Ever wonder what it might be like to be a handbag designer, Stiletto Gals? Today I'm chatting with the lovely Nancy Gale, owner and designer of the luxury handbag line JAMAH and the founder of In True Fashion, a non-profit program for low-income students. Based out of Los Angeles, Nancy is truly a Jill of all trades when it comes to running both companies and gives me the scoop on how she juggles her time with both companies and why every woman looking to get into business needs to devote a decade of their lives to being unsure of the future.
Hillary Gadsby: Can you tell me a little bit about JAMAH and what makes your line of handbags so unique?
Nancy Gale: JAMAH is an Italian leather luxury handbag line that has now grown into including a couture collection. All of the products are produced in the USA. The handbags are pretty special because they harken back to the days to classic couture bags from Chanel and Balenciaga – the pieces are really works of art. We’re not manufacturing bags to look like what every other company does.
HG: What made you decide to found the non-profit In True Fashion?
NG: In True Fashion is a non-profit entrepreneurial program for underprivileged youth that was founded on cause, commerce, and consciousness. The idea was to truly bring the real world to students who don’t have access to it. When I was growing up, just sitting at my dinner table was an experience in learning about business because I had two successful parents, but I wondered what happens to the people who didn't grow up at my dinner table? Students in the program work on and are taught lessons in business, marketing, and design. We have mentors and speakers who come in too - everyone from Richard Branson to the director of The Lion King, Rob Minkoff. The students learn to speak up and speak out – how to be their own entrepreneur and maintain a sense of professionalism in the process. We’re fostering a new way of thinking for these kids.
HG: How do you manage juggling your positions with both JAMAH and In True Fashion – do you have any time management tips you want to share?
NG: For the most part, I keep both quite balanced so that each company is always helping the other so I don't feel torn between the two. What I recommend is to set up a certain amount of time for your setup and it pare down from there to work the companies seamlessly. Find out how many hours a week you need to put in and be willing to work those hours and work around obstacles. In the case of the non-profit especially, I can't put that one on the back burner. When you work with kids, they don’t have the time for us to wait.
HG: What has been your biggest shoe splurge?
NG: A pair of black Prada boots, that ironically hurt so much I had to give them away! (Which is why I don't have a photo of my shoes to include!)
HG: Fill in the blank: my favorite shoes are a pair of _____ because ________.
NG: My Reef flip flops. I feel most sexy when I feel free and comfortable!
HG: What are your 3 biggest pieces of advice for women (and men alike) starting out in business?
NG: 1) If you’re not willing to dedicate an entire decade to living out of a place where the future looks uncertain, don’t do it. You could have five great years and you could have five where the chips are down.
2) Whatever challenges you come upon if you’re resourceful and strategic, you can overcome any of them – keep yourself in that mindset.
3) Be open to shift and direction – find a balance between what you’re doing and be willing to shift.
For more information on Nancy and to donate with In True Fashion, check out her website and their Twitter handle here. Connect with JAMAH handbags on their Twitter page and visit their site to start shopping!