How Jodie Patterson Runs GeorgiaNY and DooBop
When Jodie Patterson, the beaming business owner of GeorgiaNY and co-founder of DooBop, goes to the drugstore and tells someone she needs a product for her hair or skin, they send her to the “ethnic aisle.”
“There are some good brands, but they’re probably the same brands that were there in the 70’s. There’s not a lot of innovation there,” she says.
With a desire to identify trends and create a brand that makes them accessible to everyone, she and partner Benjamin Bernet started DooBop, an individualized approach to beauty with unique products and personalized solutions, so that every woman can feel their best.
Take us back to your “aha!” moment when your business idea came to you?
I had this interesting meandering career: from circus acrobat to book editor to music manager to publicist to nightclub co-owner… and all of those things were about passion, interest, skill and my contacts. But as I started to get older and began to develop my family, none of those things worked for me.
For me, the fashion world didn’t allow for me to have a big family; it felt very unfriendly towards that. Working for someone else, it was his dream that I was helping propel, and I really wanted it to be my dream that I helped build.
I went into retail first — I opened up a store — but the economy, the weather, rainy days, snowy days came on me heavy and the ability to sustain and grow a retail business while building a family was hard on me. It didn’t leave me room to do the things I wanted, so I was forced to shut my brick and mortar doors, which was actually the turning point for me.
It was one of the biggest failures I had felt because I had spent so much energy leaving a company, raising money, materializing a dream… and then to have to close my doors several years later felt horrible. Because of that failure, I had to do the things that came naturally to me, which was writing.
I continued to write about beauty with a fem agenda. I began to examine what it means to be beautiful from the inside and looked at what women were thinking about rather than what they were looking like — and that’s what launched DooBop.
Beauty is an exploration, beauty is an individual process, beauty is all emotions — and from writing and exploring I met my partner who was watching my blog, so we launched DooBop: part e-commerce, part magazine.
What was it like transitioning from fashion to becoming an entrepreneur?
Leaving a job and going into my own space was fantastic. It was easy, it was rewarding, it was exhilarating. I didn’t have a transitional curve.
Of course there is a learning curve in every new thing you do, but that was the best thing I could ask for. I was ready to sink my teeth into new things, I was ready to take a course on business plans, I was ready to do all kinds of things I hadn’t done before.
I had always been an entrepreneur. I helped my ex-husband launch Joe’s Pub, I’ve started my own PR firm, and I’ve watched many people do the process, too. My mother and father were entrepreneurs as well. Being an entrepreneur wasn’t foreign to me, I just had to jump into it completely.
What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned?
The same one that I teach my kids: winners are losers that got back. Everyone that has been successful has become successful from a failure. No one has been able to avoid failure. And those that are the most successful have gone through the most.
There’s a lot of pep talk that goes along with being your own boss. You have to come up with ideas that empower you and motivate you from an inspirational point, not from a place of fear.
When selecting your first employee, who was the first person you hired?
The first was tech. Someone who was managing the technology of our site day to day. Both my partner Benjamin and I doubled up on many jobs because we were just two people running a company. But the one thing neither of us were able to do completely was the technology side. After we hired a tech guy, the next role we filled was marketing/social media/editorial calendar manager.
What business model did you choose and how did you know it was the right one?
Our business model is e-commerce. Both my business partner and I had experience in beauty — he had worked at L’Oreal before and I had started my own product line. But the two of us were seeing that women, particularly women like myself, weren’t encouraged to explore beauty and think cross-culturally about beauty, trends, products, and ingredients.
The industry was in a rut in terms of how it approached women like myself. So our first concern was to find trends and products from all over the world and then make those accessible to everyone — so e-commerce is a necessary component to that.
How did you test your business idea and prove that your audience would want this?
I am very much the consumer and the audience, and I know myself well, but I also know our customer very well from my retail experience. And while I’m very sensitive to a woman like myself — brown skin and textured hair — I knew our customer base was much broader than that. Most of the women that supported my business on a retail end were white women and Asian tourists.
The business decisions that were made were based on my love for the product, how effective the ingredients were, and the stories behind the founders. We took those brands and ran them through our focus group of about 100 women and our site’s beauty experts. And then we launched with those brands. We let our customers decide if they liked them or not, and then we expanded with the help of our audience.
As we would’ve expected, we had a great response from brown women with textured hair. But what we didn’t expect was that Oprah was going to love and endorse some of our products. And by association, we ended up with her audience, which is mostly white, Midwestern women from what we can tell.
In the end, it speaks to the fact that women don’t really shop ethnically — they just shop based off of need.
How did you find your mentor? And what do you use them for?
I have several mentors. I have one woman who’s in fashion and over 70. I have one man who’s in corporate lifestyle who’s over 40. And I have another two men that are in their forties who are in beauty. I’ve been relying on them for help in beauty and business, and some of the emotional decisions I have to make as a business owner.
I usually send them updates on my accomplishments and then I ask them very direct questions. I meet with them no less than twice a year. And I usually ask them questions that are a few steps ahead of where I am in the game, just so I can put myself on the mark. Then I take all the small steps needed to get to that mark.
I found them by lifestyle. All of them are people I’ve gravitated towards because we are very similar. We’re symbiotic and agreeable by nature. We’ve had as many casual interactions as we have business interactions.
Connect with Jodie Patterson and DooBop
Photo by: One Kings Lane