The greatest gift my grandmother Jan Day gave me was the power of example. She showed me the kind of person I could become. Children who grow up as “JAFRA Babies” are among the luckiest people in the world. Our parents represent freedom and empowerment. When I decided to become an entrepreneur, it seemed natural to me because I grew up with JAFRA Cosmetics. I didn’t even question or doubt if I could do it. I had full belief!
As early as 8 years old, I learned to be a self-starter when my grandmother asked if I would like to help her with filing in her home office and showed me how to shine silver in the dining room. At times, working on the beautiful artifacts she was collecting seemed to require a high degree of sophistication. Since I hoped for her to be very impressed with the outcome, I was worried my skills would fall short, but she would say, “Wow! Look at the amazing results of your hard work!” Her excitement fueled me to keep going until all the tasks were completed, and her encouragement showed me how much potential exists in doing something with full commitment from start to finish. In this way, my grandmother taught me with subtlety that I have the power to begin any venture and achieve success.
My grandmother’s early guidance stays with me and, to this day, continues to influence me in mostly everything I embark on. When I was 10, my mother, Janna, taught me how to sew. I starting making pillows and stuffed animals and I went door to door and sold them around the neighborhood. Every time I knocked on a door and they said “no” to purchasing my crafts, I was discouraged, but then I remembered my grandmother telling me to keep going even when times seem rough. Sometimes right before I felt like giving up, a door would open and somebody would say “yes.”
By 16 years old, I was creating art for a party planner and by 20, after fashion college, I founded my first designer clothing company. It was a success as far as my creations were concerned - but somewhat of a disaster on the organization and business side. I always say that this first couture venture was where I made most of my mistakes and also learned the most! By the time I turned 26, I started my second fashion brand called Mark and Estel
, which I still have to this day. Two months after the brand was on the market, Mary Kate Olsen started wearing our designs. Before I turned 29, I was designing clothing for Lady Gaga
and other fashion icons like Kesha and Charlize Theron
When I was 32, my dear father who was also our uniquely talented fashion photographer was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I stopped everything I was doing and almost went out of business because I just wanted to spend time with him through his last days. This was one of the hardest times in my life. A month after he passed away, I was trying to pick up the pieces of my career. A celebrity client had referred our fashion brand to Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York, and they wanted us to show! This was a designer’s dream, to be sharing the same runway with Betsey Johnson and Ralph Lauren. One of the hard parts was, we only had 3 months to create an entire Ready-To-Wear Collection when most designers plan a year in advance for such a show. I didn’t waiver and said yes without any clue how I would make the impossible happen! We found a way, after many sleepless nights and gallons of coffee, and the show was a huge success! Our fashion shows opened up a new world of opportunities, and by age 36 I was creating couture and bespoke clothing for a multitude of celebrities and high-net worth clients.
The one thing I never struggled with through any of the hard times on my journey was “the D-word”: doubt. I went into everything with passion and excitement never thinking “what if I can’t?” There was never a plan B. I always bet everything I had on myself. I owe this attitude to my parents and my grandparents Jan and Frank. Never once did anyone in my family ever tell me I “couldn’t”. They always told me I “could”. This simple belief passed down from my family made me fearless. To have the confidence to start anything and do anything is an incredible gift that I wouldn’t trade for the world. This belief gets you through hard times, hopeless times, and times when you feel like you don’t have the answer. We all have these moments in life and everyone has their own crosses to bear. We all make mistakes, and we all have times when we can’t see the light. It is in moments like this you have to look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you “can”, and you “will!”
Failing is how we learn to do it better next time and keep growing. The most successful people in the world will tell you that they failed a million times before they found success. These people have an unwavering belief in themselves and keep going when everyone else would quit. Every day is a new day to wake up and make a decision to be a better version of yourself. Each moment is a new chance to transform into the person you want to be. We are resilient and adaptable. If you make the decision to believe in yourself and go for it no matter what, you will be surprised by what you can accomplish!