This interview was made possible by our friends at Guidant Financial:
The leader in alternative startup, franchise and small business financing.
Jasmine Grimm graduated from the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University through their Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities Family Program. Not only did they teach Jasmine how to build her business Ruby, Inc. for free, but they also gave her pro bono legal services, free branding and mentoring through the American Corporate Partners Program and Accenture.
Ruby, Inc. inspires women to realize their worth is far above rubies. This personal styling business boosts women’s confidence, saves them time and money and teaches women how to dress for their body types.
MO: It sounds like the Entrepreneurial Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities Family Program allowed you to realize your dreams of becoming an entrepreneur. Can you talk about some of the most important lessons you learned in the program and how you’re applying them to Ruby, Inc.?
Jasmine: The EBV program at Syracuse taught me that it’s important to have my faith be greater than my fear. They taught me that if I just step out and try to seize an opportunity that there will be an entire network of people who will help guide and support me. The program is this multi-week long intensive curriculum and essentially it culminates in building a business plan and pitching it to venture capitalists within a week. I had these moments when I felt like I’d never get the gist of what they were saying and then other moments when I was confident that I could tackle it. But here’s the biggest thing I learned. They taught me that it doesn’t matter if I don’t know every nuance of business because there are tons of people in the world—and fortunately in their network—who do and that they could put me in touch with people who could help me fill in the blanks. Some of my classmates and I joked upon graduation that if we could build a business in a week, what couldn’t we do and that sentiment and confidence has carried me through as I have continued to build Ruby, Inc.
MO: Where does your passion for style and fashion come from? Who or what were your early influences and what’s one thing that’s inspired you in the last month?
Jasmine: My earliest style influence that I can remember was probably Kelly Kapowski, a character played by Tiffani Amber Thiessen from “Saved by the Bell.” When I was a kid I saw all of these women on TV wearing unitards and cutting the tops of their shirts off so I reveled in it each day when I got to dress up like that for dance class. I made my fair share of fashion blunders along the way.
I’ve always loved fashion but I think it was piqued when my Dad encouraged me as a third grader not to buy the latest edition of some heavy metal magazine like by brother was getting in the local drug store. He thought I should read something girlier and there I picked up my first issue of YM magazine (August 1992) and on the cover was Shannen Doherty from Melrose Place. She was wearing a denim button down, a gold bra and gold earrings. I wanted to be her in that moment and if I couldn’t be her I wanted to dress like her.
I didn’t learn the value of clothing until I was in middle school. My parents business went under and I remember them wondering aloud how they were going to afford to buy me new clothes since I had outgrown my old ones. I told them I would handle it. They had tons of boxes in the basement with clothes from the 60s and 70s and I prayed to God they wouldn’t fit. Much to my horror, they fit. I wore them to school and was teased relentlessly. Teachers thought I was rebelling and instead of getting upset about it, I learned how to make it my own. I started shopping at Goodwill and learning how to get high-end brands for near pennies. Then as I got older, I got lots of compliments on my clothing. When I told women I bought it at Goodwill, they’d be shocked and ask me to teach them how to dress, too. So that’s how it began.
I think now, the thing that inspires me the most is the idea that I can reinvent how people perceive me—and others—based on their clothing. It’s like playing pretend in the best way possible.
MO: Why do you think that so many women suffer from a negative body image? What are some tips or techniques for gaining more confidence?
Jasmine: I think unfortunately women suffer from negative self body images for numerous reasons. For some women they heard their Moms say they were fat so it became a learned behavior. For others, they’re so busy comparing themselves to others that they can’t see the beauty in themselves. Still for more, they think they have to look like a girl in a magazine to be beauty and have any worth. We, as women, know that beautiful women are privy to more things then women who are less beautiful and we all long to be the pretty one.
I think the best way to gain confidence is to wear clothes that fit—not ones that we have to squeeze into. I think it’s important to forget about the number on the size of clothing and know that size is not a measurement of worth.
I think some of the ways around that are to get out there and dare to try new things. Push yourself to your limits. When you’re out there skydiving, going to racing school or mushing dogs in the Arctic, you’re not going to care if your jiggly here or there. You’re going to care about the experience and growing. I think another way to boost confidence is to help others achieve their goals. Doing the right thing for others takes the spotlight off yourself and your own insecurities.
MO: Have you ever had a client that you couldn’t help?
Jasmine: Not yet but new challenges come up every day.
MO: What are some of the most common mistakes you see women make with their shopping decisions? How can they be avoided?
Jasmine: Ladies, please get a bra that fits. Eight out of 10 women are wearing the wrong size right now. It’s simple to fix. Just get sized by a bra specialist and regardless of the number, wear the right size.
MO: What’s the most exciting thing on the horizon for you personally or professionally?
Jasmine: Personally, I Crossfit with my husband Cory. I can now deadlift 200 pounds and I don’t weight anywhere near 200 pounds myself. So I think pushing myself right now and seeing just what my limits are—both in Crossfit, my business and life—are the most exciting things on the horizon. I want to test my mettle.