Following Jen Gotch’s journey is like riding a rollercoaster of human experience—one that’s wildly compelling, colorful, rare, and magnetic. Jen is your business crush, BFF, mentor, mental health guru, fashion icon, and #SexHair spokesperson. She’s destigmatizing mental health through her work with the non-profit Bring Change to Mind and her namesake podcast “Jen Gotch is OK...Sometimes,” while simultaneously building a ban.do brand empire on rainbows and glitter. Her career path has been anything but linear—she spent a decade as a food stylist before showcasing a vintage hair piece on her blog. The rest was band.do her-story!
Jen shares the day-to-day of her life as a “Serious Business Woman” and is transparent about the ups and downs that go into running an e-commerce business and a personal brand built on radical honesty. She shows off her Trash Dancing skills in the office parking garage and her conference room panic attacks. She truly contains multitudes!
Come for her candor and sense of humor, but stay for her business acumen and sage advice. And the ban.do product line. So sit down, let us tell you a story: Jen Gotch is here for a good time and a long time.
New podcast alert! What’s been your favorite episode of your new podcast Jen Gotch is OK…Sometimes and why?
Ok, well here’s thing—I haven’t listened to any of the episodes. Actually, I listened to the first episode just to see if it was real and then I walked away. I knew I would find fault in every word and I didn’t want to do that. It’s very stream of consciousness and I wanted to keep it that way, rather than feel like I wanted to self-edit. I don’t think I can pick a favorite. I love the aftershow—that’s my favorite part. Especially the ones that are compilations of all of the voicemails my dad leaves me. I also liked the Buttermilk Waitress episode about my very zig zaggy career path, because my friends and I wrote and recorded a song about all the jobs I had. It was fun and creative and weird, and I can’t sing but I did it anyway.
When you get a new idea, what’s the very first thing you do with it?
Pull over and email it to myself, because my ideas usually come when I am driving. And yes, I know there is probably a better system—notepad, voice memo, etc. But this is the one that stuck. You should see my inbox. It’s wild and a lot of the emails don’t make sense!
In the very beginning stages of ban.do, what advice did you get that stood out the most?
The only overwhelmingly consistent advice I remember was “Don’t do it! Business is really hard.” I didn’t believe “them,” but they were right and now that is the first thing I say to anyone who asks me about starting a business. The ones that are meant to do it won’t listen to me, as well they shouldn’t.
What about your job makes you feel the most fulfilled?
I have two things that come to mind immediately. First, watching ideas come to fruition from just being a thought to being something out in the world that people can see and touch and be moved by. And second, witnessing people I love very much learn and grow and work hard and become leaders and great bosses and great people. Standing by and watching that happen is one of the most incredible things I’ve experienced in business.
When you hit a bump or hurdle in your career, how do you find a new road + switch gears to find success?
I talk a lot about resilience, which is essentially the ability to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep going. I’ve been resilient for as far back as I can remember, and for that I am incredibly grateful. Bumps and hurdles hurt for a second, but they always teach me something that I can use for future bumps and hurdles. I feel stronger and wiser knowing that I’ve moved beyond them. I don’t know that there is a strategy, it’s just a mindset to keep going, be optimistic, do some creative problem solving, and don’t stay down for long.
Who are the first three people you think an entrepreneur should hire?
I am a creative entrepreneur with no previous business experience, so my answer comes through that lens.
Hire someone who can do administrative and mundane tasks of the business at a fraction of the cost of what your time is valued at. Emails, packing boxes, running errands, etc.
Hire someone with a skill set that complements yours. So for me that would be someone with more business acumen, highly organized, right-brain thinker, great at logistics and operations. Oh and someone who can do math. Hehe.
Hire a ride or die. Someone who is as invested in what you are doing as you are and will trust and support you wholeheartedly. I am lucky enough to have found several people like this, and their enthusiasm and dedication changed my life and my business.
What does it take for one to be considered as a “serious business woman?”
Part of me wants to say that there isn’t a set of rules or standards, so if you feel like you are a serious business woman, then you are one. The other part of me says a serious business woman (or man) would be passionate about their work, grateful for their opportunities and kind to the people that work for them and the people that they do business with. They would be productive, but not so busy that everything else in their life fades away. They meet challenges head on, they admit defeat and learn from failure and they work to add value to their life and the lives of others.
Who inspired you the most in your life growing up?
I would be remiss if I didn’t say Oprah, since she’s everybody’s inspiration. But outside of that, every time someone asks me this question, I just don’t know how to respond because it’s less about specific people and more about specific traits that people possess: kindness, humor, generosity, gratitude, optimism, emotional intelligence, and resilience. I have and always will be inspired by those things…and Oprah.
What keeps you up at night?
I usually sleep pretty well, but mostly what will keep me up are unresolved issues, conflicts I am avoiding, responsibilities I am avoiding, etc. Small things like, “Man, I should be flossing. Why aren’t I flossing?” to things like, “What she did really hurt me and I haven’t had the courage to say anything, so now I am gonna stare at the ceiling at 3am and think about it.”
Whose career really inspires you?
Santa Claus and Busy Philipps.
What has been your biggest opportunity or biggest challenge?
It is really hard to pick one: ban.do, my podcast, writing a book. I will say that the biggest opportunities are also the biggest challenges.
What are the common challenges you've seen among female business owners and entrepreneurs?
I have seen less challenges and more tenacity, sensitivity, and innovation.
What are you most excited for in 2019?
My book (and my hair growing past my boobs).
Photography by Annie McElwain Photography
Photoshoot skincare provided by Dermalogica