How the Classifieds Section Changed This CEO’s Life

If you’re one of the millions of female sports fans in America, you’ve definitely heard of JaneHudson. And if you haven’t, you’ll want to listen up. Media and tech expert Kristin Celano created the gameday-inspired clothing brand as a way to redefine what it means to be a female sports fan, and she’s redefining #GirlBoss in the process. Kristin shared with us her best business advice (hint: it’s different for every single one of us), why she has several different jobs within her company, and what she wishes she had done more of in her 20s.

Name: Kristin Celano, Founder & CEO, JaneHudson
Age: 34
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Education: University of Florida

 

What was your first job out of college, and how did you land it?

 

This is actually a funny story, and I’m afraid I might be dating myself here. I found my first job in the classifieds section in my hometown newspaper. I remember graduating, doing the backpack-across-Europe trip and then coming home in desperate need of a job. There were a few opportunities on the table post-graduation but they just didn’t feel right.

I landed a marketing job at a start-up that conducted live audience polling at large conferences and business meetings. In this pre-smartphone world, they had the market cornered. I worked with all kinds of brands from tech to publishing and had the opportunity to travel. I was on the road probably fifteen days a month, sometimes to exotic locales… and sometimes Minnesota in the middle of winter.

I got to see college friends living in different cities and became the youngest one of us in the airport sky club. The perks were great for a first job, but moreover, it shaped the rest of my career, where I learned to love marketing and brands.

 

 

Your career began in tech, and took different directions in media, marketing, partnerships, and more. How did each of these experiences shape your career, and what did you learn from each one?

 

All of my professional experiences (successes and failures) have prepared me to lead JaneHudson. I took something different away from each one.

Marketing is the foundation of each of my past roles. To me, marketing is identifying your audience, figuring out what moves them and how to speak to them in an authentic way. In today’s environment, it’s even more challenging to break through and form a connection because of countless social platforms, thousands of apps and email fatigue. However, these challenges also provide opportunities to keep things fresh and exciting. Every day is a test.

Working in media, change is a constant. Outside of learning the intricacies of digital and mobile marketing, my biggest takeaway is that you must continue to pivot in order to stay relevant. You can’t focus on what was; you must be open and prepared for what’s to come. 
Partnerships are the key to everything. It’s no longer solely about your own professional objective, you have to lead with your potential partner’s and think: what’s in it for them.  Working in strategic business development changed my perspective on the definition of success. Your goal is to come up with a mutually desirable outcome, versus advancing your agenda only.  

 

 

What experiences led you to decide to start your own business? What interested you about working for yourself?

 

I’ve always had a desire to work for myself. It’s hard to say where it stemmed from but it was something that was consistently in the back of my mind. It is probably a mix of the challenges associated and the true ownership of a brand. I’m a competitive person, so it’s exciting to see how your decisions can directly impact an outcome.

 

In addition to your desire to start your own business, what was it about this particular industry that appealed to you? Tell us about your thought process as you decided to start this particular company.

 

This is a great question because I really knew next to nothing about manufacturing and production. I delved into this industry thinking “how hard could it be.” Well, it is hard. I am self-taught when it comes to sourcing, designing, producing, inventory management, wholesale, and more, and lean on very capable and generous friends, and mentors, every day. I knew I had an idea that filled a void, and testing the waters and surveying family and friends allowed me to gain more confidence in the idea. That’s what they say, the best ideas come from an identified need.

 

 

Why JaneHudson? What does the name mean?

 

I lived at the corner of Jane Street and Hudson in NYC’s West Village when I founded the brand. The idea was inspired by my personal collegiate experience, but it was in my tiny studio apartment where I spent hours researching and figuring out how I could make this a reality. We’re looking to redefine “gameday” and what it means to be a female fan. The name and the brand embody both spirit and style.

 

Who has or have been your biggest supporters throughout this process?

 

My biggest supporters have been my family and friends. They have supported me from before day 1 — from feedback on my business plan to hosting trunk shows, they are my biggest fans and I couldn’t do it without them.

 

 

If you were to go back and start over from the beginning of the entire process, what (if anything) would you do differently?

 

There have been a few times where I followed the advice of others in the retail industry because “that’s how it is done.” Coming from an entirely different world in media, tech, and business, I looked at processes differently than those that live and breathe the retail world. At times, I allowed their thoughts to impact my decisions instead of going with my gut. I’ve learned to trust my gut. Even if you make a mistake, it’s your mistake.

 

What mistakes have you made since your launch?

 

How much time do you have? I have made many mistakes along the way, some big and expensive. There will be mistakes that happen and you can only control what you can. In my previous life, I was as Type-A as you get when it came to my career. I was organized, buttoned up, proactive, literally five steps ahead of everything. When you launch a business, sometimes you are moving so fast that you have to be happy with something at less than perfection. It’s a struggle at times, but now I know I have to accept that mistakes will happen. I spoke with someone recently and they said don’t think of yourself as a small business owner, think of your new job title as an everyday problem-solver.  

 

What are you most proud of since launch? What have been your greatest successes?

 

There are many things to be proud of. It feels like every day we’ve had at least a small win. A big highlight was being validated by the Southern “bible” (Southern Living) as their new favorite game day dresses, and in January this year, Inc. Magazine included us in their Annual Entrepreneurship Report. I’m very proud of our recent partnership with the women’s site Tuckernuck, that is live now (just launched!), they are carrying select JaneHudson styles.  

 

 

Travel more, work less, and make as many authentic connections as possible, those will be the ones you call on throughout your entire career.

 

 

You function as both CEO and as the social media manager for JaneHudson. Why is it important to you to remain so hands-on? Will you eventually delegate the social media role?

 

The term is called bootstrapped. Bootstrapped or not, I do love being hands-on and being in the trenches is essential when you launch a brand.  There is no job too small and no room for ego. I look forward to growing the team and becoming an even stronger brand than we are today. My goal is to take this brand as far as I can without taking on more financial responsibility, and then at the right time find the right people to join our mission. Right now, I work with an incredible group of freelancers that make my vision come to life.

 

Speaking of social media, starting a business in 2016 or 2017 is very different than starting a business ten years ago, and you’ve been open about that. Tell us about what makes modern business unique.

 

Consumer trust in online shopping has never been higher, which has provided a big opportunity for new brands. The epic rise in mobile platforms allows consumers to shop from anywhere. Social platforms are the way we communicate and share. And the democratization of content on these platforms has evened the playing field for both large and small brands. I can share images and messages on my social channels every day at no cost and reach my audience, something that was not achievable 5+ years ago without a large advertising spend.  

Now, how you connect your consumers is a different story. It is cluttered and competitive. User-generated content (UGC) is essential for brand-building today. We try to encourage self-expression with our loyalists. One of our frequent tags is “we provide the basics, you provide the style.” What I’ve learned is having your customers share their experiences with your brand only strengthens that relationship. What we’ve also learned is the consumer no longer wants to be told what to wear, they want to be inspired. It’s now a two-way conversation.

 

What is the best career advice you’ve ever received?

A mentor earlier on in my career said once to me: if you’re not slightly scared or nervous when you’re taking on a new opportunity or challenge, then you aren’t pushing yourself enough. Staying in a place of comfort means you’re not growing.  

 

 

What’s your best advice for someone with a vision and a desire to go out on their own professionally?

 

Do your due diligence, ask for feedback from your family and friends, do a competitive analysis — define what makes you different. After this, if you feel like you have a strong enough idea and the drive to make it happen — do it. Take the leap, and don’t be afraid to fail.   

 

 

What advice would you give to your 23-year-old self?

 

Travel more, work less, and make as many authentic connections as possible, those will be the ones you call on throughout your entire career.

 

 

Kristin Celano is The Everygirl…

Last item you purchased for yourself?  
Tulips from Whole Foods

Favorite stress relief after a long day?  
A tasty glass of red wine.

Guilty pleasure snack?  
HARIBO gummy anything.

Weirdest/most random Instagram account you follow?
@vintagefrat summed up with the tag: “Your dad might just be on here”

If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and why?  
Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx. She is innovative, driven, intelligent, and generous. I am pretty sure she’d have a few pointers for me.

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