I bet you haven't put much thought into your shower cap. Why? Because it's plastic, crinkly and probably should've been thrown out months ago. But for WNW Member #420 (yep, best number) Jacquelyn De Jesu, shower caps are all she's been thinking about. Practically untouched since our grandmother's era, shower caps have been given a complete makeover by Jackie. SHHHOWERCAP, with its upscale, turban-inspired design, has a modern silhouette, and is made from nanotechnology fabric that's antibacterial, waterproof, and machine-washable. And being the art director Jackie is, her launch line includes four rad designs, making it really hard to buy just one.
Unsurprisingly, SHHHOWERCAP is blowing up the internet with coverage in Fast Company and headlines like "Channel Your Inner Beyonce With This Shower Cap". Jackie gave us the inside details of bringing her business to life (all while juggling a day job), and how she is going to make women look beautiful in showers everywhere. Her advice for wannabe entrepreneurs? "Just start. So many people have an idea and let someone beat them to it. Or delay because they think it’s too expensive, or time consuming, or scary. Don’t be that story of the guy who almost invented the Post-It. Just start whatever your thing is. Chances are that the excitement of seeing it come to life will propel you through to every next stage of the process."
How many iterations did you go through? 7000 million?
I’m an art director with a design background. Perfectionist by nature.
How did you manage day job with your night hustle?
Managing sanity: juggling day job and side project: You have to compartmentalize. And of course, lots of after hours and weekend grind on SHHHOWERCAP. When it got really difficult was when there was crazy after hours and weekend work for the day job. #ADVERTISING
Did you get feedback?
Yep. From friends, family, strangers standing at the Marcy JMZ stop who were innocently waiting for the subway. Literally, I talked to everyone about SHHHOWERCAP for over a year. And it was truly eye-opening to hear what people liked, didn’t like, and wanted to see more of. Also, I crowd-sourced our solid color. I posted a quadrant of Pantones to see which one had the most votes: a super easy, cheap, and effective way to get a gut check.
Each pattern is so different, but yet they all work together. Tell us about your selection process.
I wanted to make sure that each “type” of woman would have a favorite print, but that they stood together as a collection. Its really interesting to see in the orders how that’s actually true. For example, LA, Orange County, and Miami LOVE the Laguna.
Did you consider doing a Kickstarter?
Absolutely! Yes. Thought about it quite a bit. But, I was more focused on the product, the lookbook, and manufacturing to get all of the technical details right and manage the moving pieces. Luckily, my background and network enabled me the ability to launch without a lot of the upfront costs that a start up normally faces. Branding, product design, website design, copywriting, photoshoot, etc. All were either me or my friends (or friends of friends) pitching in to make it a reality. Shout out to my peoples (and WNW Members!): Julie Matheny, Kelly Diaz, Alex Center, Daddy-O Productions. However, Kickstarter is an amazing platform and we may be using it in the future!
Taking on investors: why or why not?
It is definitely something I’m exploring at this point. The reaction to pre-sale has been so exciting and in order to scale, it’s going to be necessary. However, it’s not free money and takes a lot of energy away from development and brand building in order to pursue a round. I originally was looking for angels, but got some amazing advice early on in the process that changed my outlook. If you believe in your product and can bootstrap to the point where you’re able to show traction and any sort of market response -- a company’s valuation becomes a lot more realistic.
You've gotten a lot of amazing press. How'd you do it?
I wrote my own press release and sent it to basically anyone and everyone I had a connection to. A “sticky” subject line is super necessary. And, now more than ever I believe that any business should launch with a huge emphasis on design and art direction. All blogs/publishers are just looking for content. The less they have to work for it (strong visuals, high rez product images, fun copy, clear brand story) the easier it to get picked up.
For those of us who want to launch our own business, any resources you recommend?
FACEBOOK! The Garment District Info Center! Ellevate (Ladies Entrepreneur Network)! New York City- the whole city. My first technical designer was found through a girl in my boxing class at the gym. You really never know who knows who unless you ask. So I always ask. And of course, Working Not Working to get me the gigs to feed myself while I pursued this wild idea. (Thanks, Jackie!)
In starting this business, what has been the:
Prioritizing “life stuff” while I’m laser focused on making my dream a reality. There is literally something that I can be doing for SHHHOWERCAP filling every second of every day. Basically every day for a year has been pitch mode. But, it’s important to not burn yourself out. Also, it was tough realizing that not everyone in my life wants to talk about shower caps or hair routines every time they see me. Even though I do.
Most rewarding experience?
When I don’t recognize the name of any orders that come in for days at a time. Strangers passing it around the internet really makes me the happiest. Or when a chick tags her friend in one of our Instagram's and says “@____ you NEED this!” or “OBSESSED.” Honestly, if I had to pinpoint one personal moment, it was walking on set for the first time for my first shoot, for my product and my brand, my vision, and feeling totally comfortable because it is what I’ve always done for other people.
Thing you wish someone had told you before doing this?
Development takes 4x longer and 3x more money than you plan for. There is always a hiccup in manufacturing. Somewhere. And a co-founder can be an amazing thing. But, it can also be a horrible thing. It’s basically a marriage. So choose carefully.
Best advice you received, worst advice. Your advice :)
Best advice: “You are the company’s most valuable asset. You have to take care of yourself like you are.” AKA Drink a green juice, get some sleep, and take a spin class, Jackie.
Worst Advice (there’s a couple): “Don’t quit your day job.” and “Patents are worthless.” So not true.
My advice: Just start. So many people have an idea and let someone beat them to it. Or delay because they think it’s too expensive, or time consuming, or scary. Don’t be that story of the guy who almost invented the Post It. Just start whatever your thing is. Chances are that the excitement of seeing it come to life will propel you through to every next stage of the process.
Biggest surprise you’ve experienced?
Seeing my sketches in Fast Company was something that I had visualized/dreamed/hoped for all throughout development. I got choked up when I read the article for the first time because it was published literally right after the pre-sale launch. I never expected that stamp of approval to happen so soon and it made me feel all the feelings. Also, some random famous people have been ordering caps. I can’t say who.