Being an F.I.T. (Fashion Institute of Technology) alumna is a funny thing. Attending as a “part-time, evening student, I never really felt connected to the school and many of my fellow students. I suspect that, such is the case with many evening students. When the majority of the students were leaving campus to begin their evening undertakings, the “night shift” students were just beginning the grueling task that is sitting through a 3 hour class after an 8 hour work day.
On the flip side, I was fortunate to build a few quality and meaningful relationships with some of the most unique and dynamic women I’ve ever met. JeMere Smith is one of those women.
JeMere is the owner and founder of the company, Style J, and the designer for her signature product line, Shower Caps by Je’Mere, a bespoke line of stylish and inventive shower caps. Thoughtful and innovative Shower Caps by JeMere was developed to fill a need in the market for shower caps that would provide adequate protection, and fit, with a touch of color and whimsy.
JeMere was gracious enough to speak with me about her product and company, what it’s like launching a new product, and what she wishes women would stop wearing.
Interview with JeMere Smith of Style J:
Tell us about your product and how you came up with the concept?
Shower Caps by Je'Mere, is my shower cap line that I create and hand sew.
I created the shower caps because I was unsatisfied with the performance of the plastic shower caps sold in beauty supply stores. I didn’t like the color variety and the one size fit all. My hair would constantly get wet in the back when taking showers because the elastic would stretch and it wouldn’t hold tight enough against the back of my neck. So, my mother and I brainstormed on various ways to create my own shower cap by using the best sewing techniques considering the fit and the various sizes. In the fall of 2007, my first shower cap was completed. This eventually led to the creation of my company, Style J, Inc. in April 2008.
Describe the woman who buys your product?
The woman who buys my product is stylish and loves unique items. She doesn’t need anything but wants everything.
Where do you get inspiration for your various styles?
I get my inspiration from fashion, nature, candy, magazine layouts, and anything else that uses various colors that look good together. I pay a lot of attention to trends like animal print. This trend comes and goes but always comes back around. Other times I just get creative and match fabrics and the outcome is always beautiful!
What fashion/style trends are you into right now?
I just worked fashion week. I was backstage during the Michael Kors, Vera Wang, Donna Karan, Jason Wu, and L’Wren Scott fashion shows. Since I’m a fashion follower and leader I like classic pieces mixed with trend pieces as well as high low. I may buy a pair of jeans from Charlotte Russe but pair it with a designer handbag, heels, and sunglasses. As far as fall/winter trends, I’m looking forward to the military look, thigh high boots, and paring them with my vintage fur coats in some way.
My fashion goal is to use vintage boutiques and begin to collect one of a kind pieces from all across the globe. I also love raiding my mother’s closet for pieces that have priceless value and often times a story behind it.
Any trends that you've had enough of?
For woman, it’s the 2 piece tracks suits. My issue is that the relaxed attire has caused some woman to become lazy and not give the effort it takes to look nice. Often times it doesn’t take much effort. A simple causal dress, big earrings, sunglasses, and a smile is all it could take. There’s times when I get dressed and my husband will ask me, “And where are you going?” and I would say, “To the supermarket.”
Back in the day woman would get dressed in hats, gloves, corsets, lace up shoes, just to go to the market. For me, I embrace being a woman and I look forward to the times I get to dress up. It doesn’t matter if it’s raining, hot or cold, whether I’m going to the gym, playing tennis or going to dinner with a friend. I enjoy using my closet to play up or down an evening in or out.
How difficult or easy has it been launching a new product? What challenges have you faced?
The creative process is the easiest part because I get to infuse a portion of my personality and style preferences. Another part I enjoyed is creating a presence on the internet by using social media. The hardest part is exploring areas that aren’t common sense, like taxes.
You attended FIT. How did your experience at a fashion college help you in your business?
It helped me a lot. I was apart of PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) and within that club I joined Seven Communications, PRSSA’s Public Relations firm. One semester Seven Communications picked me up as a client. They brainstormed on ways to market and promote my shower caps. They created a press kit and published an article about me in the campus newspaper. The immediate reaction from college students and faculty gave me confidence and showed me that I have a good product.
How do balance your personal life with business life?
In the business with me are my husband and my mother. So, I often have to switch from being daughter and wife to being the President and so far it seems to work. As far as the work load, I utilize any free time and apply it to sewing, establishing new connections, updating my blog, and cross promoting. I work on my business all day long because I’m always thinking of ways to expand while sticking to my goals.
What advise would you give to others on work/life balance?
If you have a hectic schedule use a calendar, either an electronic one or a regular paper calendar. As long as you can see what you have to do and can cross it off when done, you’ll feel like your accomplishing something. It also helps to be good a managing your time both personal and business. Lastly don’t forget to set time aside for yourself. Go to the gym for 30min-2 hours a day, find a quite place and mediate or do yoga. If you can’t do that than place pictures of your family around your work area and take 5-10 minutes to reflect on those happy moments.
How do you stay focused and motivated to achieve and grow?
There’s been times when I felt like giving up because business was slow or because an investment didn’t work out the way I thought. Eventually I put all that behind me and I thought about all I put into the product and company, how creative and stylish it is, how it’s not a major product being produced and how woman can truly benefit from the product.
What music keeps you inspired and motivated?
Music is a necessity in my household! I have access to some kind of music in every room. My mood determines what type of music I listen to and how loud I play it. I’m an avid user of Pandora. Everyday my Pandora and iPod playlist gets bigger with music from Guns n’ roses, Kid Cudi, LMFAO, Norah Jones, Feist, Adele, all the way to Jim Jones.
When I’m sewing and cutting fabric I need something more up beat like electronic, dance, salsa, hip hop, and pop music from 80’s. But when I need to write an article or lengthy report, I prefer music with no words. Like classical, smooth jazz, or Beethoven.
What's your feeling on social media? Do you use it to promote your products?
I love social media and I wonder what was I doing before it. I have Facebook, Twitter, and unlimited access to the web on my phone. I’m always exploring new sites in order to stay up to date on latest social media inventions. I like that I’m in control of what visitors to my blog read. It’s sort of like I’m my own editor or web magazine. Having access to social media sites allows my entrepreneur spirit to shine through in relation to my business. Using it also allows me to reach out to people all over the world without having to use my passport or leave my home office.
Concerning your business what's your biggest fear?
Lack of information and the IRS!
Tell us about your beauty regimen? What products can't you live without?
I love questions like this because beauty regimen is often overlooked.
I once worked in Sephora for two years and loved learning about brands, ingredients, etc. While with them, I tried expensive and less expensive products. I learned about my combination skin and what works bests. Often times I buy drug store and department store products. But twice a year I will treat my face to a facial. I can’t live without going to the gym, 1 qt of water, my daily vitamins, and Mac foundation & concealer. All other make up brands don’t match my complexion and don’t provide the coverage that I’m comfortable with. Everyday and night I wash my face with black or shea butter soap, then spritz witch hazel and follow up with facial crème.
Who are some of your fashion icons?
I admire Marilyn Monroe because she was a woman with curves and appreciated her figure. Madonna because she’s never afraid to reinvent herself.
What item would readers be surprised to know you carry in your handbag?
Nothing specific. However, everyday I carry enough just in case I need to sleep over someone’s house. I like to be prepared for the unexpected.
What advice would you give to fledgling entrepreneur hoping to start a business?
Select a product, brand, or a company that you’re passionate about. You should be able to stand behind the product through good and tough times.
How can customers find and purchase Shower Caps by Je'Mere?
I rely heavily on my social media presence. I have pictures of my shower caps on Facebook (search Custom Design Shower Caps), Twitter (@StyleCaps), and my blog (http://thestylewall.blogspot.com). You can view picture’s at either site. To make a purchase, send me an email at: Jemere.firstname.lastname@example.org.
I no longer do custom orders, so I will let what I have in stock, you'll will receive an invoice via PayPal and the product shipped. I accept Cash, USPS Money Order, and PayPal.
Shower Cap style #1214 - Snake Print and Gold with Gold Trim (Reversible)- $20
Bag that Style #1214 comes in
MJ inspired shower cap, Style #1219 - Red & Black with Gold Trim (MJ Tribute)- $20
Gold Member, Style# 801- Gold with Sequin Beading $15 (Non-reversible)
Thank you JeMere for dishing with WhatLooksLikeCrazy.com. It's been refreshing and inspiring to hear about your journey to success.