The world needs your voice, your greatest beliefs and your actions towards a better future. There will always be room for new ideas to be implemented and such ideas will be raw and invaluable from one person onto another as we all are individually unique and deserve to be heard. After all, the greater the positive impact, the greater the chances to moving the world towards a brighter place.
As part of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Santander.
Jessica Santander is a lover of life, passionate dreamer, and believer in all good things resulting from consistent dedication towards one’s own goals. Jessica started her business on December 2018 after feeling an urge to what had felt like a life-long push, making her mark within the personalized jewelry industry. Inspired by the courageous immigrant story from her mother and unconditional support from her family, Jessica knew her purpose is to create pieces of art from her own hands, and from such creations, instill light of empowerment for women and girls to express their exuberant passion for dreams and life, and above all, themselves.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit how you grew up?
I was born in Rochester, NY, during an actual ice storm in December (which is a bit ironic as I, personally, am not a fan of the winter at all). I moved to Delaware during grade school and consider the first state my hometown as much of my childhood memories, friendships and new endeavors took place. Growing up in Delaware was an invaluable experience in and of itself as I learned to appreciate the stead pace, country feeling that the state has to offer, as well as the convenience of being close to such famous metropolitan cities as Washington D.C., Philadelphia and New York City. Looking back, I also have grown to appreciate the way that my parents raised me- in a rich melting pot from my Latin American culture. My parents are both from South America, and so, many of our holidays entailed a vibrant energy and atmosphere of Colombian as well as Brazilian music and cuisine. Such memories have since instilled a deep admiration and awe for international cultures and stories.
You are currently leading a social impact organization. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?
Building up a philanthropic brand voice and community within the jewelry industry is definitely a fascinating journey to grow through and learn from every day. For my business in particular, our mission is to empower women and girls, dreamers and doers, to celebrate their life project in the making and moments of self-growth. Our tangible handmade jewelry and messaging goes one step further in nurturing a continuous relationship with our customers by serving as a guiding light as they find the strength within their hearts to take new footsteps forward and evolve into their greatest selves. Community involvement and support are also a backbone for my business, as this particular value of life was and is a core lesson taught to me growing up from my parents.
Once the global pandemic begun, I knew that acts of help in any way, shape and form was a new focus I had to implement from my business. Though in the past, we’ve contributed proceeds to other non-profits, my business adapted a new angle towards our give-back initiative where we teamed up with Feeding Tampa Bay and donated from every sale made back to this non-profit in helping families and individuals in need throughout our community.
Accompanying this new campaign, I also wanted to ensure close communication and assistance with my online customers, re-assuring them of our presence and being that open ear for them. This drive then led to our first co-creative project where I wanted to encourage our audience to bring to life their positive moments lived recently in forms of their favorite colors. More specifically, this collaborative project with my online community led to both new and returning customers creating their “My Positive Moment” Swarovski Crystal Bracelet where acts of hope and joy were shared between themselves and loved ones.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
My passion for making my mark within the fashion, jewelry industry and to empower other women and girls to be fearless reflects the personal respect I hold for my mother’s story and the way she and my father have raised me.
My mother’s story is one of bravery where she left her hometown in Brazil at the age of 18 and moved to the U.S. in effort to provide for her family and their wellbeing. Moreover, the unconditional acts of love and support both my parents have continuously shared with me and my many dreams have fostered a forever perspective in life of how the human spirit of giving is essential for us all- and this has led me to not only dream of being an independent woman living from my greatest dreams, but also, to pair my journey with the opportunities in helping other women and girls to thrive from what sparkles up their hearts.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
Ever since my teenage years, I’ve held great aspirations of paving a life of my own with great impact. For many years, I was determined to make it as renewed film actor portraying strong, courageous and inspiring characters in different stories. Though I had the vision in pursuing this path, fear and self-doubt took over, and I convinced myself to put this childhood dream aside. Yet, the particular flair for entertainment, fashion and storytelling stayed ablaze within my heart, even up to the moment of pursuing a full-time job upon graduating with my M.S. Marketing degree. One might think that, even after landing a job within the interesting field of Digital Marketing, I’d feel settled and at ease; however, this was not the case. Many, many days led into weeks, that led into months where I felt myself incomplete and entirely disengaged with myself, and I knew this was not the way life is to be received and lived in purpose. For me, the “Aha Moment” was one that triggered from the many tears cried over many days and initiated a grand leap of faith to just bring my deepest dream to life- and that was fashion innovation grounded on empowerment.
Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?
The most important and essential step is to just start- whether from a single idea or written piece of paper, the very act of moving your passion forward is the foundation. For my business, I took the time I had on week nights and weekends in organizing my business’ ideas and mission- somewhat of a business plan and then shared this along with my family. I was so eager and excited to get into creation mode that the entire process of naming the business and legalizing it within the state of Florida as well as sourcing materials for production took roughly 3 months for everything to come to fruition. There are still, and will forever be, tweaks and updates to be made, but the thrill of creating and making a difference in someone’s journey is a sensory joy like no other.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
Leaning towards more of an inspiring moment that has happened to me since leading my business is one shared from one of our most loyal customers. This story took place recently where she had messaged my business’ Instagram page sharing how her recent purchase of the “My Positive Moment” bracelets were actually honoring both her and her sister’s company’s mission of helping women. The words shared in this testimony moved me entirely as I experienced how one idea from a campaign can have a lasting impact upon many, many lives. In my eyes, receiving this testimony and sharing this special moment with my loyal customer is the reminder needed to forever believe in the infinite goodness shared by a social impact movement(s), no matter the current circumstance.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?
There are so many funny moments I had gone through when first starting my business, one of which has to be my learning journey of making bracelets and jewelry altogether! Having no fashion/jewelry experience beforehand, the entire process of making jewelry is very new to me and creating our first collection included laughter and mistakes that will forever be appreciated. Such mistakes included buying the wrong cord size for our gemstone beads. Though there were emotions of impatience at the time, mistakes are always invaluable lessons for growth and building one’s own voice. The other lesson I would add on to this experience is the universal truth that starting something new will always entail new missteps to take place and we should enjoy and embrace such opportunities.
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
It certainly does take a tribe to make a lasting impact and to keep ourselves motivated. From the very beginning and up until today, many of my close friendships with other female entrepreneurs have been attributed to local community events as well as women’s organizations such as Babe Crafted of Tampa Bay. Though as the introvert I am, I’ve grown to appreciate the support and new friendships that exists within our community, while also, learning how I can be of help to others too. Much of this motivation to just go out there, network, and build up such relationships stems from the guidance and overall helping hand from the Founder of Babe Crafted, Gina, where she goes out of her way to nurture close relationships with her members and connect one another through in-person and online events (a mixture of courses and girl’s time, which is a perfect pairing).
Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?
Since day 1, relationship building with our customers has and shall forever be a guiding light for my company. As a small business, it’s imperative to show up and be there for your clients in ways where they feel appreciated, heard, and listened to. I’ll forever remember a story shared by one of our close customers from when we first started. This particular individual came across our brand upon winning an Instagram giveaway from us during our first month of business, and as she was our first ever contest winner, I wanted to learn more about her story and write a personalized thank you note for her. I learned of how she was involved with our local Humane Society and her deep love for animals (a common area that I also hold close to my heart) and shared words of appreciation for not only participating in our contest, but also of the tremendous impact she is creating for such animals and our community. I, then, received her message of thanks and profound admiration with our words of encouragement for her story. This individual shared along how she has been immediately moved by our company’s mission and personal act taken to get to know her and ways of uplifting her heart. To this day, we both keep in close touch and I, personally, am so happy and proud with all that she has accomplished today.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
I believe there will always be areas of opportunities for our community and overall nation to help address the support needed for women and girls to take on more leadership roles in any industry. The foundation to this particular societal need stems from the availability and access to education as providing the tools and resources opens up a world of new doors and essential changes. By showcasing more stories of women-owned businesses as well as those in leading positions, more inspirational energy will have the impact to encourage young girls to believe in their fullest potential and make their own decisions for their personal and professional journey.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- I wish someone told me when I first started that I will never know it all: as each day there’s something new to learn, grow and adapt from in any area of one’s business. For instance, as the marketing guru I am, I’ve acknowledged how invaluable it is to embrace new marketing tactics from others and make it your own, however way that best reflects your story and purpose.
- I wish someone told me when I first started that change is necessary, even if you’re just starting out. Though I’m still in my early years with my business, having gone through this recent global pandemic has showcased the essence of a sustainable business- continuous learning and monitoring from your audience, and this has led to new projects and campaigns for my business that are both exciting and a bit scary to try at the same time.
- I wish someone told me when I first started that everyday will be an emotional rollercoaster. In the very beginning of launching my business, my days were mostly experienced with excitement to meet new customers, yet, as truth be told, everyday since has had its highs and lows with operating my ecommerce business.
- I wish someone told me when I first started that you can’t do everything on your own. At first, I wanted to attempt to own the entire process of idea to production with seldom help from others. This hands- on ownership mentality is due to the fear of allowing a mistake to happen that doesn’t come from me, however, I’ve learned to truly leap in joy when I am able to receive help from others with my business as I can then focus more on the areas where I enjoy and am good at.
- I wish someone told me when I first started that patience is a virtue. By nature, I’m a very impatient person and always aspire to obtain a goal in the fastest timeframe possible. Having gone though 1 year and 6 months in growing my business, I certainly am learning to adapt more patience with the overall journey of growing a brand voice and community from the ground up.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
The world needs your voice, your greatest beliefs and your actions towards a better future. There will always be room for new ideas to be implemented and such ideas will be raw and invaluable from one person onto another as we all are individually unique and deserve to be heard. Afterall the greater the positive impact, the greater the chances to moving the world towards a brighter place.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I’d be beyond overjoyed to have breakfast with Nina Garcia, Editor in Chief of Elle Magazine, as she is a powerful definition of a self-made woman and one I have admired for a long, long time. I receive so much inspiration for my business’ initiatives from Nina’s graceful, bold character and the global impact she has upon Latinas in leadership titles.
How can our readers follow you online?
Readers can follow us along and learn more about out brand’s story at www.projectmomentdesigns.com
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!