Jaclyn Tracy of SISTAIN & Brand Effect on progress over perfection
Describe your businesses in a few words:
I am the founder of SISTAIN, a DTC marketplace that curates sustainable products and provides tools to educate consumers about how to live more sustainably one small step at a time across the categories of lifestyle, fashion, home, beauty, and wellness.
SISTAIN is a guide for conscious consumerism. Our goal is to make a greater difference by making sustainable consumerism not only easier, but aspirational. Success is in the collective impact. We aim to create a movement to change consumer behaviors by committing to choosing sustainable brands, and creating less waste and imperfect progress.
I am also the founder of Brand Effect, a holistic design, marketing & strategy firm. We have a highly skilled core team who oversee and collaborate with a talented community of freelancers. Our services include: branding, website design and development, marketing strategy, advertising, content creation, social media management and email and SMS marketing.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Prior to SISTAIN and Brand Effect, I worked in advertising at Epsilon and Leo Burnett. My career started in social media engagement; I then moved into the analytics side of marketing and strategy. I also worked in politics for a short sprint, running digital for a number of campaigns which helped inspire me to start my own business.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I always had an entrepreneurial spirit. When I was very young I made bracelets and sold them to my parents’ friends; I worked for cash when I wanted something (like that moped I saved up for for months); and launched lemonade sales whenever I could. Through college, I was always brainstorming business ideas with friends. When I began climbing the corporate ladder, my world opened up to endless possibilities of the business world.
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?
When I first launched Brand Effect, my strategy was to reach out to everyone in my network introducing Brand Effect and our service offerings. I told the banker I opened an account with, I’d be making $40,000 a month in no time. Boy, was I wrong! I didn’t have a clear skill to sell. Some people start as freelance designers and then they launch an agency years later. In the corporate world, I had experience across many different marketing channels, so I decided to focus on what I was best at: building relationships and seeing the talent in people they may not even see themselves. I built a massive freelance network and was open to working with many different types of clients to continue my own education and to build out Brand Effect’s portfolio which has led me to where I am today. Today, Brand Effect serves B2C businesses looking for holistic design, marketing and strategy; brands ready for a makeover; marketers seeking a digital agency with a human-centric approach and startups ready to scale. Our strongest expertise is building and executing holistic marketing strategies with a focus on lifestyle content for brands.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
I’m incredibly proud of SISTAIN: the community we’ve been able to build, the research we’ve done to make sustainable living easier and more accessible to all humans. When people come up to me and say because of SISTAIN, “you’re inside my head now, in a non judgemental way, making me question: ‘is there a more sustainable option?’’’ that’s what I am most proud of because that is the collective impact we are making, one small step at a time.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
I do. It’s definitely harder at this earlier stage in a company but I do my best to balance it all. I also do not have kids, so I do not have the same external responsibilities some other business owners do. My top tips for managing it all include:
1. Assess everything in your life as energy. Who are you giving your energy to? Who is taking your energy? How can you elevate and align your energy to find your flow?
Create space for yourself. For me, that’s my morning and evening routine, which includes yoga, meditation and movement. Commit to whatever helps create space in your brain especially before you start diving into your to-do list, and show up for it each and every week/day.
2. Choose your highest self. It’s easy to fall “off balance” when we spiral into old habits or allow external circumstances to define our day. Visualize your highest self and keep showing up as her.
3. Focus on progress over perfection. This is our philosophy at SISTAIN for making small sustainable changes, rather than trying to overhaul your entire life to be more eco-friendly. This approach to life applies to all areas – focus on progress and identify small changes, adjustments you can improve upon each and every day. And celebrate those small wins as frequently as you can!
4. Have fun with it! Because life is too short.
What’s a piece of advice you can share that you wish you’d known when you first started your Entreprenista journey?
Focus on where you are (the present) and play on your strengths, rather than trying to reach for where you want to be. Focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. Prioritize and communicate clear expectations, roles and responsibilities and deadlines.
What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?
At SISTAIN, we invested in public relations, working with an amazing PR firm, LVPR, to grow brand awareness and credibility in the sustainability space and as a result, we were recently featured in Vanity Fair (https://www.vanityfair.com/style/photos/2021/08/best-shampoo-bars-all-hair-types-sustainable-beauty). I also did my first round of deskside interviews and we are feeling a lot of momentum on this front!
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Both Brand Effect and SISTAIN are growing simultaneously. With Brand Effect, we are in the process of operationalizing all of our processes so we can scale. You’ll see us taking on more clients and growing our portfolio especially within lifestyle content creation, advertising, social media and email marketing.
This year with SISTAIN we are continuing to build out our educational media hub, think of this as “the Google of Sustainable Lifestyle” and our e-commerce platform as “the Nordstrom of Sustainable Shopping” – a one-stop shop for all things fashion, beauty, wellness, home and lifestyle, as well as our online community. We’re rolling out a number of new sustainable brands in October that we are so excited about including Ursa Major, Josh Rosebrook, Leaf Shave and Sarisha Beauty.
And in the next five years, we plan to expand into fashion and expand our sustainable home, beauty and wellness offerings, build out our give back programs and get certified as a B Corporation.
What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?
I’m most excited about the league’s educational resources and endless opportunities to network and collaborate. Being a solo-entrepreneur can be lonely and knowing I have this community to tap into of like-minded women at any moment is honestly so encouraging. The women in this league are inspirational. Whenever I see women who have achieved their dreams, dreams others thought were too big, it gives me both hope and motivation to keep going.