Female Founder Spotlight: AWEAR
Tell us who you are and what you do.
I’m Kestrel Jenkins, 29, from San Diego, CA founder of AWEAR.
What is AWEAR?
AWEAR is a project intended to help inspire us to think about where our clothes are made, what they are made of, and who made them. With the high speed chase that fashion has become in today's culture, AWEAR intends to help us all refresh our style in a community-oriented way, where we can help each other along the journey. AWEAR is a community of mindful consumers and stylish change makers.
What did you want to be when you "grew up"?
I wanted to be an animal biologist. I was enamored with Jane Goodall and her work with chimpanzees, and in love with the idea of doing something outside with animals. I am still a lover of animals, and a proponent of appreciating nature by creating outdoor adventures. However, my early years (piecing together outfits & changing them multiple times a day) were only the beginning stages of what evolved into a deep passion associated with bringing conscious fashion to the masses.
What was the first real job you had that you realized was the first step for your career? What did you do?
I secured an internship with fair trade fashion company People Tree in London. It was my first "job" after college. I was stuck on this idea of working and learning from People Tree, but didn't hear back from them on whether I would be considered a candidate for the job. In turn, I emailed their general manager once a week for months to let her know I was still interested, and to send updates on my life. In the end, I was hired. Persistence paid off for me on this one, and definitely helped set a tone for the way I communicate and engage with others in my career.
When did you first realize that working for yourself may be a good idea, and was there a certain event that made you finally take the plunge?
I grew up basically working for myself. My parents own a restaurant and hotel along the Mississippi River in Wisconsin. Starting with my first job cleaning rooms, I was working for my parents, but I took a lot of ownership over what I did because it was a family business. The establishment was a reflection of what we put into it and how we connected with people who passed through meant everything. These early experiences set a tone for me, with regard to work ethic, communication, and genuine interactions. I am grateful to my parents, as I have taken many of their business strategies with me into my own projects.
Do you feel that women who own their own businesses are faced with the same female- related issues as those in the corporate environment? If so how do you overcome it?
Yes, to an extent. At the same time, I feel like owning your own business gives you the freedom and autonomy to determine who you want to do business with. For me, I can consciously work with individuals that I respect, and that have an energy that is bringing something positive to the table and to the world. This, in my mind, is one of the greatest luxuries of working for yourself.
What advice do you have for those who want to start their own business?
Dive in. You can work on business plans and concepts forever. If you have a general idea and feel strongly about it, get it out there. You can always iterate along the way, and what better way to do so, than from having actual feedback from users or customers or others who are engaging with your product or service.
What would you like Feminist Wednesday readers to know about your business?
I would be honored to have them join our AWEAR movement, one that has the potential to help shift the fashion industry, using the power of individuals' purchasing power for good. If they have any thoughts, questions, ideas, I'm all ears. :)