In Conversation with Jessica Santander of Project Moment Designs

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Describe your business in a few words?

Project Moment Designs creates handmade story-living jewelry to empower dream-building moments for women and girls.

What made you take the leap to start your own business?

After landing my first full-time corporate role after graduating with my Masters in Marketing and feeling incomplete with myself, I knew I had to tap into my heart and listen to it as the inner dreamer within me had been admiring the story and impact by various women entrepreneurs within the beauty and fashion industry. I’ve always held a great dream ever since I was a little girl to do something extraordinary in my life- from acting to modeling to now the CEO of my handmade jewelry business.

Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?

Both yes and no, I have always acknowledged this extra push within me to someday do something on my own and this started with a dream to become an actor and win the Academy Award (I even rehearsed my winning speech for best actress several times haha). Fear, though, had always gotten the best of be and led to pursuing a full time job before I launched my business. I guess I needed that re-assurance of having a job as a means to financially support my startup years to make that leap of faith and create with passion and purpose.

Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?

During the first days and months of launching my business, I primarily relied on social media to support the word-of-mouth and brand awareness as well as markets. I had connected with several local bloggers to Tampa before starting my business and reached out to them and their network to set up collaborations and giveaways. The amount of reach within this period surpassed my expectations as our Instagram page grew to roughly 2,000 followers within its first year. At the end of the day, showing up on social in videos, strategic collaborations, and markets is what has and continues to fuel my business’ organic reach and new customers.

We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?

To date, 2020 has been the most challenging time in my business as it pushed me to invest in areas beyond my comfort zone in effort to create and maintain trustworthy relationships with my customers. As it’s been such an unstable year, the beginning months challenged me the most with how to magnify my core values and brand voice in the most tangible way virtually. The biggest shift that was the scariest for me was re-branding my Instagram page to be more me and share my everyday self with my followers. Ever since doing so, the conversations online have felt even more in person and relatable, and this has been a gift in disguise that has helped my business share a special place in the hearts of my customers.

What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?

Take a leap this year to hire a business and mentor coach. I knew I wanted to have extra guidance and a fresh perspective for my business, but hadn’t known how I would be able to afford a coach. Yet, life has its own ways of unfolding opportunities after we take a leap of faith for ourselves and this has been an area in my life where I am most proud of. Mindset is certainly everything and to have the help from another person who wants to see you create and live from a healthy/thriving mindset is a gift like no other.

How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?

COVID-19 has immensely impacted my business as about 80% of my first year’s revenue came from in-person markets and trunk shows. With the lack of markets, my business has had to embrace such changes and pivot to be more relevant and of guidance for my customers. As with all things in life with how we adjust and grow, I’ve adapted my business to repurpose the present day social distancing into a positive light where my collections and everyday insta stories share and encourage my clients and followers to challenge themselves to seize this moment and grow beyond our comfort zones.

What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?

I’d love to and am in the making of setting up a give-back campaign where a percentage of proceeds from all our collections will serve and positively impact the educational opportunities for women and girls across the globe. This particular area of social goodness plays an immense role in my company’s mission and I aspire to bring this to life very soon. I’d also love to become more involved in leadership summits/conferences to meet and be of guidance for young girls who also want to pursue greater opportunities for their path and help my customers become a part of this with local events/custom collections that support various non-profits.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?

Great things take time, but with consistency in my passion, baby milestones will fall into place and lead to remarkable wins and celebrations- and to make sure to celebrate every single win in your dream-building journey!

Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?

I believe that the two align very strongly with each other and that there’s also necessary times when we need to just work on our health. For me, I’ve seen many times where I have fallen into the trap of spending more time working in my business that’s actually led to mental fatigue. The one thing that has truly made a difference in creating more harmony with work/life balance is the self affirmation of saying to yourself everyday that you will and have done your best.

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

As a person who fears heights, I had the opportunity to cross off a bucket list goal when I was 20 and go hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro one day after I had a stomach bug. It was such a surreal moment even though I was beyond words with how scared I was the second before I jumped off that cliff by the beach.

What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?

Always create your to-do list broken down by “must do, can not but urgent, and to be done soon”, listen to some of your favorite music to break out a dance in the middle of the day and set a timer for computer screen time.

What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?

Being an Entreprenista to me means going forward despite fear and changing the world with what you love doing. Putting your passion into action has a forever inspirational effect upon those around you and yourself, and this is what the world can use more of.

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