Lisa Jackson, Founder & Creative Director of LJ CROSS, a Manhattan-based luxury goods company with a new boutique that just opened at 994 Madison Avenue.
How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
Leadership is about clarity of vision. My parents are both entrepreneurs. They came from humble beginnings, but have been very successful due to pure passion and ingenuity. My father taught me everything about the business world. And my mother taught me fortitude. She is tireless -- a true perfectionist!
How has your previous employment experience aided your tenure at the helm of LJ Cross?
Design is a process...No matter what you are designing -- be it custom furniture or diamond earrings, it comes down to proportion, materials, texture, scale, and quality craftsmanship -- of course. I've been working since age 17, so I know where the deep water is. Though I already have an MBA from Stern School of Business, being enrolled in Harvard Business School's Owner/President Management program now offers me incredible new insight. Being surrounded by other entrepreneurs in an interactive environment allows me to analyze my business model from another dimension.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at LJ Cross?
I don't have a fine jewelry background so am now immersing myself in that world. It's challenging but energizing too. I can't get enough!
What advice can you offer to women who want to start their own business?
Live the dream! It's not all rainbows and unicorns, and the work is never-ending -- but that's the good news!
What is the most important lesson you've learned in your career to date?
It's important to set goals, but remain nimble.Life happens! I didn't expect to start a wholesale and a retail business at the same time, but opportunity knocked, and I've never been happier!
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
My music - give me 10 minutes of Exile on Main St. (by the Rolling Stones), and I'm recharged.
What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
There's politics in everything. You have to know your strengths, play to them, and leave gender aside.
How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
My dad mentored me, and now he's mentoring my children. His composure, his comportment is what I admire most. He doesn't get ruffled. One of his refrains is:"We'll work through it." And we always do.
Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
My dear friends Vera Wang and Tory Burch have taught me so much. Vera taught me humility. She is driven by the love of the craft, and I deeply admire that. Tory is building a global empire, but she is still being the girl she was at 19 -- a true friend & loyal supporter. I also look up to Annabelle Selldorf and Cindy Sherman -- for being trailblazers; Lena Dunham -- for her voice, plus Marilyn Minter and Tracey Emin -- They are not afraid to express what they believe in. They stand by their convictions. I have great reverence for their talents and achievements.
What do you want LJ Cross to accomplish in the next year?
I would love to open our second LJ CROSS boutique...possibly on the West Coast.