When I was just 22 years old, I experienced one of the biggest losses in my life. My father died of brain tumors. He was very much a larger than life kind of guy. When he walked into a room, everyone instantly felt better. He had a very natural way of putting people at ease.
My dad had excelled at team sports his whole life and actually went to Cal Poly on a baseball AND football scholarship. He was recruited to the major leagues where he had a short lived career because of a rotator cuff injury. His love and passion for athletics continued throughout his life. He would play on rec teams, coach children, volunteer on different sports boards and all star teams.
I was never very athletically inclined. I didn’t inherit his natural ability, AT ALL. Even so, I remember feeling so inspired by his passion for sports. He would drive me to some local game that was happening. We’d get out and watch for a while. Sometimes he didn’t even know anyone involved, he would just sit there and explain to me what he was seeing.
“Jill, watch that kid on second. The ball’s going straight to him, and he’s going to make double play!” Sure enough, within minutes, what he predicted usually came true. He was so full of joy in those moments that it was contagious. I didn’t even like watching sports, but, I loved it with him. We were very close.
When he died, I was in my last year of college. It was about eight months from his diagnosis to when he passed. He was only 54. This would be my first funeral. My mom prepped us with what to expect, but, you’re never quite ready for the overwhelmingness of it all. The church was packed. As I looked around, I saw people I never even met. Children and teens were everywhere. My father’s craniologist walked up to the casket and kissed my dad on the head. People in that room adored him because of the way he made them feel by sharing what he was passionate about. I remember wishing he could see all of the people that were there for him. I remember thinking how awesome it was that he touched so many lives and how in such a short time on this planet, he made a huge difference in this world. I promised him in that moment, that I would try to continue his legacy and make it a point to be there for others. I had no idea what that would look like, or how I would ever make difference, but, I committed to look for opportunities.
When I started this business, I set out with the goal of making women feel beautiful. That was it, my mission statement. I wanted my business to be there for women, run by women, and supporting women. Over the years, I’ve had endless discussions with women about what they wanted from fashion. They not only described what they wanted in clothing, but, what they wanted to experience. These discussions inevitably shaped each step on this journey and have brought me to where I am today.
In an effort to strive to always make things better, and touch more women, I’ve been working on a plan this year to give other women an opportunity to own their own Jill Alexander Store. We’ve created a store model that has proven to be successful. The collection is created in such a way that someone doesn’t need buying or merchandising experience to be successful as in traditional retail situations. Women ready to focus on something for themselves, and their financial freedom, will be able to step in, follow our guidelines, and share their passion for our brand with other women. I will still be very much involved as the stores are my heart, but, it will also allow me to give more focus to the designs and enable more women across the country to experience how good our brand makes women feel.
I wanted to share this excitement with the people who know us and love us first. You’ve all helped to make JAD what it is today and I can’t wait to see the opportunities it will create for other women in the near future.
If you organize your life around your passion, you can turn your passion into your story, and then turn your story into something bigger. Something that matters.
⁃ Blake Mycoskie, founder of Toms shoes
If this is something that you’ve been thinking about and want to explore further, drop us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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