While on an upward career climb in her early twenties, Jaclyn Johnson was abruptly let go. Soon after, she suffered another setback in the form of a brutal business breakup with her new business partner.
At age 24, Jaclyn was determined to bounce back. By her mid-30s, she had sold one company and launched Create & Cultivate, a community bringing entrepreneurial and creative women together. In her new book, WorkParty, our Fairygodboss of the Week, along with other leading female entrepreneurs, reveals how she turned distrust into determination, frustration into fuel, and heartache into hard work—and how you can, too.
Fairygodboss of the Week: Jaclyn Johnson
Founder and CEO, Create & Cultivate
Los Angeles, CA
Tell us a little about your career. How did you get to where you are now?
I started Create & Cultivate over five years ago, with the intention of bringing like-minded entrepreneurial and creative women together. As a new business owner at the time, I had questions and Google wasn't giving me the answers I needed. It also wasn't giving me community, which I so desperately craved.
Soon, it became really obvious to me that other women needed and wanted the same space. Now, years later, C&C is bigger than I ever could have imagined—and more work too—but no career would ever be as fulfilling.
What is an accomplishment that you are proud of?
Building and cultivating the amazing community of women. We recently launched our second ever Create & Cultivate 100, which is an annual list of 100 women in 10 categories who are doing amazing things with their lives and careers. There was a moment at the launch party when I was looking at this whole crew of people—women in STEM and fashion, entrepreneurs and activists—and I thought, WOW! Create & Cultivate brought all these amazing women together under one roof. What a feeling.
What is a challenge that you've faced and overcome?
Hiring is always hard. When you're a small startup bringing people onboard can, at first, feel like a much-needed life raft. But if that person isn't a fit, it's really obvious and it can put a dent in company morale. The wrong person can drag the whole team under water. As a leader, that's on you. You made that hire. I've always said, no matter how much you want to put a band-aid on a situation, you need to hire slow. You'll be thankful in the long-run.
Who is YOUR Fairygodboss? and Why?
Raina Penchansky. As the founder and CEO of Digital Brand Architects, Raina understood influencer marketing before it existed. Anyone with that kind of vision who wants to share her expertise with me is a fairygodBOSS. I will always listen to what she has to say. She's a leader and a friend.
What do you do when you're not working?
Work more. JK. I spend time with my husband and our dog Noah Wiley. We host dinners in our backyard and hang out with friends. Wine is involved. My work life is so crazy, I like to keep it simple in my spare time.
If you could have dinner with one famous person—dead or alive—who would it be?
Probably Michelle Obama because she is the ultimate boss.
What is your karaoke song?
"Dancing in the Dark" by Bruce Springsteen.
What is your favorite movie?
9 to 5
What book would you bring with you on a desert island?
Something to make me laugh and keep me motivated for when I get rescued/rescue myself. Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? and Why Not Me?.
What is your shopping vice? What would you buy if you won the lottery?
I'm such a sucker for a good shoe. I'd buy all the shoes.
What is the #1 career tip you'd like to share with other women who want to have successful careers like you?
Your reputation is your resume. You can have a laundry list of accomplishments, but if you don't have a good reputation, you might as well scratch them off one-by-one. People want to work with someone they can trust. Someone who has their back. And someone they can share a laugh with at the end of a long job. Be professional, but fun, work hard, and always leave them wanting more.
Why do you love where you work?
My whole company is predicated on the idea of creating and cultivating the career of your dreams. I've created my dream career. The company is a labor of love and I hope that shines through.
Fairygodboss is all about women helping other women - so each week, we celebrate a woman who made a difference in another woman’s career. Is there a woman who has made a difference in your career? Celebrate her and thank her by nominating her here.