Adapting your career as you evolve is what enables you to make your biggest impact and achieve your greatest fulfillment. So, when I see someone who bobs and weaves her way to the top, I can’t help but become her biggest fan. Such a woman is JJ Martin, who successfully transitioned her career from journalism into one of the most captivating lifestyle brands, La DoubleJ.
Today, La DoubleJ has become one of the fastest growing lifestyle brands and what JJ likes to call the “net-a-porter of vintage” complete with a cult-like fan following on social media.
There is a lot to be learned about the way she approached her business with both substance + style that you can apply to your own career, especially through the lens of my leadership method The Works. The Works is the idea that you can achieve success in life when you bring your whole self to work, inclusive of your intellect, emotional intelligence, and authentic personal style.
How did JJ do just that? Let me explain…
1. INTELLECT: SHE USED HER JOURNALISM BACKGROUND TO LAUNCH A NEW BUSINESS MODEL
JJ didn’t start her career as an industry-disrupting founder and CEO of a lifestyle brand. Rather, she began as a journalist at Fashion Wire Daily (an early fashion news site) and then went on to write for The International Herald Tribune, Harper’s Bazaar USA, and Wallpaper. However, it was her work as a journalist that helped her create a lifestyle brand that sold pieces in a magazine-like format, blending content with e-commerce, that simply hadn’t been done before. Not to mention, JJ is a storyteller at her core and you see that in spades on the website. For example, when you see a dress positioned as “Getting my croissant dress” you immediately escape into that experience and then quickly buy that dress.
The Career Lesson: Identify and foster skills that you can apply beyond your specific industry.
2. EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: SHE NURTURES HERSELF TO CREATE CONNECTION AND BALANCE
As an American living in Milan, JJ witnessed how the Milanese women balanced work and home. “In America I saw women that were total career girls, and their home lives were disasters. But here in Italy, they had these amazing jobs and yet they were obsessed with the house: the aperitive had to be like this, the table needed to be set like that, the food – they were domestic goddesses as well as corporate warlords.” To find more balance, JJ integrates rather than separates her personal life and professional life. She makes time for herself in the mornings for meditation and yoga before she heads into the office. By consistently making time to nurture herself, she has the energy, compassion and conviction to lead others. Another fun fact, her husband has been instrumental in the success of her business (his company, The Level Group, manages many brands’ e-commerce websites).
The Career Lesson: Make time for yourself in your personal life and your work life will thrive. And, don’t forget to leverage the experience of those you love the most. Your next mentor could be sitting right across from you at the dinner table!
3. AUTHENTIC PERSONAL STYLE: SHE IS HER BRAND AND HER BRAND IS HER
JJ’s approach to style is unequivocally personal and that stands out! She is the embodiment of her Milan-based label, La Double J. She’s obsessed with vintage and that shows not only in the products she offers, from tableware to dresses, but what she wears every day, on and off duty. Check out her Instagram feed to see her penchant for bold, colorful prints from the ’60s and ’70s. That’s what makes her an approachable, authentic leader: she is true to herself and she scales that aesthetic across very possible touchpoint. We know exactly what we’re going to get when we visit JJ’s social feeds or La DoubleJ’s website. That consistency creates trust.
The Career Lesson: Embrace your personal style and scale it to all of your touchpoints (personal and professional) to show people who you truly are — you never know what part of you will connect with someone else.