Updated: Jun 16, 2021
Happy One Year to JBIER!
We are thrilled to share that May of 2021 marks one year since Jessica Bierman founded the company of her dreams. Despite the COVID-19 Pandemic, Jessica bravely started what is now JBIER Inc. during a time of economic and societal uncertainty.
Her “Strategy for Success'' in business was quite simple: “Invest in our people, ensure the highest quality products, stay on top of industry trends, and provide top-of-the-line customer service.” She created an environment seeking to empower women and men around the world while bringing disruptive change to the fashion and beauty industries. JBIER’s slogan, “We Are All Angels,” is at the heart of her mission to bring an inclusive platform for people to express their diversity and self-expression through fashion.
Over the past twelve months, Jessica has experienced significant growth across the business and her team. Based out of New York, she started by herself and in the first two months, she built a four-person team. She ensured that the team shares the same values and goals. Today, her rapidly-growing twenty-person team is dedicated, passionate, and collaborative. Together, the JBIER team specializes in Social Media Marketing, Fashion Merchandising, Photography, Web Development, and Sales. The business has developed significantly since May of 2020. That said, we are so excited to share Jessica’s journey and foundation of the business from an insider perspective.
What's our founder thinking about?
We sat down with Jessica and asked her questions about the beginning stages of her startup, important moments she embarked on throughout her journey, and the goals she wants to accomplish before she turns 30.
When did you decide to start your own business?
I’ve always had a love and passion for beauty and fashion. After working in the Beauty, Fashion, and Retail industries for over ten years, I knew I wanted to start my own business. When I graduated from the University of Maryland in 2014, I secured a position in Macy's rotational Executive Development Program. For my first rotation, I managed a $15.8 million Cosmetics department with roughly 150 associates, 15 counter managers, and three business managers. I rotated from store to store, growing each department as if it was my own business. Along the way, I met some of my most valuable mentors, Jonathan Clay, Martie Magill, Jennifer Phillipe, and Mary Graham. At a very young stage in my professional career, this gave me exposure to invaluable managerial and entrepreneurial experience. But most importantly, this opportunity made me realize how much I love working with people. This skill continues to be essential to my career as an entrepreneur, and one that I hold dear in my heart. I strive every day to ensure all of my customers have the best shopping experience out there, in addition to giving my team the best and most prosperous working environment.
At the end of my experience with Macy's Executive Development Program, it was evident that I needed to make something happen out of my passion for management, customer service, and sales. I also decided that working in-stores wasn't entirely for me as brick-and-mortar stores came with both challenges and rewards. Following my experience with Macy's, I worked to earn a spot on The Estée Lauder Corporate team working in Product Innovation and Product Development for esteemed beauty brands like M.A.C. Cosmetics, Bobbi Brown, Smashbox, Tom Ford, La Mer, and Clinique. In my position, I was able to further discover and develop my love for the Beauty Industry.
One word of advice based on my experience: try out everything when you have the opportunity to. That's a sure way to find out what you want, what you don't want, and ultimately
who you really are.
Who inspired you to start your own business?
While I was living in California in January of 2020, I met Winemaker and Owner of Château d'Esclans Vineyard, Paul Chevalier. Paul is the creator of my favorite wine, Whispering Angel Rosé. After striking up a conversation, Paul and I spoke in detail about the various types of wine from a Winemaker’s perspective. He handed me the Whispering Angel Rosé Barometer. Paul mentored me and heavily supported my dreams for the future. He inspired me with his words: “One day, you're not going to work for anyone. You will be your own boss and when you do, call me.” Paul even helped me with the branding of JBIER. Little did I know at the time that meeting Paul and learning about the Rosé Barometer would later influence my entire brand image. Being the “most attainable shade of rosé,” Rose Quartz is THE color behind the JBIER brand. This is shown across our marketing content, social media accounts, and website to this day.
Soon after, Covid-19 began spreading throughout California and the rest of the United States, bringing the whole world to a halt. With safety as my main priority during the pandemic, I returned home to New York to be with my family. This change was life-altering since I had established a life in California. Instead of wallowing in that feeling, I redirected my energy to living out the words of Paul Chevalier.
In April of 2020, I called Paul and told him, “I finally figured it out!" With an air of satisfaction, he responded, “Finally! So, what’s next?" That said, I soon realized my passion for Poshmark had way more potential than just a side-hustle. As a Poshmark Ambassador since March of 2015, I took my passion and successfully turned my Poshmark side hustle into a fashion, beauty, and lifestyle retail company.
What is one memorable moment from starting your business?
I actually wrote down on a piece of paper the words: “I am starting my own business! Please give me a supportive response." I placed it on my mom’s desk where I knew she would easily find it. She definitely thought that I was crazy. I saved that note and kept it around as a reminder of where I started and how far I’ve come.
What were some struggles you faced along the way?
I started my business with the working title “The Bierman Closet” with solely one partner. This venture focused on sustainability in the resale marketplace. This business relationship showed me how important it is to exercise diligent communication. The pandemic made communication even more difficult, but this challenge would inspire me to design my business with the foundation of a new, virtual model.
I had a vision for my business, but I needed to refine the structure. As someone who has known the value of networking her whole life, I reached out to all the people in my network who have inspired me. I invited 50-60 people to our JBIER Pre-Launch Business Strategy event seeking their thoughts and feedback. I pitched ideas to the people who inspired me the most. The objective was to share the business with people I trust and value, as well as gain insights on how to optimize business operations and structure. They gave me constructive feedback and steered me in the right direction. I was so excited to expand everywhere that I attempted to overextend myself. Thankfully, my mentors guided me to focus on two or three different platforms before launching my website in order to build my following and grow from there. I am constantly working to push myself to be who I want to be and who people want to look up to, learning the hard truths of reality and hard work.
How did you build the team?
I built the JBIER team through forming strong brand partnerships and networking… everywhere! I am passionate about mentoring my team members to learn about the business, growing their own skillset, gaining professional experience in the Fashion Industry, and coming closer to finding out where they’re truly meant to be. Along with mentoring, I truly enjoy learning from them day after day!
Less than two months after founding my business, I posted my first job listing on LinkedIn. I was overjoyed when we received over 50 applications in the first 24 hours. At that point, I realized how strong of an impact LinkedIn has on networking opportunities. After that round of interviews, I hired my first Summer Interns, Alexis Errigo, Lindsay Darrow, and Sarah Plotkin. We became a power team and they helped me kick-start my business. I am forever grateful for their contribution!
In April 2020, I was introduced to Handshake, which is a new source of recruitment and currently the #1 way for college students to find exciting internship opportunities with a wide array of companies. In fact, “over 14 million students and young alumni from over 700 universities use Handshake.” I quickly realized the opportunities that lie with forming University Partnerships. After requesting to partner with accredited universities, I was so excited to get accepted by 29 schools! Soon after I was accepted by universities on Handshake, we posted four Summer 2021 internship opportunities across both LinkedIn and Handshake. In three weeks, we received over 600 applicants. At that point, I realized my business hit a milestone.
I love to work closely with my team members to help them grow their skill set over the course of their time working for me and JBIER. For example, I hired Tayler Popalis as our first Talent Acquisition Intern. About a month later, I introduced her to our favorite content-creating platform, Canva. Currently, Tayler has earned the title of Social Media Marketing Team Lead.
My first ever Team Lead, Delanie Weber, showed me how having interns that are passionate about JBIER can create life-long impacts on the business. As with all of my seasoned interns, we have worked together to fully structure the business to be a collaborative work environment. I have created an environment where team members can truly share ideas and create content in a virtual manner through daily Zoom meetings. The team works every day to push boundaries. When recruiting new talent, I search for people with unique experiences, diverse skills, and sharing a passion for fashion! I objectively want to bring those qualities out in my team members and their work.
Given this is a remote environment, we have team members collaborating from New York to San Francisco. We stay connected through virtual team meetings, 1-on-1 meetings with our team leads, team photoshoots in New York City, as well as my personal favorite - Rosé and Zoom! This is an event where we all come together one night every month to play interactive learning games, open up to each other, and talk about our experiences on a more personal level. I want to provide my team members with the guidance and knowledge I wish I had at their age.
As a young entrepreneur, what are your goals and what do you want to accomplish before 30?
As a newly incorporated, structured business with over 20 team members, the future is limitless!
In two years from now, my overarching goal is to make Forbes 30 under 30. Entrepreneurship is everything to me. I would love to see JBIER Boutique pop-up shops in NYC and LA, as this is where I grew my love for fashion, beauty, and lifestyle. I have also been working on developing different brand partnerships with notable influencers, designers, artists, and brands. The team and I are constantly thinking of new ideas, such as offering two new virtual services: personalized styling and self-styling. Our vision is to offer our customers one-on-one styling appointments with members of our merchandising team. This would not only improve the virtual retailing experience for our customers, but would also improve our ability to understand how to best serve the JBIER consumer demographic. Additionally, I plan to become more proficient in Adobe platforms and expand our Collections sketches, as those are my favorite and inspired me to create our gorgeous Lookbooks! I want to continue to curate collections that are both on-trend, branded, and unique to JBIER Inc. I would love to see these visions come to fruition within the next two years. I’m overwhelmingly excited about the future of JBIER and I can’t wait to see the new collections we are able to create together.
Where did your passion for fashion come from?
I grew up in Adrienne Landau’s showroom playing with furs and fabrics as a little kid. She was an unbelievable role model to me and truly inspired my passion for fashion. I used to run around collecting scraps from the showroom and make unique pieces that I considered art. When I was eight, I made my first rug and soon after, my favorite leopard jacket, both of which I still have to this day. Throughout my formative years, I continued to immerse myself in the fashion industry and always served as my friends’ “go-to” person for styling advice. My fashion intuition translated into my desire to start selling my closet on Poshmark in 2015, and I quickly became a Poshmark Ambassador. My love for fashion and beauty never faded, and I continued to pursue these interests after college with my positions at Macy’s and Estée Lauder.
What is a major goal that you have accomplished this year?
The launch of the JBIER website was one of the biggest accomplishments that JBIER Inc. has seen over this past year. After months of preparation, planning, and development, I wanted my website to be unique and user-friendly. I began by writing out every possible buzzword that came to mind related to fashion, beauty, wellness, lifestyle, e-commerce, and rose quartz. Then, I listed the name of every person with who I have networked and/or made an impact throughout my professional career. I was seeking insights and advice on how a website could impact my business model. We built and distributed a User Experience survey to collect even more feedback that I later used to optimize my site. Once I determined what I wanted the website to be, I began to sketch each page and came up with a strategy for seamlessly integrating them. I sketched our homepage, shop sections, In The Know blog section, about us, lookbooks, collections pages, and more. I was determined to make this website everything I wanted and more. With that being said, I could have launched solely a shop page months before I did, but I had such a specific vision that I needed to wait until it was successfully brought to life.
Being a company that is heavily reliant on e-commerce, I knew customer interaction and engagement with the website is an integral part of the success of JBIER. Having a clear vision for my website, I refrained from launching the website until it was absolutely perfected. Since the launch of the website at the beginning of the year, we have had thousands of visitors and continue to see growth on a daily basis due to the team’s hard work and dedication to aesthetics and customer service.
Overall, I cannot begin to express how excited I am about the future of JBIER Inc. I will do everything in my power to carry out my dreams and collaborate with my team to bring our unique ideas to life.