Jessica Mandeville Interview Part 1
Written by Anna Lempereur for Gaebler Ventures
Jessica Mandeville is the CEO of MyFashionPlate.com, a style website that allows users to stay organized with an online, interactive wardrobe. This interview discusses tips and strategies for entrepreneurs who want to be successful.
So tell me about how you decided to start MyFashionPlate.com.
It started out of necessity.
I was living in Manhattan, and found it a huge struggle to manage my wardrobe in my tiny closet. Many of my clothes and shoes were stored away in small drawers and under the bed, and since I could never see what was actually inside my closet, I realized that I was buying pieces similar to what I already owned. I always envisioned a hi-tech Clueless-like closet that would enable me to clearly view all of my pieces and access them from anywhere. I created MyFashionPlate.com to solve those problems and to afford the luxuries of a personal stylist and virtual closet to any fashion lover.
Does My Fashion Plate target a specific audience or age group? Was the turnout what you had in mind?
We designed My Fashion Plate to be accessible for anyone, and with a sweet spot of 13-25. However, we've had a great response from fashionistas 35 to 40 years old and surprisingly, men as well! It's turned out to be a much broader audience than we expected, so it's really exciting and motivating at the same time.
Describe a typical work day.
Well, there really isn't one! One thing that is pretty standard is my morning meeting with our development team. Since they're based in Macedonia, there is a small window of time where our working hours overlap. The rest of my day usually ranges from building mockups, responding to customer service inquiries, holding interviews, speaking with the press, researching the latest trends in fashion and technology - there's always something different that pops up. I usually plan my schedule a week in advance and inevitably, things get rearranged to accommodate the unexpected.
What are some qualities you look for in the people on your team?
We want to offer the best services possible to our clients. To achieve that goal, I always look for stylists who listen to the client's needs and go above and beyond to deliver creative solutions based on the client's unique body type and lifestyle-Someone who can create unexpected looks that accentuate the client's best features and help them to push their style envelope! Having the skills of understanding and responding to the customer's needs, the passion and confidence to sell the product and the ability to handle customer service issues with care is invaluable. In general, for the people I work with, I expect punctuality. I like to surround myself with people who are imaginative and reliable- People with whom I can brainstorm without holding back, who can contribute ideas and lead them to production efficiently.
How do you find employees who are just as passionate about My Fashion Plate as you are?
I really value networking through friends and industry contacts and the referrals that are generated. It takes time to filter through enough people and find those few who are willing to put their energy behind their ideas and to work through the obstacles that are ubiquitous to a startup company.
Have you made any sacrifices to be a successful entrepreneur? If so, what?
Yes - sleep, being a major one of them! I've also discovered the difficulty of separating work and a personal life when it's your own project. Even if I'm trying to take a day off, which is a rarity, I'm constantly thinking about My Fashion Plate - how we can improve it, feedback we've got from our members and investors and such. Free time has definitely been a sacrifice.
Anna Lempereur is a freelance writer interested in writing about small business. She is currently a Journalism major at the University of Albany in New York.
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