Wise Women Wednesday: Jordan Lacenski

Jordan Lacenski

It's Wise Women Wednesday, each week I interview a woman that I believe is inspiring, living abundantly and following her passions.  These are all women who live a life of abundance and bring creativity into the world.

Q. Who are you? What is your background? 
A. Hi! My name is Jordan Lacenski. I’m a wife, sister, daughter, dog-mom (to two sweet rescues), and entrepreneur. Lover of chocolate, whiskey, craft brews, shopping, and travel, I tend to enjoy the little things. My journey started with an art + design program at NC State. I have always been creative, but struggled with figuring out how to make that a career. In 2004, art was bound to be a “starving profession,” or at least that’s what we were told. So I finished my BA in Communications in 2008, the perfect time to graduate. I worked jobs at photography studios, admin positions, and worked part time facilitating craft beer tastings, which led me to my first “real job” as a Craft Brand Manager for local and craft breweries distributed in the area. I fell in love. I was able to connect with beer lovers, allocate rare beers to loyal accounts, grow relationships, design events, and market these loved products to people who really cared. I then launched a new market with Beam products and discovered the world of whiskey, and other spirits. My experience with the beverage industry landed me one of the most rewarding positions to date at the third largest charity wine auction in the Nation, located right on the gorgeous Gulf coast. As the Director of Marketing for the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, I was able to combine my love of craft beverages and suppliers with philanthropy and the local community. We were telling a very important story, how funds raised at our high-end wine and food events were funding dental care, housing, medical care, counseling, education, and intervention for the youth living in our area. To help further my skills and the mission of the organization, I pursued my MBA with a marketing concentration, and shortly after I started BrandBoss Creative, helping friends and colleagues with their digital marketing and branding efforts.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you know how important community is. While I was thrilled to be my own boss, I needed to talk through ideas. I needed direction. I needed someone I could trust to ask the hard questions, like how much should I charge for this, what do I need to have in my contracts, and more. At a girls’ poker night at my dear friend Laura’s home, we came up with the idea of a collaborative, a pack of ladies who were all running the same race, owned their own businesses, and had different creative specialties. SheWolf Collaborative quickly became a real business, a non-agency agency, and a growing group of bad ass babes!

Q. What is your work?
A. I get asked all the time, what’s the difference between SheWolf™ + BrandBoss™? It’s a GREAT question! So, BrandBoss is my baby, my business, focusing on building brands. It’s a small team of three: me, a designer, and a social media manager. We focus on the foundation of your brand, the important stuff, the culture, voice, target market, the “why” of your business, and then we execute with visuals, including a style guide, logo package, tagline, mission and more.

SheWolf Collaborative handles “all the things.” We are a pack of almost 20 ladies across the country who work together on larger projects. Our clients experience the pros of working with one big agency, where the strategy and message trickles down to all platforms and all marketing efforts work together. The difference is, everyone has skin in the game. Each pack member owns their own business and contributes their piece, dedicates hours of brainstorming and educating one another on the questions to ask, the most efficient ways to work together, and how to improve the customer experience.

Q. What is one project you are excited to be working on right now?
A. We are launching our first webinar series and a podcast. This is exciting stuff. It’s also a little nuts. Both are extremely time consuming and don’t guarantee monetization, but we are shewolves, and we like to think we are leading the way, diversifying, staying fresh, and reaching new markets. It’s also our passion to uplift and give back to the start-up community, so we are offering all of our knowledge for a 12 course webinar series, each one meant to build off of the last. The first course deals with building your brand’s foundation and launched on January 1st. Course number two dives into the design phase of your brand and what to expect and prepare for when working with a designer, and it launched February 1st. Each course is $65, but if you think you might want to tackle all 12, you can purchase those for $50 each or a one-time payment of $600. The podcast hasn’t launched yet, but stay tuned, and because I think Alisha is great, I will let you all be the first ones to make note of the name of the podcast so you can keep your eye out. “Out of Office” is hosted by myself and Lauren Caselli, one of our SheWolf pack members. We talk shop and don’t hold back. We bring up taboo topics that you wouldn’t talk about during the work day and we unwind from the daily grind with real, honest conversations about business.

Q. What is one thing you've done recently that's scared you and took courage, but you're glad you did?
A. Oh man, the list is long here. The business owner/marriage balance has been tough for us. My husband is very supportive, but his career and mine have rarely aligned which has forced one of us to take a step back more than once. When he transitioned out of the Army, he found a rare opportunity in Bozeman, Montana. It was a risk, and we knew that. Still, we drove across the country from the Gulf Coast of Florida to the mountains of Montana with our dogs, belongings, and my two businesses in tow. We didn’t know anyone, and my businesses were new. I was terrified. After living there for 9 months, I was able to build a strong network of amazing women and grow both businesses significantly. This small town thing was working out just fine. Not long after I felt like I had my feet beneath me once again, my husband’s employer shut down about half of their business, and with it went half of the salary we had been promised. We were devastated. We made it work for as long as we could, planning to budget better, eat at home, aribnb a room in our house. All was feasible until he was given an opportunity in the most ironic of places, Greensboro, NC, my hometown. We deliberated, I cried, and we decided to make the move just one year after moving to the west. Now the first move took courage, the second move required downright audacity, determination, and a touch of insanity. I was going to have to start over...again. I won’t lie to you and say that I was excited the whole 3 day drive back to the east coast. I was heartbroken. And I’m not going to say I was ready to jump right in upon arrival either. I struggled. I broke down. And then, about 3 months later, I picked myself up. I reached out to movers and shakers in the community, I joined some networking groups, and I found “my people.” I found like-minded ladies + gents who are all about collaboration and uplifting one another. I found my office space, a sweet tudor home built in 1936 with character in a neighborhood I love. I am 10 minutes away from my mom, who is also my best friend. And I am seeing opportunities everywhere. Thank goodness for the new year, I’m ready for it.

Jordan Lacenski

Q. What is the work you most want to be doing and are you doing it?  If not why not what's stopping you? 
A. The work I most want to be doing is working with breweries, distilleries, and like-minded companies with their ongoing, growing brands. Budgets are often tight with these new, homegrown businesses. When forced to make the decision between new brewing equipment or a marketer, it’s much easier to spend on the tangible thing you can stare at every day. Marketing is like leading a horse to water. They need water, their life depends on it, but sometimes they think they can make the journey without it, and you can’t force them to drink. This goes to all businesses. I want to work with people who get it, people who are willing to do the work. If they don’t get it, I want to help them understand and walk them through building a solid brand foundation. Finding the people who believe it that, it’s harder than you think.

Q. What would you tell your high school or college self?
A. “GIRL - you are enough.

You. Just as you are.

You are beautiful. Your freckles make you, you. Your body is just fine, and one day someone will love it no matter what, with an extra 20 pounds (in 10 years you will look at pictures of yourself from now and you will laugh at the fact you ever thought anything was wrong with your body).

Set your boundaries and stick to them. If someone continues to cross them, walk away from that someone.

Know what you need and don’t be ashamed to ask for it.

Boys are stupid, until they become men, and some never do. So, stop focusing on the boy who treats you like shit, in fact you don’t need a boyfriend. Don’t waste your time. Instead, hang out with your friends. Prom is way more fun with a group of friends anyway.

You don’t have to go with the status quo. Don’t compromise yourself or what you want for what you feel like society is telling you to be.

Be nice to everyone.

Pursue that passion. Take the classes you WANT to take.

For the love of GOD, TRAVEL. Study abroad.

Step out of your comfort zone.

Believe in yourself.”

Q. What's one piece of advice or motto you love and use in your daily life that you would like to share with my sweet readers?
A. Words to live by:

“It’s either hell yes, or no” - Lauren Caselli

“Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of insane courage, just literally 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery and I promise you something great will come of it.” - We Bought A Zoo

Jordan Lacenski

Q. What keeps you creating when you don't feel like it?
A. Oh, I have learned I need a toolbox for this, a handful of things to try when my brain is fried. Here are just a few:

Drop everything, step away from the computer and go on a walk.

Paint that old furniture you’ve been waiting to repurpose.

Stand up, turn on some music, dance.

Go refill your coffee and have a conversation, a real one, with another person, face to face.

Put whatever you’re doing on hold and create something you get excited about.

Write. Just all of your thoughts.

Hop on a brainstorm call with friends or colleagues.

Read something that’s not work related.

Set a timer, and take a break. Come back to it.

Q. Anything else you'd like to share?
A. I’ve learned that transparency and vulnerability is rewarding, WITH the right people. Life is too short to surround yourself with people you can’t trust. Build your tribe with people who love you and accept you, but tell you the truth, even when you don’t want to hear it.

Q. What's your favorite yoga pose? 
A. This is going to sounds lazy, but Savasana. My mind is moving 1 million miles a minute all day long. Mediation is really tough for me to sink into, but Savasana allows me to breath. It’s the place of self-love, reflection, and just being, sinking into the floor and ignoring the craziness of life, family, marriage, work, my calendar, my to do list. It’s when I truly feel calm, at peace, and I need more of that. So Savasana it is.

Q. How do you live a life of abundance?
A. I think I can thank my Montana gals for this. Abundance to me these days is all about slowing down. There’s a time to race and a time to rest. Without rest, you can’t run the race at your best speed. I don’t NEED makeup. If lipstick makes me feel a bit sassy, then I wear it. If it feels uncomfortable, I don’t. I’ve learned my brain can only hold so much, so instead of spreading myself too thin, I focus in and do what I do well. I’ve learned that good friends who help you find your truth are the ultimate wealth. I’ve had to teach myself to rest, to take a minute and enjoy throwing the ball for my pup in the yard, to sleep that extra thirty minutes if my body is telling me I need it. I’ve learned that a massage is not a splurge and I need to work it into the budget. And most importantly, NO is a really great word, and using it is not only okay, it’s necessary. 

Jordan Lacenski