What is the story of how you started j.ella Boutiques?
j.ella was launched in the tiny front room of my alley portrait studio in 2010. I had 300 square feet and spontaneously decided to try something that had been on my heart for years!
What is the most rewarding part of running j.ella?
At the core of this brand are the values that I personally strive for: embracing my glorious imperfection that lets the grace of God shine, loving my family and team, and living generously. It’s incredibly rewarding to be empowered to set that vision and tirelessly work for it.
What is the most valuable mistake you’ve made, and learned from since founding j.ella?
Letting my pride or desire to be “bigger” or “known” cause me to pursue growth in the wrong areas. Be dynamic and ready to change, but stay in your lane, never think you can or should do all the things!
What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a business?
Know your why. Why do you want to start something? What drives you? Design your business around the life you want, and make that your north star in every decision you make.
Best piece of advice a woman has given you?
Don’t wait to be asked- look for opportunities, and leap at them. Sit at the table. Lean in. Surround yourself with people smarter than yourself.
How do you juggle being a Mother to 2 young boys, and being a business owner?
I say no to a lot. I turn down any non-essential meeting, I outsource and delegate everything I can, I’m more okay with less than perfect than I was pre-kids, because it’s impossible to give laser focus and attention to my business while being as present as I desire to be for my kids. I can say that my family comes first, but that means I have to say no to my business at times, which has gotten easier for me.
In your opinion what do you think women struggle with most?
The comparison game, which is straight from the Devil! We all deal with insecurity, whether we admit it or not, causing us to always assess how we’re doing compared to other women- in our careers, in our kids’ performance, in our personal health and appearance. Total joy-stealer.
What/Who inspires you?
I recently did a Bible study called “Seamless” with my small group, and since that- I have been totally fascinated and amazed by women of the Bible. Powerful, grace-filled, unlikely women... Sometimes even prostitutes or outcasts who helped change the world because they allowed themselves to be used.
How do you define success?
Complete presence and contentment. Realizing that there will never be enough money, productivity, physical perfection, etc. to satisfy your soul, and that true joy comes from living in the now. Accepting how you were made, and that you will be used just exactly the way you are if you only make yourself available. And realizing that security and contentment do not simply arrive with age. It takes intention every day, every month, every year to stay present, vulnerable and joy-filled.
What is the most challenging thing about being a Mom?
Suppressing that voice that says “you’re not good at this.” The mom-guilt that creeps in when I’m away from my kids, or when I’m stressed and lose all patience with a whiny child.
What is your definition of a strong woman?
A deep sense of security in who she is. A woman that never pushes others down for a momentary lift. She pours into others, even when it’s hard as hell.
Woman you think everyone should know?
Perhaps cliche, but Joanna Gaines comes to mind. Superstar status aside, I see such a deep authenticity, humility and genuine love for her family and inner circle. I’m also inspired by the subtle ways that she unapologetically speaks about her faith.
What are some of your favorite quotes?
“I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I'm more afraid of succeeding at things that don't matter.” Bob Goff
“Be kind, because everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.”
I am a strong woman because…
I used to find my identity in financial success, or experiences and nice things, and people’s perception of me. I grew up with very little. And so not having any of that, I really thought it would complete me. But in recent years, and I think becoming a mom has been pivotal in this- I just want less. Less work, less stuff, less commitments, less eyes on me. So that I have more time with the Lord, time with my sweet babies, time for connecting. It’s been some weird conversations explaining to people why we’re moving to a smaller house, and (trying) to stick to a budget, but I’m finding such peace in it!
Finish this sentence… I want to BE:
Generous. Available. Filled with grace. Quick to forgive.
Best fashion tip you can give to women?
Hmm.... I guess my personal style is all about accessories. I’m not trendy, and seldom branch out from jeans and simple tees or sweaters, but if I layer on simple jewelry and fun shoes, it’s functional but still feels polished.
Beauty product you can’t live without?
I have coconut oil stashed everywhere. I use it about 1 million ways!
Looking back when you first became a mother, what advice would you give to yourself?
Be okay with embracing mommyhood just as hard as your heart desires. Nurse wherever you want, bring that baby to the boardroom, and take a step back from your work. It will still be there.