How far is it from academia to lacy underthings? Maybe not as far as you’d think! Four years into her PhD in English Literature, Jeanna walked away from the academic world to sell pretty underwear (though, of course, it’s not quite that simple or straightforward).
Tell us a bit about yourself!
My name is Jeanna Kadlec, and I’m a 28-year-old ex-academic turned entrepreneur. I also consult, freelance, and write on the side. Multi-passionate? Check.
Some of y’all can probably relate to this: you’re a super-driven, super-involved student, know exactly what you want to major in, know exactly what you love… but have no idea what you want to do with it. That was me.
My mom started taking me to Victoria’s Secret when I was young, so I had positive associations with lingerie to start with as a fun piece of clothing that had self-care purposes.
To be honest, I was pretty effing miserable in my graduate program! When I got the idea for Bluestockings, I was already looking for other projects to sink my teeth into that would offer a reprieve from graduate school. And Bluestockings came together as a concept so cohesively, I couldn’t let it go.
They were really supportive of the business idea, especially once I explained how conservative the lingerie industry was and how literally no one was doing this.
Being a completely obsessive graduate student used to throwing myself into research 24/7 definitely helped. Inevitably, I always meet someone at a party or a meetup who wants to start a business and end up talking them through how to get your stuff together legally, how to start researching services/products you can offer. Academia was great training for understanding how to start building a business.
To get a little nitty gritty for all the other entrepreneurs out there, my #1 priority in Year One has been to successfully manage my cash flow. That, more than anything, is what I see as essential for beating the odds. We all know how many small businesses go under. I don’t want Bluestockings to be a statistic. And right now, I feel really good about our chances.
Most popular? The Lace Boxers by Foxers. My customers really love the boxers’ androgynous appeal. They also have a pretty inclusive size range (XS-2X).
I’m really proud of everything Bluestockings stands for and what the business has accomplished. The small difference we are making in the lingerie industry is really encouraging to see.
YOU HAVE A BRAND. Everyone has a personal brand. Have you taken the time to think about what your message is?