Photo Courtesy of Viva Glam Magazine
People 19 October 2017
For Jordana Woodland, mom of three and CEO of Naked Princess, taking a few extra moments to get ready makes all the difference to a woman's day, and helped inspire a business that she hopes to build into an empire.
“Ever since I was a young girl I would look at my mom and watch how she got ready," says Woodland. “Women don't do that anymore. We're always on the go, and with me being a mom it seems impossible. But it's so important to take a few minutes to take care of yourself. I admire that."
Woodland, who has collected centuries-old perfume bottles and vintage lingerie from all around the world since she was a teenager, says that she has always been intrigued by the “concept of the boudoir," and wanted to create a line made especially for women that made them feel sophisticated and comfortable there. Her brand, Naked Princess, is meant to offer small but significant luxuries for a woman's life.
The Naked Princess fashion line is comprised of clothes that can be worn on a lazy day inside or a fashion-forward afternoon out. “It's meant to be fun and easy, you can wear around the house, or you can go on a lunch date," says the former model, who actively creates the clothes with the ease and comfort of the consumer in mind, “A lot have built-in bras. I am always looking to make things that aren't too fussy, maybe buttons but no zippers. Our pajama sets are best sellers."
With hundreds of SKUs and distribution through nearly 200 spas, boutiques and specialty stores around the world, Woodland says a focus on timeless styles, fabrics that feel and look nice like velvet, silk, and organic cotton and an array of colors from neutrals to bolds are paramount to the longevity of the brand.
Woodland first introduced her brand to the public via its stand-alone retail store on the Melrose Place Shopping District of Los Angeles in 2014. After gaining a steady local following, the Naked Princess founder says she began dressing celebrities, arming stylists with wardrobes for their high-profile clients, and adapting lingerie looks into red carpet worthy head-turners. The love from Hollywood elites like Lady Gaga and Cindy Crawford, helped with Naked Princess's recognition, “People noticed us getting on covers of magazines," says Woodland.
“When you walk into a beautiful store it was a great way for people to connect with the brand immediately. We had different collections, scents, lotions, and fabrics to touch. Our store put us on the map," says Woodland.
Later, she added beauty to the lineup to fill the void she saw in the industry-simple, fuss free products. “When I started the beauty line I wanted to make sure it was easy," says Woodland. "I know the whole trend of makeup, foundation, and contouring. That wasn't in at the time." According to Woodland, Naked Princess's beauty brand is based on essentials to make every girl feel beautiful. “The line is quick, on the go," she says. "Something you would have on your vanity; a collection of lip glosses, or really fantastic massage candles that you can light up for 20 minutes, blow out and use the soy wax to massage yourself."
Photo Courtesy of John Russo
The Naked Princess CEO says ultimately it was a “combination of things" that lead her to launch a lifestyle brand, which she did in 2011 when she was only 29 years old. “Starting when you're young is one of the most difficult things," says the entrepreneur. “I know what I want. I have a vision. You then either hire somebody to put your creativity on paper or you do everything yourself."
Woodland says that because of her clear vision for the brand, she likes to be involved in every stage of the entire creation process. To wit, even though she hired a creative company to create her logo, she quickly decided “'I can do this myself," and then she did. "When you're building a brand, you have to understand who your customer is and that's difficult in a world today when people's likes and dislikes are constantly changing," says Woodland. "From branding to voice messaging, I'm extremely hands-on with it."
Born in the Philippines, the CEO started modeling when she was 19 and says she was always around makeup artists, which instilled in her a love of cosmetics. “I was really involved in modeling, but I have always been interested in being in front and behind the camera.," says Woodland.
Although it may seem like she chose a high-flying and stressful career, Woodland, who is based in LA and Montana, says balance is the secret to her success. “I'm in Montana because of a previous relationship, but I love it for [my kids], and for me," says the mom of three. “It's gotten me to get into the hobbies I have now, here we have a ranch and horses. We snowboard and ski every weekend. I really appreciate nature out here, the quality of air and the quality of time. In California, everyone is so focused on getting from one place to the next. It's a great contrast which I love."
In order to build more buzz for her brand, the CEO says she is currently focused on trunk shows and pop-ups as a way to introduce new consumers to her product assortment. “People don't always trust a new brand," she says. “To go out and meet people and have fact time. Show how to wear. When people know something is available for the specific window, they want to take advantage of it."
Photo Courtesy of John Russo
“When you're building a brand, you have to understand who your customer is and that's difficult in a world today when people's likes and dislikes are constantly changing."
As far as sales go Naked Princess isn't lacking. “The line has been selling really well with women; because you really understand the quality of it when you purchase it," she says, adding that by inspiring women's loungewear, there is a ripple effect to bigger trends. "A lot of women are wearing silk at home and transitioning them to the red carpet."
Ava Tie Tank. Photo Courtesy of Naked Princess
3 Min Read
"How did you ever get into a business like that?" people ask me. They're confounded to hear that my product is industrial baler wire—a very unfeminine pursuit, especially in 1975 when I founded my company in the midst of a machismo man's world. It's a long story, but I'll try to shorten it.
I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up—even if it involved a non-glamorous product. I'd been fired from my previous job working to become a ladies' clothing buyer and was told at my dismissal, "You just aren't management or corporate material." My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.
Over the years, I've learned quite a few tough lessons about how to successfully run a business. Below are five essential elements to keep in mind, as well as my story on how I learned them.
Find A Need And Fill It
I gradually became successful at selling various products, which unfortunately weren't profitable enough to get me off the ground, so I asked people what they needed that they couldn't seem to get. One man said, "Honey, I need baler wire. Even the farmers can't get it." I saw happy dollar signs as he talked on and dedicated myself to figuring out the baler wire industry.
I'd never been interested to enter the "man's" world of business, but when I discovered a lucrative opportunity to become my own boss, I couldn't pass it up.
Now forty-five years later, I'm proud to be the founder of Vulcan Wire, Inc., an industrial baler wire company with $10 million of annual sales.
Have Working Capital And Credit
There were many pitfalls along the way to my eventual success. My daughters and I were subsisting from my unemployment checks, erratic alimony and child-support payments, and food stamps. I had no money stashed up to start up a business.
I paid for the first wire with a check for which I had no funds, an illegal act, but I thought it wouldn't matter as long as I made a deposit to cover the deficit before the bank received the check. My expectation was that I'd receive payment immediately upon delivery, for which I used a rented truck.
Little did I know that this Fortune 500 company's modus operandi was to pay all bills thirty or more days after receipts. My customer initially refused to pay on the spot. I told him I would consequently have to return the wire, so he reluctantly decided to call corporate headquarters for this unusual request.
My stomach was in knots the whole time he was gone, because he said it was iffy that corporate would come through. Fifty minutes later, however, he emerged with a check in hand, resentful of the time away from his busy schedule. Stressed, he told me to never again expect another C.O.D. and that any future sale must be on credit. Luckily, I made it to the bank with a few minutes to spare.
Know Your Product Thoroughly
I received a disheartening phone call shortly thereafter: my wire was breaking. This horrible news fueled the fire of my fears. Would I have to reimburse my customer? Would my vendor refuse to reimburse me?
My customer told me to come over and take samples of his good wire to see if I might duplicate it. I did that and educated myself on the necessary qualities.
My primary goal then was to find a career in which nobody had the power to fire me and that provided a comfortable living for my two little girls and myself.
Voila! I found another wire supplier that had the right specifications. By then, I was savvy enough to act as though they would naturally give me thirty-day terms. They did!
More good news: My customer merely threw away all the bad wire I'd sold him, and the new wire worked perfectly; he then gave me leads and a good endorsement. I rapidly gained more wire customers.
Anticipate The Dangers Of Exponential Growth
I had made a depressing discovery. My working capital was inadequate. After I purchased the wire, I had to wait ten to thirty days for a fabricator to get it reconfigured, which became a looming problem. It meant that to maintain a good credit standing, I had to pay for the wire ten to thirty days before my customers paid me.
I was successful on paper but was incredibly cash deprived. In other words, my exponentially growing business was about to implode due to too many sales. Eventually, my increasing sales grew at a slower rate, solving my cash flow problem.
Delegate From The Bottom Up
I learned how to delegate and eventually delegated myself out of the top jobs of CEO, President, CFO, and Vice President of Finance. Now, at seventy-eight years old, I've sold all but a third of Vulcan's stock and am semi-retired with my only job currently serving as Vice President of Stock and Consultant.
In the interim, I survived many obstacles and learned many other lessons, but hopefully these five will get you started and help prevent some of you from having the same struggles that I did. And in the end, I figured it all out, just like you will.