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Yahoo Finance’s Kristin Myers and JSCULPT Fitness Owner Jaz Jackson discuss growth amid the pandemic and challenges facing Black business owners.
KRISTIN MYERS: We're joined now by Jaz Jackson, JSculpt Fitness CEO and owner for our Business in Black segment. Jaz, thanks so much for joining us today. So, you know, you say in that video that you didn't take entrepreneurship courses. You don't have a background in business or in finance. You just essentially had an idea and a dream. So where did you start? How did you begin?
JAZ JACKSON: Well, first of all, thank you so much for having me. I really got my start on YouTube. And I learned a lot from the perspective of an influencer learning about what companies would look for in influencers when seeking to sell a product and learning the behind the scenes of what it would take to sell a product, be it via those means. And also, you know, I had some background in sales, just regular customer service and things of that sort. And so I took those tools that I learned throughout the years and used it to launch my own brand.
KRISTIN MYERS: What were some of the biggest challenges that you faced?
JAZ JACKSON: There were many, many challenges. I mean, I think probably the most significant challenge was just the complete learning curve of running a business. You know, there's a saying that the customer receives the actual customer service after the sale.
And so it's not just to provide a product, but to give the customers something that will keep them coming back. That was one of my greatest learning curves of providing them stellar customer service, making sure that we had the best shipping options to our customers, and to provide them after service if they had follow-up questions and things of that sort.
KRISTIN MYERS: You know, Jaz, during Black History Month and also, frankly, at every other point of the year, I talk a lot with a lot of Black business owners. And we talk often about the struggles and the hurdles to be a Black entrepreneur or a Black CEO.
But really, what struck me about your story and I would love for you to comment on is, how you being Black was an asset and really helped you tap into a market that I don't think a lot of other people were paying attention to. So let's, like, turn this on its head, and let's stop talking about how many struggles we face as Black women. I would love to know how you found being a Black woman actually a point of empowerment for you as you went forward in business.
JAZ JACKSON: Well, I'll say that, I mean, we are doing such a phenomenal job as a culture, as a Black woman. There's so many of us that are taking this opportunity to become entrepreneurs via e-commerce. And so, just like myself, taking the opportunity and seeing that I had a built-in audience through my social media platforms and using a [AUDIO OUT] to our culture. We love to keep our curves, and I don't think that that should be shied away from. And so, instead of shying away from that, I just decided to lean into it. And my life hasn't been the same since.
KRISTIN MYERS: What piece of advice would you give to other Black women founders that are watching this that hope to start or launch their own business?
JAZ JACKSON: To have the courage to start the business. I know that in any place that you would decide to work inside of the market is said to be oversaturated, but there's always room for you. I would just encourage every woman, be it a African-American woman or not, to just have the courage to do so. And if it doesn't work out, you know, you can dust yourself off and try again.
KRISTIN MYERS: Another thing that I noticed as a part of that video was you talking about how you came into this first as an influencer. And I'm curious to know, given that background and kind of what we see in terms of, like, the pictures that we're bombarded with, the kind of women that we're being told are especially beautiful, I'm wondering where you think the next big thing is going to be, at least when it comes to the fitness clothing industry.
JAZ JACKSON: Well, I think that we're right in the middle of it. Athleisure is just everything. I mean, I cannot go anywhere without seeing a woman in leggings. I remember that there was a time where wearing leggings without a long blouse or shirt was just so faux pas. But there are complete companies that's built on the athleisure model.
So that's what we'll continue to see. I think we'll continue to see new variations of sweat belts as well. But we'll also continue to see at-home workout activities because that is what we're doing right now, dealing with COVID.
KRISTIN MYERS: Yeah, I'm really grateful that that fashion rule changed because especially in COVID, I'm in leggings now. I live in leggings all day, every day. So I'm glad it's actually finally viewed as a real piece of clothing that I can wear. Jaz Jackson, JSculpt Fitness CEO and owner, thank you so much for joining us today.