I have met a lot of entrepreneurs since launching Passionistas and Terina Nicole McKinney was one of the ones that stole my heart from the beginning. She was sweet, personable, bubbly, energetic, and had wooed me before I even knew it. Her creative spirit, her zest for life, and killer hustle became apparent immediately and I couldn’t help but become a fan of both her and her company, Jypsea Leathergoods… and her 12-year-old daughter, Jordan who is already an entrepreneur. #startemyoung
Beth: Who is Terina the entrepreneur?
Terina: I am the designer and founder of Jypsea Leathergoods, a line of eco-friendly leather homegoods, handbags and jewelry. I am a New Jersey native who creates beautiful, bold statement pieces for art & design lovers who enjoy expressing their individuality. As an interior stylist, I specialize in bringing a touch of elegance into everyday environments while incorporating eclectic styles into any budget. As a Design Instructor, nothing makes my heart leap for joy more than helping others find their own creative voice so that they too can live a life that they’re passionate about.
Beth: Did you choose entrepreneurship or did it choose you?
Terina: Good question! This is a chicken or the egg question for me so let me think… I knew since 6th grade that I would be a designer but I didn’t know what that work situation would look like because I didn’t know any designers. I knew ladies who made clothes but they didn’t call themselves fashion designers, they were seamstresses and I knew I wasn’t that. Once I got to college (FIT) my professors would take us to their 7th Avenue design studios and that felt more like what I saw for myself but college pushes you into the corporate design world and that’s where I went. The back-biting, power struggle that exists in the corporate fashion world turned me off A LOT. Then I was downsized in 2008 (like many Americans), I vowed to never return to the corporate fashion industry. In my early career though, I also owned my own boutique, a line of natural skincare, and co-founded a few ventures so entrepreneurship was already within me. Once the reality of the the lack of stability in the corporate world set in, I was fine with forging ahead on my own.
Give yourself permission to be who you believe you are.
Beth: That is quite a journey. What did you go to school for?
Terina: I have 3 degrees in art/design, most recently a Masters in Art with a focus on design & craft from New Jersey City University.
Beth: How would you describe the products you hand-make for Jypsea Leathergoods?
Terina: Earthy and nature-inspired with luxurious accents.
Beth: I can see that, your jewelry and bookmarks may be my favorite items from your shop and that describes them perfectly. What is it that inspires you?
Terina: Natural environments, tribal art, music, film, color, conversations….I pick up and collect inspiration everywhere. I find beauty everywhere. It’s just a matter of editing it.
Beth: How does being a mom impact your business journey?
Terina: HA! It is the reason and the hindrance of my business journey. I was a mother, going through a divorce when I was downsized twice within a 12 month period in 2008. My child was 3.5 and the stress of all day childcare and hardly seeing her was wearing us both down. I vowed to never put her through that again so everything comes second to her schedule. I work while she is in school and I plan my day around her performances and activities. No, I can’t be at that networking event where I may meet an amazing investor for my brand because there is homework to check, dinner to cook, and bedtime stories to read. So in many ways, I’m on the slow lane to success. In other ways, I am better at building and maintaining professional relationships because I don’t take them for granted. I know that time is very limited.
… you can do a lot with very little but you can do even more with support.
Beth: Jordan is a lucky girl and I love you even more for your dedication. How do you balance being a mom, entrepreneur, and everything else?
Terina: I set a schedule and stick very closely to it. If it’s not on my Google calendar or in my daily to-do list, it may as well not exist. LOL. I schedule in family time just like I schedule blog posts and trunkshows! It is all a PRIORITY and it all has a time and place. This doesn’t leave a lot of spontaneity or flexibility when I’m invited to do stuff last minute but hey, you can’t have it all. I’d rather have balance.
Beth: What lessons have you learned?
Terina: Too many to list but the most important is that you can do a lot with very little but you can do even more with support. Building a strong network of other creative entrepreneurs has helped me launch so many cool projects that were once just the fodder of my dreams. Teamwork makes the dream work!
Beth: Where do you want to see Jyspea Leathergoods 5 years from now?
Terina: In many more boutiques, gift shops, and homes around the world. I am focusing on growing my wholesale business hardcore these days.
Beth: What advice would you give to other Passionistas?
1. Don’t be a chump. Give yourself permission to be who you believe you are.
2. Follow-up! So many opportunities are missed and relationships are soured simply because “some people” think that are to cute to reply to emails and phone calls in a timely matter! Stop that. It’s the quickest way to have people keep you out of the loop and pass on involving you in opportunities.
3. Treat ALL clients like your dream client. Sure, Beyonce MAY call you one day to work on a project with her but until then, don’t roll your eyes at the local, everyday clients that you have requesting your services/products. Give them the VIP treatment and you’ll always be in business, plus word of mouth is powerful. Chances are you are less than 6 degrees of separation from Bey or whomever your dream client is so make sure the word that gets to her is a good one!
Beth: Is there anything else you would like Passionistas to know about you?
Terina: I am also the founder and co-host of the Creative Women Entrepreneur Weekend Retreat happening June 10-12th. It is sold out but you can participate in the powerful business workshops through live streaming (tickets are available here).
Are you familiar with Jypsea Leathergoods? And am I the only one thinking that her advice above was spot on? Comment below!