Female Founder Spotlight: Jess Peterson
Jess Peterson is one of my favorite NYC ladies and we are super excited that this summer she launched a creative agency for female entrepreneurs called Mighty Oak. Jess not only helps grow your brand and business through her team of creatives, but she even hosts events for new bosses in a speaker/networking event called Hatch. I sat down with Jess and asked her about her new business, some advice for ladies interested in entering the entrepreneur game and why she is motivated by the startup scene powered by women.
1. Tell us a little about yourself and what you do?
Hi! My name is Jess. For the past 10 years, I've worked in music and the arts, helping major label artists, bands, and cultural institutions find their voice. Inspired by the increasing number of female entrepreneurs that I was meeting along the way, I founded Mighty Oak, a creative services agency for women starting their own businesses. I collaborate with an amazingly talented team of female designers, animators, hand-letterers, photographers, and developers to create brands and an online presence for ‘ladypreneurs’ in creative industries.
When I'm not building brands and communications strategies, you can find me hosting events for HATCH, a peer mentoring group for creative female entrepreneurs. You might also find me behind a wedding dj booth spinning records with my husband, riding my bike, or watching the Golden Girls with a glass of wine.
2. Mighty Oak is a business that centers around female run companies- Why is this something you were drawn to?
It actually took a minute for me to figure this out. After leaving a communications job to focus on branding for small businesses, I found myself feeling a bit lost as to ‘my drive’. I also wasn’t quite sure how to meet these businesses, or how to create that strong connection between us. The light bulb truly went off when I took a minute to stop and look at the companies I had worked with thus far.
It was the women-founded businesses that called to me the most. I could sympathize with their concerns, and articulate their needs when they couldn’t. It made sense to be because, I could understand where they were coming from and see myself in them too.
I chose to hire a team of female contractors because I was sure that they would have the same connection with our clients -- and I’ve been proven right. Nothing gives us greater pleasure than seeing a client’s project come to life. We feel like we’re doing more than empowering another woman with her own brand, we’re celebrating her ideas and dreams. It’s pretty awesome!
3. You have said before that growing your own business is something you have come to enjoy doing and running- were you always entrepreneurial or was it something you developed along the way as you started?
I think that I’ve always maintained an entrepreneurial spirit, but never gave serious thought to running a business until now. When I was a child, I used to ‘manage a radio station’ in my basement and sell the recorded tapes to kids at school. I also started my own writing club, sold stuffed teddy bears made out of old t-shirts, and ran a ‘comedy hour’ during recess.
I recently found an old report card from 4th grade with a note from my teacher, “Jess is a born leader. She has great influence over her classmates and seems to enjoy creating games for them to participate in. She loves to collaborate. She also has trouble with quiet time.” I think this teacher captured my personality before I even understood it.
4. You are also part of an organization called Hatch- can you tell us a little about this, your role & how it came to be?
I co-founded HATCH in February of 2014. What started as a very organic conversation between friends turned into a monthly peer mentoring meeting of 42 lady entrepreneurs in creative industries. Our programming consists of workshops/group discussions as well as guest speaker events. We tackle questions like “what it takes to start your own business.” “rates, budgets, and how to know what you’re worth” “how to handle a client meeting” and even “how to be a successful networker.”
HATCH offers a supportive space for those who haven’t grown up in the traditional fields of business. For ladies who’ve never had a mentor, or might have thought that networking wasn’t for them. For those ladies who are hustling and need a solid support system. We offer that connection, as well as a list of resources and other networking events on our website.
5. What advice do you have for someone who is interested in starting their own company?
Do your homework. Writing a business plan might feel like writing a thesis paper, but it truly makes it possible to realistically understand your market and potential opportunities.
Make sure you have a supportive network around you. You’ll go through a lot of doubt and nerves when taking a risk this big, and you’ll want someone to ‘talk you off the ledge’ every now and again.
Celebrate the little victories. You should always aim big, but be proud of yourself when the little things go right too -- they are the stepping stones that take you towards your bigger goals.
Keep an exercise routine. Trust me, taking that time will energize your mind as well as body and keep you in a good mood while you work.
Love what you do, like really LOVE it. It might seem like a cliche answer, but truly, you need to love what you’re doing. Because most business owners don’t make bank right away -- you need to be doing this for more than the money (though you should totally ‘get that money’.)