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Jeannine Benoit Adams ’01 Fashions New Career Online
by Karen Shore | Back to Table of Contents
Just over three years ago, Jeannine Benoit Adams ’01 said goodbye to her rewarding career as vice president of content marketing for a wildly successful Chicago advertising agency and, in her words, “bet on” herself instead — giving her full focus to her business idea, ReadyPretty.com, and, in the process, giving women a new way to shop boutique fashion from anywhere in the U.S.
— Jeannine Benoit Adams ’01
As someone who would describe herself as “risk averse,” Adams took this step gradually, working evenings to get established in Chicago’s fashion industry, building relationships with both clients and independent boutiques who shared her philosophy that clothing is “about feeling confident, comfortable, empowered and pretty.” As her client list grew, the website evolved into a powerhouse marketplace offering women a curated online shopping experience from the best boutiques and brands across the country.
Adams leaned on her marketing experience recently as her business made another leap forward: providing boutiques and brands with marketing support via web design and development, PR and social media, and content marketing as part of Ready Pretty’s Boutique Solutions program.
Here are some highlights from a recent conversation with Adams about her entrepreneurial journey.
Jeannine Benoit Adams ’01 models clothing featured on ReadyPretty.com.
FROM THE ARCHIVES
Ravenscroft Magazine, Spring 2016
John Moss ’04’s innovative approach to designing T-shirts
What parts of starting your own business were the hardest?
I think hardest for me was determining what aspects of the business I needed to outsource versus what I could handle on my own. Letting go of certain tasks was difficult for me but also was necessary in order to really grow the business.
What are you better at than you ever thought you’d be?
Sales! When you own your own business, you have to be comfortable selling yourself and your business. Before Ready Pretty, I had never really been in a sales role — but this was and still is such a key aspect of running my business. Not only did I realize that I was good at sales, but I really do enjoy the challenge of doing it day in and day out.
What goals do you have for the site?
My hope is that we help to support thousands of small boutiques and brands to grow and thrive online. We’ve already been able to help so many, and I look forward to what our future holds.
ReadyPretty.com’s new Boutique Solutions supports small boutiques and brands across the country.
What’s in the works — what are your next plans for the business?
We just launched Boutique Solutions, which is our web design and development offering for our clients. This is really going to be a big focus for us this year in terms of growing that client roster and supporting our partners. In addition, we’re working on creating Chari-Tees. The thought is that we’ll design our very own T-shirt in-house and work with a few of our blogger and influencer friends to help us spread the word. A portion of all sales will go to a charity of our choosing. It’s important to me that Ready Pretty helps to support causes that matter.
Is there anything you wish you’d done differently in Ready Pretty’s early days?
Honestly, I feel like every single thing led me to the place I am with the business today. I’m thankful for every hiccup, every lesson, every roadblock — it’s helped me learn and grow as a business owner.
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My Top Five Lessons Learned
By Jeannine Benoit Adams ’01
1. You can’t do it all
I quickly realized that trying to do it all impeded me from doing the important things needed to grow my business. Once I was able to add help, I did. Delegation is key to growth. I like to think I know enough about enough to be dangerous enough. But when I’m able, I bring in the experts.
2. Be flexible
My business has changed from my initial idea to now. Ready Pretty Boutique Solutions is a direct result of really listening to what my customers and boutique partners were asking for. It’s a completely new aspect to the business that I hadn’t intended, but I’m so glad that it revealed itself.
3. Measure everything
Analytics drive every decision that I make (at least that’s the goal!). Numbers don’t lie, and when making decisions that impact the business, I’m digging deep into the numbers first.
4. It just takes one “yes”
A big aspect of Ready Pretty is reaching out to new boutiques on a regular basis and selling our offering. When we launched, I heard a whole lot of noes. I kept reminding myself that it just takes one yes — whether it’s pitching our business, reaching out to new brand partners or some other “put yourself out there” moment — and you’ve got a little momentum.
5. You have to be willing to work and fail
Hard work really does pay off. I’ve found the harder I work, the luckier I get. Does everything always go the way I planned? No. But I’m at the stage in my business where I don’t want to limit thinking. I’ve got a “go for it” mentality that if I fail, at least I’ve learned something along the way.