a business, you’re busy!? What do you do or don’t do, that helps you juggle all the roles you have?
I think moving into an office space has made the division of home and work life a little easier. We moved out of my basement a little over a year ago but when I worked from home I felt like I was always at work and couldn't get away so the move is definitely helpful for that. My husband and I always make a point to eat dinner together. Whether it is super late in the night or at the office or a quick bowl of cereal we always try to make sure to have that time in the day together. I don't think there is any magic formula that helps manage the home/work life all I can think to do is actually make the effort and set aside time for it all. I don't know what I will do when kids come along... not that I am pregnant haha I have a few more years until that.
-#gathreaway You’re a well-traveled lady. What is your next dream travel destination?
#1 on my list right now is Thailand! I love warm beachy vacations and Thailand would be dreamy! Also, Italy! My husband is Italian and lived in Italy for a couple of years so we plan on going back!
-Just for good measure, what’s your favorite Kortni Jeane swimmer?
This is such a hard question as my mind is constantly changing since I am around them all day everyday. My favorite style currently though is the scoop back top and all-ruffled up bottoms, for my body type they are bomb! I have funky style so I am always choosing things together that one would not typically go to, makes it hard when people ask me for suggestions because I am so weird haha. But tomorrow it will most likely be different...
--Lastly, we love hearing people talk their dreams. What is your greatest dream, big or simple in life?
In general, my dream is to create a community of people who uplift each other and feel comfortable in their own skin. We are all created and born differently so why not embrace it?! I want to make others happy and nothing is better than that.