I am SO excited to share Whitney’s story today! This incredible woman recently amazed the country with her heartfelt pitch on Shark Tank, and struck up a deal with none other than Spanx Founder Sara Blakely.
Whitney created Sonnet James, fun and stylish dresses for women, and inspires me daily on Instagram as she shares her entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself and your career
My career is so many different things that it’s hard to put a label on it, but what captures it best is that I’m a problem solver. I might not know where to start with building a website, or fabric softeners or setting up lighting equipment for a photo shoot, but I can use Google and YouTube and ask questions. If you spend enough time learning, you can do anything.
How does your community of women you surround yourself with support you?
Every one of the women in my community is super supportive. From the start, my sisters did so much. Jen was the model for me and Remi would fly in to help with a photo shoot and they would help me style and get up super early to drive to San Francisco for a photo shoot. My customers are so supportive, and amazing, women. I love having a company for women because I see so much good. They Instagram message and email me with support and love and take the time to comment when we don’t know each other personally. There are so many good people in the world and see that is a gift I get every single day.
How did you overcome fear as a female founder?
The same way as a male founder! Sometimes there is a power dynamic between men and women that makes it different for a man versus a woman to overcome something, but I think fear is an emotion that anyone can experience. I feel the fear and acknowledge that it’s only a feeling. It can be paralyzing to think about all the work to get to an end or to think about the amount of emotional and mental energy it will take to accomplish something. I have to just start with one thing at a time. If I just book the hotel for a photoshoot or get the Uber then I can move to the next step, like ordering accessories and shipping them.
What do you wish you could go back and tell your younger self re: your career aspirations?
If I were talking to myself in high school I would say not to give one second to caring about what other people think of you. Don’t let anyone else’s opinion stop you from living who you are every day. I have always done some things outside the norm but when I was younger I was worried about what other people thought of me. When I look back, my best decisions are the ones that were outside the norm.
What is your career-related mantra?
Just do it. That would be my mantra right now.