At 33, Jaclyn Johnson is the epitome of the self-made woman. She's the founder and CEO of Create & Cultivate, the career-centered conference that's featured some major names including Issa Rae, Gloria Steinem, Chelsea Handler, Meghan Markle, Kim Kardashian West, Jessica Alba, Jen Atkin, and more (including yours truly and Allure digital editorial director, Kelly Bales).
Named to Forbes' 30 Under 30 for Marketing and Advertising in 2015, Johnson is that always-hustling woman who I constantly look at and wonder: How does she do it all? Her new book, Work Party, offers advice from her own career and culls from the personal experience of dozens of prominent female entrepreneurs, including fashion blogger Aimee Song and DryBar's Alli Webb, who are redefining success on their own terms.
Lots of women these days are challenging the old-fashioned rules of work and building businesses or side hustles that they're passionate about. Still, it's easy to get sucked into the cycle of workaholism and stress, which is why I talked to Jaclyn about how self-care is the counterbalance to hard work and why it's a vital ingredient to making it.
MICHELLE LEE: Why is self-care such an important part of success?
JACLYN JOHNSON: Self-care has everything to do with success with the caveat that self-care is relative to who you are as a person. It doesn’t necessarily need to be crystals and yoga. It can be sleeping past 7 a.m. and taking a digital detox from your phone. The reality is: If I’m not the best version of myself then I can’t perform my best. I have a crazy schedule but have learned to carve out time for myself in my own way so I can be on top of my game when I need to be. But don’t worry if you aren’t constantly drinking Gram-able smoothies or jade rolling your face.
ML: Some people say wellness is "the new luxury." Do you view it the same way?
JJ: I think disconnection is the new luxury in a world where we are so connected, but in terms of wellness it depends how you look at it. Rest and relaxation are definitely a luxury. Massages — luxury! — are a great way to unwind, relax, and disconnect. But meditating or going for a hike are also good ways to clear your head and get your mind focused.
ML: You’re always working on so much and traveling! Have you ever experienced a time when you weren’t taking care of yourself properly? How did it impact your life and work?
JJ: Of course — I’m human. Sleeping, or lack thereof, is a big component in how I perform. It’s hard when you’re changing time zones and have multiple events in a row, but learning to close the laptop and shut off the lights makes all the difference the next day. I know I need my eight hours of sleep. For me, it’s a necessary luxury. We had a long night before an event once and I got no sleep, literally zero hours and then had to host a 10-hour day. It was nearly impossible to find the energy, but the show must go on.
ML: What are some key lessons about balance that you’ve learned from the women you talked to for Work Party?
JJ: I think [nearly] everyone I interviewed is a work in progress as women who are building their brands and businesses. Wellness and balance, at first, are not in the picture. But as their businesses grew they were able to get out of the weeds and be more focused on the big picture of their business and their lives. And self-care varies. For [Ban-do founder] Jen Gotch, it’s about managing her depression and being vulnerable and open about it. For people like Kendra Scott, it’s all about spending time with her kids. Self-care, wellness, and balance are all circumstantial and so personal, but there is solace in the fact that we are just trying to figure it out!
ML: Do you view a beauty routine or skin-care routine as self-care? For example, do you get a facial once every few weeks as your time for yourself? Do a sheet mask on a plane to de-stress?
JJ: Yes. My mom early on instilled the importance of taking care of your skin from a young age. I have super dry skin that can be made even worse by traveling, so my routine consists of the following:
MorningBiossance Squalane and Antioxidant Cleansing OilRen Evercalm Global Protection Day CreamKate Somerville Dilo Oil Restorative Treatment
AfternoonTrue Botanicals Renew Nutrient Face Mist
NightKate Somerville ExfoliKate Intensive Exfoliating TreatmentKate Somerville Deep Tissue Repair CreamGlamglow Supermud Activated Charcoal Treatment
TravelSummer Fridays Jet Lag Mask (leave it on overnight)
Rodial Eye Patches
ML: Especially when you have a side hustle, it’s easy to become a workaholic. Do you personally have workaholic tendencies? How do you assess if you’ve gone too far?
JJ: Absolutely, being an entrepreneur isn’t a nine-to-five job. It’s long hours, nights, and usually weekends. I knew this going into it and I love every minute of it, but I’ve learned to work smarter and be mindful of my time. I know not to take on too much and to say “no” when I need to. But that being said, I’ve 1,000 percent gone too far and worked myself to the bone. I am only human and building something I love.
ML: How can women make self-care a priority when time is limited?
JJ: Schedule it in. It might sound weird, but treat self-care like your next new business meeting. Show up and take it seriously. Even if it’s a 10-minute meditation session in your car [in the] parking lot, it will make all the difference.
ML: You’ve talked to a lot of female entrepreneurs who aren’t necessarily tied to the old corporate rules like working nine-to-five, getting two weeks of vacation, or giving [TAKING?] 12 weeks of maternity leave. What are some interesting ways that women are changing the workplace for their employees?
JJ: Work has fundamentally changed. The way we approach work has changed in two different ways: One is based on the gig economy where people have multiple hustles, but not one mainstay job. The hours are flexible, the work is on-demand, and on a rolling basis. The other is entrepreneurship-based. More women are starting more successful businesses and needing less money to do so. These jobs are the nine-to-five and the five-to-nine. They are businesses women are passionate about building and running. They are flexible in the sense that they are ours, but not flexible in the sense that we are committed and working hard AF.
Work Party by Jaclyn Johnson
For more info on Work Party, visit workparty.com.
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