Literal Shyft was honored to sit down with Jessica Jesse, CEO and Creative Director of BudhaGirl. Prior to starting BudhaGirl, Jessica began her career in fashion as a model for Hubert de Givenchy, and later worked directly with fashion icons such as Versace, Yves Saint Laurent, and Valentino. Several years ago, Jessica founded BudhaGirl, a fashion centric company that is at the forefront of combining mindfulness, rituals, and science, with beauty, fashion, and jewelry.
LS: Jessica, thank you so much for taking the time to share your story with Literal Shyft! Can you tell us how your vision for BudhaGirl started?
Jessica: Of course. About three and a half years ago, my son went through a neurological crisis. At the time, as his mother, I was desperate to leave no stone unturned, in trying to find a solution that would help him. I wasn't finding the answers I needed within the western medicine framework. And the more research I did, the more I found that contemplative practices provided tools that could help stabilize and heal the brain. Through mindfulness, time, and lots of practice, we were eventually able to help my son heal, and turn his life around.
My professional background had always been in fashion. I knew I didn't want to be a fashion designer. But after this experience with my son, I realized that I wanted to start a company that could combine my passion and talent for fashion, with my passion and interest in mindfulness and ritual. We started with ten pieces of jewelry, all produced in an ethical manner, and all handmade. At the time, everyone within the industry thought I was crazy to try and connect mindfulness to fashion, but I believed it was an important and necessary step for the industry. It was revolutionary to learn that beauty and fashion could go hand in hand with mindful and conscious living. You didn't have to simply wear a rock on a string if you wanted to be mindful.
LS: Can you share more about the connection between jewelry and mindfulness?
Jessica: I believe in the power of ritual and intention setting. Every morning, we go through a certain process. We wake up, we bathe, we get dressed, and finally, we accessorize. We can use jewelry to turn this routine into a ritual. For example, with our nine all weather bangles, each bangle represents an intention for the day. It is a simple yet powerful way to connect to our intentions every morning, or our gratitude at night. The all weather bangles are easily my favorite accessory, and our most popular item. They are weightless, they don't scratch, they don't jingle, and you can share them, or give them away when you feel compelled to do so. I love them.
LS: How does mindfulness impact how you run your company?
Jessica: There is a quote that I love by Thomas Moore: "The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest." I love this quote, because it is exactly the foundation upon which BudhaGirl is built. We believe in the power of jewelry and accessories to connect us, in every moment, to how we want to live our lives. I run my company in the same way. We don't make a lot of big plans in our company, thinking ahead and into the future. We focus on practicing mindfulness and compassion in our every day interactions with each other, our clients, our vendors.
We also have a growing science advisory board, a team of physicians and scientists, that keep us abreast of research on how mindfulness and other reflective practices are impacting brain health. This information directly impacts our pillars for product values and interaction.
LS: What does your own personal mindfulness practice look like?
Jessica: I know we spend a lot of time reflecting on the big events in our life. But I believe that these events only punctuate our life, and that the overall quality and feeling of life is built upon the small, daily rituals and moments that we experience. For example, people will reflect back on a vacation in Mexico and think, "Wow! That was the best margarita I have ever had!". Well--yes. You were in a beautiful environment. Your senses were heightened. You were relaxed. Could you imagine how life would be if you brought that same quality of noticing, of savoring, to your daily cup of coffee?
I also have a morning ritual of sorts that has been transformative for me. When I wake up every day, I take about ten to fifteen minutes to meditate, to focus on how I feel and what I notice within my body and mind. Then, I visualize. What do I want to manifest in my life, in my work, in my family? What core issues am I dealing with, and how do I want to address them? What type of day do I want to have? It is not an easy process, but it has become a way for me to think clearly. I don't need any special equipment or a special space, so I can go through this ritual even when traveling.
I try to make it a point to be focused and pay attention. For example, if I am picking up my daughter and we are in the car together, we turn off our phones. We spend time together, we talk, we listen. It is an opportunity to connect, and that would be missed if we were distracted by our technology.
LS: Jessica, what advice would you give to a young entrepreneur today?
Jessica: I would tell him or her to be present. That is all. Be present. That is the most valuable offering you could give to yourself, and others. And no matter what, you are going to work really, really hard. So chase something you love to do. That may change over time, but whatever you love, do that. What more could you want from your work?
LS: One final question for you--what inspires you?
Jessica: I think there are two answers to that question, or maybe they are essentially the same. I love how, through BudhaGirl, we can effect change in the world. That is inspiring. Running a small, but growing company is a joyful experience. It is hard work, but every day, there are moments of joy. Joy is so important. It is different from happiness in its energy and vibration.
Secondly, I am inspired by my thirteen year old daughter. She always tells me, "You can do this. You are doing something good." And this is really important to me. So perhaps in some ways I am inspiring her, but she also inspires me to keep going, each and every day.
To learn more about Jessica Jesse and BudhaGirl, please visit www.budhagirl.com.