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Women in Business – Surviving the First Two Years: “Develop a passion that drives you forward.” Interview with Jurgita Stahlecker

Interview with Jurgita Stahlecker, founder of JURGI, on her experiences being a woman entrepreneur.

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Please tell us a bit about yourself, and describe your company.

My name is Jurgita. I am a Lithuanian-born designer who traveled extensively and lived in various countries throughout Europe, including more than five years in Istanbul, the crossroads between Europe and Asia, and the United States. Those experiences inspired my creative vision and ideas. After a career as a model and actress, I transitioned first to interior design, followed by denim collections, before ultimately creating my brand of luxury bags, JURGI.

I am a curious, self-driven designer who is passionate about comfortable, slightly different, long-lasting fashion. Careful leather selection and various bag-carrying options combine to make this brand fit a unique sense of style. 

What has been the most challenging thing you have faced in the first two years of operating your business? How did you overcome it?

Fatigue and staying motivated.

All the hours, the work, and constant pressure to perform well in social media and get more likes and comments, more website visits, and sales just wear me down. I have worked long hours, dealing with the time difference as production is held in a small atelier in Istanbul, Turkey. Moreover, I fear my business will stall in my absence, so I avoided taking any time away from work to recharge or even listen to anyone who wanted to help because I thought I knew better.

Fatigue has lead to rash decisions about the business, including the desire to abandon it altogether.

I found support in my family members and people I trust. 

I joined small business groups on Facebook, Reddit, etc. Having someone to talk to, especially if they have had similar experiences, is very helpful. Sometimes it just takes knowing that what you are experiencing is normal and things will get better.

I took time to do things I love like tennis, brunch with friends, reading, and movies.

Please tell us what led you to the path of entrepreneurship. 

My path was not a financial thing. It’s a story. I didn’t have a passion for business, but I had a passion for the product – bags. 

I was living in Istanbul, Turkey, at the time I met my husband. I was designing products for other brands, acting in my free time. My husband is American, and we met in New York on one of my business trips. After getting married, I moved to Philadelphia, where I  decided to create my own brand.

What are the three most important things every woman entrepreneur should do when first thinking about starting a business?

Realistic Expectations. Expectations impact attitudes and mindset. If I meet or exceed someone’s expectations (and my own), I tend to have positive attitudes and mindsets. The reverse is also true: If I don’t meet expectations, I tend to have a less than stellar attitude or mindset.

A Support Network. A support network can be made up of many different types of people, and they don’t need to be relatives or friends. You can rely on people you have professional relationships with as well as business support groups on Facebook, etc. At the same time, it’s essential to surround yourself with people who can support you and cheer you on when it’s hard, the same with the relationships with people who aren’t afraid to criticize you and who won’t hold back.

Develop a passion that drives you forward. Passion is a very big driving force that will motivate you in your daily efforts. This is so important because it is impossible to achieve high life goals without daily efforts and consistency.

Are there actionable steps a woman in business should take to ensure that her company is successful in two years?

Don’t give up, and don’t take anything personally.

Clarify goals and strategy.

Leave your comfort zone. Acknowledge fear. Do what you are afraid to do, instead of just letting the fear rule in your personal and professional lives.

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