Putting her best foot forward
We live rushing from point A to point B, from one meeting to the next. And as the working world starts to head back into the office (at least part of the time), we’re faced with a question we haven’t thought much about in two years: What should we wear? Student entrepreneur Jamie Curran ’22 (2Y) launched her footwear line, Jaes, because she was tired of having to choose between stylish but painful dress shoes and comfortable but bland flats. We recently caught up with Jamie to learn more about her venture and how she’s been able to explore her curiosity through the Zell Fellows Program.
Can you tell us about the inspiration behind Jaes?
Living and working in San Francisco before Kellogg, I found myself walking to work in a pair of comfortable tennis shoes and changing into my work flats or heels at the office. I realized that so many women around me were experiencing this same pain — the tradeoff between comfort and style, especially in the workplace. Essentially every morning, we were making a decision between feeling powerful or feeling comfortable. I decided to take matters into my own hands and started co-designing the perfect work flat alongside my dad, who has been in the footwear industry for over 20 years.
What has been the biggest learning for you as you’ve launched?
Continue to test assumptions and listen to what the data is telling you. I initially homed in on a specific customer type early on, but after running advertising campaigns and talking with customers, I've discovered certain customer demographics and traits that were pretty surprising. I think continuing to stay closely connected with your customer — whether it's through newsletters, social media or focus groups — not only lets us have a better sense of who our target customer is, but also how we can continue to make our product even better to super serve them.
How has being a Zell Fellow helped you on this journey?
Zell has been incredibly helpful throughout our launch. In addition to learning more about entrepreneurship as a whole and having an amazing cohort, I have been able to bring on an amazing team of mentors and advisors to help me work through difficult or unexpected things that have inevitably popped up.How did you learn about it and what prompted you to apply?
I learned about the Zell Fellows program when applying to Kellogg and immediately knew I wanted to join. I have always had an interest in entrepreneurship but didn’t even know where to begin. Coming to Kellogg with an idea, I knew I wanted to take advantage of the incredible entrepreneurship courses, communities, and the Zell Fellows program to not only build my business but also develop myself as an entrepreneur.Women- and minority-owned businesses are driving growth within the business sector. While there’s still a way to go, what does it mean to be part of the 12.3 million of women who own a business?
Throughout my journey as an entrepreneur, I have constantly been inspired by the female founders around me. Not only at Kellogg, but across the MBA ecosystem and beyond, there are so many incredible female founders launching truly game-changing business. I hope that other women see the rise of female-founded businesses and take the leap of faith into entrepreneurship. I believe that it really is time to change the landscape of entrepreneurship by encouraging and supporting more diverse founders.What do you see coming up on the horizon for Jaes in the future?
We're using our launch to help home in on our customers, gather feedback so we can iterate on the product and continue to raise awareness for our brand. I want Jaes to be the brand that empowers women, especially in the workplace. We're hoping to make product tweaks based on this feedback and iterate our product with new styles, materials, and colors for upcoming seasons.Any advice for other Kellogg entrepreneurs?
Network and use the entrepreneurship resources at Kellogg, communities and faculty. I have found the Kellogg community, especially other students, faculty, and alumni, so instrumental in our journey. Don't be afraid to try something new — business school is the perfect time to explore being an entrepreneur!