Today we’d like to introduce you to Jacqueline Marie.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Jacqueline. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
My journey styling experiences began as a little kid. I used style tweaks and dance to help me get through a chaotic childhood. I was always tweaking my spaces stylish and coming up with outfits that helped me feel confident and positive. Even though I grew up in a low-income family I made the most of what I had by being creative. Style and lifestyle tweaks were my resiliency tool.
At 15, I raised enough money to study dance at the Broadway Dance Center NYC. I returned to my small town to share my experience dancing with the industries top choreographers as seen on MTV and So You Think You Can Dance. I created a hip hop dance group, my first official entrepreneurial endeavor, for youth who needed an expressive outlet, but who couldn’t afford classes.
Three months before I was set to graduate high school, I learned that my spinal cord grew longer than it was supposed to and was pinching my nerves. I had to have back surgery to avoid losing feeling in my lower body. 6 days after graduating high school I had surgery.
With the love of some new friends that I now consider my “adopted family”, I quickly learned that there were bigger dreams I wanted and deserved to achieve. This led me to pursue a college degree at Columbia College Chicago in dance and arts entrepreneurship.
It was surreal walking across the Chicago Theater stage with my diploma in hand (I was the 1st in my family to graduate high school and college). I knew that a college degree was not enough for my potential and I packed 2 suitcases and moved to Italy.
I wanted to know myself more in a different world. I want to be inspired. For 2 and half years, I lived the Italian lifestyle, studied fashion, learned the language, fell in love and fell out of love and started a style blog, Tweaked Style.
In 2013, I moved back to Chicago with a broken heart, no money, my life in 2 suitcases and a tweakedstyle.com. I applied for several jobs and nothing seemed to fit. I took a chance and used my degree in entrepreneurship to help creatives build their business and brand experience. Freelance coaching bought me time and inspired my journey in developing Tweaked Style.
Today, I run Tweaked Style, a full time Chicago-based interior styling studio and lifestyle blog helping people use their spaces and lifestyle to achieve their goals. In the next year, I’m on a mission to share how I’ve used style and lifestyle as a resiliency tool via speaking engagements and blogging.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Lol. I would love to meet one person who had a smooth road to entrepreneurship and learn their secret :). I’m a strong believer that each other’s worse is our own worse so I don’t think that we can compare one person’s struggles to the next, but mine has definitely been around finances and emotional support. I started my business without capital or savings. After 3 years in business, I started to receive small investor help from friends and family to buy me time for business development and strategy. I also got a part time job for a year to offset costs and have health insurance.
My business has given me a 7 year Master’s Degree. So many tough lessons around valuing your services, pricing, professional boundaries, contracts, time management and yes the whole woman in business have its own challenges with men trying to take advantage of your time. My degree in entrepreneurship and my tough upbringing prepared me for a lot of the “realness” in the world and in business.
If I had to give my younger self-advice before taking the leap into business, I would say, don’t rely on your business to pay the bills in the 1st or 3rd year. Find other creative ways to make the rent so you can enjoy the journey of building your business. The pressure of finances is not going to help you be creative or run a healthy business. All these overnight success stories are ridiculous. A lot of those people are not completely honest or they have financial help from family or spouses. Be real with yourself and create a combination of financial income, passion projects and healthy lifestyle that helps you be your best self.
Please tell us about Tweaked Style.
Growing up, having to be resourceful, I learned how to tweak what I had (my environment and lifestyle) in order to live a positive life. I want to inspire others to the same.
We all deserve to live the life that encourages us to be our best self. Society often tells us that low-income people don’t deserve to have “nice” things or live in healthy resourceful areas. I experienced this feeling growing up. My long-term vision is to travel the country tweaking financially or emotionally struggling people’s homes and lifestyle. I want to show people that we all deserve a home we are proud of and that inspires us to overcome this hard thing called “life”.
Do you think there are structural or other barriers impeding the emergence of more female leaders?
Being heard and respected as a woman usually takes a lot more work and time. I can’t tell you how many times someone will use “I want your services” as a sneaky way of getting me to agree to a date. It’s so annoying and messes with my time management when trying to grow my business.
Looking young and loving fashion as a woman founder and CEO doesn’t always help win people’s respect in 1st impressions. 99% of people don’t know the life/work experience and hardships I’ve had and within minutes demote my experience by how I look. I often have to prove my experience through exhausting conversations about my history. I wish I could start at a higher level of respect, but I don’t want to change my passion for being kind and stylish! So, until the world catches up to a non-stereotypical way of respecting female founders I will just have to get really good at winning people over.
- Home Styling Tweaks starts at $50/hr
- Website: www.tweakedstyle.com
- Phone: 603-252-1250
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tweakedstyle/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TweakedStyle/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel