Updated: Aug 20, 2020
With Jessica O'doski, binka Founder/ CEO
My seventh interview in my "Wellness for Real" series, is with Jessica O'doski, Founder/ CEO of binka. I had such a great time interviewing someone who I not only work with, but also someone who is a true and amazing friend of mine. Very grateful! Hope you enjoy!
Me: So I usually start this series with this question, do you have your own definition of "wellness" that you can share?
Jessica: Wellness for me, is completely holistic, though I do think it is more mental and emotional.
I totally agree with Jessica, in that the mental and emotional aspects of wellness are imperative, when speaking about "wellness" for real. The completely holistic approach is where it's at!
Me: So you and I have always had this "rare" synergy and flow in working together. Since day one, we have had this. Hard to explain, something that is energetic in nature. I think the best teams and partnerships are those where there is a flow and synergy, and then business just grows organically from this type of energy. Thoughts?
Jessica: I totally agree. Synergy is definitely an awareness, that something is just a "fit." The synergy and flow that exists is like any relationship- people either "mesh" or they do not. When we have this flow, we can then be more successful in sales together, since there is also the same type of work ethic, as well as same ideas about sales.
Things are either a "fit" or not. Jess is right on when talking about any relationship. We know when things "mesh" and when they do not. In my opinion, we can "waste" a lot of time and energy in relationships, both personal and in business, where it is not an energetic fit. When there is a "fit" and synergy, energy seems to expand; and when there is not a flow and rhythm, energy seems to contract.
Me: You and I are similar in our "core" view of business. That it is more about "relationships" than "numbers." Yes, everyone needs to make money, but you and I value relationships and people. Why do you think this seems to be somewhat "rare" in business? Seems like we live in a "spreadsheet"/"analytical" type of culture, which seems more "automated/robot-like " as time goes on.
Jessica: Business is all about relationships. It is only an advantage when one genuinely likes and cares about people. When we relate to our clients, it is more personal, and we connect, establish, and grow our relationships. Definitely a different "approach" than those only focused on numbers.
Business and life is all about relationships. I am so grateful that Jessica is someone who not only believes this, but also lives it. I have worked with people and companies, who unfortunately do not value people and relationships. Working with Jessica has been so refreshing to me, especially since we both view business and relationships with such heart and appreciation.
Me: You and I both love picking up the phone and checking in with clients, following up, and also chatting with clients. Many of our clients have become our good friends. I read a lot online about cold calling, and that it is "dead." I do not agree with this, Thoughts on how and why you think this perspective may be "wrong?"
Jessica: The phone is a way to connect and establish rapport. Since we can not travel and see all our clients, (it is not really feasible since they are spread all over), the phone is a great way to connect. Clients appreciate a phone call and my clients are my friends. I personally built my business 95% with phone and email. Being a "road warrior" is not as feasible.
Totally agree. It is not feasible to travel and see clients that are all over, and the phone is a terrific option. Most entrepreneurs are amazing at connecting with clients on the phone, and many still will say, that this is their best way to grow their business. To date, a large majority of my business is also phone, and email. Jessica and I are examples that cold calling, and calling clients on the phone is not only "not dead," but is a terrific way to genuinely connect with others and grow business relationships that ultimately can indeed evolve into strong business relationships as well as friendships.
Me: Let's chat about entrepreneurship in general. I have been an entrepreneur since I was a young girl. These days it seems like everyone wants to be an entrepreneur, and most are "wanna be" entrepreneurs - they do not want to put in the hard work.You and I have an incredible work ethic, which I think is rare these days. There has been the question/ debate of innate versus learned? Can entrepreneurship be "taught" or is it something innate? I personally think it is "innate". There are so many that start businesses and think business is supposed to "come to them," and "money is supposed to just fly into their bank account." The entrepreneurial journey is a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, and few are able to really understand and embrace this. Thoughts?
Jessica: I one hundred percent agree, and think entrepreneurship is something innate. There are inborn qualities, and certain personality traits that make up an entrepreneur. Others are better at a routine, at direction, as well as at some sort of "predictability"and "security."
I totally agree, and think entrepreneurship is innate, and not something that can be taught/learned. It is not for everyone.
Me: This leads to the story of binka. The fabrics you use, and your designs are incredible. I wear your tanks and sheer hoodies all the time. What was your vision when you started your company?
Jessica: The idea popped into my head, and I ran with it. It grew in its own direction. When I started, it was just going to be retail for fitness, and e-commerce retail. I did not really know where I was going till 2009. I connected with women who belonged to local country clubs and gyms who suggested that I sell to clubs and spas. I started getting into some of the country clubs they belonged to as well as a local Marriott property and little by little it grew. I realized I could fit in the Resort world so I started to target large corporate resort brands such as Hyatt and Marriott. In 2018 one of my clients at Sundara Inn suggested that I consider expanding my offerings to custom/logo. From there my brand really took off.
I think the best way to grow a business is organically. Being able to listen to clients, as well as suggestions within other market niches is instrumental in being able to grow. Being able to see opportunities and pivot is a wonderful quality most successful entrepreneurs have. Good for Jessica that she is not only an amazing listener, but she is also able to pivot when it makes sense.
Me: I think it is really important for people to be buying USA made - now more than ever. Why do you think people are still buying products overseas in China? Do you think most still are only looking and dollars and cents? Lately, I have noticed though, more and more have been asking where products are made. Thoughts?
Jessica: Well I agree, and it is my personal view too. I feel strongly about USA products, as well as the need to support local/small businesses.
I think more people now, more than ever, do want to support small business, and products made in the USA. This is a good thing!
Me: You and I both have been selling within the Resort/boutique hotel area 15 years or so. I love our industry and love the people in it. I am very grateful for the amazing clients I have gotten to know, especially on a personal level. I think the hospitality industry in general, attracts "people people" and "service oriented people." Aside from you and I working very hard, I think we both are also very grateful and appreciative. Whether a client orders two dozen of a product, twenty dozen, or one hundred dozen, we truly appreciate the business. What are your thoughts on gratitude, as well as staying positive and at times, having to deal with "negative" ?
Jessica: In terms of working hard, I do work my butt off. I also love the industry, as well as my clients, and appreciate all business. "Negative" can affect me personally, since I am invested in what I do, as well invested in my clients. We all have "bad" days, and different personalities. So I try not to take it to heart. I know that I deliver exceptional service, and I know that I care very much about people. and my brand, so, if I need to, I do try to "right" any "wrong" so everyone is happy.
Working hard, loving what you do, and delivering exceptional service are all keys to any strong business. Gratitude as well. I am very grateful to be able to work with someone like Jessica - she is a gem!
Me: You and I are very heart centered. Those who are heart centered, versus "mind" focused/analytical, tend to live their lives, and operate their business in a different manner. Not one is "better" than the another - just different. I feel like the heart centered entrepreneurs and business owners are more "big picture"/creative types, and genuinely love and care for what they do, and who they do it with. It emanates from the heart. They tend to love what they do, or else they do not do it. Thoughts?
Jessica: Agree. I love what I do. My business is an extension of me, and I am passionate about it. I do not feel like it’s work and do not put an effort into "balance." I am just "doing me." I communicate with my clients even when I am on vacation. I’m always available but that’s not a matter of balance to me because I love what I do! I do not like schedules, and having an unscripted, casual approach to my work, works well for me. Authenticity and knowing oneself is key to having this kind of approach at “work."
Love what Jessica shared, and could not agree more! I do not think living a balanced life is in "environments of the heart." When you love what you do, whether working or taking a break from work with things you love - love is at the center of it all. There is a flow to living in the moment, in the heart, and living authentically.
I want to thank Jessica so much for doing this interview with me. This is the last interview of this series, and I could not have thought of anyone better, who I would love to close this series out with, than Jessica!
For more info about Jessica and her amazing company binka, please check out: https://www.binkagirl.com/
Please use code BINKASPRING50 for "half off" thru the end of this month.