This “Housewife” Fave Was Already a Savvy Business Mogul.
By Nissa Larsen
Jill Zarin is one of the most popularly requested reality TV stars in the entertainment business. She has successfully combined social media outlets, i.e. Twitter and Facebook, to accumulate upwards of a million followers. Not only has she managed to become a dynamic business woman, but combined with her philanthropic efforts, she has been able to reach out to various communities around the globe.
Q: What is something people don’t know about you?
Everyone knows how much I love my dog Ginger…people don’t know that Ginger is my first dog! I was a cat person growing up. My cat was named Marmalade (red and white) short haired stray.
Q: How do I know if I have what it takes to own/manage a small biz?
The first and most important attribute you need is PASSION. You have to love what you do..enough to survive the hard times which all businesses have. Second..you won’t know till you try. It takes a lot of time, resources and of course skills from bookkeeping to even decorating to own and operate a business. As an owner of a small business, the most successful, learn every job it takes to run it so that if someone calls in “sick” or quits, they can pitch in and help. I always say I wouldn’t ask anyone to do any job that I wouldn’t do myself!
Q: You seem very hands-on, do you enjoy the distribution and marketing aspect of your collections, as much as you do the design?
Absoultely. Selling is the “gift” I was born with. I don’t think you learn to ‘sell”, I think it is an inherent trait. Since I began my career thru Filene’s (Federated) Department Store training program, I made relationships back then that lasted my entire career up until now. My former boss there is now the President of one of the largest chains in the USA and another co-worker’s husband is president at another. The biggest single asset each one of us has is his/her relationships. I love to meet people and socialize. I never consider what I do “work” since it feels so natural to me.
Q: What is your business philosophy?
Skweez Couture is a solution based Brand. As a mother, wife and daughter. I have experienced the circle of life through my mother, my daughter and my own eyes. I have experienced things that I feel I can improve upon and have decided to focus my brand on solving those problems. My Brand Philosophy is “Beauty Begins with a Great Foundation” and this can translate into multiple product lines.
Q: Do you design for yourself, your customer, or a combination of both?
I design for my customer but it’s hard not to include what I like personally. I learned many years ago as a buyer at Filene’s Dept. Store that you need to study and know your customer and try NOT to make it personal unless you are your target customer. My first job was as a buyer for Men’s Dress Shirts..so clearly I was not my customer..but I was the target buyer, since many men’s dress shirts are bought by women.
Q: You have a knack for entrepreneurship, as well as, a solid education and experience in management and business. Is success learned or inherent, or both?
That is a great question. Definitely BOTH. You need to have some natural “talent” or “skill” plus an education and/or work experience. There are endless stories of successful entrepreneurs who either dropped out of high school like Simon Cowell. George Foreman and Richard Branson or didn’t go or finish college like Henry Ford, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Sheldon Addison, Larry Page and even Micheal Dell, the founder of Dell computers.
Q: In general, is it a good idea to work with family members? Would you ever consider bringing your daughter into the business?
I think its great to have a family business. In the past I have worked with Bobby at Zarin Fabrics, and now Bobby’s eldest son has taken over for him. It’s great to keep a business in the family.
Q: Has social media helped build sales? Brand? Overall awareness?
I think that social media has become a big component for everyone. Social media is a great way to build brand awareness and to interact with customers.
Q: How do you relax/unwind?
There are so many things I enjoy! I think the best way to eliminate stress is to stay active. I love playing tennis, golf, and pilates. When I need to unwind I love watching tv in my bed with ginger! When I really need to unwind I go on vacation!
Q: What is the single most important piece of advice you would give to a first-time entrepreneur?
Have a mentor. It is so important to have someone that you can look up to in the industry and that can guide you. I still to this day call my mentor when I need business advice.
JILL’s GROWING EMPIRE
Jill Zarin has a knack for entrepreneurship: a natural gift for understanding market trends and her customer. She also has a solid background in retail management and this dynamic combo is often called “The Midas Touch.”
For more information on Jill Zarin visit:
• Sold in Macy’s, Lord & Taylor, Her Room, Von Mauer, BonTon, HSN, Boston Proper
• Sold at Lord & Taylor and Macys.com
Nissa Larsen is a Contributing Editor