Episode 26: Jade Terminella
Jade Terminella is the Founder of Company Club, a clubhouse for the modern woman.
She has been a Partner at Thatch jewelry for the last 5 years, Co-founded NWA Fashion
Week and Lola, where she served as the Apparel Buyer for over 10 years. Jade received
her BSBA in Transportation and Logistics from the University of Arkansas in 2006.
00:07 Matt Waller: Hi, I'm Matt Waller, dean of Sam M. Walton College of Business. Welcome to BeEpic, the podcast where we explore excellence, professionalism, innovation and collegiality, and what those values mean in business, education and your life today. I have with me today, Jade Terminella, who is a Walton College alumni and a serial entrepreneur. She has had a number of businesses in her life from Northwest Arkansas Fashion Week to Lola, which she sold last year. She also owns a company called Thatch Jewelry and the Company Club. Thank you so much for taking time to allow me to interview you.
00:57 Jade Terminella: Thank you for having me.
00:58 Matt Waller: You graduated from the Walton College with a Bachelors of Science and Business Administration in 2006. Not too long after that, you started Northwest Arkansas Fashion Week, and Lola, or you were partnering Lola, did you start Lola?
01:16 Jade Terminella: My sister and I started Lola when I was a sophomore in college.
01:19 Matt Waller: When you were a sophomore?
01:20 Jade Terminella: Yes. I can't take credit. It was her idea, I was just the work horse [chuckle] tied to the back end.
01:26 Matt Waller: Younger sister or older sister?
01:27 Jade Terminella: Older sister.
01:28 Matt Waller: Okay. So tell me a little bit about Lola.
01:31 Jade Terminella: Well, Lola started in 2004, that was before Fayetteville had really any kind of boutique shopping at all. It was the mall or Walmart kind of at that point. And my older sister who has a great eye and loves luxury and all things fashion, decided that we should open a clothing store. So, we did. I was 19 when the project started, so clueless and knew nothing, but it was a great learning experience. Fast forward 10 years later, we sold it. And in the midst of all that, Fashion Week was born.
02:06 Matt Waller: Tell me a little bit about Fashion Week.
02:08 Jade Terminella: Fashion Week started out of an idea that I actually had prior to that called Strut for a Mutt. I'm a huge animal lover and supporter and have always wanted to give back in any way that I could to the community in that capacity. So, I'd started a [chuckle] just a funny fashion show called Strut for a Mutt, where we put beautiful models on the runway carrying mutts from the pound that were up for adoption in the hopes to make it feel cool to adopt pets versus buying pure bred dogs. It's is kind of the initiative there. And we did that for several years, and over time, several of my other friends and women in the fashion community loved the idea and just wanted to be on board. So, we expanded it to a broader model. So, not just Strut for a Mutt, but several other fashion shows, highlighting other stores and other designers, creatives, all under one week, which we dubbed Northwest Arkansas Fashion Week.
03:06 Matt Waller: What a great idea. You were ahead of your time.
03:09 Jade Terminella: It was a really fun project to spearhead, a huge project. I'm very thankful that somebody has taken it from me [chuckle] at this point. A new woman named Robin Atkinson runs it now and has taken the concept. And it's much larger than I would have ever thought it would have been.
03:25 Matt Waller: Well, you know, starting a business, going back to Lola, while you're in school, that's a little unusual. We've had a couple of other people do that, Fayettechill was one. There's been a few, but that's hard to do.
03:41 Jade Terminella: It was hard. At the time, it seemed very fun, and it was fun. Again, when you're oblivious to what lies ahead, [chuckle] you can enjoy things a little bit more. I've always been somebody that has naturally gravitated towards entrepreneurship and being my own boss and own idea creator. So, it really wasn't, I guess, that bold of a move for me other than time. I was a very busy college student. I used to try to take all of my classes as early as possible, so then I could leave and go to work. Which I did for the last couple of years, which may be that part is unusual. But it really, to be honest, just comes kind of natural. It's just... It runs in my blood, that's who I am.
04:24 Matt Waller: Of course. So having a modern, contemporary women's boutique, you had it for 14 years.
04:34 Jade Terminella: Yes.
04:35 Matt Waller: And I'm sure there were a lot of ups and downs involved in that, but I know someone bought it from you in October of 2018, is that right?
04:44 Jade Terminella: 2013.
04:45 Matt Waller: Oh, '13.
04:46 Jade Terminella: Yes, I stayed on board for another five years after the acquisition. The sale actually happened in '13, 2013.
04:51 Matt Waller: Okay. You must have developed a fantastic business to be able to sell it, because I know it's hard to sell businesses like that.
05:00 Jade Terminella: I feel very blessed that I connected with the person who acquired the business. I think it was a little bit of divine intervention mixed with a little bit of good luck and good timing more than anything.
05:14 Matt Waller: Wow.
05:15 Jade Terminella: Yeah.
05:16 Matt Waller: From the time you started it to the time you sold it, it was about nine years, right?
05:21 Jade Terminella: Yes.
05:21 Matt Waller: And then you sold it and you stayed on board for five more years.
05:25 Jade Terminella: Yes.
05:26 Matt Waller: And then you started Thatch Jewelry, and that's a what you call a modern 14K boutique jewelry for everyday wear. Would you tell me a little bit about that?
05:39 Jade Terminella: Sure. We opened a Lola in San Diego. And when I got there, I only knew a few people that lived in the city, but I obviously connected with them, went to lunch, and just trying to make some new friends. And one of the women that lived there that I knew was from Bentonville originally. And I had carried her jewelry collection in Lola for many years. So, we knew each other casually, not well, but she... I had just sold Lola, but we were expanding. So, I had moved to California to open a new branch there. And she was, "Wow, well, how did you do that? I wanna sell my business." And she had a very small jewelry studio, kind of bohemian, wasn't necessarily our aesthetic, but she had the framework. She had a jewelry studio, she had some employees who knew how to make jewelry, she had the equipment. And so a long story short, we bought her business after my sister and I sold Lola, and then right after that bought her business, which at the time was called Giuliani.
06:40 Jade Terminella: So, we bought her company and completely changed the aesthetic and what we were making, and the entire... The name, all of it, and kept the two employees that came with, and the idea was just easy jewelry that you wear all the time. So, luxury enough to look good with your diamond wedding ring, but also accessible price point that you could wear maybe to the beach and not feel bad about. So, we are a studio run by all women, we have six women who work in our studio in San Diego, they hand-make all the jewelry, they're metalsmiths. We do everything in-house, packaging, marketing, the whole thing. So, it's just... I feel lucky to be able to provide the framework for, to support women entrepreneurs as well.
07:26 Matt Waller: And you have an e-commerce portion of this?
07:29 Jade Terminella: E-commerce is a big part of our business, for sure. Currently we're in about 100 wholesale account stores, so think Lola-type boutiques across the country, a few big ones including Anthropologie, Planet Blue, are kind of more than notable stocks that we have. But the idea is by women for women, high quality materials, so a lot of jewelry you find at this price point will be brass or a lower quality metal plated in gold, and we use solid sterling silver so that you never get tarnishing, you don't have skin irritations, and it's all pure natural metal, which makes it feel and look luxurious.
08:11 Matt Waller: I noticed you also have this on Instagram. Do you get business through Instagram?
08:17 Jade Terminella: We do. Instagram is a great tool for us. Our sales director Amy runs our social media, and every day, of course, we're editing and fine tuning what that looks like, as it's ever-changing, social media world, but we develop a lot of new leads through Instagram.
08:37 Matt Waller: In addition to all of this, you also started in another company, [chuckle] called The Company Club.
08:43 Jade Terminella: The Company Club, coming soon.
08:45 Matt Waller: Tell me a little bit about that.
08:46 Jade Terminella: The Company Club is a clubhouse for the modern woman, and the idea behind that is a place where what we've been calling horizontal mentoring can be facilitated, and it's the idea that women of all levels can teach each other all sorts of things. You don't have to be from a certain socio-economic background, or geographical background, or a certain age. I'm 36 today, and...
09:13 Matt Waller: Happy birthday!
09:14 Jade Terminella: Thank you. And I'm really blessed to be surrounded by women and older than me and younger than me. I think it's a huge part of my success, is that I try to be influenced by a broad spectrum of women. And so, we've created this clubhouse, a physical, tangible place in downtown Bentonville for women to facilitate relationships of all kinds. So, maybe professional relationships, maybe it's just making new friends. We have a lot of transplants into Northwest Arkansas, and for women moving here from Manhattan and Seattle and Houston and all of these places, to land in Northwest Arkansas can sometimes feel a little scary or unknown. It's a little bit of a culture shock if you've never lived in the South, specifically here. So, creating a place for women to, again, make friends, work digitally collaborate, be creative, have a glass of wine, have lunch, hide out. [chuckle] Whatever they wanna do.
10:09 Matt Waller: What a neat idea. So, you're still a partner in That's Jewelry and you're doing The Company Club?
10:17 Jade Terminella: I am.
10:18 Matt Waller: And you're the founder of The Company Club.
10:20 Jade Terminella: I am. I have a team of people. I cannot take full credit for Company Club, it's not just me. I spearheaded the idea solo, but have developed a great team of people, of course, behind the scenes that are helping me make it happen.
10:32 Matt Waller: And you're on the square, in Bentonville?
10:34 Jade Terminella: We are one block off the square in the Hoxton district. Have you heard of Hoxton Road Studios? So, we're in the building right next door to them.
10:42 Matt Waller: Okay. That's a great location.
10:45 Jade Terminella: It is. I really love our building. I think it's one of the prettiest downtown. They did a great job on the construction.
10:51 Matt Waller: It's amazing how downtown Bentonville has just boomed.
10:55 Jade Terminella: Bentonville is having a moment, it's booming.
10:58 Matt Waller: It really is.
11:00 Jade Terminella: It is.
11:00 Matt Waller: And of course, there's great restaurants now, and it's just a wonderful city now. It's changed so much since I moved here 25 years ago.
11:08 Jade Terminella: If you would have asked me five years ago if I would have been living in Bentonville, I probably would have told you no. [chuckle] There's... I couldn't have predicted it, but I love it up there.
11:18 Matt Waller: Here you are, 36 years old, you have started a company and sold it successfully, you've started another company that's been going for five years in San Diego, and it's doing well, and now you're starting another company. This is not easy to do right out of college. I know it's... You've been out of college a while, but I mean, you started into entrepreneurship right away. How have you made that work?
11:50 Jade Terminella: That's a great question. I think you have to be a risk taker to be an entrepreneur and there's a fine line of risk-taking. And I think, for me, I've been... I'm not sure if it's luck or innate sense that I have, but I seem to be able to balance walking the line of risk well. I think that's been a key to the success so far. And I don't know if there's a recipe for that, or if I could even tell somebody how to do it. Honestly, I think that's it.
12:21 Matt Waller: So, we have a number of students who are interested in entrepreneurship, and a lot of times I advise them to work for a company first. A lot of times when you're right out of school or in school, you really don't know your risk tolerance. The concepts we teach help people do business, business law, accounting, finance, marketing, etcetera, etcetera. But to your point, this risk tolerance, we don't know many times about ourselves, till we're living it. Do you have any advice for students on this?
12:55 Jade Terminella: Goodness.
12:56 Matt Waller: I know that's a hard question.
12:57 Jade Terminella: That is a hard question, but a good question. Well, I think personality-wise, I have always been a risk taker. I was a daring child, an adventurous child. "No" was not in my vocabulary, everything was a "yes". And so, I think a lot of times you either have those traits or you don't. If you're maybe somewhere in between and you're trying to figure out if it will work for you or not, I'd say a really healthy dose of optimism. I would say that, overall, I'm an optimistic person. I try to see the best in everything, and even if there's not a lot to see, I choose to focus on it. I think that's a big part of it. And you have to be able to take risks comfortably. That has to come natural to your being, I think, to be an entrepreneur for the long haul, because there's a lot of times where it's gonna feel very scary. You're gonna be questioning, "Oh, my gosh, what have I done?" And so, really, the core of your being has to embrace risk and change and flexibility. With The Company Club, I wake up every day and my business model has changed from the day prior. I don't exaggerate. And I know that that's just part of it, and I embrace it, and the flexibility around it I think is key.
14:16 Matt Waller: Well, thank you so much, Jade. This is great.
14:18 Jade Terminella: Thank you.
14:18 Matt Waller: Congratulations on your success as an entrepreneur.
14:21 Jade Terminella: Thank you for having me.
14:26 Matt Waller: Thanks for listening to today's episode of the BeEpic podcast from the Walton College. You can find us on Google, SoundCloud, iTunes, or look for us wherever you find your podcasts. Be sure to subscribe and rate us. You can find current and past episodes by searching BeEpic podcast, one word. That's B-E-E-P-I-C podcast. And now, be epic.