Juliette Brindak: social website & tween brands entrepreneur
What do you do currently and how did you get there? Since I’m sixteen I’m really interested in how you were able to get started so early.
So what I do now is I am one of the cofounders in charge of all business development for Miss O and Friends, which is a big socialization brand for tween and young teen girls. Basically the company was inspired drawings that I did when I wa ten years old, I doodled these girls that I called “cool girls” at the time and my mom took those drawings in combination with the drawings that my sister drew of herself and started to create Juliette and Olivia characters. It was really just the concept a hobby kind of playing around with these characters on the computer you know I whenever I went skiing or played soccer or went to the beach or went shopping or really whatever it was just it was just fun.
And then one year for Olivia’s eighth birthday… we made Miss O characters for all her friends and they looked like them and had their names on them… and all her friends walked in and were like “oh my gosh these are so cool” and this was really the first time we had shown these drawings to anybody else and hearing how positively they reacted to Miss O…
So Olivia was eight and I was thirteen and they were going to be entering middle school and I was still in middle school dealing with all the crap that middle school girls deal with and it really is just such a tough time for girls and I saw this as an opportunity I really just wanted to create a fun, safe, but cool place for Olivia and her friends to help get them through their middle school years. Olivia’s nickname is Miss O and so that’s why the company is called Miss O and Friends because we started it for her.
What has been the “highlight” of your career thus far? Perhaps a specific moment, rewarding result, or exciting ‘project.’
I would also say the most rewarding like best thing ever is really going back to why Miss O and Friends started, which is to help girls through middle school just help them generally, inspire them, similar to what UChic does but for a younger age group and when I get emails from girls or emails from parents or I’m reading things on the website like “Thank you so much Miss O and Friends”, “I don’t know what I would do with out you”, “You’re site is the best”, or “You’ve helped me through so much” or when I get feedback like that, that reinforces that what we’re doing is great and I’m also doing my job in really being able to make a difference in girls’ lives.
Who has been helpful in supporting you and your website? This could be a specific person or an organization or institution.
So I would say two separate entities, one would be my mom and dad, because they are my other co-founders in the company. They saw the potential for this idea that I had and believed in the idea, believed in me, so for my parents to believe in their sixteen year old daughter was really huge and now all three of us work on this company full time.
I would also say in terms of an organization Procter and Gamble they are our single largest investor and they invested in us in 2009 and when we got that investment from them it just really reinforced the fact that there was potential for this company and they believed in us and really opened a lot of doors for us and gave us that push in taking it from some hobby-ish type website that we weren’t really sure where it was going into an actual profitable company.
What is the most challenging obstacle that you’ve faced?
It wasn’t always an easy ride; it’s still not. There’s always ups and downs and I would say the most challenging thing is just especially like when you have your own business and the pressure’s on you and all of that, getting disappointing news is always really hard and one of the biggest things that I struggle with and what I’ve really learned or not even necessarily learned but something that just happened and I need to learn how to deal with is “Yay we get this great news and this is going to happen and that’s going to happen” but then “Oh no, the next day its not going to happen or it’s couple weeks later and we don’t hear from someone… or whatever it is.” I think it’s being able to deal with the disappointments because they happen all the time and that’s just part of a company and it’s part of starting your own company and growing your own business but to be aware of that up and down process I think is important but it also is really hard.
How do you handle those disappointments?
Actually, it’s kind of what I was saying before, but one day you don’t get a sponsorship that we were looking to get or whatever it is, something disappointing has happened. I’m upset really just kind of struggling and having a hard time and what I actually do is I read testimonials from the girls just like, “Thank you Miss O and Friends! I don’t know what I would do without your site.”, those kind of testimonials I was telling you about before and that really refocuses me because it’s okay yes we’re a company and we need to make things happen but we do have a larger mission. The reason it started was to help girls in any way that we possibly can and so when I go back to reading those emails, messages, and things on the website, it really refocuses me and reminds me why this started, why we’re doing what we are doing and it’s kind of a restart button: “Okay I can keep going. I can try something new. I can try something different.”
What is something that you never expected to happen but ultimately helped you live your dream?
Well, I think these drawings that I did when I was little, drawings that I did of these “cool girls”, we were coming back from our family vacation, and I was ten so I was in fourth or fifth grade, and you know I was just bored on the ferry, you know our ferry was delayed and I just started doodling these girls and for some reason I drew all the time for some reason my mom held on to these drawings and kept them. It was these drawings that totally made what Miss O and Friends is and so it was something that was so innocent and even the whole concept of Miss O and Friends of how it became something from a hobby. I just wanted to do it because it was fun for me and I literally never in a million years would’ve thought that it would turn into what it has turned into today. And I think that’s because it started off in this very natural organic process where it was listening to girls who we wanted to be on the site and really just trying to make it as genuine and real for these girls as we possibly could, just trying to help them.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice what would you say?
I would say I need to just not let my world shatter when something bad happens like I said that’s something that I am always working on and when I get bad news I’m always trying to assess and move forward. The reason why I can say this now is because there were so many times when I didn’t do that, and it would just crush me and I was so upset and I was crying and yelling and doing whatever else I was doing. I don’t know if I would change those experiences because I had to learn how to deal with them and deal with disappointment but I think if I could tell myself something I would say just tell myself that it’s going to be okay, it’s going to work out I just have to keep pushing forward, and I did do that but I probably could’ve made it a little easier on myself.
What are the attributes that you believe are most important for young women to have in order to stand out and find success?
If a young women is passionate about something, if she cares about something that she can relate to or something that she thinks is really interesting then whatever it is, whether its starting something on her own or working for another company or another person, expressing whatever talents she has, as long as she’s passionate about it and cares about it and has those qualities then she’s going to be able to make other people passionate and care about it as well and she’ll do well.
I’ve read some of the advice column on your website and you give extraordinary advice but if you could only share just one piece of advice to all young girls what would you say?
If I could say one thing I would say not to take everything so seriously, don’t get so wrapped up in the smallest things and I mean I did too. If someone could’ve given me advice when I was a young teen/tween, if someone said “Listen, don’t take yourself so seriously. Everything that’s happening isn’t the end of the world.” And who knows if they would listen but that’s what I would say because the tiniest things make girls so crazy and there’s just a lot of stuff that’s going on that really runs them around and sometimes I just want to be like, “It’s really going to be okay. I promise. I promise its really going to be okay. It will work out.”
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