how jen gotch reset her life.

how jen gotch reset her life | sfgirlbybay

jen gotch, creative director

Smartwater has enlisted me to share the secrets of some of the most successful women i know and how their paths to success might inspire your own. today, we’re chatting with jen gotch – one of my own personal heroines – the creative director and founder of that sassy online style boutique, a los angeles-based design house specializing in gifts and accessories that pack one heck of a stylish punch. inspired by disco balls, confetti and fizzy cocktails, their collection is full of bright colors, irreverent patterns and lots of sparkle. jen is as much fun as she looks, but she’s also one savvy business woman, having founded and gone on to sell her company while remaining “the boss” as creative director, designer and marketing genius. let’s hear how she got from here to fabulous there.

how jen gotch reset her life | sfgirlbybay

how jen gotch reset her life | sfgirlbybay

Where were you working before leaving to start
i had been working as a food and prop stylist for over 10 years and had just started getting into photography. oh, and i was writing for two different blogs, too. (what is wrong with me?) I actually started on a whim with a friend never expecting it would become more than just a little creative outlet on the side (like i needed another one, sheesh!). Things took off just as my photography career got going. i had my first big shoot in new york for the cover of real simple magazine and spent a couple extra days there meeting with people about i quickly realized that i wouldn’t be able to manage all 17,000 careers i had started so i chose and here we are.

how jen gotch reset her life | sfgirlbybay

how jen gotch reset her life | sfgirlbybay

Were there specific challenges about your former position that just didn’t work for you anymore?
since i had several paths i was pursuing, they all came with big challenges – and even bigger rewards. i became disenchanted with styling for one reason – in a word, SCHLEPPING. i actually think that career broke me of some of my compulsive shopping issues, because at one point, i swore i couldn’t carry another shopping bag full of dishes ever, anywhere, ever again.

Was your new path motivated by a particular creative need or personal goal?
i’ve really never been great about setting personal goals. i don’t know why. more than anything is has to do with the way i live, which is really in the present and only not so distant future (like 20 minutes from now). as a creative person, i am always looking for new outlets for my creativity. i really feel depressed and deprived if i am not being creative. as it turns out, there must have been some deep desire for me to create a business, a company, a brand, more than anything else. there have been many, many times that i should have walked away, but i can’t stop. i love the challenges, the freedoms and learning new things on a daily basis. i’m gonna be here for a while.

how jen gotch reset her life | sfgirlbybay

Why did you decide to start your own business?
i’m a prideful idiot who refuses to listen to advice like, “don’t start your own business.” and i thought it would be FUN. ha! well, it’s fun, but it’s also very hard work.

Did you receive any particular advice that stood out when starting your own business?
the only overwhelmingly consistent advice i remember was “DON’T!” specifically, don’t open a retail store, which i actually listened to – for now.

What advice would you give to a person wanting to change career paths?
oh my gosh, do it! we spend so much time working, the least we can do is really enjoy our careers. obviously putting a plan in place would also be helpful, maybe a budget, too. i always think it’s important to constantly visualize success, but to consider failure, even for a second, so you can be prepared if things don’t work out just as you’ve planned. oh, and save money before you do anything drastic like quit your job. that’s a mistake i’ve made on several occasions.

how jen gotch reset her life | sfgirlbybay

You sold your business, but stayed on as Creative Director. Did that give you more creative freedom and less stress?
so much so i can’t even stand it. although i still feel like the business is mine, the only real difference is that there is an amazing team of people helping the brand grow and i don’t have to worry about how i am going to pay everyone on a regular basis. that part was really scary and stressful beyond words. money is the worst (and the best).

What are the top three things someone should consider before changing careers or starting their own business?
• what is your reason for changing? emotional, situational, financial – just make sure you are taking this leap for the right reasons.
• do i have a support system in place in case things go horribly wrong? at least one thing will
• what’s your plan? i would plan out strategic and financial goals for at least the first 6 months. i would never do anything that constructive, but i think it’s fantastic advice.

What’s the most rewarding thing about your new career?
learning about myself and having the opportunity to lead and mentor other creative girls, ladies, women – i don’t know what we like to be called these days, but you know what i mean. we have such a fun, productive work environment and i am so happy knowing that my intentions to create that kind of workplace paid off.

how jen gotch reset her life | sfgirlbybay

• photos courtesy of and max wanger.

this story is brought to you by vapor-distilled smartwater, who found unique inspiration for their water by looking up to the sky. we hope the change in perspective this piece offers will help inspire you.

33 Responses to “how jen gotch reset her life.”
  1. morgan says:

    REALLY enjoyed the feature – the biz/creative success of and jen is way inspiring! looking forward to more of these!

  2. Kate Koeppel says:

    This was a really good read! I like her honesty in: “I’m a prideful idiot who refuses to listen to advice like, “don’t start your own business.” Lots of NO out there in the world, its good to read about ladies ignoring it!

  3. erin says:

    this is awesome! jen is a total badass and super inspiring.

  4. so inspiring. keep up the amazing work,! also, adorable photos. :)

  5. She’s honestly my favorite. It’s like my girlcrush on Tina Fey x 10. So it’s serious.

    Great interview and GREAT shots! :)

  6. Emily says:

    Love this feature! Such great advice here.

  7. Joanna says:

    She is fabulous and some interesting stuff to read!

  8. Love Jen, she’s so inspiring! Loved reading about her career path and how she had so many different directions she could have gone. Thanks for highlighting her, Victoria!

  9. Malori Maeva says:

    I just left my full-time job a month ago to start my own business so this series is SPEAKING TO ME!!! Thanks so much for pulling this together. I’m loving every post :)!

  10. Caroline Lee says:

    love jen.. love this! so inspiring! x

  11. ebonyh says:

    I’m loving these features on successful, inspirational business women! Thank you!

  12. this is awesome, and jen is awesome! i love a happy, colourful and motivated lady :)

  13. Love this! Truly inspirational …
    And can I also just say that Jen has some seriously gorgeous hair!

  14. Miss Erin says:

    such an inspirational story!
    xo Miss Erin

  15. Brooke White says:

    AH! Jen Gotch, she is the greatest. also her throw back thursdays are the highlight of the week. very inspirational article and girl, lady, woman. And the photos!!

  16. Jessica says:

    REALLY great advice! Especially the part about saving money before you drastically quit your job. I started my own photography business 5 years ago, but had to continue working my soul draining desk job for another two years before I was able to quit. It was hard but worth it in the end if you don’t have outside financial support. You can’t put a price on happiness, do what brings you joy. Hard work and passion will always pay off!

    She also has the BEST hair ever. :)

  17. Loved this interview! Thanks for inspiring us Jen and Victoria for bringing her insight to us! xx Crystal

  18. I loved this feature (and Jen is just adorable!)

  19. Hilary says:

    Thanks for the inspiration! I really needed it today:) I am preparing my online shop for Renegade Fest, one month away and trying to set goals that I can achieve.

  20. Allie says:

    What a smart (no pun intended) idea for a sponsored post series. Well done and looking forward to more. Love this and love!

  21. Awesome and motivating!!!! I’m so inspired by your story!!!!

  22. Elyse says:

    After reading Bri Emery’s blog for-like-ever, I always thought Jen Gotch and I would be friends. And now? Confirmed. What a fierce, fabulous artist. Totally inspiring for like-minded creative lady folks. Thanks for sharing this!!!

  23. MaeMae says:

    ADORE THIS. and the photos are magical.

  24. Jenn says:

    Love those crazy pants. Can you tell us who made them?
    Maine, USA

  25. elly gray says:

    Right, so basically I need to get saving then… and in the meantime, work my butt off. Ok – plan started!!

  26. Teresa Dale says:

    Thanks for sharing this. I’ve always known what a baller Jen Gotch is, but reading this really helped give me the motivation to keep having fun and working hard on my business.

  27. Sharleen Graybill says:

    Where did you get that beautiful confetti soap from?! All these pictures are beautiful. Music to my creative soul!

  28. Jennifer says:

    Love Love Love this interview. As a female entrepreneur ( I always take inspiration to keep on going and growing from other #girlbosses. I’m a huge fan and it’s neat to hear the voice behind the brand. Thank goodness Jen Gotch quit her day job(s) or I wouldn’t have the cutest bags in town.

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