Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Jacqueline Flaggiello, Founder of Jolie Laide. What makes Jacqueline Flaggiello’s Jolie Laide notable is not just the fact that she spotted an opportunity in the fast-growing camera market, but that she honed in on a particular niche within it. She envisioned a better alternative to the traditional strap by creating one that was fashion-forward, sustainably sourced, and ethically produced. I love the look and branding behind this company and the fact that they’re now offering other alternatives as well like camera bags. I can see camera companies like Nikon, Canon, and Fuji jumping all over this!
We caught up with Jacqueline to learn more about the inspiration, struggle, and story behind Jolie Laide.
– Julian Brass, Founder, Notable
1. Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I’m the owner and designer behind Jolie Laide, a leather accessories brand that incorporates tech, travel, and sustainability at its core and currently focuses on unique leather camera straps, camera bags and eventually travels accessories.
2. What was the inspiration for your career route?
There are so many factors that spark an idea that makes you go all in. I don’t think entrepreneurs really make a conscious choice to be one. For me, it was just the constant dissatisfaction with a desk job, how routine and regimented it became and me always feeling like I was wasting my time. It totally makes sense now, but I don’t think growing up it was encouraged to go into business as a young female.
In regards to the idea of leather camera straps, I remember being in school (I went to fashion school in Paris which was a small nightmare) and skipping class a lot and taking my camera out just to shoot. During Paris Fashion Week, I decided to bring my camera see who or what I could catch. As I was about to leave, I realized my camera strap threw off my outfit and decided to make a quick DIY one out of leather and chain. Other photographers liked it and asked where I got it which was bizarre. The next day, I walked around Paris and did a little market research to see if I could find any and there were zero, none. I found it odd because there are so many photographers in Paris and they care about details. I couldn’t be the only one who wanted one?
It probably started somewhere around that time but didn’t manifest till a year later when I realized I wasn’t suited for a 9-5, just yet.
3. What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
There are so many little ones. I do remember when I first started, about a week or two later, a stylist contacted me for a sample of my product. She said she couldn’t tell me what it was for but when it’s out, she will send me photos. I was just happy someone liked them. A month of so later, she sent me an email of a Canon advertisement that was on billboards everywhere. I was at the bus stop and was like, holy sh*t that’s my strap! That was pretty cool.
4. Where do you see yourself in five years, 10 years, 20 years?
Our world is changing so quickly and it’s easy to get caught up on your own goals and dreams. But I really feel that it’s our jobs as designers, makers etc. to not just make because we can but because we want out products to represent a model of doing business that we’re proud of. With this in mind, I definitely see myself collaborating, travelling and always designing new products that people enjoy and take on their travels as well. I would love my company to grow and be part of larger social issues. Working with artisans in developing countries brings me a lot of joy and really hope to continue creating jobs for artisans and bringing their talents and true craftsmanship to market. I believe that’s the future of new luxury.
5. Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
It’s all relative really and different advice varies depending on what stage you are at in your growth. Try your best to bring real value and quality, no matter what you do. We have enough businesses out there just trying to make a quick dollar. Be patient and hone your brand, it really takes time. There is no straight path.
5. Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
I am obsessed with Photographers Without Borders. It is a non-for-profit organization with a headquarters located here in Toronto. As someone who obviously loves photography and understands its ability to communicate and create change, this one organization is amazing! I donated a large portion of camera straps to their organization earlier this year for them to use as they wish. I hope to find more and more ways to support them in the future.
6. What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
One! Haha, there’ve been plenty. I would definitely say my move from producing with artisans in Toronto to Mexico. For the first year, we had excellent production in Toronto with an amazing manufacturer, but as our demand grew and they became too busy,we just couldn’t find a way for us to grow our businesses at the same time. It took about six months to find leather workers who would sustainably produce our product at the same high quality and also believed in my vision. It was a very uncertain time, but calm persistence, curiosity, and unwavering optimism were key.
7. What does the word notable mean to you?
The word notable to me personally means someone who is doing something different, innovative and noteworthy. They are purpose driven and unapologetically ambitious. I love when I see other women succeed by taking risks and understanding their true potential.
1. Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
We are so fortunate to have so much choice Toronto. I’m not really a creature of habit in that regard, life is short and I like trying new restaurants constantly. Yet, I really gravitate to the ambiance of a place with good music and has a little more soul. Harlem Underground is always an easy yes for me, Saving Grace is a no brainer for brunch and I love The Walton. It’s my go-to spot for meetings, catch-ups or if I simply want to work from a different environment for the day.
2. What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
For the last four years, Business of Fashion hits my inbox first and over time, I just always read at least one article from it every morning. Even though some content is hard to apply on a small scale, it’s always good to stay in the loop and have your pulse on an industry that changes faster than most.
Jamiroquai – “Seven Days In Sunny June”. Always picks me up.
3. Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
I love Cleo Wade. She’s a poet, a writer, activist and her calligraphy is on point. She has a way of being motivational but without the cheese.
4. What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling too?
I’ve been around, but I really love the warmth and colour of Italy, there is so much to see and do there. I’ve definitely been dreaming of Africa for far too long, Morocco, Tanzania, Cape Town, Zimbabwe, Kenya…the list goes on, yeah I need to get on it.
5. What gives you the greatest FOMO?
Anyone on a beach at any time.
6. What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
I don’t think pleasures should be guilty.
7. What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
School, ironically. I did a masters program in Paris, which was not worth its weight. Being an entrepreneur, you realize there are so many things you could learn on your own if you really want to. More money on specific courses and things I love, instead of things in which I thought I had to do or had to have.
8. And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Success is looking forward to more days than most, being excited about your life and being able to eventually give back to the people you love and the people and organizations who need it the most. True success runs full circle.