#WCW: Jackie Stauffer | Founder of RECESS
July 03, 2018
Here at LIVELY, we’re constantly surrounded by swoon-worthy women that are killin’ it in their businesses. We're launching #WomenCrushWednesday to celebrate the boss babes who provide us with a constant flow of inspiration, support, and endless girl-crushes.
Up next: Jackie Stauffer, the founder of RECESS, a brand-new wellness-based personal care brand pairing clean luxury ingredients with biodegradable single-use products.
Where are you from? What was it like growing up?
I grew up in the ‘burbs of Boston and had a mostly analog childhood—if you're asking what that is, it means I'm old. But I grew up in a time where your parents basically said, "Go play outside, dinner's at six.” I would find my friends who lived in the neighborhood, hop on my bike, and go play in the stream, or build a fort in the woods, or kick a soccer ball around at the local fields. It was outdoorsy, active, and void of social media and screens. I wish that was still the case.
What advice would you give on finding healthy work-life balance?
I've come a long way on this topic. It's hard, and takes conscious effort, but is critical to success. You cannot perform at your peak if you never take a break. I'm blessed with a lot of horsepower, so I can just go and go and go and go, but I've had moments in my life where I've crashed because of it. I take a more moderate approach now. You need to take care of YOU, before you can take care of your work, or people around you. My advice is to take an hour a day (minimum) that is just for you—your RECESS—whatever that means to you. A workout, a walk with your dog, a phone call with a friend who lives in another part of the country, or even a nap. Self-care is not a luxury.
What’s the best advice you’ve received from a mentor?
You cannot make rules around the exceptions. You'll never make everyone happy, so worry mostly about the masses. Also, my mom gave me good advice years ago that she probably doesn't remember giving me, but you don't need to over-explain yourself. I can expose her now because she's semi-retired, but she was a working mom and used to close the door to her office and take a nap in the afternoon. No one knew. Back to the self-care theme: you don't owe the people around you an explanation. Everyone probably thought she was on a really important phone call. :)
What does the most intense part of your day look like?
The morning is usually pretty hectic when I focus on making sure my day is setup for success. I triage and quickly assess where my time is best spent that day. I prioritize the tasks on my plate that could turn into a bottle neck for someone else I'm working with.
When do you feel most empowered?
When I'm in a position to wing it. As much as I love structure, sometimes you have to just feel something and let it happen. I also think exercising is empowering; after having a nine-month-long injury, I have extensive appreciation for my body I used to take for granted. Knowing you can run a few miles, or keep up with a dance cardio class, is something that motivates and empowers me—like, if I can do this thing that's really physically challenging, I can do anything!
Describe your personal aesthetic.
Hands-down, Sporty Spice. I've been wearing leggings and track pants as pants since the 80's and I'm not embarrassed by that. Comfort has always been my driver, and one of the reasons I love LIVELY; if I'm not comfortable in what I'm wearing, I don't feel like myself. I've matured and now incorporate some more feminine touches, but most of the time, I'm in leggings + a tank top + sneakers, and I love it.
What’s the biggest myth of starting your own business?
I was lucky that I got exposed to business when I was little, so I haven't been surprised by anything. But the hard work that I expected is definitely real. I think social media can make being a founder look really glamourous, but even super successful businesses are loaded with challenges. Even if you have 10 wins, there is always something difficult to decide on or address. And no matter how much you know, you do not know everything—so being willing to be open, ask for help, and listen is just as valuable as being an expert.
When was a time you failed and how did you overcome it?
When I was at Food52, I built my team from scratch and learned how to hire at the same time. I'd never hired a team before and we were in a huge growth spurt and I needed bodies, quickly. So I hired quickly, and I didn't always hire the right people. I now have a knack for knowing who will fit well with me and my team, but I definitely didn't trust my gut on a few hires—and then had to learn how to fire people, which is so not fun. Going through that process helped me be a little more patient with hiring people and taught me how to get creative during the interview process.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be like you?
Number one: Karma is king. Be a good person, a good friend, a good colleague, and do the right thing, even when it's really hard or takes time that you didn't think you had to give. Number two: Life is not about being right. It's about being agile and learning that two people can have different answers and both be right at the same time. It's still something I have to consciously practice, but it's very freeing to accept help and have openness towards those who have different opinions. I think the open conversations that occur out of those difference create the ultimate growth.
What’s your biggest guilty pleasure?
Either mint-chocolate-chip ice cream with good hot fudge or raw Nestle cookie dough. I totally get that salmonella is a real thing, but I've been licking the bowl and eating batter since I was a kid and it's just one of those nostalgic treats I love. Every time I do it, my husband thinks I'm going to get sick—but so far, so good!
How would you describe a life well lived?
Knowing you gave more than you took and that you spent more of your life smiling and laughing than stressed or frowning. The things we worry about today are mostly ridiculous. Spend time with loved ones, laugh, put your phone down, travel, experience other cultures, and say hi to a stranger in a coffee shop! You'll be amazed at who you'll meet if you put yourself out there. Do not live to work—work to live. Work will always be there, but life is about the LIVING. (And as someone who works a lot, it took me a long time to understand that!)
3 fave LIVELY pieces?
Bandeau cabana striped swim
Long-lined lace bralette in black
Straight-up bralette in tomato!
*All prices shown on the blog are in US dollars.