Besides the fact that she’s our ultimate style crush (scroll through the pics and you’ll see why!), Jackie Courtney, CEO and founder of designer bridal marketplace Nearly Newlywed, has absolutely crushed entrepreneurship. From Shark Tank to baby sharks, this mama has had her share of million dollar moments, messy meltdowns, and subway rides – lots of subway rides! Below she dishes on what Mark Cuban was like IRL, that NY Times piece, why sneakers and sequins are the perfect match, plus an unfortunate apple juice moment.
Q: CEO of Nearly Newlywed or CMO (Chief MOM Operator) of Ryan, LLC. What’s more challenging on a daily basis?
A: Depends on the day? Let’s say CEO in the AM and then CMO for sure for sure once bedtime rolls around :).
Q: Best piece of business advice you’ve received? Best parenting advice?
A: Two good ones that apply to both parenting & business:
It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Moments & things can feel really big, and then stressful as they are happening, because you want it all to work, and be great and joyful and happy. But some days won’t be, some things won’t go as planned, and it’s about the long game, the net-net. To remember that when you have the inevitable days that are really trying and nothing goes right.
Secure your life mask before assisting others, i.e. try to stay sane and take care of yourself and its ok if you don’t go to all of the networking events and read all of the parenting books. The main goal is to create a healthy & happy child, home and person, and to do that I think you need to retain that for yourself.
Q: What have been the highs and lows of launching Nearly Newlywed?
A: I mean, when I reflect on it, it is different than when you are going through it. I am proud of the shiny things for sure! Being in the New York Times twice, going on Shark Tank and living to tell the tale, hitting our first million dollars in revenue, and anytime someone sends me a wedding photo and thanks me for providing an easy, transparent, value-oriented business for bridal!
The lows are the muddy parts, when things feel like they aren’t working, or are working but not well enough, or when you just can’t seem to make meaningful moves towards a goal or product launch you want to hit. When you just want to quit because it feels thankless a lot of the time.
But as the years clock by, Nearly Newlywed turns seven this April, some of the lows are what now make up the highs, because I made it through them and we are still standing. If that makes sense? Like, I recognize more and more how important it is to appreciate the more mundane and the consistent, so a big ‘high’ for me is that I made it through a lot of lows.
Q: Let’s talk Shark Tank! What was it like? Any surprises? How did it change your business?
A: It was pretty crazy, unexpected. We were actually asked to go on it and at the time I didn’t know what it was (this was a long time ago). Once I realized, I was pretty sure they just wanted to have me on to make fun of me – because I was just a girl with a website and fifty wedding dresses in my bedroom! But then I reconsidered and decided, yolo, and we went on it and it was pretty great. It’s reality TV, so you have to know that going in, you’re taping a show – it’s not a closed door business meeting. So that was sort of difficult because there were some things I wanted to say but didn’t, because TV! Watching it was way more weird than doing it, seeing yourself on TV is weird. Mark Cuban was kind of awesome, I felt like I was talking to a regular person on the street that was whip smart, so it made me a fan of his. It did change my business, I think it accelerated it in a lot of ways. Suddenly you’re in front of millions of people and you get a lot of feedback, good and bad. For me, it was really good and empowering, because I heard from thousands of women that supported my vision and wanted to help me get the word out organically, which I think really helped us build the business slow and steady in a grassroots sort of way.
Q: Fave Nearly Newlywed moment so far?
A: We are about to launch branded storefronts and designer collaborations for fine jewelry, accessories, t-shirts, gifts, and some other fun things. The expansions outside of just dresses have been in the works for a very long time, so I suppose that, even though it hasn’t quite happened-happened yet, having that all coming together after a lot of planning and work feels really great!
Q: If someone only knew you from social media, how would they describe your life/experience as an entrepreneur? If they could see the reality behind the scenes, what would they see instead?
A: I do my best to share the messes & mistakes, so I hope that they would seem fairly similar. I think real life is always messier, for sure and even though you can talk about a child meltdown or a really hard period in business, it isn’t articulated visually with the same sharpness as when you experience it. So I think probably pretty similar but real life levels up a few notches in the messy and stressful moments, also tears. Sometimes in parenting and in building a business there are tears and lots of uncertainty and insecurity, and I don’t think you see a lot of that in its rawness on social like you would behind closed doors. And my husband! He does so so so much, for me, for my son, for my business, for our family. I try to share some of it but he definitely doesn’t get enough credit. 🙂
Q: Any epic #momfail moments that stand out?
A: Yikes, so many. Lately I never remember his mittens. I also am still on my phone around the house too often. I am working on it, but it creeps in much too often still. I also use colorful language here and there, which I really need to curtail. Big moments, hmm, I remember taking him on a super late flight from Iowa back to NYC by myself. I had thought we could stretch to 9pm and I would get him to fall asleep. Wrong-o. He stayed awake the entire flight. Drank his weight in apple juice. Threw it up, all over, because he was overtired or too much juice, I don’t know, he wasn’t sick so either way it was my fault. We got home at 1am and he hadn’t slept a wink, poor little guy. But we made it and we are still standing!
Q: What is it like having a family in NYC?
A: Madness, but I think that is just having a family and child in general, no matter where you live. It can be intense hopping on the subway and running around a congested neighborhood with a small child, but it is also very rich in sensory experiences. Ryan loves the subway, we should probably ride it more, it always keeps him busy!
Q: Favorite local store?
A: Norman and Jules for the cutest kids toys & gifts.
Q: Favorite local restaurant?
A: East Wind Snack Shop in Windsor Terrace. The best pork buns, cute, cozy, fast & friendly to us with the toddler in tow.
Q: Favorite local kid’s activity?
A: When the weather is nice Prospect Park can’t be beat. Right now, we love going to open family swim at the YMCA on the weekends & splashing around with Ryan.
Q: Three things you can’t live without?
A: Coffee, a good haircut + color, and family hugs.
Q: What makes you feel sexy?
A: A frilly dress or sequins with a pair of sneakers. And rings. I love wearing lots of rings.
Q: Fave womenswear brands?
A: Molly Goddard, Batsheva, Tory Sport, Kule, Racil, and Dries Van Noten.
Q: Fave kid’s brands?
A: Rylee & Cru and mostly everything @thedopple! I honestly don’t have the best pulse on kids brands like I do on womenswear, bridal, and jewelry so I really look and trust Dopple to do that work for me + trust their edits!
SHOP JACKIE’S DOPPLE PICKS!
Eclectic one-of-a-kind finds from Les Petit Vagabond, Chaboukie, Rylee + Cru, Sleepy Doe, Appaman, Siaomimi, Moon + Beck, Kokacharm, & more!