Fangirl fashion has really started to take off lately, and there are brands out there for whatever your particular style might be. One of my favorite brands is Jordandene, started by Jordan Ellis. Whether you’re looking for a tee, a sweatshirt, a tote, baby clothes, or even an apron, this shop has got cute, classy, and of course SUPER geeky designs for you. I’ve got two of her tanks myself, and I’m OBSESSED with them. Chances are if you follow any other geeky girl blogs out there, you’ve seen Jordan’s shirts featured there, too. Fangirls are eating her stuff up, and so of course I had to interview her for It’s Totally a Real Job. Jordan has created a unique fashion line that has gotten crazy popular since its inception, and I’m so happy to get to feature her here. So let’s talk with Jordan!
How long have you been in the fashion industry?
I’ve only been in the fashion industry for about two years. I studied elementary education in college, so I don’t really have any training or background in this industry at all. I’m still learning everything as I go!
Where did the idea to start Jordandene come from?
The idea for Jordandené came as a much-needed creative outlet to keep up with all of my artistic friends when I moved to New York. I was working a pretty boring day job and really wanted to find something interesting to occupy my free time. I picked up a sewing machine, signed up for Etsy, and started my shop!
Did you always envision Jordandene as a company that bordered the line between geeky/fandom and fashion, or has it evolved over the years?
I definitely always knew that Jordandené would be based in some kind of geekery. I never expected, though, that I would ever be involved with fashion. My first line of products was for the home / kitchen, which is way more in my element. This fashion stuff is all new to me.
Fangirl fashion has really taken off in the past few years. Why do you think that is?
I think one of the reasons for the rise in popularity of fangirl fashion is smaller brands who are actually making well-designed options. I feel like, when I was growing up, the only nerdy clothing was boxy tees with giant graphics plastered across the front. Now we have so many better options, from fandom leggings to cute geeky jewelry to soft, flattering tops. It’s a lot easier to choose fangirl fashion when there are actually cute choices!
What was the biggest challenge you faced in starting your own business?
My biggest challenge in starting my own business was just knowing what I’m doing. I finally took my first real business class this year after three years of trying to figure everything out as I went. I didn’t know anything about marketing plans or wholesale or inventory management when I started, and it’s been a long process figuring all of that out!
What obstacle in creating your own business have you encountered that you didn’t plan for?
My biggest obstacle has actually been just learning how to run a real business and make sales happen. In my dream world, I can just be nice, and make cool products that people like, and then they’ll buy them, end of story. In real life, business doesn’t work like that. You need to look at conversion rates and pop-up boxes and advertising and web analytics, and I was not prepared for all of that!
What was the best and worst advice you received as you started up Jordandene?
I think the best advice I got when I started was to find a group of other business owners to figure things out with. Having a support group of like-minded people to bounce ideas off of, share research with, and encourage each other is truly one of the most helpful things I ever did. The worst advice I’ve gotten was to spend money on ideas and products I shouldn’t have. People always want to tell you how to run your business, but at the end of the day no one has to pay for your mistakes but you.
What has surprised you the most, be it positively or negatively, as you started up your own business?
I think the thing that’s surprised me the most about running my business is how many cool friends have come out of it. I always knew that I’d be working with a lot of other people (collaborations have been a big part of my business since day one), but I never expected to find so many deep and lasting friendships. I’ve taken road trips across the country, vacations to other states, and been a part of so many important life moments with people I met through the business.
Have you been surprised at how popular Jordandene has become?
Oh god, I’m still surprised every day when a sale comes in that people actually want to buy the things I’m making. I felt like I was living in a dream the first time I was able to go to New York Comic Con three years ago, and that feeling hasn’t changed at all.
What advice would you give to other young women wanting to start their own business?
I’d give other young women the same best advice I ever received: find a group of people to go through your business ups and downs with you and cherish those relationships. Help each other, work together, and use your different skills to make everyone succeed.
Thanks so much to Jordan for taking the time to talk with me! I hope all of you aspiring fashion designers feel inspired to create your own space in the fashion industry. Don’t forget to check out the other amazing women I’ve spoken with (like Kathleen, author of the upcoming book The Fangirl Life, Mari of Sent From Mars, Geek Girl Brunch founders and Melificent) in the rest of the series, and stay tuned here every week for another women who proved success doesn’t always come in a cubicle. And if you want to continue the conversation on Twitter, use the hashtag #RealJob.