Jennie Geisker: on shirts, courage and leaving the corporate world
So many people dream about leaving the corporate world. In fact, I am always amazed by how many people tell me that they aren't fulfilled by their current job, but simply don't know what they want to do, or where their true passion lies. Jennie Geisker is not one of these people.
In October 2010, Jennie left the corporate world and jumped headfirst into fashion, fulfilling her dream of creating stylish shirts that empower women at work by starting her own label geisker.
There's something empowering about wearing a french cuff shirt, the structure, the cufflinks, the elegance. It's today’s version of armour, you get up, button up and you feel empowered with confidence to tackle the day.
Learning the ropes
Motivated by the love of how good a great shirt made her feel, Jennie got straight to work.
Launching geisker required a huge leap of faith: with no experience in fashion, no experience in designing or sewing, Jennie worked hard to make her vision come to life.
One of the qualities that I admire most about Jennie is her bravery. She admits that being an entrepreneur in the fashion world isn't always glamorous. As a one woman show, over the years she has conquered everything from design and ensuring her product is high quality and well manufactured, through to social media, building a website at the start of the online shopping revolution, blogging (The Shirt Muse), marketing, customer service and everything else that is thrown her way.
While Jennie's eye for style and commitment to creating quality products that look and feel great has ensured the success of her label, it's her perseverance and commitment to her customers that drives her business forward.
Perhaps this is a benefit of living and breathing your brand? There’s no doubt we can all learn from Jennie’s commitment to a great product, but also her willingness to jump headfirst into big challenges and always being ready to learn something new.
Feeling the fear
When I sat down with Jennie to chat about her journey, she asked:
If you take money out of the equation, what would you be doing?
Luckily, for Jennie, it would be exactly what she is doing right now.
I was instantly impressed by Jennie’s guts and determination to make her dream work. However, like so many successful women, Jennie is quick to point out other's achievements and shy away from her own.
In her honest style, Jennie admits to being uncertain as to what the future holds.
After making a commitment to grow her business in 2015, Jennie recently moved from Perth to Sydney to open her first retail store. In a tough retail market, Jennie has put herself on the line to take her business to the next level.
While Jennie’s used to being out of her comfort zone, this is the start of a huge next chapter for geisker. For Jennie, living outside her comfort zone helps her to perform, by forcing you to grow and opening your mind to new ways of living and ideas.
Life always deals us a number of choices. While Jennie has adapted her journey along the way, she has never strayed from the principles that she founded her company on. No matter what stage of your career or business you are at, Jennie’s advice is sound: always be prepared to learn and grow, making changes along the way, but always stay true to your own vision.
From the outset, Jennie committed to selling her own shirts and not entering the wholesale market, a promise that she hasn’t wavered from.
My vision has always been to never wholesale, to be the only distributor for my products and to have my own retails stores. I also want to stick to women’s shirts only, but I can not tell you how many times people have told me to sell wholesale, start designing men’s shirts...
This doesn’t mean that Jennie isn’t afraid to mix it up. In addition to launching her first retail store, Jennie’s just launched her first range of skirts to compliment her shirts.
While I was supposed to be interviewing Jennie, she left me with so many things to think about with my own career and projects! Are you feeling inspired? I asked Jennie to share three career tips to inspire us to pave our own path:
- Look after yourself. When you are the boss, the sole trader, the entrepreneur, you are the driving force and if you aren’t at your best you will let yourself, your business and team down. So health, time to yourself, and balance are key.
- Trust your gut.
I can not stress this enough, if your gut is saying something’s not right, trust it; unfortunately if you are dealing with new clients, new ways of working or a new industry, sometimes your gut instinct is all you have. This works in a positive light too, so when something just feels right, roll with it regardless of what the naysayers say.
- Have a clear vision and stick to it. There will be times that you have to adapt to change or a new environment, but generally speaking always stick to your vision and don’t let others sway you. If your's not passionate about something, or if you derail from youe vision this is where problems can really occur. So stick to your vision and dream big… why not?
If you are in Sydney, make sure you head along to geisker at 12A Beattie Street Balmain, otherwise check 0ut Jennie’s range (from size 6 to 18!) online here (free shipping and deals apply, just saying!)
[This post is part of our new section called #CareerStoryMondays. Be inspired by people who dare to follow their dreams or take a different path. Do you know someone with a great story to tell? Get in touch at email@example.com]