It is not off base to refer to Jill Zarin as a modern day wonder-woman. Not only a reality TV star, Jill Zarin has achieved marked success as an entrepreneur, fashion designer, and businesswoman. With the everyday woman in mind, Jill created her own line of women’s shapewear, Skweez Couture, with the mission of helping all women to feel good in their own skin and embrace the shape of their bodies. Along with Skweez Couture, Jill also created Jill Zarin Jewelry, a line that aims to make accessorizing simpler, more fun, and more efficient. Also an engaging public speaker, Jill regularly presents her business savvy ideas and advice to major companies, non-profit organizations, and universities across the country. Her other accomplishments include co-authoring the book Secrets of a Jewish Mother and starting her own interactive Ustream channel in order to engage with her fans. Today, Jill can be found in New York City where she continues to excel as an innovative designer and celebrity figure.
Q: Please share with us the story of how your professional journey began and has brought you to where you are today.
A: I always knew what I wanted to do when I grew up. My first job was when I was 14 and I haven’t really stopped working since then. I wanted to be in retail and be around clothing, and my dream continues to come true. I majored in Retail Management at Simmons College and after graduation, went through the Filene’s Buyer training program in 1985. I have been buying or selling RTW ever since then. I am proud that I was able to to take all of my experience and create Skweez Couture Shapewear and Tights as well as launch Jill Zarin Jewelry.
Q: I love the quote “the bigger the vision, the smaller the first step”. Right now, what is the big vision you have for your career?
A: My vision is always in motion. I have always put my family and the health of my family first and foremost. Based on their needs I adjust, but when it comes to my career, my goal is to build the Jill Zarin Brand into a broader product offering including RTW and accessories.
Q: What’s your best advice for an entrepreneur in an early/bootstrapping phase?
A: Everyone in business needs a mentor. Choose him/her carefully. It should be someone with skills you want but don’t have yet. Someone with experience, contacts, and funding if you need it.
Q: What do you feel separates your brand from your competitors?
A: I have worked really hard to keep Jill Zarin products what I call “solution based.” I can always point back to my roots: I had a problem and discovered a solution.
Q: Who has been your greatest mentor(s)?
A: Jeff Kantor, the current President of Macys.com was my first boss out of college. He has always been there to guide me at every step of my career.
Q: Do you (formally or informally) mentor anyone? If so, who and why is it rewarding?
A: I tend to hire interns and assistants who have potential to be me one day. What I mean is that I want to train them to replace me. The biggest compliment I could give anyone is that I could quit tomorrow and they could take over. In fact, I hope I can do that one day and then retire!
Q: What or who in your life gives you the strength to persevere?
A: No matter what I do everyday, I have a little voice in my ear. His name is Bobby. He is ALWAYS my voice of reason and the person I want to be proud of me the most besides my parents.
Q: What simple things in life today bring you joy?
A: When my daughter Allyson calls me from college (Vanderbilt) and tells me she is happy. That brings me the most joy, and it is why I wake up everyday.
Q: What are the top 3 things that you do to stay healthy?
A: Exercise- I love pilates and tennis. I never eat dinner after 9pm, and I take vitamins such as Omega XL to stay healthy and look my best