Wow, this is a long journey so bear with me. When I was thirteen I was driving my mother crazy so she begged her friend to give me a job in her flower shop. I was too young to work so I swept the floor for many years and watched the designers around me. I was finally old enough to try my hand at floral design and it turns out I was amazing at it. None of my friends were doing this so I felt a little alienated but was falling in love with it all the same. From there, I traveled a bit and found myself working on major movie sets not only as a florist but as an environmental designer. I decided to come back home, and I became the Events Director at the original Tavern on the Green. I met a lot people there and after 8 months of employment I decided to go out on my own. It’s been over thirty years since I became the owner and creative director of jesGORDON/properFUN
What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business? How did the idea for your business come about?
Since times are changing I have found the need to evolve and go with the flow a bit more. When I started this company all I had was a beeper, a typewriter and the local pay phone! New technology has inspired me to go further into what my original capabilities were. I can work all over the world, hire young people that can do things on the computer that blow my mind! I am now able to offer more capabilities that express what I do such as 3-d renderings, virtual reality tours of my projects and of course social media exposure. This has gained a lot more inspiration for me. I find myself doing a lot of side projects and teaching others how to do what I do through technology.
What were the biggest initial hurdles to building your business and how did you overcome them?
This is a hard question because technically the hurdles never stop coming and perversely enough I still love the challenges. I think funding is always hard, taking the monies you earn and constantly throwing it back into your business to grow it in ways you dream about. I did something smart by hiring an external finance team to consistently guide me and what I should do with my monies earned; when to save them and when to re-invest them back into the company. You can hire people like this based upon your monthly income and it’s a smart investment. Hiring employees is probably the hardest thing I have ever and will ever do. When you own your own company, you cannot expect someone else to care about it as much as you do and sometimes that a real let down. Being able to delegate to someone else what’s inside of your head is also very challenging. I often role play and consistently put myself in my employee’s position so I can figure out the best way to communicate to them. This will always be an evolving process for me.
Did you ever deal with contention from your family and friends concerning your entrepreneurial pursuits? How did you handle it? What would you do differently in hindsight?
My family has always been proud and supportive of my ventures, but my personal life has more than suffered. I think that putting my name on the door, it inhibited me to have a life outside of what I do since its more of a lifestyle than a job. I guess in hindsight I would have named the company something a bit more generic but who knows if that would have made a difference. I try not to live within a “woulda coulda” type of scenario. Basically, if the people around you don’t accept your dream the drive that makes it comes true than perhaps you are choosing the wrong people to surround yourself with I guess.
What would you say was the single most influential factor in your business success?
My understanding and love of people. Every business is the art of people and how you can work with them, this is a strong point for me. Also lack of ego helps you climb the ladder a bit faster.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur?
The reality of not getting a paycheck every week wasn’t something I really considered when I first started out. I wish that I had a more structured way of approaching my business model rather than just relying on my talent and charm lol!
What advice would you give to an upcoming young and old entrepreneur locally and internationally?
Stay true to your product, never ever work for free and continue to learn something every day. Once you stop learning you should probably close the doors. Also realize you are never alone there are tons of people going through the same things as you are, so it’s all good.