JILL DONNELLY, CEO (BABY & CO.)
FIELD: RETAIL HOME: SEATTLE ZODIAC: CAPRICORN
A. | How do you define yourself?
Unstoppable. Passionate about my causes. Compassionate about my city and my environment. Compelled to want to do everything that I can do to make the city, the planet, everything around me a better place. A contributor—I like to contribute to all of those events that really hold fashion and beauty and culture as a center-point for what gives each and every one of us a way to express and live outloud and hold joy between us. I love that Baby&Co is really that central hub for women from every country and every walk of life. I get homeless people who come in here and most people chase them away but just because your homeless doesn’t mean that you forget what something beautiful looks like. I like that they feel safe to come in here and that this space is shared with some of the most wealthy women in the city of Seattle. I love women in general—I think that I am a great girlfriend to women and to males. I think women have a great opportunity right now to be both, I think to be a women is to show our feminine side and our compassion as the givers of life but what most people don’t know is that we are the stronger species. We have those two edges of the sword we are fiercely strong defenders of life but fiercely compassionate about how precious life is.
People will get really mad at me and say “you didn’t just give me the up down…” and I say “girl I judge all day!” I mean my job is to assess what feels appropriate, assess what feels necessary and assess what makes people feel beautiful.
We forget that empowerment of women who do self-express through fashion, its all about selling it to the world with the right attitude. As long as you believe it you can sell it.
A. | What does your job entail?
I love sharing stories with these women on the sales floor and feeling like I am a partner in that. It is really helping them arrive at that moment where they feel their best, where they feel at home. That’s not in sweat clothes, that is lazy… Retail is theatre—i’m putting on a broadway show every day: I’ve got to set up the stage, set up the set, I’ve got a new set of actors—it’s theatrical! The set goes up, the set goes down, the show goes from city to city, it's a really dynamic broadway show every day.
A. | How did you become interested in the fashion industry?
I have always loved fashion. I stared in fashion as a cashier when I was 16. There was a time that I wanted to get into politics to be a fundraiser or political event coordinator. I loved the business of the political arena in 70’s and 80’s. Fashion really is a lifestyle and I love making people feel their best self, it is so gratifying.
A. | What is unique about the fashion industry in Seattle?
Seattle has a nice character toward fashion in that we are not a pretentious city but it drives me crazy when people as their clothes for good here, we forget about our everyday runway. In France, even if you go by meat you have to take the time to put yourself together and show your best self to respect that business and to show self-respect.
A. | What are you most proud of in your career?
Myself and a couple other women had our own little free-market which gives access to beautiful clothing to those who could normally not afford it and it has raised almost $100,000 of proceeds for my foster care nonprofit.
A. | What do you do outside our your work routine?
I love running, I used to be a tri-athlete. I love yoga. I love those physical escapes from the day-to-day. It really helps me focus my lense inward to find my drsidi and really focus on the cadence of my breath and the cadence of step. I am conscientious about putting myself back into my rhythm and both yoga and running are essential for this. It really helps me on those days where I am just going to blow up because at the end of the day life is like “you breathe in, and you breathe out.”
A. | Where do you feel at home?
I feel at home in any city that has its own self-identity and a strong sense of culture. I love a country that has such self-pride in what it does. I feel at home in a city where I can get out of the plane and be in a beautiful cafe within an hour or so and be so absorbed by the moment.
A. | What's your vision for the future of your work?
To foster much more of a sensory connection, with all of the internet we are not doing this as much. I use the store installations and things we are doing to help us tap into those five human sense: something to hear, to taste, to smell, to feel and to see. I have got this beautiful installation coming in the spring to really help everything slow down…
I am into the slow fashion movement. The big fashion machines that are just trying to destroy our industry because they are depending on this mass consumption to operate is killing the imagination, the spiritual soul and wonder of our best designers. I want to use this year to educate people who haven’t really seen the difference. Designers are like architects, they go to school sometimes for eight years like in a Master's program so if we don’t respect those traditions of making clothes and this artisanal craft we are in a lot of trouble.
A. | How does oppression and privilege influence people’s success in your industry?
Privilege is access. Oppression is robbing that dignity of people in thinking that they don’t seek beauty, it's taking away choice, it's taking away beauty. Whether it's the taste of the finest chocolate or the feel of the nicest cashier, it is within us as humans to want that.
A. | How do you define success?
Giving the perfect gift to your audience. It is to get an emotional reaction to a brand and make people feel like they are a part of if. Success is making that beautiful fusion between life and luxury.
A. | What would you recommend to yourself 20 years ago?
Change isn’t easy and change isn’t comfortable. Never be afraid to fail but if you do fail that is such an amazing opportunity to learn and step back to look at what happened. You don’t learn as much in your successes because you are just going through the motions.
A. | Any other production advice you would like to share?
Make sure that there is passion in work because if you love what you do you will never work a day in your life.
FAVORITE QUOTE | LIVE IN THE MOMENT AND MAKE IT SO BEAUTIFUL IT IS WORTH YOUR MEMORY
ORIGIN | SEATTLE
FAVORITE ANIMAL | THE DOG, ITS MANS BEST FRIEND