What I discovered behind the dazzling beauty and glamour of the Jenna Clifford jewellery brand is a tough woman who questions all the rules and sees beyond outward appearance.
Jenna takes her whole life experience into who she is as a businesswoman, even the heartbreak she endured when her first marriage ended in divorce. “Pain is your friend. We are taught pain is something you bury. It’s not.”
It’s the same when she designs a piece of jewellery for someone; it’s a mirror of their deeper selves and desires, and draws them to their dreams. Jenna helps others see their painful experiences in a different way. “I always tell people that when it’s difficult, it’s your opportunity for success.”
She describes her upbringing as “tough”. Her father could be a determined and ruthless businessman and the same applied to his role as a family man. He imposed a strict sporting regime on Jenna; she was in the pool 4 hours a day – in the early morning hours and again in the evening.
In hindsight, Jenna says, sport was one of her greatest teachers.
It gave her self-discipline and determination – qualities that defined her as a businesswoman and entrepreneur. “Pretty much it’s given me the resilience in this business to hang on through tough times and never give up. So sport is good. It’s an absolute essential.”
What sport didn’t give Jenna was a sense of her femininity and beauty. She says as a young athlete, she never felt like a woman. Landing a temp position at Estee Lauder, at age 17, changed that.
Jenna adored Estee Lauder for what she stood for as a woman, but also because she was, in those days, one of the few women in business. “That was my draw card to try get into cosmetics. I didn’t know then that it primed me for what Jenna Clifford is today. It entered me into a world of glamour, it taught me how to apply makeup, it taught me the art of conversation, of not being shy, it taught me lots of subliminal talents.”
At the end of the interview, Jenna looks at me squarely and points her finger, “Who said so.” This is not a question. It’s a command. A way of thinking. And she emphasises every word, each one a bit louder than the next, “Who. Said. So!” Jenna’s telling me to question the rules, just as she always has.
I leave Jenna’s studio with a gift. During the interview she’d picked up the phone, made a few curt commands and, when I left, the gift was ready and waiting for me at reception.
Later, I look Inside the gift bag and find, among the sweetest-smelling rose petals, a jar of liquid gold accompanied by an unusual pewter honey dipper with an elephant figurine wrapped around the stem.
They make such a startling combination; the elephant and the honey. For me, it says so much about Jenna. Her acute business sense on one hand and her supernatural spiritual intelligence on the other. And, just like the honey dipper, it changes the rules in the most surprising and wonderful ways.
Take out: What we can learn from Jenna is that all our experiences in life, personally and professionally, can add to the quality of the business we shape. There is no right way to grow a business. Bring your own unique way of thinking to your business. Question rules and norms, because, “Who said so?”.
Author: Nicky Grandin