Updated: Jan 14
From an internship at a major department store to a now Brand Expert & CEO developing and helping entrepreneurs launch and scale their brands
If you knew Janet Jacque, you might think she was born to work in fashion. However, her career goals did not start that way. Janet changed from an accounting major at the University of Texas to marketing after being an intern at a major department store as an Assistant Buyer. Janet found out that she loved fashion and customer engagement. That was only the beginning!
Let’s get to know more about Janet…
Q. Who is Janet Jacque outside of this impressive career in fashion? I was born in Oakland CA to a naval officer father and a strong creative mother. I am
the oldest of five girls. My mother wanted her girls’ "picture perfect" and placed a lot of
emphasis on our clothes and hair. Instead of buying ready-to-wear, she taught us to
sew, so I ended up making all of my own clothes in high school. (See my prom dress that I made below!) I was even
nominated Best Dressed my Senior year!
Q. How did you end up in Texas?
When my father retired, we moved to Texas where both of my parents grew up and
their families lived. I chose University of Texas in Austin, where I received a complete
4-year scholarship for Academic Achievement.
Q. Your first job was at Neiman Marcus?
Yes, I was hired right out of college to the Neiman Marcus training program which
turned into a buyer position at 23. An exciting career for a young woman, as I traveled
often to New York and Italy for exclusive product.
Q. What do you recall learning from your first position out of college that you still
practice today with clients?
I read the Stanley Marcus Book “Quest for the Best,” where he challenged us to search for the best quality and exclusive brands and products. I learned to give the customer the best quality to gain her trust and repeat purchases and that your brand reputation should be consistent and clear.
I learned to give the customer the best quality to gain her trust and repeat purchases.
Q. What was your career path post Neiman Marcus?
I was a buyer for seven years at Dayton Hudson/Marshall Fields, seven years at the Limited Corporation as a Senior Buyer. At JC Penney, I was a Corporate Officer for ten years. I then went onto Soma Intimates as a Vice President with responsibility for about half of the company merchandising.
Q. Wow! You have had quite the career working with several Fortune 500 companies.
Can you elaborate on a few experiences?
I became known for my success as a buyer of private label, so I led a Nationwide
Committee Buying Group for my category. based on my reputation and leadership. I
was selected to receive the Industry Femmy Award for my years in the business at
several retailers. I shared this award during my employment at JCPenney. I was
recognized for my private brand development and leading a group of designers for
exclusive product. I was also a member of the President’s Club at JCPenney for my
outstanding financial results and achieving strategic goals.
Q. With such a long career in retail, how are you able to maintain a fresh eye for product while still maintaining financial goals for the companies you worked for?
I've made it a point to get to know my customer, her preferences, and her spending habits. I studied sales reports to understand how she voted for product so I could plan my future assortments at retails she would accept. The most important attribute of a successful buyer is to buy for the customer and not personal preference.
I realized that many companies need the expertise that my team and I possess.
Q. What inspired you to start A-List Branding?
I wanted to work for myself and live near my family. I had made lots of money for other companies, but I was ultimately limited in my ability to maximize my potential in the Corporate environment.
I also love creating and building my brands and helping other entrepreneurs launch or scale their personal or product brands. I also enjoy leading and building a team. I realized that many companies need the expertise that my team and I possess. A smaller company does not often have the budget to hire enough employees to truly take their business from good to great. I provide a team with varied skillsets to handle our customer's needs. Entrepreneurs often don't realize what they need to build a strategic plan with short- and long-term goals.
But most importantly, they need help with how they monetize their brands. They often have a great idea or a product without a strategy. I utilize my experience to make critical connections for my new or inexperienced clients in the retail and wholesale industry.
A-List Branding offers brand strategy, brand awareness, and a brand management team for the clients. If an entrepreneur is doing it all often, they cannot give 100% to essential areas to help their business succeed. See website at https://www.a-listbranding.com/
Q. Will you share an A-List success story?
I had a client that was a stylist turned dress designer who had a beautiful product and fantastic social media. The client's sales were declining as Instagram changed their algorithms. Our team helped put an email and event strategy in place and a targeted photoshoot for her best sellers to substantially increase her sales and demand for the Xmas season. This strategy improved her ultimate fiscal sales.
We have also helped Brands identify nontraditional customers and explore other avenues or streams of income. Getting our customers to think outside of the box and focus on current business and competitive trends is vital!
Q. Finally, you mentioned there is a little history we should know about your last name.
“Jacque” is the ancestral spelling of my grandfather’s last name, however, Jack was on
his birth certificate in error. I have chosen to use Jacque on my social media and
branding. I love that it is a way of honoring my family’s heritage.
Interview by Cynthia Maxwell:
Cynthia is a Trend Forecaster and fashion, food and lifestyle blogger.