Ep 20

Passion is Everything with Jackie Bertolette (Haute Ohio Magazine)

Jackie Bertolette

Show notes

Katerina: Jackie, just to introduce you. It’s amazing to have you on the podcast because I don’t think I’ve met anyone with such a huge portfolio of businesses to run. You are an editing chief of Haute Ohio Magazine, you have your own modelling business, you have a photography business and you do so much. You’ve been running a fashion week. How did it all start?

Jackie: I suppose it started back when I was in college, and my degree is in Commercial Photography. And I always knew that I wanted to do fashion, but it wasn’t like a huge industry then because I’m a little bit older than the average. So, when we were in school, we actually learned about film. So, digital was a bit of a transition for me over the last 20 years or so but I knew then that I wanted to go into Editorial Fashion Photography so that’s where it all started. But, I was afraid, being a Midwest girl… although I’m from, you know, a moderate-sized town, Cleveland, you know. So Cleveland, Ohio is a fairly good-sized city in the United States, but I was too afraid to move to New York where the actual jobs were in that career field. And so, I kind of just let that dream go because it just as I was just too afraid.

And there wasn’t anything like that in the Midwest where I was from. So, I just kind of would pick and choose here and there where I could work and then I held a day job for a long time. Although I’ve always been in the creative arts so my day job has always been in Graphic Design or things of that nature so that’s how all of these things came together. And about 12 years ago, I had to resign from my position as a graphic designer, because my third child was born and he was not well, he was pretty ill, and so I had to resign to come home with him. And after we got comfortable with the single income within our family, and of course, he was cleared for health issues and all of that, we decided that I was going to stay home with the kids, you know, we were okay on a single income so someone was going to stay home with the kids… And so I did that and started homeschooling my son, but I found myself needing more than just that.

So I thought… talk to my husband and my husband said “You know what, that’s what you love to do, you’re great at photography. Why don’t you start the magazine you always wanted to work for”, and I was like, “What? That’s crazy!” But there it is. Five years ago, we started and launched Haute Ohio Magazine and along the way we have added Ohio Fashion Week, Ohio Fashion Awards, Great Lakes Fashion Network, Fashion Alliance. I might manage models under Discovered Model Scouting & Management, DMSM Group. And I’m a commercial photographer, Jacqueline j Creative Arts, and I’m a fashion designer under RJ Luna Haute Clothier. So kind of everything. And of course, I have a background in Graphic Design as well, so.

Katerina: Well, that helps.

Jackie: Yeah.

Katerina: So, the magazine was the first adventure, right?

Jackie: It was.

Katerina: The first one.

Jackie: Um-hum.

Katerina: How did you know, who told you how, where did you learn how to actually put a magazine together?

Jackie: Um, I fumbled through it on my own. I didn’t really have any actual schooling in something like that in the business end of the magazine. I knew how to do all the creative end just because I had done photoshoots and I knew what went into creative direction and all of that. I have creative writing behind me so I’ve done articles in the past. I think the only part that I was really missing was the sort of the business end of it so I just kind of, you know, took what I knew and thought, well, nobody’s gonna tell me I’m wrong because nobody’s doing that. Kind of paving the way and so, I’ve made mistakes and I’m still making mistakes but I’m also doing something that seems to be right because people are responding. So, yeah.

Katerina: Did you have anyone in the family who would guide you or help you with the business side of things?

Jackie: Actually, my mom is really good with business. She’s not too crazy, but she’s really good with business. She was office manager for years, and a paralegal so she has a lot of, like, the structural organisation behind her and I didn’t know how to set up an office, I didn’t know how to set up QuickBooks and all that stuff so she’s helped me with a lot of that. And then I do have a team that volunteers for me, as I can kind of call on them and say hey, I need some help in this. And you know, they’ll volunteer their time to help me figure it out and kind of coach me through it. So, yeah. But I do think my mom is definitely the one who helped me to get started in that.

Katerina: Yeah, so when you just started your work with a magazine, you also said you looked after your son who wasn’t well and you were home educating.

Jackie: Um-hum.

Katerina: That’s quite an undertaking, isn’t it? It’s quite a bit of a job, isn’t it? To look after, you know, full time… after the child, who may not be as well. And also start up your own business. How did it go?

Jackie: When, in the beginning, when he was still medically unstable, if you will, that’s all I did, was take care of him. I did nothing else. I was just, yeah… But as he got cleared medically and the number of doctor visits sort of weaned and all of that, we did try regular school with him, brick and mortar, but it just was not good for him. It just didn’t work well because, although in many ways he is on grade level, there are some things that he’s not on grade level. And so, it just was a real, you know, he encountered some bullying and some, you know, not good stuff so, yeah.

My husband and I decided we were going to try it now… I had no idea what I was getting myself into because, you know, I never did that before. But it was important that whatever we could do to give him the best chance in life, that’s what we were going to do and so, yeah. First-year was pretty crazy and tumultuous and he was adjusting and I was adjusting and learning how to homeschool and all that. We actually used an online service for virtual school.

But now we’re four years into it. Now, it’s like old hat and we know how to integrate his school day with my workday and literally, we’ll sit at one end of the table to do his school day, and when it’s over, I scoot to the other end of the table and turn on my business computer and start working on photography or whatever needs to come up, so… you know, it was a huge transition but, and very scary… but it really was the best thing for all of us and our family and you know, it is scary but it’s definitely something that should be considered if, you know, if you feel like that’s a good direction for your family, so.

Katerina: Yeah. So, at the beginning of you starting your magazine, obviously, you know when you start a new business, as 80% of the time you spend trying to acquire new customers, new clients, and then maybe 20% of the time, you try to kind of keep them.

Jackie: Yeah.

Katerina: How did you go about finding new clients because a lot of businesses, they fail in a few, in a couple of years of you know, starting up. And this is a very crucial year of a startup. How did it go for you?

Jackie: So, for me, I actually have numerous clients. The demographic, or I guess my clientele, is in multiple ranges. So, I have the fashion professionals who want to be seen and published. So that’s one of my clients if you will. And then I have the subscribers and the readers, that’s another client base. And then I have the advertisers and sponsors, so I had multiple client bases, which is really helpful and unique kind of, I think, to my business.

But as far, I definitely had to cultivate all the rest of it. As far as clients go, except for the business professionals, because having been in fashion, in and out of fashion, for almost 30 years, I had quite a build-up of a Rolodex. I knew a lot of models, I knew a lot of designers just from my, you know, living life kind of in that field. So when I first started, it was a little bit more difficult, because people didn’t, there wasn’t a physical magazine so to get people to kind of go, oh sure, you know, we believe in you, was a little difficult. But having that range was not difficult. It was just finding people who were willing to kind of give us a shot.

And now, five years later, I mean I have professional talent that is, you know, I have to turn them away and that’s really, that’s the hardest part for me because my goal is to give the opportunity that I wasn’t able to have to others. And so, and I have to turn people away because of content limitations or show limitations or whatever and that makes me feel bad but as long as I am representing 100% of the population, so. That is my main focus is, is 100% inclusion so whether you’re petite or plus, whether you’re mature or a child, whether you’re LGBTQ or challenged, whatever. We represent everybody and we make sure that everybody is shown as beautiful. So, it’s important to me to have diversity in every aspect of what we’re doing, so.

Katerina: Yeah. But going back, to the time when you just started sort of working on the magazine, was there a time when you felt like it was a bit too much and you couldn’t get through, you couldn’t get new clients? And did you have any self-doubt back then?

Jackie: All the way. Every day I have self-doubt like “What am I doing?”

Katerina: Still?

Jackie: Absolutely, I did. You know, the only part that I was confident in is the photography end and I knew that I know that I’m good at editorial fashion photography. I’m good at the whole career direction, finding locations, setting up the design, getting the models, all that I’m really good at. So, that was the only thing that I was, like, 100% confident about. Everything else, every day I deal with, what am I doing, you know? And why am I doing this and I’m crazy, this is insane, it’s never gonna work? But you just keep charging away at it, you know. I am blessed in that I don’t require the income from my business that many entrepreneurs do, because my husband, of course, we are one-income family. Yeah, um, you know, my son’s issues, so when I make revenue, it just goes back into the business so I’m blessed in that way. If I had a bad month, it’s not the end of my business where it wouldn’t be for a lot of people, you know? So, in that respect, it’s a little different for me but it’s, the clientele is always hard.

Finding new subscribers, new readers. We ended up actually hiring a publicist this year, which is the first time I’ve done that, because I just didn’t have the time to put into cultivating new clients, you know. So, I think the most important thing is to understand where your value talents are and to outsource or seek partnerships with people who can help you with what your shortcomings are. So, I’m good, if that’s all I have to do is cultivate clients, but then I don’t have a business, you know?

Katerina: Yeah.

Jackie: Yeah. So that’s what we ended up doing this year was outsourcing and to help get those clients going and to help, you know, the media coverage and all that type of stuff, so. The content is not an issue for us at all. It’s all the rest of it. It’s the readership, it’s the advertisers, and yeah, it’s a full-time job, constantly looking for new clients.

Katerina: Yeah, but I mean I can relate to what you’re saying, you know, looking after a child because a couple of years ago, I was running my own business on Amazon and when he was born, my son, and we’ve been waiting for him for quite some time. You see, everything just kind of went to the second place when he was born and the lack of sleep, I mean, I don’t remember the first year of my life. Never mind me running a business. Did you sleep at all?

Jackie: My son was almost eight when I started actually doing my business. My focus was him for the first, I mean I have two older children too.

Katerina: Yeah.

Jackie: But, um, they were quite, you know, sufficient on their own and of course, they required attention, but they did not require the kind of medical, constant attention that my youngest did. They actually helped me to, sort of, navigate the whole world because this was new for everybody, a whole new lifestyle overnight. And so the first few years until he was completely settled medically and we were settled into homeschooling, and I felt like I had provided the parenting situation that I needed to for him, the only time that I started doing something different, because like you said, everything is secondary to your child, so.

Katerina: Yeah. Yeah.

Jackie: But I didn’t sleep, no. For three years, I didn’t sleep because he was very touched and go for a long time, so.

Katerina: It’s hard as it is to run a business but when you have a child, it’s kind of.

Jackie: Yeah.

Katerina: Where do you get energy from? But of course, you’re in a very competitive industry as well. How do you, how do you find your routine? How do you compete, I mean there are so many sharks out there in the fashion industry…

Jackie: Yes, there are. I think that’s what makes us different is that we are sort of bringing light to the sharks. We are the antithesis, and we are the ones that are saying that it doesn’t have to be how fashion is, you know, there’s a more positive end to fashion. And it’s hugely saturated in the international markets and the large markets. But in the smaller markets like the Midwest or the Southwest or, there’s not much competition. So, what I have found after I started my magazine was that there’s actually five other women in the Midwest that are on the same trajectory as I am. And our focus is 100% inclusion so we all are sort of cultivating symbiotically this whole new fashion industry that doesn’t exist. So while there is a lot of competition in fashion, for us, we are lifting each other. We’re not competitive — we’re trying to create the industry that we’re looking to, that we would like our kids in, you know, as opposed to the one that’s really out there.

Katerina: Yeah.

Jackie: So, yeah. So I think that’s a little different for us too, is that we were really creating an industry so we, we have, really we create what it’s going to be. We decide, you know, is it going to be positive? Is it going to be negative? Is it going to be, you know, inclusive? Is it not going to be inclusive? So, while I feel like my magazine and my entities offer a lot more than some of the other women in our area, all of us together are providing incredible opportunities for fashion, for fashion professionals.

Katerina: In my professional sort of life, I had an opportunity to be involved in the Creative Spark Project which was funded by the British Council, and it was all dedicated to the development of entrepreneurship in the fashion industry in Central Asia.

Jackie: Oh, okay.

Katerina: So last year, I think was last January, I went to a country called Kazakhstan in Central Asia and we were on like a seminar for fashion designers and also flew there to do some master .. to teach some masterclasses, entrepreneurship master classes. And what we found through our interaction with fashion designers is that a lot of fashion designers… they are so creative, they know how to put materials together, they know how to choose colours and stuff like that… But they are lacking business skills and marketing skills, and they’re just almost, you know, they see an opportunity to be creative and they sometimes jump from getting involved in one side of the business, for example, say, designing clothes and then they want to do something with fashion walks and stuff like that. And they almost, like, move from one creative project to another creative project so what, um, you know, did you have the same sort of, when you started working on your business, did you have any, you know, problems running a business because you were lacking some business skills and how did you overcome this?

Jackie: Yeah, I was lacking a lot of business skills, because like you, as you mentioned, a lot of times creators are really good at creative but not necessarily good at, you know, business and vice versa. I was very lacking in business skills. How I got through it was I asked my mom. You know, I did a lot of research online, I joined a lot of groups, Facebook groups and things like that to say hey, I had this problem, you know, how did you handle it? I basically asked you know?

I didn’t have the luxury of like a local college class or local business class by, you know, professionals or anything like that so I just, I just called on friends and family and said hey, how do I handle this? And I think that that’s a good way to get started. And then when the business gets really to the point that it’s even too big for the novice group, then, then you start seeking out, you know, really, but hopefully by then you have some revenue because they know when you actually seek out a business course or business coach, you know that’s not something that’s going to be done in kind or, you know, voluntarily. You have to have enough revenue to be able to pay some.

Yeah, gets kind of sticky, you know? Do you have enough money to pay someone who can really coach you through it? Or do you need to kind of barter it through and you know, which is pretty much how I run my business as much as possible? Just because I like the revenue to go back into the business, as opposed to paying me personally and trying to grow the business for others more than for myself. I mean I love doing it, but I do it so that I can provide opportunities to models who have dreams or designers who, you know, want to show in New York Fashion Week or, you know? So, I definitely had the same issues.

Katerina: Yeah. So what advice would you give to say, designers, fashion designers, or maybe photographers who want to start their own businesses?

Jackie: Like fashion, I would say you absolutely have to seek out partnerships, unless you’re planning to actually go to the main markets like New York or LA or Milan or wherever you might be, London. You really need to find partnerships in the local industry and sort of get your feet wet and gain the resume. Because when you get to the larger markets, they want to see that you know what you’re doing, that you know, I mean there’s a thousand people vying for the same job so you have to have experience. And you have to have an incredible portfolio or look book. And I would say, first of all, believe in yourself, no matter what. And second of all, know, that it’s gonna take work and that you have to partner and find symbiotic relationships along the way because it’s just, it can be done by yourself, but it’s, you know, it’s much, much less traumatic if you have someone who you can bounce it off of and say, oh my gosh what do I do or whatever, you know?

Katerina: Yeah. Well, you’ve mentioned, you know business skills, but you probably are aware that many of them also suffer from so-called shiny object syndrome, especially solopreneurs. They start a business and then they think, oh, I need to learn this. Oh, I don’t know this, I need to learn Facebook marketing. I need to learn how to do videos and they end up kind of learning a lot of stuff, and what advice would you give to them.

Jackie: Well, I don’t think it’s ever had to learn something new. But, I do think that when you learn, when you put a lot of energy into learning all of these things that you’re maybe not so great at, then what you are great at suffers. So, for me, the product, which is the magazine itself, what goes into it, the content that I’m sharing, that is more important to have a good solid product than it is to learn how to do Facebook marketing. So, that’s when I go seek someone else to help me through it or coach me through it, or even in kind, you know? I’ll give a free subscription to somebody who maybe could do the marketing for you. A high school student who knows social media in and out, you know? And just do barter with them, you know, hey you want to come to a photoshoot with us or whatever. So, I would be very cautious to learn everything because you can’t be good at everything. I would be more cautious to make sure that you stay focused on what you’re good at and what your business is. And then seek out others that can help you with whatever your shortcomings are.

Katerina: Yeah. Do you consider yourself being a perfectionist?

Jackie: Absolutely, yeah. I’m definitely an overachiever. So, I have, um, yeah, I have that problem and then most of the people around me might say uh-oh, she’s thinking again. I don’t think, okay, let’s do a Fashion Week. I think, well, if we’re gonna do Fashion Week then it’s got to be this, and you know, everybody, you know, so I’m an overachiever and a perfectionist, but I’m only a perfectionist for myself. Like, I understand that other people, I understand that people aren’t perfect, including myself, but I always, I’m holding myself to a bigger standard, you know? You can do better, you can do better, come on, just a little bit more effort, you know? So for me, I’m definitely a perfectionist, yes. If it’s not done 110%, I’m not going to put my energy into it at all.

Katerina: Do you think you would probably achieve more if you weren’t a perfectionist?

Jackie: Probably, because like I said because I spend a lot of time on each task to make sure all the details are right and it takes me an entire year to plan on Haute Fashion Week. So, and it’s a one-day show, but it’s everything, like we literally are down to, you know, what do the menus look like and, well, you know, what does the runway look like and what does backstage look like and, you know, do we have enough outlets for everybody, you know? So if I didn’t put that much perfectionism into things, I think I could accomplish more widely. But I don’t know if it would be better, because it wouldn’t be as complete in mind, you know? I mean, I want to offer quality more than quantity, so.

Katerina: Yeah. Also, you are running several businesses. How do you, um, how do you find time to run multiple businesses?

Jackie: Now, it’s actually kind of ironic because I was just saying that too many things make it not good. But for me, all of these businesses are just like parts of the same business. So, I mean, as a photographer, I have been shooting models for 30 years. So managing models is just normal for me, you know? I just made it an actual business about five years ago. But I’ve been doing it for 30 years, teaching models how to pose and how to walk a runway and how to find our light and all of that. As a photographer, I teach that without even, like, thinking about it.

So, there are two of my businesses right there that are just part of the same thing. And then of course editorial photography and fashion need a designer. So, you know, I mean it just kind of all runs together for us so it’s not, um, I know it sounds like I’m doing like a hundred different things, but they’re all integrated so I just have to remember to, like, isolate this job, or this photoshoot is for the magazine so we can’t share it like this shoot is for one of my DMSM models so it’s just portfolio work for them so that can be shared. So, like, compartmentalizing like that, I think, it’s the hardest part, so. But other than that, everything is just kind of, it’s all wrapped up together, you know, so.

Katerina: Yeah. So how do you prioritise your day? What comes first? How, what’s your typical day?

Jackie: First and foremost, getting through school, if it’s a school day. But if there’s no school or we’re done with school, my main priority businesses are the magazine and the modelling management, for me personally. I will always be a commercial photographer, it’s my first love, I will never give that up, but as part of the magazine and as part of managing models, I get to do my photography. So, all the rest of these things are awesome and great extensions but those are the two priorities for me. Making sure that I develop models safely so they learn how to get through this industry with some sense of normalcy, and knowing red flags to look for and that kind of stuff. And then the magazine is something that I plan on doing for a very long time. And the rest of it, if we continue, great, but if I run out of energy or resources, those are the two we would pare down to.

Katerina: Yeah. Do you work on weekends?

Jackie: I don’t think I’m ever not working. So, just before we got on this interview, I was sewing masks, because I have some local businesses in school so I’ve been doing masks for like I’m not working. I’m either interviewing somebody else or I’m setting a photoshoot or I’m booking models or I’m sawing masks or making clothes because I do show my clothes on the runway in different parts of the world so I’m always on if you will. But it’s helpful because all my kids have had their moments in learning how to help me do my business so I can call on them and say hey, you guys I need, I need help, you know, this photoshoot, can you caddie for me, you know? They know exactly what they need to do and, um, so it’s almost like a family business which makes things a lot easier for us.

Katerina: So, how do you avoid burnout? Because entrepreneurs can have burnout, right? Because they’re involved in so many projects.

Jackie: Um, the only time that I ever, I am not good sitting still. I have to be productive whether it’s just sewing a mask or making a piece of clothing or putting on a fashion show. Though I don’t really run out of energy or hit burnout in a typical situation, when I hit burnout is after the fashion show. It’s been a year in the making, I’ve been doing all these other things along the way, and the week before is, like, insanely crazy, like 18-hour days, you know? Problems, this person cancels, problem after problem. You know, solution after solution, it’s really exhausting. And that’s when I hit burnout, it’s right after the show like literally for a week — I don’t even answer my phone. So I’m like no, leave a message, not gonna do a thing. So, I have to kind of like regroup and sort of just kind of centre myself and start all over. But that’s really the only time that I’ve had issues but happens every year. Every year, the end of September, the first week of October — don’t talk to me.

Katerina: So what do you do too, you know, to relax, and you know, recharge? What do you do? What’s your strategy for recharging?

Jackie: I love to shop. There’s a surprise.

Katerina: Nothing wrong with that.

Jackie: But I don’t shop for like, your typical stuff. First of all, I love thrifting and then reinventing. So, I do a lot of thrifting, and I do a lot of fabric shopping as I do, notion shopping and things like that, because I do sew and make clothes as well so they kind of shopping I do, is not what, like, going out looking for a new dress, you know? I’m going out looking for fabric and an old junky dress that I can reinvent, you know? That’s kind of what I love to do, even though that’s my work. When I am not under a deadline or under the gun, you know, to make sure that I have something that fits the right person whenever, when I have more creativity, more time to really have fun with it. That’s, that’s like my relaxing time, you know? And of course, being with my family, I love being with them. And, um, I just, I’m, we have a beautiful backyard that we’d spend, so I spend a lot of time, I work outside sometimes too which is awesome. So, yeah.

Katerina: Yeah. Do you consider yourself a resilient entrepreneur?

Jackie: Hmm, I don’t know. Maybe resilient, yeah. I can always come up with a creative solution. Okay, so I don’t know if that’d be considered resilient because I don’t…

Katerina: Bouncing back from difficulties, getting back on your feet…

Jackie: Yeah.

Katerina: …when things go bad.

Jackie: I can always find a way around it so I’m gonna say yeah, probably. Yeah, like it doesn’t get me down even though I have days or I’m just like, in some days it’s every day where it’s just moments I’m like, what am I doing? Why am I even, you know, banging my head against the wall for this? But I always am able to find, like, the strength inside myself I mean, it’s just this, I am in a position where I’ve always dreamed of being. I just thought it would be somebody else’s magazine that I was working for. I didn’t know it would be my own. So this actually is kind of like my dream job. And I get to be at home. And, you know, the only thing that’s really missing is the income. But thankfully, as I said, you know, we voluntarily returned the income into the, into the magazine and into the business to try to improve opportunities for others, so.

Katerina: Yeah. So, what was the most challenging time for you running multiple businesses since the beginning?

Jackie: Um, I would say, like, year two. We were saying like, you know, the first few years are pretty pivotal. Before we actually launched, I had spent a lot of time doing, like, polls. Is there, you know, people out there who want to see this kind of magazine from the Midwest. Are there professionals who want to participate in this? I spent a lot of time doing that kind of research. And I had reached out to a lot of people that I knew from the industry to bolster what we were doing, you know, to kind of, listen, I need somebody in your area who can be my go-to person, you know, in Cincinnati. I mean I had people all over the Midwest, key people that I could just call on. And so before we started, I had a really key team in place. And within two years, one by one they all kind of like, well, this isn’t enough, you know i mean they just moved on to other things. And, um, so that was probably the worst and we got to like the second year. And I was like, the only one left.. all these people, we were going to do this together and I was, like, the only one left.

And one other person who is still there but is so far away that, you know. She’s really not there, you know, on a daily basis. So, that was the hardest part for me. That’s when my husband said, don’t give up, just don’t give up because I was like, you know what, nobody wants this. Obviously, the people, the key people in the industry, don’t even care enough to participate anymore so it can’t be something that we need but my husband was really on and he was saying no, come on, you know you’re good at this, you know what you’re doing and I’m glad that I did because it, we were able to, I don’t know if launch careers are the right way to say it, but we were able to give startups and first opportunities to new models and new designers and, you know, give opportunities.

We have, I have models that have walked in Paris and Milan and I have models who flocked to New York. You know, their dream was to walk in Miami Fashion Week and I’ve been able to, you know, to offer that to them, so. That’s what is more satisfying to me and that’s why I’m so glad that I didn’t give up in the second year because I thought nobody wants this. I’m the only one that sees value in this, you know, so. It’s hard. It’s hard, there’s, you know you just have to keep trusting in your own talent.

Katerina: Yeah. So, if you were to, sort of, call it with one word, what’s been driving you all these years, what would it be? Just one word, how would you explain this, what was driving you all these years?

Jackie: Passion.

Katerina: Passion.

Jackie: Yeah. I love, I love the industry. I love the creativity in the position that I’m in, and being a fashion photographer has, like, always been my dream. I love being able to provide opportunities for people who have passion. You know, it’s an industry that if you don’t, you know, if you’re not, like, perfect, model, six-foot, size zero, nobody else is going to look at you, you know? So it’s really important to me and I’m really passionate about giving an opportunity to show the beauty in everybody, not just the six-foot tall model, you know? I mean I happen to be six foot tall, and I happen to have been a model so I know what’s in the industry.

Um, and, and I think that there’s a safe way to be positive in this industry. It doesn’t have to be negative all the way through so what keeps me going is the passion to, um, to develop new people into the industry and, um, and really bring the Midwest to the world and the world to the Midwest, you know? We have so much talent here that people don’t even know about, so.

Katerina: That’s why you’re there, to share the word. You see, now you’re talking to someone in the UK…

Jackie: I know, right?

Katerina: …and uh, I’m definitely gonna suggest our colleague centre project partners in AlmaU we’ve been working with, you know, to look at this podcast because I think they’ll get lots of insights.

Jackie: Thank you.

Katerina: Because it’s an…

Jackie: I’m sorry. We, um, well, we focus on the Midwest, we are not limited to the Midwest. In fact, our current issue actually features two designers from Madagascar. And we have featured and continue to feature Fashion Week designer in South Africa, we’ve done Nigeria. So, we’ve had Japanese. I mean, we’re not limited to the Midwest. So that’s why we say bringing the world to the Midwest and the Midwest to the world, you know because while we focus on that, we’re not limited to that at all.

Katerina: Yeah. It’s great, great insights from you but, you know what, running a business, I guess passion is everything, isn’t it? It’s something that will drive you through, through challenges and this is maybe why people give up because they just end up doing something, they think they’re just making a little bit of money here and there, but that’s not really their passion. And then when difficult times come, then they kind of go, okay, maybe it’s not for me, maybe I can go on pursue a different, shiny object.

Jackie: Right. And see how everything is difficult, there’s no doubt we all know that everything is difficult. And if you don’t really have the passion for what you’re doing, then it’s really easy to say, next to shiny object, you know? I mean anyone can make, I mean I could make money as a graphic designer. I did it for years, you know? And I could do that from home, easily. But it’s not my passion, you know. I love doing graphic design as part of what I’m doing but I don’t want to be a graphic designer. So, if that’s what my business was, I probably would have folded two years ago because I’d like, I just don’t want to put that much effort into it. It’s hard. It’s difficult. I don’t want to get up and look at that anymore.

Katerina: Yeah. Yeah. So, what… Go on.

Jackie: Passion is everything. I mean like, that’s the core.

Katerina: Yeah. So what advice would you give, specifically to female entrepreneurs, because this is our audience, we want to encourage as many female entrepreneurs to, you know, give it a try if they haven’t started, you know? If they’re just starting the business and kind of give them enough motivation to go through the difficult times. So what would be your advice to these entrepreneurs?

Jackie: Um, I would say that it’s the same as the rest. You just need to believe in yourself. It doesn’t matter if you’re female, if you’re male, doesn’t matter if you’re 20 or if you’re 60, if there’s a passion for what you’re doing, then you can make your way through it. Even if it’s a saturated industry, you’re bringing, every single person brings something different to the table.

So, I mean there are other people who do fashion in the Midwest, but I bring a magazine that nobody else brings, you know? I managed models and there are only two other management groups in the area, you know? So it doesn’t, as long as you’re passionate about it and you believe in yourself, you’re going to be fine. It doesn’t matter if you’re female and male. And the only thing that I would say is to not hold fast to the fact that you’re female, and not, like, feel like, well I’m female, they’re gonna hold me down. And you know, that you need to be strong, strong in being a female yet at the same time, you need to not be saying, well, I’m female so now you’re going to make, you know, give it to me, I’m a female, you know? So you work just as hard as everybody else but you also have to be confident that you’re just as good as everybody else.

Katerina: Yeah. So, what’s next for Jackie Bertolette? What’s the next project? What’s the new business to add to the portfolio?

Jackie: Yeah. So, actually, we have two things that we’re kind of working on. We just, um, launched the Great Lakes Fashion Network, which we’re hoping to turn into a non-profit for prevention and awareness of trafficking, which is a huge problem in our industry. So, that is like a whole another offshoot, so that’s kind of where my, my next goal is. And we’re also looking as far as the actual businesses, we’re looking to do more online content as far as blogging and as far as interviews with models and more behind the scenes kind of stuff at a photoshoot and um, sort of a little bit more of what it really is like to be in the fashion industry. You know, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Katerina: Yeah.

Jackie: Yeah. Those are the two we’re working on, in tandem with everything we are already working on.

Katerina: Now I wish you all the success for the future and with your new projects, new businesses. It sounds amazing what you do and, yeah, it’s, you find the right niche, you find the right industry and you’re happy, you know?

Jackie: I know.

Katerina: You are happy and that’s what’s important.

Jackie: This is one of the things where, you know, from tragedy comes triumph, you know. I mean, I would still be working my day job, had my son not been ill. And at the time that he was ill, I did not understand why this was happening to him, you know? He was 10 days old. I’m sorry, 10 weeks old. I mean, what, what did he do, you know? So, it took a long time to understand where the triumph was in that tragedy but now that we can look back on it, it’s exactly that moment that changed everything. And not only changed his life, but also changed my life, changed all the professionals, that we touched their lives. So, it really is, you know, you just never know why things happen but they always happen for the right reasons.

Katerina: Yeah, sure. Thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your amazing story. I wish you all the success and good luck with everything.

Jackie: Thank you so much. It was so nice to talk to you.

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