What about when you want to take a leap within the realm of what you do now, but stretch yourself further? To take what you already know, and apply it in a new way? To push into another industry, category or region?
With a long family lineage in clothing manufacturing and retailing, Hadassah Jordan hit forty and wanted to create a retail experience that felt like she felt on the inside. As a single mother, she wanted to support makers of kids clothing that were ethically produced, minimally branded and weren’t laden with gendered messages. That lead her to collaborate with international brands and open Frankie’s Story, her second store at South Melbourne Market. With a markedly higher price point than her family’s original store and a brave, bold aesthetic for under 10’s, it was a gamble in a notoriously fickle retail category.
And it worked.
Hadassah is an example of what happens when you back yourself with what you believe and go for it. As a strong, independent business woman with an eye for seeing a different way of how kids can be in the world, her vision isn’t for everyone – it’s for people who believe what she believes. Hadassah hasn’t played to the masses but rather carved out her own unique pocket in an otherwise commoditised and fast-fashion scene. She also happens to rock a full head of grey hair like a total boss. #respect
Can you see how something in your industry could be done in a new way? How could you take your existing wisdom and create something truly reflective of your unique world view? What’s something that you wish existed in your industry? What would you need to bring it to life? What do you feel genuinely enthusiastic and curious about?
What would be one small step you could take this week to investigate it a little further?
What did you want to be when you grew up and why?
When I was younger, I always had a natural conversation with clothing. I had a knowingness that this area of life was where I felt the most happy. I was born into a family who both manufactured and retailed clothing, I was born into the trade. My mentors have been both people in the industry and the industry itself as our inspiration.
What did/do you study?
I studied administration and business management, but it was clear that this was not the avenue for me to pursue. I have used the skills learnt and implemented them into my business.
What has been your most scary/courageous leap you’ve ever made (preferably in your business/career/life direction)?
I suppose, at the time, I didn’t realise the leap was scary or courageous. But I had a desire to communicate what I was feeling and a need to create the space to do this in. I needed to express my inner world, so I opened a children’s clothing stall called Frankie’s Story at the South Melbourne market. This is my mission and message:
- Allow children to be themselves. I felt there was one form of clothing communication for children: pink for girls and blue for boys, and that needed to change.
- Gender neutrality in colour and style.
- Environmentally and ethically produced clothing.
Motherhood was a leap with a knowingness. At the time I was unaware of a desire to be a parent. I have embraced the role with both conviction and an open heart. And in the process, I discovered that I believe that all children deserve to express themselves fully and fashion is one of these elements.
What were you doing before you made your leap?
I was in retail, having inherited my family’s business and slowly evolving it into the message I wanted to express. That of a basic revolution.
- Four colours.
- The building blocks of your wardrobe.
- No labels or branding on clothing.
So leaping was slightly easier in that I knew retail, I was aware that what I wanted to create had never been done before. I would have to communicate my message, connect to my customers and slowly introduce my concept, educating people on my vision for ethically and eco-manufactured clothing. I wanted to be inclusive, not exclusive, with my vision.
Who have been the biggest 3 – 5 influences in your life, in terms of your career and doing work?
My mother, who had raised us solo for the vast majority of our childhood and ran the family business, whilst caring for her incapacitated mother and ailing father.
Women in my life, from those who are close to me and those I meet only for a moment. I am inspired by their strengths and weaknesses.
My daughter – I love the way that she embraces life and her general attitude to her world.
What did you have in place before you made the leap?
Not a thing. No funds. A simple conversation with a friend about Pinterest, where I started unknowingly creating my feel, deciding what I liked and did not like, and formulating the interior for the shop. It all just flowed from there. My other business funded the way for Frankie’s Story, little by little I progressed.
What was your defining ‘I can’t do this anymore’ moment that led you to the leap?
Turning 40 made me want my outer world to reflect my inner world. It was not so much an ‘I can’t do this anymore moment’ but rather, ‘why not?’.
How did/do you overcome/work with the fear that comes with leaping? How do you decide to choose courage?
Failing was not reason enough to not leap. I would never know if I didn’t create Frankie’s Story. My mother has continually raised the bar, from social worker to retailer and now, photographer. I had to raise the bar so that my daughter could cruise through and raise her own bar.
Courage is maintaining your pace when things don’t seem like they’re moving forward at the pace you’d like. I find at these times, it is paramount to have wonderful friends and a support system that boosts you. Retail is filled with ebb and flow, one must master the highs and the lows. Be open to learning and embrace your mistakes to learn new ways of being and doing.
How did you fund your leap?
From my other business, A Story By Another Name.
What other leaps have you made in the past?
Travelling overseas on my own. Motherhood on my own.
What leaps haven’t work out? What did you do about it?
None of my leaps haven’t worked out, they have led me to great opportunities. Doors closing open exciting new opportunities up ahead.
What are you most fearful of? How do you deal with it?
People not understanding my message. So I keep showing up in my business. Retail is all about connection and conversations, and I talk to everyone who comes into the store. One by one I nurture my customers, and that’s how I keep going.
How would you rate your level of happiness about making your leap?
1 being sad, 10 being rad.
What’s the biggest upside to making the leap?
Self-expression. To be who I am on the inside on the outside.
What’s the biggest downside to making the leap? And how do you get through it?
Doing it on my own. The loneliness of not being able to share the good times and the bad times.
What might be your next leap?
I’d love to collaborate with other retailers and create a space where we could share a common area and I’d love to collaborate with some of my suppliers.
What are your favourite words to live by?
It’s nice to be nice. Consume less, love more. Keep it simple.
Who do you admire who also made the leap?
My mother, leaping from social worker to retailer to photographer.
A piece of advice for someone with an itch to leap?
Follow your itch. If the motivation to leap is to express yourself and your beliefs, there will be a way. My passion has been my fuel and my light when obstacles felt overwhelming. I had a desire to express myself and to be me. There was a genuine childlike enthusiasm and that gave me a clear indicator to leap.
Right now I’m:
There’s quite possibly a voice from your inner child that has a message about leaping for you. It might be worth a listen this week.
The Leap Stories is coming to Adelaide, April 10!
All tickets include a signed copy of the book and supper – because courage is hungry.