Jessica Hanna is the CEO & Co-Founder of World Chic, a global fashion brand, bringing top cultural trends and exclusive items to your closet from designers around the world. NYGal was lucky to be able to talk with Jessica about her inspiration for World Chic, and the process in which it took her to get there.
Through this article, you’ll gain helpful tips to growing your own business and staying motivated. And, as a bonus, from one NYGal to another, you’ll receive the best traveling tips around- as Jessica’s travels helped to form her career path.
Jessica, tell us how you started your empire.
I am the CEO and Co-founder of World Chic. My Co-founder, Andrew Marks, and I started World Chic from the love of travel, fashion, art and culture. We have gotten the opportunity to travel for leisure and learned to really appreciate the privilege of being able to do so. From hard work, savings and planning we were able to take the time to make a few trips. Together, we have gone to several cities and regions within: Iceland, Italy, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, Greece and Canada.
As we grow, we plan on expanding our travels to even more places, as well as our brand. After every trip we would bring home a whole suitcase full of gifts for our friends and family. So, we decided to turn our passions into a full-fledged business. We understand that travel is not possible for many people due to their daily life schedule or the affordability of it. That’s why we really wanted to bring those treasures and experiences to those who can’t get them themselves.
We came up with the name based on the break down definitions of the words which really sums up our mission…
- The earth, together with all of its countries, peoples and natural features.
- A part or aspect of human life or of the natural features of the earth, in particular.
- Elegantly and stylishly fashionable.
We hunt for pieces from different countries that represent cultural values or are made using the resources of the land. We currently have products from Iceland, Italy and Ireland. When visiting our site, you can shop first by country, then by product. Our country lines consist of:
Shop Italy – Italan leather hand-made bags
Shop Iceland – 100% wool hats, scarves, socks, sweaters, vests and blankets
Shop Ireland – Aran Knitwear sweaters
We provide as much information as possible to our customers upon their purchase because we truly value the idea of telling a story and we want each person that makes a purchase from us to feel as close to traveling to that place as they can…without actually going there.
I’m sure World Chic wasn’t all peaches and cream to build, what struggles did you have to overcome to become sucessful?
Learning to ignore societal norms is the best way to be successful. For the most part, we have the ability to CHOOSE how our lives go, but we are constantly pushed by everyone around us to follow a similar path to success. However, it’s the dreamers, inventors, creators and passion-followers who designed, built and worked to create everything we use in our daily lives. THAT says something about how our society was really built and we need to remember that when we are surrounded by the nay-sayers who continue to tell us how our life should be going instead of being supportive of what we want to do.
Luckily, I’ve always had parents by my side. And, they have always told me to go after what I wanted in life. They’ve always asked me what I was interested in and what I wanted to do, instead of trying to force an idea of some sort of “successful career path” into my head. But, that doesn’t change the people that surrounded my life as I was growing up, or the school systems and university bubbles I was brought into. Everything and everyone is centered around the “success” path.
I would often meet someone for the FIRST time and the first question they would ask is what I do for a living. Well, that may not seem odd to someone reading this because we are so used to it, but if you think about how ridiculous that can be, you’ll soon realize that the respect level someone gives you is usually determined by how you answer that very same question.
Additionally, when we do go against societal norms, and that often is choosing career paths that are unconventional, “less likely to make money” or are “artsy” – we are often criticized for that very same courage it took us to choose something we are passionate about. As an entrepreneur, of course it is a goal of mine to make money, but it is also something I look at as a tool to use in order to build what I’m really passionate about.
If we stop fantasizing about the idea of having more money and instead use that passion to focus on what we really care about, the money will come. I truly believe that if you choose to follow a career path you are passionate about, regardless of how unconventional or “tough to make it”, it may be – you are way more likely to enjoy your life and become successful. Your passion will guide you to become innovative, creative and successful because you will care so much about the time and effort you put into it that the only direction will eventually be up.
We need to know…what advice would you give to the young NYGal boss ladies in the making?
- Learn how to motivate yourself- whether it be becoming an entrepreneur, a freelancer, or someone who is just trying to do their own thing in this world. Figure out how to do what makes you happy and keep pushing yourself because often, in the beginning, you will be the only one rooting for yourself.
- Do what makes your soul happy. DON’T SETTLE! Our lives are just too short to waste time in our life doing something that doesn’t make us happy. If you are in that position right now, find a way to change it. There’s always a way.
- Have courage, while being vulnerable. Without being vulnerable, we struggle to be our authentic selves. And without courage, we struggle to take the necessary steps for growth that often scare us.
- Be accepting that mistakes will happen as you take risks and go about the trials and errors of life- learn to embrace all of this and success will come eventually.
- Lastly, learn who you can talk to about your dreams and who you simply need to keep outside of your realm of aspirations. I’ve learned a lot about how important it is to keep your goals and dreams safe for you. That means being mentally protective of what you manifest from the people who will just be there to spew negative energies and change your positive mindset. Who you surround yourself with truly impacts a lot of your life as well as the energies that surround you. One of my favorite quotes currently is… “If you are not in the arena getting your ass kicked on occasion because you were being brave, I am not interested or open to your feedback about my work. Period.” -Brenѐ Brown.
Being a founder of a company must be really tiresome, what are some stress-relievers for you?
Exercise is an outlet and stress-reliever for me. I have been an athlete my whole life whether it be martial arts, dance, running, weight training, gymnastics, etc. These were always a way for me to either express myself, get out my stress, or simply learn how to build foundational basics like patience, focus, self-control and perseverance.
I started martial arts at the age of 4 and have continued to keep it in my life to present day because of the amazing benefits it has given me for the last 20 years. It was my foundational building block for a lot of things in both athletics as well as life in general. I learned to overcome life’s roadblocks whether they be mental or physical and the necessary steps to take in order to surpass them. This has carried me throughout my life and has allowed me to push myself to go wherever want, regardless of how difficult it may seem.
Aside from martial arts and weight-training at the gym, another favorite fitness practice is hot yoga. It has some really amazing benefits too; Not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. As an entrepreneur, it definitely becomes difficult to stay balanced and keep stress levels down and I’ve found hot yoga really helps with that.
Ok, obviously you’re a HUGE traveler- so, we’d love for you to share your best travel tips!
- PACK LIGHT!
- I have had plenty of situations where I’ve overpacked. So much so, that it made the traveling very frustrating and by the end of the trip I was relieved to not be lugging around so much weight! Figure out the necessities and realize that you most likely will not be wearing every cute travel outfit that you planned on. So, narrow it down. Also, find nearby laundry mats and make time to wash your laundry – it saves you the heavy burden of a large overpacked suitcase.
- Remember the Electrical Converters
- Remember to pack a converter if you’re visiting a place that warrants one. Otherwise charging your phone, plugging in your computer or anything else electrical can be impossible.
- Also, I highly suggest not using a hairdryer or straightener from the U.S if you need to use a converter. They can be at risk to catch on fire.
- Bring Vitamins!
- I have experienced one too many times catching colds/viruses from either red-eye flights or just traveling so much on public transit. It often can put a huge damper on the whole trip and it makes it really hard to enjoy the amazing experience you set out to make. So, pack those vitamins and keep up with your daily nutrition! Your immune system drops so much while traveling and we are often so distracted by the excitement we forget about self-care.
- Budget Budget Budget
- We often think taking a trip outside of the country MUST be so expensive. But, there are definitely ways to budget yourself around that if you find you can’t afford luxury hotels, first-class flights, fun activities, tourist attractions, etc.
- Start by tracking your flights on Google to be alerted when prices drop! Make sure to book them WELL in advance and check multiple sites for different rates. Sometimes, you may even have points as a benefit on certain credit cards and that would be a great time to use them!
- Do your research and learn about what to do around the area you are traveling to. Definitely look into the tourist spots but also look do some research to learn about the country. As tourists to other countries we often look to do the touristy things, but there’s really so much more to experience if we dig deep Also, if you are looking to experience the typical landmarks, museums, etc.- try looking online first to book them in advance, you can usually save a lot of money that way!
- Learn the ways of the land. We don’t NEED to take an uber or taxi everywhere. Figure out public transportation if possible! You will save so much more money.
- Hostels are definitely an option over hotels, but read reviews and make sure you read the details on your stay. You want to be safe as well as keep your belongings (passport, money, personal items) safe.
- Convert Your Money the Best Way
- Check your card for any foreign transaction fees – these can sneak up on you if you are unaware of them!
- If you are planning to use a card, notify the bank which countries you will be traveling to so that you card is not flagged for fraud and you are blocked from accessing your money.
- Avoid converting money in airports/train stations unless absolutely necessary.
- The best thing to do is to take money out at a bank using your debit card, as you get the best market rate and safety.
- Avoid taking money out at ATMs, as they have been known to have hidden cameras where people can steal your card information.
- Plan Your Trip BUT Don’t OVERPLAN
- Sometimes when we overplan our trips we realize we are on vacation and actually just want to RELAX! So, make sure to leave time for that. Oftentimes, we can have a better experience just hanging out in and immersing ourselves in the culture that’s surrounding us. Take time to sit and observe.
- Look for the hole in the walls
- I don’t mean literal holes! Sometimes the most authentic places are not the most glamourous looking or the ones that are extremely crowded. The touristy restaurants are often over-priced and over-rated. But, if you find yourself dying to go to that ONE place because you’ve heard, read and been told to go there, then go for it! But, I do recommend looking for places the locals go – the more authentic cuisines will oftentimes be found there. Take a step outside of the touristy areas.
- Pack a Journal
- Our experiences make for great stories! Take time to write down what you can each day. You will really appreciate it years later when looking back at some of the silly/ridiculous/fun things that happened along the way. It may be a pain to do it at the time, but you will definitely appreciate it later on!
- Be open-minded
- In NYC today, being open-minded is kind of a right of passage. As the big apple is also known as the melting pot, we have so much culture and different opinions surrounding us every day – it would be hard to stay stuck in your own little bubble and also live out the city to its true potential. And if you are someone who struggles with open-mindedness, I suggest just spending time doing activities that are unconventional to your daily life. You will immediately experience things that are out of your own scope of comfort.
- Being in another country can sometimes throw us for a loop. There may be customs or traditions we aren’t familiar with, we may find unusual, hard to comprehend or something that is just against our religious or cultural beliefs. As long as it is not harmful to you and is part of the customs of the culture, I really do suggest being open-minded to learning and participating in that culture. You are in fact the one visiting that country, it would only be appropriate to respect the values that were set before it.
- Be aware of your surroundings
- As beautiful and exciting as visiting a new place can be – it can also be very distracting. And for that reason, we can easily come off as tourists while we walk around eyes widened, jaws dropped, fingers pointing, giant maps out, selfie-sticks out, and picture snapping away. This is a great tell for pick-pocketers or even worse, muggers. Always be aware of the people around you and if you’ve noticed someone following you for an extended period of time. Look over your shoulder and keep an eye out for anything suspicious. If possible, travel with others.
- Try to take time to learn the language
- Learning different languages is a beautiful thing and makes communicating with people from different countries easier and more fun. It is always more respected and can get you a lot further along the way.
- Unless you have international call and texting on your phone plan you can run up your bill very quickly communicating with friends and family back home.
- Some great alternatives are: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, or iMessage if you can get onto WI-FI!
World Chic Instagram: @wcworldchic
Personal Instagram: @jessicahanna_