I’m so excited for you to meet Jane Pearson! She’s savvy, passionate, and she oozes style from every pore. Team Lucky Break has had the pleasure of watching her business blossom over the last few years, and I’d like to think that we helped guide some of that growth through her frequent Private Strategy Sessions with Lela and via her Brick House Branding mentorship. One thing is for sure: You’ll never look at your store-bought dog bed again!
Jane Pearson of Janery
LBC: What inspired you to take the leap as an entrepreneur?
Jane: It started with my first dog, Charlie. She was a street dog who filled my heart and tripled my pet care budget —until she inspired me to create a dog bed that was functional, beautiful, and made by ethical American manufacturers.
Before I created the waterproof Charlie Cushion, she taught me the expensive lesson that most pet beds aren’t made well where it counts. The cushions turned into lumps after a few months. It was a Herculean effort to wash them, and the fabrics never really came clean. On top of that, the beds were basically an eyesore.
One day, on a whim, I asked a friend “why don’t I make a fabulous waterproof dog bed? It can’t be that hard!” For some reason, I followed through with that idea, even though I didn’t have an ounce of business or sewing experience. My passion for interior design blended perfectly with my passion for animal rescue, and Janery was born.
LBC: How would you describe what you create?
Jane: I create pet beds that help pet parents effortlessly live a more beautiful & stylish life. They are deliciously comfortable and ridiculously chic, because they should feel just as at home in your living room as your pet does.
LBC: Where can we find your products?
Jane: I’m in some retail stores across the country, and on Etsy, but you can find the best selection on my website at www.Janery.com.
LBC: When you first got started, how did you envision your business would be defined?
Jane: I dreamed that Janery would be seen as a creator of waterproof, durable, ethical, and beautiful pet products – the ultimate pet beds, to be exact. But to be honest, I probably didn’t put enough time into truly defining my vision for the business. That came later, through trial and error.
LBC: Walk us through a typical workday.
Jane: Four months ago my family welcomed our second (human) baby, so a typical workday is about as likely as having a cat who listens to you 😉 However, I’ve found a few tricks that are helping me better balance new motherhood and business this second time around.
- At night, I identify my top 2-3 tasks for the coming day, so I’m prepared to get right to work each time my daughter takes a nap.
- I wake up at 5 am to enjoy meditation and quiet before my kids wake up.
- Once a month, I schedule a month of Instagram posts at a time. It takes several hours, but it’s a relief to know something will pop up on social even if my day goes askew.
- I also dedicate 1-2 days each month to replenish inventory. My dog beds are made in a local factory, but my cat beds and toys are still hand sewn by me.
- Orders get packed and shipped in the morning, usually on M/W/F.
- Phone calls usually happen in the afternoon, when my mind starts to tire of staring at a computer.
- Before my family gets home for dinner, I’ll take the baby and dog for a walk. This is a must for me since I work from home.
- Family comes first from 5:30-8pm, and then after our kids are asleep, I might stuff cat toys while I watch TV with my husband. I’ve learned (the hard way!) not to make important decisions, like ordering supplies or reviewing contracts, in the evening when my brain is tired.
LBC: What are 3 things entrepreneurs should think through when they initially decide to start a business?
- Are they willing to work hard at tasks that aren’t fun or glamorous? I think Instagram and blogs have led people to believe that running a business is all about cute outfits, meetings at trendy cafes, and working from coffee shops. Building a business is not all about making the products, it’s mostly about working hard behind the scenes on financial planning, marketing, customer service, taxes, etc. And rarely is it an overnight success like you might read about in a Facebook ad.
- They should really define a niche collection of products, because it’s better (and cheaper!) to start strong with one incredible product than to start with a mess of products you sort of love.
- They should define who their target customer is, down to the brand of shoes he or she wears, so that they really know who they are marketing to.
To be honest, they should just take Brick House Branding when they decide to start a business. It will challenge them with all of the key thought points that are crucial to successfully building the brand!
LBC: When you’re overwhelmed, what brings you back to focus?
Jane: Stepping back, taking a break, and either going for a walk or meditating. If that doesn’t work, I brew a fresh cup of coffee, clean the desk, and make a new to-do list. Sometimes that ritual just works as a mental reset.
Finally, if none of these work, I ask myself the question from the book “The One Thing”, saying “What’s the one thing I can do that will make everything else easier or unnecessary?” That mindset usually helps clear a prioritized path for me.
LBC: Tell us about the best business decision you’ve made to date.
Jane: Aside from working with Lela, who helps me make better business decisions, I’d have to say hiring a professional photographer to better capture my brand. For the first few years, I struggled to DIY my photography. It turns out that the investment in professional quality imagery pays for itself very quickly!
LBC: Please share one misstep or obstacle from your business experience. How did you bounce back or overcome it?
Jane: When I first started, I procrastinated on the big scary product, my waterproof dog beds, because I had no idea how to make it. Instead I shopped for fabric samples far too often, and spent my time making and selling a ridiculous variety of items, from reusable cloth produce bags to pillows and sunglass cases. I wasted time, money, and energy creating far too many SKUs and diluting my brand in the process.
I didn’t bounce back or overcome it so much as I learned from it and now make smarter decisions with a tight, curated collection in mind. As Janery matured, I slowly cut back on the extraneous products, and saw the business strengthen as a result. I’m still working on tightening up my number of SKUs, because it keeps the business simpler for me, and makes decisions easier for my customers.
What are 3 essential resources in your business toolbox that you can’t do without?
- My photographer.
- My husband, who’s a data analyst and a whiz at creating surveys and advanced excel spreadsheet tools.
- A small group of more seasoned business wizards who can advise me or help me tackle tough situations.
LBC: Imagine that we had a time machine. If we blasted ourselves forward a few years, where would we see your company?
Jane: I’d like Janery to be rebranded so the name better reflects our mission. We’ll be better recognized as an ethical, luxury pet brand – think similar to FashionAble, but for pets. And hopefully we’ll be in the process of creating our own in-house manufacturing facility and training our own sewists!
LBC: How have your interactions with Lucky Break influenced your business?
Jane: My work with Lela and Lucky Break has directly influenced my success and helped me make smarter, more focused decisions for Janery. When you’re building your own company from the ground up, it is invaluable to have advice from someone with decades of experience growing an artisan product brand. Sometimes you need help prioritizing the dozens of tasks on your plate. And sometimes you just need a loving kick in the pants. Lela provides it all, and more. I honestly wouldn’t be where I am without Lucky Break – I just wish I’d found you earlier!
LBC: What benefits have you seen from taking classes, working with a mentor, and/or building community around your business?
Jane: Classes like Brick House Branding have provided the structure I need to polish my business, especially since I never thought to study business in college. Mentors have been crucial because I don’t – and can’t – know it all, especially when it comes to bigger investments like manufacturing. And building community has made my workdays more fun, warm, and fuzzy. It’s corny but true – the community surrounding Janery makes my heart happy. If I were operating in a bubble it just wouldn’t be as rewarding to go about my work. Also, building a strong community has enabled me to get honest and actionable customer feedback as I refine my brand.
LBC: Your musical playlist is full of…
Jane: Imogen Heap (our second daughter is named after her), Brad Paisley, Hamilton (the musical), Lady Gaga, Sarah Vaughan, select hip-hop artists, and some classical music.
LBC: Have you ever held an odd job or one you weren’t particularly fond of?
Jane: Working as a cake decorator in bakeries was tough, because every bakery I worked at allowed their staff to smoke in the kitchens, and had terrible ventilation – no air conditioning in summer! My lungs were not happy. Landscaping and laying bricks in the south in the summer was equally rough. I’ve got serious respect for people who hold manual labor jobs, especially in extreme climates.
LBC: If you were given a million dollars, but you weren’t allowed to keep a single penny for yourself, friends or family, how would you give it away?
Jane: I’d probably need much more than a million, but I would build a combination shelter and training center for homeless humans and animals, to combine several of my greatest passions. I’m interested in creating solutions to problems, not just applying financial bandaids. A true homeless outreach shelter would provide housing, along with much-needed resources to help coach and transition the guests back into jobs and housing. Opening this shelter to homeless pets would be mutually beneficial, as caring for pets has been proven to help people heal and find purpose.
Thank you, Jane, for sharing your talent with us!