Great Advice for Entrepreneurs in Fashion
Updated: Dec 31, 2018
A Jewelry Designers Traveling Path to Success
At 5’9” tall, with luxuriously long blonde hair and big brown eyes, MJ Barton, Founder and CEO of Electric Picks, is a captivating sight to behold. Wearing a tailored, slightly cropped leather jacket and a wrist stacked with metal and beaded bracelets – her style is impeccably “urban chic,” but her energy and positivity is SoCal cool.
In just a few years, MJ took an idea that occurred to her in a dream, and transformed it into a successful brand that creates “jewelry inspired by music” along with her business partner Chantel Gia. Her bracelets, necklaces, body chains, and rings are frequently spotted on celebrities and featured in magazines.
I met MJ almost a decade ago and because of her adventurous spirit and love for exploring new cities, I would describe her path to success more as a zigzag, than a straight line. With many, many airplane trips along the way.
FASHION IS A TOUGH INDUSTRY. HOW’D YOU GET IN TO IT?
I had no formal background in fashion, it’s just been something I’ve always loved. I actually started designing jewelry and selling it to friends when I was 8 years old at day care! When I moved to New York at 26 to pursue my dream of designing jewelry, that’s when I really learned everything I know from the amazing industry vets I’ve met here.
YOU’VE TRAVELED, AND LIVED IN MULTIPLE CITIES. HOW HAS THAT INFLUENCED YOUR CAREER?
I think moving to new places and essentially starting from scratch at each place taught me to be courageous, to put myself out there, and try new things. When I figured out that my career in event planning wasn’t working for me I wasn’t afraid to close that door and try something new that was scary but I knew I loved.
WHAT CHALLENGES HAVE YOU OVERCOME AS AN ENTREPRENEUR?
So many! There are new challenges every day. The hardest part is that you have no real schedule or “set hours.” You have to work until everything is done because nobody else is going to do it if you don’t. Which means you’re likely working on weekends, late nights, and holidays.
TELL ME, WHAT ARE THE UNGLAMOROUS PARTS OF BEING A DESIGNER AND ENTREPRENEUR? YOU ALWAYS LOOK INCREDIBLE. COOL, CALM, COLLECTED, AND FASHIONABLE. WHAT IS THE SECRET?
I have to do it all! The same tasks an intern would do, while still being the CEO. There are days when I meet with stylists and magazines in the morning, and then later that day I’m on 6 subway rides running to 5 different suppliers all around New York just to pick up certain pieces from each supplier, to make sure the final products are done in time.
KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW NOW, WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO ENTER THE FASHION INDUSTRY AND/OR BECOME A DESIGNER?
Work somewhere else first and have a mentor! You should learn what you want to do from someone who is actively and successfully doing it already. I know I would have made so many less mistakes if I had worked for a designer before I jumped in on my own.
OK, LAST QUESTION. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR?
It means freedom and the genuine opportunity to get to do what I love every single day. Oh, and I get to see my designs on people which is just awesome!