EP356: From Lilly Pulitzer to Solo Startup: How One Designer Left Corporate to Pursue Her Passion with Jane Paradis
If you’re a jewelry designer dreaming of quitting your corporate job to focus on your business, you probably have a lot of questions.
- How can I increase my sales enough to support myself?
- How do I prepare for such a drastic transition?
- How will I know when it’s the right time to quit my job?
It’s a huge challenge to juggle your jewelry business, family, personal life, and work all at the same time. What keeps you going is your vision.
That was the case for Jane Paradis, who risked it all to leave her prestigious job at Lilly Pulitzer behind and start a full-time jewelry business, Jane Win.
Up until that point, Jane led a highly successful corporate career, leveraging her marketing, production, and distribution skills for elite brands like Calvin Klein and Barney’s before becoming the Senior Vice President of Marketing for Lilly Pulitzer.
Working alongside some of the brightest minds in the industry fuelled her passion and always challenged her in new and exciting ways.
It was a lot of fun, but a lot of work, too.
Jane had five kids at home growing up right before her eyes, yet so much of her time and energy went toward building someone else’s business.
After 11 years with the company, she knew it was time to build something of her own.
“I’m going to create something from scratch,” she decided, “and I’m going to do it so the kids can see it and know it can be done.”
Now, her brand is a raving success. But it wasn’t an easy transition. She sat down with me to talk about her journey and share advice for any jewelry designers hoping to follow in her footsteps.
There’s No Rush to Leave Your Job
It might sound satisfying to drop everything and quit your job in a blaze of glory. But burning bridges doesn’t actually help anyone.
When leaving a company, it’s important to do it in a stand-up way. Be respectful and give your employers the appropriate notice.
By the end of her time with Lilly Pulitzer, Jane was feeling restless, eager to jump into the next phase of her career. Still, she took her time.
“There’s actually no rush…” she emphasized, “I want to look back and know that I did my best.”
The connections she formed during her career have proved to be an invaluable source of support throughout her entrepreneurial journey, and she highlights how important it is to prioritize relationships.
Running a Business is a Mental Game
When Jane quit her job, she knew things were going to be different, but she underestimated just how drastic the change would be.
She was used to going into the office every day, working from someone else’s budget, and following a strict schedule. “Suddenly, I was home by myself with a a set amount of funds to make it work.”
Jane says running a business is a mental game, and she feels like she didn’t mentally prepare for the ups and downs of running a business from home.
If there’s one thing she could do differently, it would be structure.
There’s a common misconception that structure stifles creativity, but as a business owner that’s just not true.
Things drastically better for Jane when she broke her business plan down into bite sized chunks and tackled one thing at a time. She also developed a daily schedule for herself, including lunch breaks, downtime, and self-care.
This habit protects her from burnout and enables her to thrive creatively.
Look to the Future
The best thing Jane did in the early stages of her journey was make a business plan.
As someone with extensive business experience, it breaks her heart to see talented jewelry designers struggle to get their brand off the ground because they don’t know anything about running a company.
You have to learn to love the business side of things, and Jane says that is so much easier when you set yourself up for success.
Having a plan in place helps Jane hold herself accountable to her goals and stay focused on the future.
So much stress comes from uncertainty. Jane attributes her success to regular planning, strong core values, and a crystal clear vision of her dream client.
As she puts it, “if you want to be a business, you have to set yourself up as a business.”
Listen to the full episode above for more insight into what it takes to transition from a corporate career to a wildly successful jewelry business.
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