Why Pivoting Can Be A Great Thing
Name: Jennifer Long
Current City: San Diego, CA
Hometown: San Francisco
Far too often, the following happens: people get an idea, they get excited, then they get overwhelmed, then they give up. This could have easily been the trajectory of Jennifer Long. Inspired to create an ethical, environmentally centered baby line, she figured out early on that the task was big. Really, really big. And instead of giving up, she stayed the course, made a sharp right onto a new street, double downed on the idea, and launched her company, Noble Carriage. We chatted with her to find out how giving in rather than giving up has led her to where she is today.
IN A FEW SENTENCES, PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF:
I am a designer motivated by a desire to help people change the world.
WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO PURSUE YOUR CURRENT CAREER PATH?
Before starting Noble Carriage, I was an award-winning designer at the San Francisco ad agency, Hub Strategy and Communication. In 2014, I gracefully switched gears into my newest endeavor as Founder and Creative Director of Noble Carriage, an online shop for organic baby clothing. I started Noble Carriage as a way to address the growing concerns of sustainability in fashion and the harmful effects that this industry has on farmers, the environment, and ultimately, the end consumer. This challenge is far greater than just one company can tackle, so I focused our efforts where we could have the most profound effect: babies.
HOW DID YOU GO FROM IDEA TO EXECUTION?
STEP 1. I had an idea….
STEP 2. I moved in with my parents. My now husband and I packed up our apartment in San Francisco and moved in with my folks in Orange County so we could use the money that we would be saving from San Francisco rent to launch Noble Carriage.
STEP 3. I kept my day job. I continued to work for the ad agency I left in San Francisco, but I spent all of my free time researching how to manufacture baby clothing as sustainably as possible.
STEP 4. I became overwhelmed. I felt like manufacturing baby clothing sustainably was impossible.
STEP 5. I hired help. I hired a sustainability consultant, Shannon Whitehead of Factory 45, to help me bring my idea to fruition. She was immensely helpful, and ultimately led me to a decision to change course.
Step 6. I pivoted. I went from wanting to create my own line to realizing that people aren’t going to buy just one brand. I realized that success would come only if I was able to create and promote an environment that educated parents about sustainable fashion, and highlighted the brands that are leading the movement.
Step 7. I used my design chops to design a logo, website, and launch Noble Carriage. After crazy amounts of time, dedication, patience, focus and unforeseen challenges, Noble Carriage has developed into an amazing brand that is trusted by thousands of loyal customers and visitors.
DO YOU HAVE A MENTOR?
I don’t have just one mentor. I believe in the power of a strong community and support system.
My mom is my number one fan. My husband gives me daily pep talks and empowerment. I try to meet with women entrepreneurs I admire regularly, like Courtney Klein of Storq, Katie Hint-Zambrano of Mother Mag, and Cailtin Flemming of Sacramento Street. I still maintain a very close relationship with my old design director, Peter Judd, who always gives me honest feedback.
I met everyone above in San Francisco. The beauty in a small city is that you are bound to bump into an inspiring human at every turn.
You can’t put a price on inspiration. Entrepreneurship can be very lonely. It is vital to surround yourself with a strong support system and inspiration at every turn.
HOW DOES THE CITY YOU LIVE IN INFLUENCE YOUR CREATIVITY?
San Diego allows me the space to think and actually listen to my thoughts. I also think there is a renaissance of makers happening in San Diego right now. Perhaps with the craft beer movement going on here, I find myself meeting new creative entrepreneurs every day. In addition, I’ve been inspired by a surge of entrepreneurial woman. For the first time, I can see and feel the impact women are making in this world.
HAS REJECTION EVER AFFECTED YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS?
Of course! But I have come to appreciate that feedback is part of the creative process. I listen to the feedback, digest it, and usually, the end product is stronger because of it.
NAME 3 LESSONS YOU’VE LEARNED FROM BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS:
- Build a strong community.
- Plan your day the night before.
- Hold onto your day job for as long as you can.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO WANTED TO PURSUE THE SAME CAREER AS YOU?
Start now. Intern at a company you admire. Learn through experience.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE PIT AND PEAK OF YOUR WEEK SO FAR?
Can I do last month instead? It was rocky. The election was a low. West Coast Craft Fair was a high. It is all about community support, and I felt that at WCC.
IN YOUR WORDS, WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE A “CREATIVE”?
To have an opinion.
TOP PODCASTS FOR CREATIVES AND WHY:
Design Matters to satisfy my inner design geek
This American Life for road trips
Ted Talks for inspiration
Marie Forleo for weekly pep talks
FINISH THIS SENTENCE:
I want people to remember me as: Thoughtful.
If I only had 24 more hours to live I would do: Something with my family.
If I had to choose a theme song to represent me it would be: "The Best is Yet to Come" by Frank Sinatra. As sustainable fashion evolves, so does Noble Carriage. It is important that we always have this song playing in the background of what we do, metaphorically speaking.
For more on Jennifer Long and Noble Carriage, visit www.noblecarriage.com
Photos courtesy of: Noble Carriage