We had the good fortune of connecting with Jacqueline Bouet and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jacqueline, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
After spending 20 plus years working for three different big corporations, in New York City, I was afforded the opportunity to take a year off with full pay, unemployment and benefits in 2002. It was the first time I had been unemployed and decided to take a step back to evaluate my priorities. based on my current life. I had a toddler at home, 9/11 had shook me to my core and changed everything about NYC. Once I knew I would be leaving my company, I decided to book a trip to Sedona with the intent of clearing my thoughts and opening my mind to figure out what I wanted to do. Upon return from Sedona, I started thinking about what inspires me, motivates me, and how would I want my life in ten years Ideally, I wanted to create a space that combined my passion for dance, art and overall wellbeing. I spoke to successful a like minded person in the fitness industry, He thought my idea was amazing and steered me towards an area of town that was slated for re-gentrification. He than connected me with his business lawyer as well as his business consultant that specialized in business plans. I attended an event in the middle of this downtown area showcasing development plans, business incentives trying lure small business and restaurants. I left the event and as I was sitting in my parked car. Than I saw it, a huge sign on a brick building SPACE FOR RENT. Called the number and within 20 minutes was looking at a raw landmark space. That’s how it all began.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
The journey of my career has been amazing. I began at seventeen working in an administrative role for a glass manufacturer. I was with he company for eight years paving my own way developing a tech department that was nonexistent. I received a call from a recruiter out of the blue for a tech position with this new startup company in NYC, I was living in connecticut at the time. The startup company now known as Bath & Body Works was looking for someone to install as well develop in-house training of office automation tools. I started as a Manager, doubled salary, and before I knew it I was sitting in my bare connecticut apartment wondering WHAT AM I DOING? Moving to NYC was like returning home. Most of my family lived in the city. Working for the Limited was an exciting experience that has forever impacted the group of us that started the company. I remained with the company for eleven years but after six years senior management noticed my creativity and gave me the opportunity to come up with my own ideas for various brands. I was transferred into marketing/product development working on a non-limited brand for QVC. My portion was home fragrances. Everything was so exciting from choosing the fragrances, to the names, package design, overall presentation. After launching the brand, I was than moved over to our Disney brand and worked with more amazing people learning every step of the way. From there I finally had my own lines within the Bath & Body Works stores. From soaps to fragrances and finally whole categories ie. aromatherapy. After the Limited bought out the other 50% of this startup, things changed, creativity became stifled, getting things done took longer and pressure was mounting to meet unrealistic deadlines, unrealistic costs, etc. etc. So much time was going back and forth justifying our numbers and situations that it drained the life out our creativity. It’s a common transition from startup to big corporation. I was contacted by a recruited for a new startup position within a major corporation – AVON. The offer was too good to pass. I was now Sr. Management, with 40% increase bringing me into 6 digits, 3 weeks vacation, bonuses, travel not to mention working with a small group of four to create this mega line where Avon supported our efforts 100%. I had spent eleven years with The Limited, it was time grow. My role at Avon was to develop the entire product line for this new Wellness Brochure. Products ranged from beauty to cds, massagers, books, teas, anything spa or wellness related. I was meeting with third party vendors every hour on the hour choosing products, negotiating costs, shipping etc. Once we launched, which the group won an award for the BEST LAUNCH in Avon history as we doubled our sales numbers versus plan, the line I found myself in board rooms last minute presenting my 4th quarter product lineup to twenty different counties . HI paced, hi pressured and long hours. My first trip away from my son was China. The more you get paid the quicker you must jump when the company needs you. After three years and four directors, Avon restructured. They offered me to stay on although no one knew the position, department or director I would be transferred to. Option #2 Leave with a full year of salary and benefits. I was forty and thought after all these years of working non-stop, when will I ever get an offer like this? Worst case scenario take a couple of months off, get another job and make tons of money. I left and decided to create my own business as mentioned . Starting my own venture became a 24/7 event. I lived, worked and breathed “The Loft Dance & Fitness”. During the seven years of building my own company/brand and managing every aspect of the business from hiring, firing, marketing, PR, Media, Planning, Scheduling, purchasing, negotiating, I worked non-stop. I learned so much about my own strengths and weakness. The most stressful time in my life was when I had to make the decision to close the business due the economy. Announcing to all my clients, vendors, the public in general was heartbreaking. However, when it comes to business, one can not make decisions based on emotions. It was time to cleanup my finances, and develop a plan but it wasn’t that easy. I had some healing to do and needed a break from major stresses. My friend had just opened a restaurant and I took on the hostess role. Never having worked a day in a restaurant, it was new and a far cry from a corporate or artistic environment. I knew many of the clientele so managing them at the door was achievable. That said, there was a part of me that was devastated. From owning my own business to now hostessing felt like I had failed. What was to be a few months turned into three years. Being absent from the corporate world for almost 7 years did not position me as a prime candidate in my field. Also, did I really want to go back doing what I was doing after the experience I had of owning my own business? I really didn’t have an answer and felt like I was climbing Mount Everest. It was four years after closing my business that I received a call that my aunt/last living relative passed. There was no longer a need for me to stay in NY. Three months to the day of what was to be just a long weekend vacation at a friends home in Florida, I purchased a home, packed and relocated to Boca Raton, Florida with my 15 yr old son. While looking at homes, I knew my next step was to get my real estate license. I felt this would enable me to utilize all the skills I had fine tuned in my previous positions, provide me with flexibility to be available for my son as well as be financially independent. The fluctuations of the market combined with excess of realtors in the area has been a challenge. One that I continue to deal with. As far as my creative endeavors, six years ago I broke my toe and couldn’t dance. Something I have done regularly for many years. With my pent up energy, I picked up a paint brush and after posting a few pictures, I was invited to hang my art in my friends store, which happened to be Saks 5th Avenue. They were having an event with The Boca Resort and I was featured as the local artist. It was all too surreal. Here I had a gallery in my dance studio. Created an art crawl in new york around my studio called “Evolution Arts” yet never painted. I continue to paint, developed a website, attended art shows and have been afforded a few installations that have managed to get some press. This is all a journey and I am so blessed to have created my vision in many formats. I will never be the person to say “I wish I had done that” It’s a risk but as long as you look at everything as a lesson, your never in a lose position. Material comes and goes in life. Attaching win/lose label to hit is self defeating. I chose to be excited about what’s to come.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
GrandView Market – West Palm Beach – variety of foods, entertainment daily, cool vibe, cool people. Petangue – Garden lounge Northwood. Euro vibe different types of music nightly. Saturday evening House is my favorite.
Sunday Brunch Avocado Grill. The place is jumping with live music, great food. On the water.
Wynwood – Miami a day of art
Design District – Miami – check out the installations, have lunch.
Miami Zoo – spend the day with special animals
Boat trip – Delray Beach
Beach Day – Delray Beach
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Jeff Innocenti, Gianni Intilli, My NY neighbors, Allison at Broadway Dance Center, Wilfredo Montoya.
Facebook: jacqueline bouet