Create & Cultivate, Small Girls PR
Social Media Handles:
Los Angeles, CA
Short Business Description:
A blog & conference for women who want to create & cultivate the career of their dreams.
Jaclyn Johnson represents the new guard of power-women. She built an experiential marketing company, (No Subject), that broke all the industry rules and set a new standard for what PR could look like and achieve. She works with the top brands in town, yet remains humble, excited and completely generous towards other aspiring female entrepreneurs. And in an increasing digital world, Jaclyn Johnson has created the ultimate resource: Create & Cultivate. As a conference series and platform to connect women in the digital space, she is probably directly responsible for igniting hundreds of women-led businesses. Jaclyn has the creativity, hustle and grace that will get her far, and we were lucky enough to pick her brain on the philosophy behind it all.
What is (No Subject) and what is Create & Cultivate?
(No Subject) was a creatively-driven marketing, influencer and events agency that was acquired by Small Girls PR last year.
Create & Cultivate is an online platform and offline conference who want to create and cultivate the career of their dreams.
Before you started your agency, what did you do?
I worked in the agency world, starting at ATTENTION, then iCrossing then in house at IAC.
Did you have any formal business training before launching?
What was your biggest fear before launching (No Subject)?
The fear all entrepreneurs face: that you’re taking a risk that won’t be met by reward. A large facet of entrepreneurship is uncertainty and you have to be OK with that. You’re in charge of your paycheck.
YOUR GLASS CEILING TURNING POINT
What inspired you to start your agency?
I talk about this transparently but I was let go from job at Citysearch, I had moved to LA and couldn’t find a job that I felt fit my skill set so I started my own agency and went after the clients I felt were underserved.
How did you spin off your agency into a conference series?
I started C&C because I was looking for advice and I couldn’t find it. I knew that if I was looking, other women with businesses were as well. Most successful businesses fill a hole or answer a question people don’t realize they need an answer for.
How did you find the courage to enter so many different industries?
Sometimes it feels like courage and crazy are different sides of the same coin. You need a little of both to throw your hat in the ring.
When did you know that (No Subject) and Create & Cultivate were full-time businesses?
When they were taking up all of my time. Also, when people start coming to you, instead of you seeking them out, it’s a good indicator that you’re moving in the right direction. A solid business should be a balance of both.
Is there anyone in particular who influenced your journey or is a mentor? If so, how did you meet that person?
Not really 🙁 and that was the problem. I felt alone when starting my business which is why I wanted to start create & Cultivate!
THE BUSINESS OF YOUR BUSINESS
How have you been able to manage running 2 separate businesses?
I know where I thrive and I think that’s an important aspect of business for female entrepreneurs to understand. Not everyone excels in chaos. And running two businesses can feel crazy sometimes. Also, your team matters.
How did you finance your businesses?
Completely self funded.
What were the first 5 steps you took to launch?
I didn’t plan, that was the beauty of it.
Did you start with a business partner or as a sole founder?
I started NS with a business partner that didn’t work out. I started C&C solo but took on a business partner 2 years ago.
Where did you find your first clients?
While speaking on a panel in Vegas!
What outside contractors have you hired to help build your business?
PR — I’ll say it again, PR! Once you can afford a good PR agency or freelancer do it, it makes all the difference.
What kind of growing pains have you experienced?
We’re growing fast, but steadily. You want to say ‘yes’ to all opportunities and knowing what to pass on can hard. You have to get over the ‘this person, this company wants to work with ME?!’ excitement and make hard choices.
Where do you want Create & Cultivate to be in 5 years?
I want it to be the go-to destination for women who need career advice or advice on starting their new business. We get emails from women who have launched businesses post C&C or met their business partner at C&C it’s amazing!
Where do you find inspiration?
My friends, my fiance, the C&C community I have surrounding me. Those random DMs from women who share their stories and strength. When I look around and see my team working equally as hard.
You are so supportive of other women in business. Could your please share your philosophy behind this?
Collaboration is the new creative currency. There is no time for mean girls, especially now. Beyond being stronger together, we are more creative together. More inventive. More motivated. Ideas spring from conversation, they don’t exist in a vacuum. When you share your ideas and your successes, beautiful things transpire.
How has branding played a role in your business?
Massive. One of the most important parts of C&C was to have it BE a legit conference, while simultaneously looking like your favorite Pinterest board come to life. We care very much about the guest experience. We actually have a panel at our upcoming Create & Cultivate conference in NYC on May 6th called that has to do with putting brand before business and why it’s so important.
How do you find and develop relationships with strategic partners?
The same way you find friends, authenticity. I genuinely only work with people I love and respect. We won’t bring on a partner that isn’t right as a company and as a person.
What challenges do you face as a female founder, and how do you overcome them?
Luckily, most people understand what we’re up to at this point. Why it matters. In the beginning the idea of being a women’s conference was met with some hesitation. Why did it need to focus on women? Did women really need “safe” spaces still? Were they being treated differently at work? The issues at hand are much more cut and dry then they were five years ago and I am proud the business stuck to its guns. That can be really tough when you first start out and everyone has an opinion about how, when, where, and why. Listen to those people and then trust your gut.
You are soon-to-be married. Could you describe how your relationship with your fiancé impacts how you are able to run your business?
David is immensely supportive, understands the hours I work, and my commitment to my career. It only impacts it in the sense of making it better. I wouldn’t be marrying him otherwise.
How do you draw boundaries, or not draw boundaries, between work and personal life?
I honestly think when you’re launching a biz you have to commit to the idea of there being no boundaries. At least in the beginning.
What is the best thing about running your own business? The most difficult?
The most difficult is that when you’re the boss no one tells you good job, or pats you on the back for all your hard work.
The best thing, however, is that you’re the boss. And that means that when you do a good job, or a great job even, you get to be so, wide-beaming-smile proud of yourself.
What are you most proud of?
Speaking of… haha. That I built a company. Sold one. Bought a house. Am getting married. And manage to keep some plants alive.
At what point did you think, “I made it”?
Haha. Never. Most founders will tell you that if you think you’ve ‘made it,’ think again. That said, I am immensely proud of what we’ve built. But those are very different sentiments. Don’t confuse your self worth with your ego. “I’ve made it,” will take you under.
What advice would you give to people who are just starting out in business?
Pick something you’re passionate about because you will burn the candle at both ends. And something needs to keep you burning when there is no more wick.
Photography by: Julia Stotz