Hatch Tribe Hero | Kelly Rooney
This month’s “Hatch Tribe Hero” is the ambitious and adventurous Kelly Rooney, founder of the colorful accessories rand Josephine Alexander Collective. JAC is built on sustainable practices, making its beautiful products that much more desirable.
What is your favorite part of being an entrepreneur?
I think my favorite part is constantly having to use my brain to solve puzzles. Why did this promotion not work? Why is this item not moving? What can I do to improve my site? I read somewhere that the human brain is wired to solve problems, therefore when nothing is going on it creates problems for you to solve. I think this is why those of us who are in business, or are creatives, seem to be so much happier. We are fixing issues we are interested in, and passionate about.
What ignited the spark in you to start your business?
I think this goes back to my previous answer. My brain is constantly trying to figure out pushes and patterns. I see something I like and immediately start thinking how it could be improved upon. Because of this, my brain has always been open to new business ideas. I have been working on different business ideas throughout the years, and as each of them reached a dead end, I collected pieces that all came together to launch what is now known as Josephine Alexander Collective. By the time I had the fully formed idea for JAC in my head, everything else just clicked right into place and it was up and running within two months.
What made you decide on the social/eco aspects of your business (ie. working with artisans, and making recyclable packaging)?
I don’t even know where to begin with this. There are so many parts to this answer.
It pretty much all comes back to how I was raised. I was raised mostly in Third World countries, and also had chances to travel the world. I am an animal lover, and you can’t be an animal lover without caring for the environment. My dad is an agronomist, so conservation has always been a big part of my life. My dad was born and raised in Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, so animals and their environment were a huge part of my life.
Seeing the world, and seeing how people live in remote and rural areas is truly eye opening. Knowing the deep impact that can be made with what we consider just a few dollars is incredible. Working with humble, hard working people, who are so appreciative and caring is humbling and beyond rewarding.
I consider myself an extremely lucky person. I have never wanted for food or clean water, or much more for the matter. I live a wonderful life, and I feel that giving back is the least I can do.
Since you grew up traveling, do you have a favorite place to visit?
Another tough one! Favorite spots are so tough for me, because I would love to go back to all of them, all of the time, yet I always want to explore new places as well. It’s actually a huge discussion every time we decide to go on vacation. Do we go back to that place we loved, or do we find a new place we know we will also
That being said, my family is in Mexico, and I was born in the city, so Mexico City is one place I never get tired of going. I love the food, the places, the people and the colors.
Are there any challenges from being in the fashion/retail industry that people usually don't know about?
I think one of the major challenges in the fashion industry that you don’t find as much in other industries is that you're satisfying a creative need, not one that is a life necessity. Marketing fashion accessory items proves to be a little harder as no one really NEEDS a new pair of earrings or a new bag. It’s based on want.
Pricing is also hard as people take huge offense if they think something is overpriced, not taking into account what it takes to pay fair wages and do things ethically.
In one word characterize your life as an entrepreneur. #TallOrder
What is the best advice you’ve ever received
Don’t take yourself too seriously. It’s good to be able to look at your mistakes objectively and not defensively. It helps let things roll off your back a lot quicker, which in turn lets you move on to the next thing in a much timelier manner.
What sacrifices have you made to be a successful entrepreneur?
Honestly, the biggest sacrifice is my time, and I don’t see it as too much of a sacrifice. I love having my time filled with something that makes me think and keeps me on my toes. I love the challenge of making things work.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Forget what people think. Do what you want and don’t regret it.
Where do you find inspiration?
I find inspiration in my daughter, who works her butt off at the barn, and enjoys every minute of it. The sheer joy she gets from riding is awe inspiring. I find inspiration in my family, each and every one of them with their own unique talents and creativity. I find inspiration in my surroundings, I love taking nature in when I’m running (and when I’m not).
How do you handle fear?
I try to think things through to the solution point, or the worst case scenario point. Which can create more fear getting there, but usually satisfies my brain. I also try to exercise when I start getting scared. It gives me time to think and the endorphins give me that natural high that seems to make everything better.
What would you do with one extra hour in the day?
Spend it with my family.
What do you love to come home to?
My family, including my pets.
Name a women entrepreneur past or present you admire, and tell us why.
Amie Swan. She’s an amazing friend, mother, and entrepreneur. I have learned so much from her since she started OTG247. She helps me think things through and always gives me perspective. She has the best no nonsense advice, and she runs her business like a fine tuned machine. I love that I have her to call when my head is spinning and I have no idea what to do. She balances her family, her friends and her business like she has more time than anyone, and makes it all work with a smile. I love having the pleasure of witnessing it.
What would you say are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful business owner?
Tough skin, humility and perseverance.
When you’re not working, what is your favorite way to spend your free time?
I love planning our next adventures. Reading about fun places and what to do and where to eat.
What is your big goal for the next phase of your business?
To incorporate artisan works from a new country. I am dying to go to India and bring those colors and flair to Josephine Alexander. I hope one day to be global.
All Photos Courtesy of Kelly Rooney