Rachael McCrary is a fashion designer and founder of Jewel Toned, and e-commerce company that is disrupting the lingerie industry.
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Time Stamped Show Notes
(Click the time stamp to jump directly to that point in the episode.)
- [00:35] – Welcoming Rachael to the show.
- [00:46] – A lingerie designer, fashion expert and yoga teacher.
- [01:18] – How do you generate revenue for your business today? – Body shapers that appeal to women.
- [01:37] – Marketing that appeals to women and helps women feel better about themselves.
- [02:05] – How did the name Jewel Toned come to be? – Her products come in black and bright colors, and they tone your body.
- [02:40] – They generate revenue when their products are sold on other sites.
- [03:20] – Worst Entrepreneurial Moment: It’s always a roller coaster.
- [06:20] – What lessons did you learn from that story? – Things don’t always happen for a reason.
- [08:51] – Entrepreneurial AH-HA Moment: She worked with a woman for ten years.
- [09:09] – She started a business with that woman, and was loving her life.
- [09:33] – Her partner was diagnosed with cancer and the company was dissolving.
- [10:05] – They were talking about her medical issues, and her friend was very nonchalant about it.
- [10:31] – She pushed Rachael to start her company on her own, not at the corporate level.
- [11:05] – She passed away the next day.
- [11:28] – Having value in your work and integrating it into your life.
- [12:26] – Now Rachael has 14 investors and five employees.
- [13:08] – Freedom to run your business how you want to.
- [13:37] –Biggest weakness? – Paying too much attention to detail.
- [14:10] – It leads to frustration and disappointment.
- [14:17] – Biggest strength? – Being super focused on her one thing.
- [14:55] – What has Rachael most fired up today? – Women entrepreneurs
- [18:53] – The Lightning Round
- What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? – You get out of things what you put into them.
- What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success? – Meditation
- Share an internet resource, like Evernote, with Fire Nation – Snapchat
- If you could recommend one book to our listeners, what would it be and why? – The Outliers
- Imagine you woke up in a brand new world, and all you have is a laptop and $500. What would you do in the next 7 days? – I would buy every stranger I met a coffee and ask them what to do next.
- Parting piece of advice – Tell everyone what you’re passionate about, and ask how you can help them as well.
- [21:39] – RachaelMcCrary.com/
- [21:45] – JewelToned on Instagram and @RachaelbyDesign on Twitter
Interviewee: I am, I am.
Interviewer: Yes. Rachael’s a fashion designer and founder of Jewel Toned, an e-commerce company that is disrupting the lingerie industry. So Rachael, take a minute, fill in some gaps from that intro, and give us just a little glimpse of your personal life.
Interviewee: I’m a lingerie designer and fashion expert. I’m a fashion industry veteran who worked in New York for a couple of decades since I was a teenager. I’m also a life coach and meditation teacher. I do yoga. I’m obsessed with transformation and getting to know people on a real level.
Interviewer: So what I kinda want to dive into more about you Rachael, before we kind of focus on your journey as an entrepreneur, is right now, today, with your business, Jewel Toned, how do you generate revenue? How do you bring in the dollars in the door?
Interviewee: I make a version of body shapers that appeal to women and not to men. Over the years of talking to consumers and models and buyers, I just kind of realized that a lot of lingerie advertising appeals to men and makes women feel bad about themselves. So I make really comfortable girl-next-door branding and marketing that appeals to women, and our products are designed to help women feel better about themselves. So we sell our products on our current website at ShopJewelToned.com, and then also at major department stores and flash sale sites like Guilt and things like that, and also boutiques across the country, and even Asia and Europe.
Interviewer: Now how did the name Jewel Toned come to be? Where is the origin story there?
Interviewee: Most shapeware comes in nude and black and looks sort of like a Band-Aid of sorts, and our products don’t. They only come in black and bright colors, hence Jewel Toned, and then tones like it tones your body.
Interviewer: Mmm, nice, good connection there. Now real quick, just because I’m not familiar with it. I know probably a lot of my listeners aren’t. There seems to be a lot of strong appeal to being on websites like Guilt and the other ones that you mentioned. How, specifically, does that work? Do you actually generate revenue when things like that happen for your business or is that just kind of more of a brand play?
Interviewee: No, we actually generate about the same amount of revenue as from any other retailer.
Interviewer: Wow. So how does it work? Let’s hear it.
Interviewee: It’s just like any other buyer. You have a meeting with the buyers, and you do a full presentation about your products, and see what would be right for their customer base, and then what type of imagery you’re gonna use, what type of models you’re gonna use, what time of day, day of the week, everything like that matters. What price point is their customer going to feel most comfortable with.
Interviewer: So let’s kinda dive into your journey, now, Rachael, as an entrepreneur, because you weren’t always running Jewel Tones, and doing this, and doing that. You’ve had the ups and the downs that we’ve all had as entrepreneurs, so take us to what you consider your worst entrepreneurial moment to date. Tell us that story.
Interviewee: Yeah, yeah. I call it “The Richard In The Bathtub” moment.
Interviewer: I love that you have a title of it.
Interviewee: Well from the show Silicon Valley, when Richard’s laying in the bathtub, when he’s just had enough. Yeah, so – well it’s always like a roller coaster. You have your worst day, and the next morning you have your best day. That’s sort of what I like about it, the unpredictability, and the constant change and flow. We worked on a deal for about a year, year and a half, contracts and everything done, it was done. Everything got switched up at the last minute, and it didn’t go through, from absolutely nothing to do with the relationships that we had or our company.
Just sometimes, when you’re working with a really, really big company, there may be somebody on the other side of the world making decisions that really has nothing to do with you, but it might impact your business. I was attached to it, so what I’ve learned from that is to not be attached to outcomes, and never put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to a certain strategy. And until something’s actually happening, it might not happen. So yeah, things not happening how they were expected.
Interviewer: Let’s get into the moment, Rachael. I want you to take us to your moment, like your bathtub moment. What did that look like? What were you thinking at the time? What actually happened? Tell us the story.
Interviewee: I was standing in a parking lot in Austin, Texas, visiting family, and I received a phone call that normally goes really, really well, and it didn’t go really, really well, and I felt like, I just kinda left my body for a second, and I stood in the parking lot for a couple of hours, and my friends and my family sort of backed away from me and they just sort of walked away.
I think they could just feel that I wasn’t ready to talk. For once I was speechless. They had no idea what was going on. I was on the phone with a few people from my company and from outside my company, and they were just – I remember looking at them and having an awareness that they were really reacting to me with some of their mouths open and walking backwards, but I –
Interviewer: What was going on?
Interviewee: I was just frozen, I was just frozen. Honestly, and this was frustrating, but I’m in the world’s biggest NDA. But something I worked on a for a really long time with another really large company just sort of fell through at the very, very, very 11th hour.
Interviewer: Mmm. I hate that 11 dot dot 59 dot dot 59. So let’s talk about some lessons learned from here, because you can’t get specific about what actually crashed and burned, but of course, we can just picture that it was a big opportunity for you. What is the lesson that you wanna make sure that Fire Nation gets from that story?
Interviewee: Yeah, you know, everyone sort of had opinions about, “Well, you know what, everything happens for a reason and you have to just pick up and keep going.” Well, of course you have to pick up and keep going and everything’s gonna be fine in the general sense, but in that moment, it’s not okay, and I don’t think things happen for a reason. Sometimes it has to do with relationships or time or whatever, and to just let yourself feel it, like I just let myself experience the emotions, and let myself be sad and angry and all of that for a couple of weeks, and just sort of experience what was real for me before I got up and started marching ahead and pivoting the strategy in that respective area of my business.
But yeah, letting yourself feel it for however much time feels appropriate, whether it’s for five minutes, or a day, or in this case, a couple weeks, and then doing something that draws a line in the sand and marks this like, “Okay, we’re just not gonna focus on that anymore or think about that.” Then be happy again, and keep going, and look for ways you can use it for the better. So we did end up doing some things that maybe wouldn’t have worked out in that way, had it not happened, so we just kinda focused on that.
Interviewer: So Fire Nation, whenever you’re getting advice from people to just completely escape and detach from reality, it’s probably not good advice. The reality is, we live in a reality world, so when a situation happens, we have to say, “Okay, let me step back, let me not overreact, let me not have my chimp brain take over here, let’s think this through like a human being, here,” but at the same time, I don’t wanna overreact to this, but I don’t wanna underreact either because I gotta live in this world. I need to make decisions. I need to take actions that are going to potentially pull myself out of this bad moment.
So we can always say these flowery quotes, and all these different things, but the reality is this: You need to be in the world that is actually happening within your business, Fire Nation. Don’t escape it. Take strong action to move forward. That’s what’s gonna get you out of the funk, that action that is going to be positive. So Rachael, let’s kinda shift now into one of your greatest “Aha” moments to date. Take us to that moment. Tell us that story.
Interviewee: So I had the pleasure of working with a woman that was my boss when I was about 22. We worked together for about ten years. Like I said, she was my boss at a very large fashion company in New York. I just thought the world rose and set over her, and eventually we ended up starting our own business and working together. So we were having a great time, I woke up every day and was like, “I really just won the life lottery, this is the greatest job in the world to get paid to work with my best friend, and travel all over the world, and learn, and make amazing products for women.” It was another women’s product company.
And unfortunately she was diagnosed with cancer and they found it really, really late, and she was pretty young. So we dealt with that for a while, and then that company was dissolving because of what she was going through and we were going through, and we were sitting there talking, and it was – she was just talking about it in such a matter-of-fact way. She was just like, “Yeah, so I’m gonna go into the hospice tomorrow and I’m not really gonna be coherent anymore,” and I was like, “Wait, what?”
And she was just like, “Yeah, so I probably won’t be able to talk to you like this anymore, so let’s talk about bras.” And I was like, “We don’t need to talk about that, Diane. We can just be friends and have fun and do whatever it is that you wanna do today.” And she was just like, “No, no, no. This is what I love to do. I wanna work. I wanna talk about work.” So I was like, “Okay.” So she said, “You know how you have that idea for juniors’ shapewear that’s different from what everyone else does?” And I said, “Yeah.”
And she goes, “Don’t ever make that under a corporate company. Go do it on your own, and do it now, because life is short, and if you do it underneath a corporate company, they’re gonna make you filter your products and your branding message, and if you do it on your own, you can say whatever you want in your own voice.” And I was just bawling and crying and I was just like, “Okay, but we don’t need to talk – you wanna go be with your family or whatever?” And she’s just like, “No, I wanna talk about this.”
So she passed away the next day, and – I know. And I started Jewel Toned. But I learned a couple of things. I learned that – you know it’s so cliché, what they say about “Love what you do and never work a day in your life.” Well, this is that. When you have your own business, there’s no separation, and it’s not about balance, and it’s not about that being good or that being bad. There are a lot of things to value in life, like having family and having – on the beach and partying or learning and all of that is really valuable, but it’s also valuable and interesting to work.
And she really valued those experiences, and working with her colleagues, and putting something out into the world that didn’t exist before she did that. So that’s just something that I learned from her, and to not look at work as this thing that you do for a means to have the other parts of your life. Just integrate it into your life, and it’s just part of it, and it can all be harmonious together.
So I love what I do every day because of her, and I put products out there that are the products that I wanna make that no one really filters and makes more commercial, and branding messages that are from my heart and our customers, they feel that, that it’s real and that it’s not a tag line. So yeah, that was a pretty big “Aha” moment for me. And now there are fourteen investors and five employees in my company so it’s changed a lot of other people’s lives as well.
Interviewer: There’s a couple things that I really wanna make sure, Fire Nation, you’re taking out of this story. No. 1: Work-life balance. You hear a lot of balance. Well, what about work-life integration? What if you can make work and your life integrated? Just commingled into one. That’s when you’ve found something that you’re meant to do. When you’ve found your gift, infused it with passion, when you have this work-life integration, you don’t need to be, “Okay, now this is work time, now this is play time, now this is family time.”
We don’t need to separate our lives out when we’ve chosen the right life path. And that kind of rolls into the next thing, which is freedom to run your business as you desire in your own voice. That’s priceless. That is truly priceless. And so when you have the potential of “selling out” or having people inject a lot of equity, which is gonna have you not have the complete ownership if your business, think twice about it, because what is the cost that you’re gonna be giving up? You’re potentially giving up your freedom to run your business as you desire, in your own voice. Now Rachael, what would you say your biggest weakness as an entrepreneur is?
Interviewee: You know, I do pay a little too much attention to detail sometimes, and sometimes that can be frustrating when – everyone on my team is like that, we all have a few different degrees in design, and are really picky – but sometimes when we do collaborations with other people and we’re just like, “How does the table look? How does the invitation look? How does the – what kind of glass is the cocktail gonna go in? Where are the cushions?” And they kinda just show up and don’t really care about that. We value attention to detail. Maybe someone else doesn’t, it can lead to frustration and disappointment.
Interviewer: What’s your biggest strength?
Interviewee: I’m laser focused, so when I want something, I just go get it and I keep my eye on the prize, and I just stay in my lane of focus. So I make body shapers and lingerie, and not also making denim and jackets and all the other things that we could easily make. I just believe in doing your thing really, really well, and better than everyone else.
Interviewer: Well, you’ll like my acronym, Rachael, for the word “focus,” then. Follow One Course Until Success.
Interviewee: I do! I love it!
Interviewer: Laser! What’s the one thing that you’re most fired up about today?
Interviewee: I’m fired up today about women entrepreneurs and the more women become investors, the more women will become funded. You know, there’s a lot of talk right now about women’s companies not being funded as much. It’s definitely true, I think it’s like 6 percent companies that receive VC are founded by women, and I’m lucky enough to be one of those, but I’ve just noticed that it’s not that men don’t want to invest in women’s businesses.
I think people invest in things that they have experience in and just gravitate towards things that they naturally like, and I’ve met a lot of amazing men investors that just don’t understand the lingerie market, and there’s nothing wrong with that. So when they pitch to a woman, I don’t even hardly need to pitch, they’re just like, “Oh, amazing.”
I’m fired up about teaching more women to be comfortable talking about money and finance and how to invest in companies and smaller start-ups, because a lot of times there are really prominent women with monetary resources that enjoy – maybe they buy a $10,000 table at a charity event, but they’re sort of scared of early-stage angel investments, when really, they might find that more interesting and they might see a return on their investment.
And then they’d be privy to quarterly stock updates, and shareholder information, and if they want, they could take an active role in the company, which is very fulfilling in general, but then also they can see a larger return on their investment, and then have even more money to perhaps invest or contribute to charitable foundations and then also support women, who then in turn – it just sort of creates a cycle, because when women take exits, they become investors, too.
So that’s just sort of what I’m fired up about right now. Educating women about finance and money and having them comfortable – a comfortable place to ask questions about, “How does a stock purchase agreement work? What does evaluation mean, and what do I get for that?”
Interviewer: Well, Fire Nation, I’m fired up for the Lightning Round, personally, so don’t you go anywhere. I’m gonna take a quick minute to thank our sponsors.
Rachael, are you prepared for the Lightning Rounds?
Interviewee: I am.
Interviewer: What was holding you back from becoming an entrepreneur?
Interviewee: Nothing. I was an entrepreneur in high school at about 16. I designed concert T-shirts for my older cousin’s band, and I turned more of a profit than the band did at the shows. So not much.
Interviewer: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Interviewee: You get out of things what you put into them.
Interviewer: What’s a personal habit that contributes to your success?
Interviewer: How often do you do it?
Interviewee: I would say about five days a week.
Interviewer: And do you use an app, or what’s your meditation process?
Interviewee: I like to get empty first and just sort of listen to the outside world. My friend Brad Warner, who’s a big zazen teacher, he actually keeps his eyes open. I don’t. But he says the outside world is just as important as the inside world, so I just try to listen to what’s going on. If it’s loud or noisy, I don’t really get attached to that, and just sort of am present for the experience and align the energy with the space, and then I call it getting empty.
So I’ve been mentally just sort of clear out. And then I just sort of – yeah, I just try to get empty. Sometimes I’ll do a mantra-based meditation, Hindu mantras or something that I’m into the time, but entrepreneurs are so busy, there’s so much activity in there. I think it’s good for my brain to try to shut it off for a little bit.
Interviewer: Can you share an Internet resource, like EverNotes, with Fire Nation?
Interviewee: Quora and Snapchat.
Interviewer: If you could recommend one book for our listeners, what would be, and why?
Interviewee: Yeah, it’s an older book, but The Outliers really taught me to have persistence, and that creativity and intelligence are awesome, but unless you’re doing something with it, it doesn’t really mean anything, and to just keep going.
Interviewer: Rachael, this is the last question of the Lightning Round, but it’s a doozy. Imagine you woke up tomorrow in a brand new world, identical to Earth, but you knew no one. You still had all the experience and knowledge that you currently have. Your food and shelter is taken care of, but all you have is this laptop and $500. What would you do in the next seven days?
Interviewee: That sounds really fun and apocalyptic. I’d go outside and take a walk and buy every stranger I encountered a coffee and have them tell me something about them, and then ask them what I should do next, and then go inside and write a blog about all of it.
Interviewer: Love that. Explore, Fire Nation, and build relationships. Rachael, let’s end today on Fire with a parting piece of guidance from you, the best way we can connect with you, and then we’ll say goodbye.
Interviewee: Yeah, so love what you do and tell everyone about what you’re passionate about, and ask them how you can help them as well. My website is ShopJewelToned.com, I’m Jewel Toned on Instagram and RachaelByDesign on Twitter.
Interviewer: Fire Nation, you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. You’ve been hanging out with RM and JLD today, so keep up the heat and head over to EOFire.com, and just type “Rachael” in the search bar. Her shortlist page will pop up with everything that we’ve been talking about. Best show notes in the biz, timestamps, links galore, and of course check out her site ShopJewelToned.com, and Rachael, I just wanna thank you for sharing your journey with Fire Nation today. For that, we salute you and we’ll catch you on the flip side.
Interviewee: Thanks, so much. Have a great day.
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