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sHeroes: Jaclyn Johnson of Create & Cultivate is giving women the resources to cultivate the career of their dreams

I think transparency is so important, especially in today’s digital world. We want to feel good about the choices we make, the products we use, and the people we support. This was a big part of my decision to partner with SocialEras: they’re making a commitment to their customers to be transparent, and committing to […]

I think transparency is so important, especially in today’s digital world. We want to feel good about the choices we make, the products we use, and the people we support. This was a big part of my decision to partner with SocialEras: they’re making a commitment to their customers to be transparent, and committing to working with manufacturers that are socially responsible, innovative, ethical, and eco-conscious. My movement would be to inspire our industry thought-leaders and big businesses to do the same — practice transparency and maintain an honest, open dialogue with their followers/consumers.


As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jaclyn Johnson, the CEO and Founder of Create & Cultivate, and new interim Creative Director for global direct-to-consumer platform SocialEras. Jaclyn is also the author of WorkParty, a book for the modern Millennial woman. Having worked in the marketing and brand building space for the past 12 years, Jaclyn is one of the most sought-after marketers in the US. She launched her first company at the age of 23, a creatively-driven marketing, influencer, and events agency called (No Subject). After (No Subject) was acquired, Jaclyn introduced Create & Cultivate as a means to spark a 365-day conversation around entrepreneurship and being a woman in the modern digital world. The conference continues to gather hundreds of thousands of the next generation of curious creatives and entrepreneurs, with discussion panels that range from influencer marketing and brand building to raising capital. Jaclyn is a Forbes “30 Under 30” alumna, and was named an Ad Week Disruptor and a Woman of Note by the Wall Street Journal, among other accolades.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

In my early twenties, I was on an upward career climb and moved from New York to Los Angeles for a job. Shortly after the move, I was let go and obviously devastated. It was during this lull in my career that I met my first business partner. Together, we launched a digital marketing, events & influencer agency called (No Subject). It was in starting this first business that led me to the idea for Create & Cultivate. When I looked online for resources for women in business, nothing spoke to me as a millennial female founder. So in 2011, I created a conference that did.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Issa Rae is my number one girl crush, and I’m not afraid to admit it. I had the opportunity to interview her during our Create & Cultivate Seattle conference and afterwards she sent me a thank-you note. It was a “pinch me” moment I’ll never forget.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In the early days of my first company we were gearing up to pitch a big client. They asked to stop by our offices and at the time we were small so I didn’t have a large team. I wanted to make sure we impressed them so I hired friends to sit as desks in my office and work for the day. It’s hysterical to look back on but it worked!

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

At Create & Cultivate we offer women resources they need to create and cultivate the career of their dreams — in an environment that inspires them. There are no folding tables and chairs. Every corner of the conference is hand-selected with our attendees in mind. We have women fly in from all over the country to attend and we make sure they’re coming for a one-of-a-kind experience. From the decals on the walls to the topics discussed on stage, the entire experience is tailored to be enlightening and memorable which is why we have fans coming back conference after conference.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

I recently signed on as interim Creative Director for SocialEras, a global direct-to-consumer retail platform that offers quality apparel, home accessories and more at fair prices. I worked with the SocialEras team to curate a lifestyle collection for the Millennial career woman, including items that I personally wear both in and out of the office. I wanted to create an offering that would help today’s aspiring female leaders look and feel their best, without breaking the bank or sacrificing quality. Whether you’re headed to a networking event, or making time for a quick workout in between meetings, there are pieces in this collection that will carry you through your day in style.

Check it out here: www.socialeras.com/JaclynJohnsonCollection

What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

Get to you know your staff’s individual strengths and weaknesses. Not everyone will be good at everything. It’s important to identify where people’s talents are to run efficiently. And vice versa, ensure your staff knows your work love language.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

Have weekly check-ins both individually and as a group. Even if it’s a quick 10-minute meeting to go over the action plans for the week it’s incredibly important that everyone is aligned under the same goals.

Credit to SocialEras

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I met two rad women who were willing to pay it forward during a happy hour, hosted by yours truly, back when I had my first company. These women worked for a big company and said to me, “Our company needs events like this.” They wanted to try and get me a meeting with their boss. They had no skin in the game other than wanting to bring something that they thought was cool to their company. For me, this was an opportunity of a lifetime. These women spent weeks helping me hone my pitch and giving cues they thought would help.

That company ended up becoming one of my largest clients and then one of the biggest sponsors of Create & Cultivate. These women changed the game for me by setting up a meeting, taking a chance on someone whose work they saw and liked.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

At Create & Cultivate we host three large scale events a year. Our conferences are ticketed events but it’s important to us that we’re offering women everywhere the resources they need which is why we host multiple free events throughout the country. We’ve hosted 100+ events to date and 75% of those have been free events.

What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from My Experience” and why. (Please share Get it in writing: You can’t produce a handshake in court. No matter how small the agreement might be you need a paper trail to back you up.

  1. Network: There’s a reason it’s called net-work.
  2. Get comfortable with money: Learn about your relationship with money and have the hard conversations early.
  3. Your reputation is your résumé: Spend time building relationships. They don’t need to be with top dogs, but rather, start with the people around you. Become the worker that they suggest to clients when they move on to a new job.
  4. Take your creative project seriously. If you’re spending time on it, it’s worth treating like a real business.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I think transparency is so important, especially in today’s digital world. We want to feel good about the choices we make, the products we use, and the people we support. This was a big part of my decision to partner with SocialEras: they’re making a commitment to their customers to be transparent, and committing to working with manufacturers that are socially responsible, innovative, ethical, and eco-conscious. My movement would be to inspire our industry thought-leaders and big businesses to do the same — practice transparency and maintain an honest, open dialogue with their followers/consumers.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Start by starting. You can’t wait for the “perfect time.”

The first Create & Cultivate was a 50-person event. I intended for it to be just a one-off but when people kept asking when the next one was I knew I was on top something. So I jumped in and kept the momentum going. Over the course of the next few years, Create & Cultivate started to eclipse (No Subject), which made me realize where I need to focus my efforts. If I hadn’t jumped in, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? (He or she might just see this if we tag them!)

Michelle Obama. She’s a fearless leader who I admire.

Follow Jaclyn on Instagram @jaclynrjohnson

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