My first catalog I ever received with my own name on it was J.Crew. Which is saying something, because after we moved to Nashville in middle school I was so lonely being the new kid that I used to spend my Friday nights calling all those 800 numbers in the back of Seventeen magazine to get the free samples...which is to say, I was added to a lot of catalog mailing lists.
I don't remember when Jenna Lyons became synonymous with what I wanted to be like when I grew up...I think it was probably a gradual thing. But when I picked up the inaugural issue of Porter magazine last month and saw Jenna featured in it, it took me back a decade.
I'm not really a fashion-ey kind of person...I don't keep up with trends or think about the world of fashion at all. But there's something about a woman who started out as the assistant of someone's assistant and worked her way up to president of a brand that she completely overhauled into its current iconic status...I won't lie; it makes me swoon a little.
Three things Jenna said in her Porter interview that I immediately cut and pasted (literally) into my notebook:
- I work on my instincts. At the end of the day, it's all you have. If you don't trust yourself, no one else is going to, either.
- Respect honesty and transparency. There is no room for people who can't give a clear and honest opinion.
- Never assume that just because we did it one way means that we can do it again the same next time.
I love how she never set out to become a "tastemaker". She just had the guts to be honest about what she liked and didn't like. That's tough. For me, when I'm sitting in a meeting and we've been working for days or weeks or months trying to execute something and it still doesn't sing...it's hard to say, "no, that's not it; we're not there yet." For as long as it takes. But whenever I'm tempted to just say "great job everybody; let's go home!" when it really isn't and we really shouldn't...I think of Jenna, and I keep pushing.