Female Founders: Jillian Mangi of JAMS by Jillian On Why We Need More Women Founders, and The Five Things You Need To Thrive as A Founder

Authority Magazine
May 4 · 8 min read

More women should become founders because it is empowering to be your own boss and start something from the ground up. It takes work but it is extremely rewarding to watch the growth of something that you’ve built yourself. I think it’s important to set an example for other women and to encourage their children and the younger generation. We as women need to make the change ourselves.

a part of our series about “Why We Need More Women Founders”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jillian Mangi.

JAMS by Jillian is a newly-female-founded Miami Beach-based swimwear brand inspired by the vibrant colors and patterns of South Beach. JAMS by Jillian’s eclectic and unconventional collections are designed for the modern and creative soul who dares to experiment with fashion by incorporating contemporary shapes, intense colors with a fusion of innocence and seductiveness. This swimwear line is based on the promise to create unique and beautiful designs for a good cause, donating $2 from every bathing suit sold to women-focused organizations.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

fter I saw my first swim week show I was honestly in awe! At the time I was managing in hospitality, nothing related to fashion. I decided that I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and try something new. I started to put some designs together and did some research.

I had a colleague who had designed swimwear in the past and gave me a recommendation on a production company to use right here in Miami. Before I went to the production company, I started to teach myself about what fabrics were good to use for swimwear and what other costs went into starting my own business. This definitely was a long process since I had no prior knowledge, but I started to teach myself and little by little found the fabrics that I wanted to use for my first line.

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

​One of my goals was to get into a fashion show the first year of launching. With everything that was going on in the world with COVID, I didn’t see that goal being attainable. I started to post on Facebook about my brand and a colleague I worked with said he wanted to introduce me to someone who produces swim shows. I took a call with him and before I knew it, JAMS by Jillian was participating in our first fashion show! The video of the show ended up being reposted by different fashion companies and one of the videos ended up getting 2.6 million views! It was so cool to see that so many people around the world were getting a chance to see my swimsuits.

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?

When I first started, I did not realize how many yards of fabric you needed to make one design. I thought it was like 5 yards but in reality, it is actually 20–50 yards depending on the style, how many sizes, quantities, and what you use as lining. I learned that starting a new business is a learning experience! I’m lucky that the production company I use has taken the time to teach me along the way.

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 don’t think there is ever just one person. I am extremely grateful to have really supportive family and friends. While getting my Master’s in Marketing, we had numerous assignments where we could pick a company that we wanted to do our project on and of course I decided to do them on JAMS by Jillian. One of the classes was a branding class and our group assignment was to make a brand strategy outlining the target, personas, SWOT, path to purchase etc. My teammates Shantica, Natalie and Catalina helped bring all the pieces together and really made JAMS by Jillian come alive. I’m super thankful for them!

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. According to this EY report, only about 20 percent of funded companies have women founders. This reflects great historical progress, but it also shows that more work still has to be done to empower women to create companies. In your opinion and experience what is currently holding back women from founding companies?

​I think women are starting to break boundaries in the corporate world and becoming CEOs of major companies. The next move will be to become entrepreneurs. I think we as women are evolving and will start to transition from working for companies to founding companies. I do think there is a gender gap as still to this day women are paid less than men so this could contribute to why there are less women-founded companies. There is unfortunately a stigma still placed on women where it is frowned upon at times if they are more independent, or the breadwinner in their household.

Can you help articulate a few things that can be done as individuals, as a society, or by the government, to help overcome those obstacles?

As a society, I think we should highlight women-founded companies because I do not think we hear enough about it! I also think as a society we should continue to build each other up. There needs to be a broad consensus of support towards women in general, especially women supporting one another and standing together to create a change in the point of view towards women founders/founded companies.

This might be intuitive to you as a woman founder but I think it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you share a few reasons why more women should become founders?

More women should become founders because it is empowering to be your own boss and start something from the ground up. It takes work but it is extremely rewarding to watch the growth of something that you’ve built yourself. I think it’s important to set an example for other women and to encourage their children and the younger generation. We as women need to make the change ourselves.

What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a founder. Can you explain what you mean?

That you need prior knowledge — you can teach yourself anything! You do not need to know everything about the business that you are going to create. You can acquire any skill needed!

Is everyone cut out to be a founder? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful founder and what type of person should perhaps seek a “regular job” as an employee? Can you explain what you mean?

Yes, I think anyone can become a founder if they want to and put in the work to do so. It’s not something that will be given to you but if you have the drive and passion then you can get there. Nowadays you can learn so much from online, the opportunities are endless.

Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Asking for help is ok. I didn’t have any prior knowledge before starting so sometimes when I would go to the production company, they would ask me questions and I would not have any idea how to answer them. At first, I was embarrassed to ask for help, but they were extremely understanding and very helpful with all questions I had. If I’m successful, then they will be too!

2. If you aren’t happy with something, voice it! When owning a business, you need to make sure your products are 100% how you want them to be. If it doesn’t look the way you envisioned then you need to say something so it can be fixed. You never want to put out a product that you wouldn’t wear or use on your own.

3. There will be tough times. It’s not easy starting your own company and some days you will feel down but keep going! You will not see success everyday but when you look back at the long-term growth you will remember why you started!

4. Keep learning. Knowledge is power and the more you learn the more you can apply that to your business. Go to a seminar, take an online class, never stay complacent.

5. Surround yourself with positive people. Having a strong community is so important. You want to make sure you are surrounding yourself with people who will support you and challenge you.

How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

One thing that was extremely important to me was that I wanted to start a company that also gave back so $2 of every bathing suit sold is donated to further women’s education and future. I hope to make an impact with this and really make a difference. Right now we are working with 3 non-profits which all cater to different needs. Period the Menstrual Movement is working towards ending period poverty, She’s The First educates and empowers girls and build up their communities so they can flourish, and One Love educates young women and men about healthy and unhealthy relationships. As JAMS by Jillian grows, I hope to add more non-profits that can help change the world.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Self-help movement! I think in this day of social media the younger generation is seeing standards that are not real. People are only showing their high points and not their low points. It is affecting the well-being of many and we need to educate and have a space where people can go to talk about this. One day I would love to add a non-profit to JAMS by Jillian that supports mental health!

We are very blessed that some very prominent 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.

Carla Harris! I read her book Expect to Win which talks about strategies to thrive in the workplace and it was extremely motivational. Carla talks about authenticity and how important it is to really be yourself. That’s something that has always stuck with me. It’s better to be you than to pretend to be someone else because that’s how someone else wants you to be. Be confident in yourself and you will always win.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.

Authority Magazine

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Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Authority Magazine

Written by

Good stories should feel beautiful to the mind, heart, and eyes

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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