Janet’s List helps you discover and buy from independent brands by black women and women of colour from the UK - we ship to America.

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Creating space to set your business strategy - tools, resources and inspiration

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My mission is to use innovative and unique ways to get people to discover and buy from incredible brands by black women and women of colour. 

2019 was incredible and challenging. We delivered two concept stores in three months, one in Amsterdam and the other in Islington. Although it was the right thing to do, I (as a business founder) had no life between August - December 2019. I intentionally and deliberately run Janet’s List alongside a 30 hour p/w job and it was (and is) a lot. I also dropped my one-to-one consultancy work as there was just no space for that. 

The complexity of Janet’s List and the moving pieces makes it impossible to think properly and deeply. A natural by-product of JL’s complexity is debilitating amounts of email and/or communication, a lack of space to gain clarity on what I want and need to do and this is particularly so when in operational/execution mode. Even with a small team I adore (who mostly help out during activations) it is a lot. 

So I made the decision to single-mindedly focus on three things:

  • Mid-November to December 2019: concept store execution, embedding the team and nothing else. 

  • Christmas to mid-January: rest, spending time with my family and my man (no social calls), reading and nothing else. It was either that or burnout and I ain’t about to get burnt out on these streets! 

  • Mid-January to mid-February 2020: paying brands and creating space for business strategy, learning, brand DNA work and nothing else (except of course that 30 hour work week). No social media and no events unless I am supporting someone in my team. 

Taking that single minded focus is costly and not easy. I also still wasn’t brave enough to put my out of office on (but that is definitely happening in 2020). The irony is that at the exact time I have zero bandwidth (i.e immediately before and during the concept store) is exactly the time when everyone wants to get in touch - which is lovely and great and there are no easy ways to solve this. I certainly thoroughly pissed off two people for this very reason :( 

Now that I am on the other side of this, I am certain it was the right thing to do. Creating space for deep thought in order to allow the magic of new ideas to settle in is something I will do every January. Not to mention how crucial it is to work on the business and not just in it. I have a greater sense of clarity and perspective of what I want to achieve this year and how best to do so with the time, resources and energy available.  

My approach and the tools and resources I have used

My overall approach is to have a broad range of influences, to look for inspiration at the intersection of disparate themes (because that is where my strengths lie and where I do my best work) and to learn from people who take a tangible approach to business and who are excellent at execution.  

Of course, I am not telling you what to do, simply sharing what has worked for me in the hope that these may help you too. 

Productivity and planning tools & books 

  • Savor life planner

    • I have tried and failed with paper planners and this is the first time I have consistently used a planner. With a 90 day focus, it’s great for setting vision, prioritising self-care, defining priorities, pulling weeds (my fave), planting seeds with a closing ritual at the end of the week. 

    • I was a bit intimidated by it at the start but I quickly got into it and I can see the impact on my output, especially when it comes to doing important things that annoy me and are pesky and necessary. My to-do list is a lot more realistic, I love reflecting at the end of the week and doing a mini-vision board at the start. Also STICKERS! I still use my digital diary for meetings, appointments & reminders. 

    • They are now not shipping to the UK and I am hyperventilating while trying to figure out how to get my next 90 day journal. Ai. 

  • Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’ guided journal: also very good - more for ‘big picture reflective thinking’ than day to day reflections.  It’s the sort of thing that would be good to read a few years down the road. That said, I do really wish it had page numbers and an index at the back. 

  • Drop the Ball by Tiffany Dufu: a great book which I discovered via Luvvie. This book is for you if you are type A, struggle with delegating stuff (in my case it’s not so much the delegation, but wanting peeps to follow the same exact process that I do, instead of focusing on the outcome). Also, I don’t have kids but for those who need their partners to do more, some useful tips there.  

  • The Art of Life Admin by Elizabeth Emens: this was like therapy when my life admin was in flames. 

Personal and business finances  

  • Patricia Bright’s finances spreadsheet: I watched her YouTube video on how she budgets her 65k income and bought a few downloads of her spreadsheet for three other people. With some tweaks to make it work for me, it was much tonnes better than the ratchet one I was using.     

  • Future Retail five-day Facebook sales challenge: Catherine is great. I never have time for Facebook challenges and I am quite bad at completing them. This came at the right time and was great. Ps: I have worked with Catherine one-to-one before (way back in 2017).  

  • Disciplined Entrepreneurship: this is dense, I dip in and out of it when I have a new idea and I need a different way to think about it. It is particularly useful for scaling/scalable businesses  

  • Open Up - the power of talking about money by Alex Holder: such a good book which explores how we relate to and speak about money. Alex is also fab on Instagram, her post about what she earned last year, revenue and time spent was amazing and so brilliant of her to share

  • She Did That - I watched this even before it debuted on Netflix. A US focused take on what it feels like to be a black woman in business. 

  • Sharmadean Reid’s 'All the stuff I got wrong in 2019' is a great first hand and powerfully insightful account from this incredible woman. 

  • For high level business information I loved 'The Defiant Ones' which is Dr Dre & Jimmy Iovine's story (I will watch this every year) and Inside Bill's Brain (three part series on Bill Gates). One day when I am wealthy enough I'll go off on a think week like he does :) 

  • I am still waiting for that Rihanna business documentary and I do not know why no one is making this. 

Women with great vibes, who have designed their lives well and where I follow them  

  • Myleik Teele (Insta/podcast): will snatch your edges with pure wisdom and truth. 

  • Luvvie Ajayi (Insta/podcast): adore her. She is hilarious, has great boundary setting and she shares really useful and practical information. Also 'Jesus and Jollof' podcast is hillarious. 

  • Hitha Palepu (Insta/newsletter): adore her. I love that she is an investor, has her own businesses, does her content stuff, is a mum to two. Her daily #FiveReads helps to make me feel clever and I learned about this brilliant weekly couples’ questions from her. Me and ze man do these every weekend. I am always curious about women who manage to do a lot in one day and how they do it. 

  • Jen Atkin (YouTube) - founder of OUAI: I love her approach to building her brand, her sense of organisation and her day-in-the life videos. PS:It might bother you that she is friends with the Kardashians, it doesn’t bother me. 

  • Annie Ridout (Insta/Newsletter/Private FB group): I discovered her when she had her blog ‘Early Hour’. I don’t have kids but I liked her point of view, her ‘voice’ which is open and non-judgmental. I of course bought her book ‘Freelance Mum’ mostly to support her and I have taken one of her online courses, which are brilliant.  

General inspo, Interiors and concept store inspo 

  • Alexander Gater (YouTube): She is a Toronto based interior designer and I love her budget renovations and often watch these when I am in concept store mode. 

  • Architectural Digest (YouTube): I love some, not all of these. Lenny Kravitz’s Brazilian farm is something else. 

  • Living etc (Magazine): low key interiors inspo.  

  • Edward Enninful’s British Vogue (Magazine): I started reading Vogue again when Edward took over and each edition is inspiring and invigorating. The September edition with the Duchess of Sussex was like early Christmas for me.  

  • Concept stores and pop ups by BRANDLife (Book): I always dip into this from time to time especially when I am considering the intersection of a space and my brand  

  • Huda Beauty, Glossier and Glow Up pop ups (In-person inspo): all decent but not really exceptional in my eyes. I expected a more experiential approach but it was simply beautiful shops selling beautiful product and no more. The Glow up one in particular was meh. I want to visit G Smith Paper and I still cannot believe that I haven’t been to the new LVMH store. 

Rediscovering the magic of creativity 

  • I attended the private view of the Mushrooms exhibition at Somerset House. I was impressed by how they translated a singular concept across a variety of art forms and pieces. 

  • To Catch a Dick by London Hughes (Standup): deliciously rude and I loved it.

  • Big Breasts Matter by Danielle Dash (YouTube and live event): you must read Dani’s blog if you don’t and follow her on Twitter.  I had seen on and off that she was working on this film. I was fortunate enough to attend the launch at the Lush film club and excited to see the final product. You can watch it on YouTube using the link above. 

  • Atarodo London’s exhibition in January, featuring black/WoC female artists at ‘Deptford Does Art’  

  • I have only watched one of the films on my list (Little Women) and I am desperate to watch Parasite, Queen & Slim, Hair Love, 1917, For Sama and so many more.  

This is the year of #TwentyPlenty and I hope some of these resources are helpful to you in achieving your personal and business goals (or both!) 

I am now clear about the six areas that I will be focusing on in Janet’s List this year and I will share where I can. Some areas will remain the same, one or two may change and I will pick up my consultancy work again which I missed. 

I hope these are helpful and give you some ideas on where to look if you are seeking information and inspiration, coupled with tangible and practical ideas. 

I will be blogging (in the first half of the year only) so please do let me know what you’d like me to cover or if you’d like to have a deep dive on anything and I will add it to the list. 

x

Janet