Jennifer Fisher on building a family business
From California to New York, Jennifer Fisher has built a jewelry empire using gold, white gold and brass in fact. How major is her brand? MAJOR. From the celebrity walking the red carpet to the mom dropping off her babes at school, JF hoops, charms, and cuffs are everywhere. The epitome of diligence, Jennifer is also a busy mother of two, and loving wife to her husband.
How does she do it all? Her supportive tribe (handsome husband Kevin, kids Drew age 12 and Shane age 14) all jump into the family business. From her husband running operations to her children helping out and learning the ropes, the Fishers make this a family affair.
From the outside, Jennifer Fisher appears to be a hip, cool mom with a massive celebrity following. All true, she’s pretty amazing. But like many working mothers, she faces the challenges and complications of parenting while running a successful business. She is open and real with her experiences and proves that something great can come out of a difficult journey. We chatted with Jennifer Fisher about what inspires her creatively, how she manages her busy life and the highs and sometimes lows of motherhood.
Your children played a key role in the creation of your business, what is the story behind that?
Around my 30th birthday, I found a tumor. Kevin and I (dating at the time) thought it was breast cancer. I went to see a doctor and thankfully he told me that it wasn’t, and the tumor was not going to kill me. They were trying chemotherapy and radiation for these types of tumors and had seen some success. So I went through 12 rounds of chemotherapy and the tumor had shrunk.
Then a few years after, Kevin and I married and I wanted to have a child. My oncologist said that I couldn’t because higher levels of estrogen [that occur during pregnancy] can increase the size of my tumor. We found a surrogate, but she miscarried at 12 weeks. Then we went through the whole process again, and the surrogate got pregnant and we saw a heartbeat, but when we went to the doctor the next time, there was no heartbeat. We went through the process of IVF on our own and I did a retrieval. None of my eggs were good which was horrible. I decided to take some time off because it was really stressful in our relationship. After all this, I then got pregnant naturally. It was not that I was infertile, I was just told that I could never do it and I had never been pregnant before. I had a perfectly healthy pregnancy and we monitored my tumor the entire time.
My son Shane was born and that was when my business started. I was working as a stylist at the time, and people were giving me congratulatory gifts that felt like they didn’t really connect to the significance of him. So I made my own piece of jewelry and started wearing it. It was an instant conversation piece because it was a dog tag that had Shane’s full name on it. Everybody was asking about it, so I started making them for friends, family, and colleagues. I started a website selling ‘direct to consumer’ customizable fine jewelry back in the day when no one was doing that yet.
How would you describe your jewelry line, and why is it unique?
My jewelry collection can be customized to anybody’s taste and it’s designed for women who want something that everybody else doesn’t have. My signature hoops are something that has happened over the last couple of years. It is something that I have been wanting to do for years. I feel like hoops are kind of like denim. Everyone needs good pairs of hoops and you can wear them all the time. They never go out of style.
Do you have any jewelry-wearing tips for mamas who want to accessorize quickly in the morning?
That’s why I created my charm necklace, because it’s something you can throw on and you don’t even have to think about it. My charm necklace makes women feel powerful and complete. It’s kind of like jewelry armor. With a charm necklace, it can represent everything in our lives that is important. Everyone wants to wear something that has meaning.
photo by Taylor Jewell
What does the work-life balance equation look like for you?
My husband now runs the company, so it is like a 24/7 work-life balance in my house. It really has become the family business so there isn’t a separation. It is kind of awesome because it is just who we are as a family. My kids help out at my office. I think that it’s important for them to learn how to work and understand that your parents have to work to make money; it doesn’t just grow on trees. My father taught me that at an early age and it is one of the best life lessons that I’ve learned.
As a young mother building your business, what were some of the challenges that you faced as a mom balancing those two worlds?
When I first started my company it was easier because my kids were so little. I felt more challenged when they were in elementary school because it’s a time in their lives where you really want to be there for all the school events. For me, showing up has always been the most important thing. It was hard because school events happen earlier in the day and can cut your day in half. You don’t want to miss those little art shows or musical performances at school because that is never going to happen again, but it gets a little bit easier as your kids get older, because you have more time to spend at work.
Any advice for mom entrepreneurs just starting out?
You have to really prioritize what is really important to you. You don’t want to make decisions that you are going to regret later. So you should consider maybe not taking that meeting that day and make sure that you schedule enough time to make it to your kids’ events on time. Running your own business is also a lot of work! You have to make sure that you are putting the work in and it is very easy as a mother to get distracted with your family and put the work aside.
photo by Liza Voloshin
You opened your flagship store in 2014 on lower 5th Ave — what was that step like for you?
I got very lucky and we found an amazing space over two floors on Fifth Avenue that we transformed into a store and a flagship office. I really love the idea of what we have. It’s a private shopping experience. Having a store is a great place for people to touch and feel the jewelry, but we really do also try to pride ourselves in being a ‘direct to consumer’ online brand. So we have been putting a lot of work into optimizing the mobile experience for people, making it easier for people to customize their jewelry and shop online.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received as a parent?
When my kids were babies, my mother-in-law told me, “If they are quiet, leave them alone.” That was great advice because she is so right. You have this feeling as a mother that you want to make sure that your kids are busy and doing activities. I remember seeing my friends do it and I would give the same advice. If your children are quiet and playing and having a good time, leave them. You don’t need to make them do something else.
What’s your favorite family ritual?
My kids love to cook with me. The weekends are really fun because we all will be in the kitchen in the morning. The kids are so overscheduled these days. There is basketball, soccer, class, homework and other things. So when we can hang out and do stuff in the kitchen it’s really nice.
Aside from jewelry, you also have your own recipe page on your website. What inspired you to launch this and your line of three salts: Jennifer Fisher Universal Salt, Jennifer Fisher Curry Salt, and Jennifer Fisher Spicy Salt?
One day I was making avocado poached egg toast, which I love to have for breakfast at the weekend. I put a photo of my avocado toast on Instagram and I was inundated with people asking questions about what was on it and where they could buy the seasoning. The salt was something that I put together myself and kept by the side of my stove. I wanted something that was really useful and super simple, and that is how the salt line started. People started asking if I could start making it so they could buy it. My husband suggested that I should sell it. And from there, the salt was born. I use it to season everything.
How do you save time? Any organizational tips and tricks?
I like to cook for my kids every day. I’ll prep food for the week on Sundays for my kids so at least they can reheat healthy food if I happen to be out at work. My kids accept that I can’t be there every night for dinner but they know that I took the time to cook them food. I also try to get things done the night before. Before my kids go to bed, I make sure that their computers are charged for the next day and they have whatever they need in terms of snacks, food, or special clothes for the next day at school; it’s laid out and ready. That is just who I am and how I organize my family and my life. My tips are not going to work for everybody but that is what works for me as a mom. Once you take the time to do it and get into the routine, it doesn’t feel like a chore, it is just super helpful.
Jennifer Fisher is a “mama master” at time management, dedicated to her thriving business and making sure her family is prioritized. She has proven that you can have both worlds of work and family. It definitely isn’t a walk in the park… but doable, and Jennifer Fisher is a doer.
Around the city with the family
Favorite date night spot?
Bar crawl in the West Village
Favorite ice cream/cookie/treat place?
Milk and Cream Cereal Bar
Favorite park? The Ball Fields at Battery Park
Favorite summer activity with the fam?
Kevin and I go to Italy and kids go to sleepaway camp…When they come back in August we do a Labor Day trip to Aspen
Favorite holiday destination? Saint Barts or home to California to visit family