In August 2017, I launched a fashion blog titled,"That's So Jas” (TSJ). I would interview these random strangers on the streets and at events all around New York. The website brought many readers including those outside of the city.
It was January 2017 when I moved to the great metropolitan area for my first “big girl” job. Upon arrival, I made it my mission to go to as many fashion-related events as I could in an effort to expand my network. I can recall one of the first events I attended which was at a clothing store in the Meatpacking district. It was a panel discussion between Claire Sulmers, CEO & Founder of Fashion Bomb Daily and June Ambrose, a renowned fashion stylist. I met so many stylish women who had side hustles or full running businesses. It sparked ideas in my head to strike up more conversations with people, learning their gravitation and inspiration towards style.
By the end of Summer, I had a solid idea to start a blog. It would focus on capturing these stories of strangers. Think Humans of New York, but make it fashion! I would name it “That’s So Jas” which is slang for “that’s cool.”
My first story was published in August of that year. I attended the Panorama Music Festival and had my eye on several people. I interviewed about five or six individuals. Only two of which were published, successfully. Nevertheless, I inspired my own self to keep going. It was then that I thought of expanding it to the streets. If I did a double take, then I would stop them for questions. I would soon have over 20 stories of people! It was amazing until I watched others in my network with similar ideas rise to the top.
Slowly, I began to see a shift in the results, like any new business has experienced. As engagement and viewership declined, so did my creative fuel that ran the entire site.
Over the next couple of years, I would start and stop until it became a cycle. There was something holding me back from tapping into my vision. "What was it"? I would often ask myself. It wasn't until a few months ago, that I realized what was stopping this vision was...me. I viewed the images of others on the internet with their hustles and compared to myself. I was allowing the idea of not being as popular as some of my fashion influencer connections get in the way. The fear of not being good enough.
Although I had these crazy thoughts replay in my head, the vision was (and still is) crystal clear. So clear, I can’t unsee it! Perhaps, that is why I kept starting the same amount of times I stopped. I had to really focus on what was important for my brand the next time around -- which is to inspire others through style, not who is popular. If that means I only reach a handful of people (like my Mom) on the Internet, then so be it. My last post I shared was very successful not because of the analytics or ratings. It was due to me redirecting my focus to that overall mission of finding inspiration in the uniqueness.
Today, in the midst of being quarantined, I have a lot of time on my hands. The majority of my days are spent filling myself up with the activities I enjoy. I recently picked up the habit of cooking balanced meals which inspired a lifestyle segment on TSJ, called Jas Eats. I will always go first in telling my story which in turn can inspire others.
What this journey has taught me so far is that I have to be open to the process. All great businesses have failed or encountered issues at some point. So why compare? I believe what makes them successful is how they respond after they encounter a hurdle.
I was listening to a sermon one night and the Pastor goes “The method may change but the mission stays the same.” It definitely changes and I am learning that with every season of TSJ. For instance, at the start of quarantine I started reaching out to people online for stories. It is not ideal since my publication was founded on conducting a very natural, organic conversation. However, now is the time where we need each other the most.
Jasmine Shields is an artist and entrepreneur, founder of That's So Jas, and co-host of the Get Into This podcast. Originally from Virginia, Jasmine is a total Girl Bo$$ and fashionista -- the complete package. In an added dimension of her already fabulous life, she is a citizen of KIRUNIVERSE COLLECTIVE, where she often contributes as creative director (but don't worry, I wrote this bio to give her a break bc she is a busy woman!). To learn more about Jasmine, visit thatssojas.com.
*This bio was written by the lead artist for Selfie-Conscious, a project for which this article was originally written.