Fearless Friday: Janet Mandell
The best things in life are free. Laughter being one of them - most underrated gift anyone could give you. And, it just so happens that today's Fearless Friday feature, Janet, makes me laugh constantly. I've traveled with her, soon again, I've cocktailed with her, I've had long talks with her...shoot, the only thing we haven't done is work out but we've even talked about that, too! I will tell you, Janet cares and she is very much supportive of her girls. I've observed over the years. Even with everything she is balancing...motherhood, marriage, career, blogging, philanthropy ...she always makes time for her friends. And, she will always make you laugh. That is the best trait in a friend - better than 100 lattes or 1M pairs of Gucci heels. And well heeled, she is!
This pint-size fashionista is a veteran of the Chicago manufacturing industry and a born fashionista. A fierce combo in my books. She's sustained her business through all sorts of wacky economical times, too. I so admire her tenacity, her quiet ambition and her perpetual genius that continues to reinvent new ideas and concepts for her brand. I'll shut up...read on to learn more about my talented friend, Janet!
Tell us a little about your brand and its mission. How did you develop the idea?
Mia Bossi is a luxury diaper bag brand for the mom who wants the perfect mix of fashion and function. Before I started Mia Bossi in 2005, I noticed that no one had chic and durable designer diaper bags. There just wasn’t a luxury product in that market. Moms deserve to look fabulous while on the job!
1. What was the moment you knew you wanted to be an entrepreneur let alone in the accessory industry?
Growing up, my father owned a manufacturing company so I have been around the manufacturing industry my entire life. As I got older, I developed a deep passion (and obsession!) with the fashion industry - especially accessories. Once I recognized the gap in the luxury diaper bag market, I had a sort of ‘AH-HA’ moment. And the rest just fell into place!
2. What was the most difficult moment in launching your brand? How did you get through it?
I would say that the hardest part in launching Mia Bossi was the marketing and PR aspect. I went through probably 5-6 different PR agencies and each created campaigns to launch my brand. I knew I wanted an an ‘in’ with the luxury niche without the over-the-top prices. I wanted everyone from your average mom to celebrities to know they could benefit from my product. Then finally I found a PR firm in New York who had everything I needed. Their ideas were brilliant, and their location made it so much easier to connect with media editors and tap into the celebrity placement market.
The other moment was trying to establish pricing - I didn’t want to have a inexpensive line, but I also didn’t want my product to be completely inaccessible either. I needed pricing that could accommodate mothers who wanted a chic designer bag without paying thousands of dollars. After what felt like a never ending toss up, we finally got it right.
3. How would you describe a typical day? What's your morning to evening routine?
Oh man, honestly no two days are the same! But if I had to map out a ‘typical’ day I would say I wake up, make my little ones breakfast, drop them off at school, and then head to my morning workout. After, I stop by the Mia Bossi office (that overlooks the production line) to work on designs and check in with my staff. While I’m there I also try to write a post for my blog, Fashion-a-Holic, before I head out to a photoshoot for another post. Finally it’s time to pick up my kids from after-school programs. I whip up dinner for the fam and make sure I spend some quality time with my hubby before bed!
4. What’s one thing you learned about yourself in becoming an entrepreneur?
I feel like since starting my brand I have grown so much as not only an entrepreneur, but also a person. I’ve always been hardworking and ambitious, but before Mia Bossi, I never had to really fight for anything. I had to challenge myself to be more aggressive and keep getting back up despite how many setbacks I faced.
5. What individuals, tastemakers, celebrities, entrepreneurs, public figures inspire you?
I have too many to count! But if I had to narrow it down I would say Chriselle Lim of The Chriselle Factor because she constantly recreates her look and has developed her fashion blog into a thriving lifestyle brand all while being a boss babe mama. I also really admire Emma Stone for staying true to herself while becoming one of the world’s highest paid actresses. She is just such a positive role model for younger girls. Especially in an industry that can be so superficial - Emma Stone’s humble and down to Earth mentality reminds everyone to never trade your authenticity for anyone’s approval. Being yourself is the best thing you could possible be.
6. If you weren't in the accessory industry...and could be anything else...what would it be?
A cook who specializes in nutrition, with a focus in glyco glycemia!
7. What's on your Spotify?
1. Something Just Like This (Alessio Remix) - The Chainsmokers & Coldplay
2. I’m The one - DJ Khaled, Justin Bieber, Chance The Rapper, Quavo, & Lil Wayne
3. Wat You Back - HAIM
8. What’s your vice? Everyone has one...wine, chocolate, This is Us?
Coffee ice cream!! It’s my FAVORITE!
9. Wine or classic cocktail?
Wine - cocktails are too sugary for me!
10. What’s the best career advice you ever received?
Don’t be in a rush to make a decision. Always think things through and weigh your pros and cons.
11. 5 must-have apps that you need in your life to function?
VSCOcam (for photo editing!)
12. Bonus question - What's next for Mia Bossi/Janet Mandell OR do you have something new in the works?
Right now, I am mostly focused on growing my fashion blog and connecting with new brands. However, I am also exploring the option of becoming a Chicago-based manufacturer of leather goods and bags for other brands or individual entities. I don’t want to give too much away, but I am so excited about the things we have in the works!
Follow Janet on Instagram!