Written By: Samantha Cee
This week we sat down with the CEO of “ At Her Leisure “ . We wanted to get an exclusive interview with the brand sweeping the nation . Everyone deserves to carve out time for love, travel, wander and leisure. At Her Leisure grounds people of color in travel, culture, and curiosity, offering the tools and resources to create powerful memories and connections with their world. Their mission is to enrich the homes, lives and personal spaces of those who purchase and receive their work. They recognize the beauty of people of color through original design and cultural representation. At Her Leisure operates so that you can represent your culture, anywhere, with knowledge, style, and products that increase self-worth and well-being. Take a look at our exclusive interview with the innovative brand .
"I would also say self-care and having honesty for self. You can do hard things but to thine own self be true. "
- Jennifer Wilder (CEO of at Her Leisure)
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Fashion Gxd Magazine : How did the idea for your business come about?
Jennifer Wilder: Travel At Her Leisure is my personal story, branded. I relocated for work end of 2013 to accept a promotion in Delaware. Before my departure, everyone kept asking me, "What's in Denver"; Delaware was such an uncommon place to relocate to. I knew no one but I was optimistic about my career transition as I had manifested working in HR for years. While I loved the job, the environment became toxic, ultimately depressing. I was constantly sick and as a PMDD sufferer, I forced myself to commit on many a day when I should have just taken it easy. I would cringe at the thought of going in the atmosphere and would sage the office after work to help clear the work space. I was no stranger to vacation time. I ultimately developed the guts to stand up to unhealthy situations and it was obtained through travel. I stayed on a plane and always out of town. I let go of fear and consequences and chased happiness. I was labeled "The Wanderer" not just because of my perceived black girl magic lighting speed travel abilities, but because it was admirable how I would transcend to a new destination in my mind.
I had a very diverse upbringing and always dreamed of traveling to specific places in the world. I grew up rooted in culture, having a love for language, music, movies, and a strong curiosity in the customs of others. I take it upon myself to research customs and learn languages before traveling so that it's easier to understand the law of the land. In my leisure time, I began painting again. It was all I had to look forward to on the weekends when I wasn't traveling, at the mall or a farmers market. Traveling tapped into my nostalgia and artistic background, and I wanted to pay homage to the things overlooked and underappreciated. I draw what I see, and who and what touches my heart. After traveling and meeting artists from around the world and experiencing their spirit, witnessing what their minds and hands could do, I was compelled to draw.
Fashion Gxd Magazine : What three pieces of advice would you give to children who want to become entrepreneurs?
Jennifer Wilder: Do it! Our childhood ambitions are our true destiny. I aspired to do three different things growing up; be a veterinarian and by middle school, I wanted to run away to the UK to live and study abroad and work in a highly creative role in marketing. Out of the three, becoming a veterinarian was the only thing I took a methodical approach towards. I volunteered at the Anti cruelty, read dozens of books of cat/dog breeds, learned their systems, personalities but it wasn't until I elected to be pre-med and sat in a classroom that looked like a mountain of people, that I realized I couldn't and didn't want to learn this way.
Find a mentor, your role models ( of ALL NATIONALITIES AND CREEDS) volunteer and ask specific questions once you're behind the scenes. Ask what "not" to do. Find out about the failures and struggles from those who are doing what you want to do. These people have bought experience and there is NOTHING like it. Ask to sit in the chair, the office or the environment of your career. If "take your kids to work day" is still a thing, which it should be, know what position(s) you're interested in and get insight. Explore the higher education requirements. Watch and listen to people speak, they're telling their story which is all you truly have to learn from. Learn with your elders so they can mold you. They've seen decades of greatness, talent, leadership and potential. Unless they're afraid themselves, they know what that looks like and how to leverage yours. Dedicate the time to be in the know and don't be afraid to ask questions or for help. That's the only mistake.
Fashion Gxd Magazine :If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Jennifer Wilder: Oprah and Ava were recently asked this question and my original answer (9/22/17) aligned. I would understand agriculture better. Food is life. Additionally, I would have a better understanding of what I should have pursued in college. I landed my first job at Fedex "Kinkos", now Office, learning the Adobe systems, printing, page layouts that I consistently use today. While I didn't know I would continue to circle back in this industry, or anything in art/illustration/graphic design for that matter, I just wish more conversations would have been had based on prominent careers and business in Chicago. I always wonder what it's like to be an Art/Creative Director for someone else.
Fashion Gxd Magazine :What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur ?
Jennifer Wilder: Passion, resourcefulness and commitment/persistence. I would also say self-care and having honesty for self. You can do hard things but to thine own self be true. Rest. This wasn't said for nothing!
Find what you love and weave it into every breath of your being. This will be the cadence you live to. While you can only do one thing at a time, your mind should always be tucking away ideas and staying inspired. See how you "feel" about everything. Self-love is a huge part of business because it's how you hear. Proposals, ideas, suggestions have to hit the brain and the heart. Give yourself time to process, haste makes waste. If it's meant to be, it will be. There always has to be time for continued education in your field or industry. Courses, networking events, festivals; all are learning opportunities. The same way you began the business is the way you maintain it.
Fashion Gxd Magazine :What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Jennifer Wilder: I often failed my intuition and insight. I don't like to take risks or rush. Regarding events for my brand, I ask more questions about who and what this event caters to, details from events prior and if my brand is a good fit. People often don't like to answer these questions or don't know so it's up to you to decide what's your next best steps.
Fashion Gxd Magazine : How many hours do you work a day on average?
Jennifer Wilder: I work a full time job and work on the brand during/directly after a work day. Both receive a full 8 hours if the brand doesn't earn more.
Fashion Gxd Magazine :Describe/outline your typical day?
Jennifer Wilder: Everyday is completely different. Some days have a design focus while others are communication centric. I spend a great deal of time researching, trying to create brand awareness. Then there's events and networking. Ordering. The variety is the best part about the business; I'm doing something creative everyday. I'm not designed for routine. I learned that a long time ago.
Fashion Gxd Magazine : How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
Jennifer Wilder: The brand was built on love, travel and wander. It's the nucleus of the inspiration so this will always be incorporated. There's a Youtube video, "The grind don't stop", where a guy is always carrying his laptop around. That's me. My husband understands I'm working hard to create something we would have never expected and I am supported unconditionally. I give advance notice that I need to finish something or prepare for an event before I dedicate time for leisure. I work really hard, and I have to and it rubs off.
Fashion Gxd Magazine :What motivates you?
Jennifer Wilder: People love what I stand for. There's this tingly feeling I get every time I introduce someone to my brand, and I hold onto the fact that what I'm doing is for something greater that I haven't realized yet. I just keep going until I see just what that is.
Fashion Gxd Magazine: How do you generate new ideas?
Jennifer Wilder: I'm working on keeping up with social media. It's a job in itself. I have plenty of artwork I need to complete and revisiting it is almost like starting new. I pull from the archives I mentioned I have yet to draw. I meditate and sleep with my crystals. I remember visions from my dreams. I manifest thoughts by day, although a change of environment propels this so much better for me.
Since we're now expecting, I haven't traveled back out of the country since my husband and I last left Jamaica. I look to nostalgia and the abundant beauty in the Caribbean community. Who could grow tired of that beauty.
Fashion Gxd Magazine : What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
Jennifer Wilder: Is it really a sacrifice or an investment? I can't think of anything major I've had to do except lose sleep.
Fashion Gxd Magazine : Where you see yourself and your business in 10 years? 20 years?
Jennifer Wilder: Published, awarded and internationally known. I see the business as a conduit for helping people feel more confident to represent their culture, anywhere, with knowledge, style, and products that increase their self-worth and support their well-being. I want to help change tourism, disaster relief, enhance people's quality of life, and help people live more abundantly. I see greatness and maybe that's the motivation I mentioned. This brand was divinely granted to me so everything else that's coming after is destiny manifest. I just take it day by day and one design at a time.