An Interview with Business Manager Cara Jackson
Photo cred: Heidi Ross
A fashion designer, an artist and a lawyer walk into a bar. And they all leave happy because the lawyer is Cara Jackson. Cara is the go-to for Nashville's creative community. Do you know what a lot of us who are creative entrepreneurs don't have, especially if we're women? Investors. I mean, we also don't have disposable income, but we're too busy to shop anyway. Without investors, there are no lawyers, strategists, or business managers.
Being a creative entrepreneur is surprisingly litigious. Designs get stolen, art gets damaged, contracts get breached, contracts get made with major retailers, commercial leases get signed, no one wants to pays you ever, etc. Also, we didn't go to business school. Strategy, smart growth. What's that? How great would it be if there was someone you could hire to help you, someone who was already immersed in the local fashion and art scene? Oh wait, there is, and she's today's bitch. Meet Cara Jackson!
What do you do and what is the name of your business?
I’m a recovering-intellectual-property-lawyer-turned-business-manager for fashion designers and creative entrepreneurs. The easiest way to describe what I do is I’m a part-time CEO for creative businesses.
When did you first learn about this field of work? How did you know it was what you wanted to do?
I knew that business managers existed in the music industry, but I hadn’t thought of its application to fashion until Van Tucker planted the seed in my head. I’ve always loved being around really talented, creative people, and the idea of putting my legal and business skills to work to help them manage and grow their businesses was basically how I would have described my dream job.
What is the best piece of business advice you’ve been given?
When I was starting my business, one of my mentors told me that the strongest word in my arsenal would be “no”—no to business opportunities that would steer me off course and no to clients who are not a good fit for me (and vice versa). And, of course, he was right.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned or that helped improve the way you work?
To know my strengths, focus on doing what I’m good at, and then find smart people who are great at the things that I can’t or shouldn’t be doing. This might sound dramatic, but I really do believe that trying to do everything yourself is the quickest route to failure.
What would you do with 2 more hours a day?
Cook and read more. And I have a sneaking suspicion that I could easily find an extra 2 hours if I would just put down my phone on occasion (hello, Instagram)…
What has been the biggest sacrifice you’ve made?
One thing that I’ve definitely had to get used to are the ups and downs of start-up life. A steady paycheck, benefits and vacation days are a fond, distant memory, but I wouldn’t trade them for the sheer adventure of the last almost 2 years.
What is your greatest success, or something you’re most proud of related to what you do?
When one of my clients has a great sales month or lands a major account or gets fantastic press, that makes me proud. Helping other people achieve success makes me feel successful.
Do you have a morning ritual that helps you set the tone for the day?
Working out in the mornings is a priority for me because it wakes me up and gives me energy for the day. When I’m feeling stretched thin, I make extra time in the morning for meditation and journaling, and I won’t check my email or social media until those things are done. But if I wake up and am just not feeling any of that, then a good, strong cup of coffee can set the right tone.
How do you decompress at night?
Usually by catching up on industry news or watching something on Netflix with a snoring pup beside me.
What helps when you’re stuck? Do you have a motto or quote that inspires/motivates you?
I get stuck when I have too much to do, and I can’t decide where to begin. When that happens, I write down a list of everything that needs to be done, and then I pick the simplest task. Quickly knocking out that first task and crossing it off the list motivates me to keep going.
What does self care look like in your life?
Going to the gym or doing yoga, eating (mostly) healthy and getting plenty of sleep is how I do self care. I also try to find time for a massage and treat myself to a nail service or facial at Poppy & Monroe once a month.
Are there any women who helped pave the way for your success?
There are too many to name. Every woman who has worked with me, referred a client to me, graciously spent time with me over coffee and offered advice, or even just given me a small word of encouragement. You know who you are, and I am forever grateful.
Lastly, and most important, what is your favorite TV show and what is your favorite snack?
I don’t spend much time in front of the TV, but I did just binge watch Big Little Lies and LOVED it. My favorite snack right now would have to be Living Raw truffles. Any kind. They’re crazy good.
All photos courtesy of Cara Jackson