Jessica Takimoto is currently in her third year at Queen’s University, pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce degree. She recently launched her own company, flaunta, in October of 2019. We sat down with Jess to learn about her startup journey... this is what she had to say!
I got the inspiration to start flauta from my amazing followers on Instagram! I threw it out to my community and they told me they would be interested in accessories. One person suggested stickers and I immediately thought high-quality decals would be a perfect place to start!
For context, I have been sharing publicly on an Instagram account dedicated to fitness (a.k.a. my “fitsta”) where, since this past May, I have been sharing ins and outs of my life and my work as a fitness professional. To me, fitness is about more than being a specific size, eating kale salads every day, or looking a certain way. Fitness means feeling good about yourself – mentally, physically, and emotionally. My philosophy around fitness and self-confidence was what inspired flaunta. My company is about much more than stickers or products – it about inspiring young leaders to be the best version of themself and live with confidence.
The Big Idea
Flaunta is on a mission to help end the confidence gap. I know that is a BIG idea, but you asked for it!
If you are unfamiliar with the Confidence Gap, it is a theory to explain why the (female/male) Leadership Gap exists. Essentially, the reason women do not hold an equal amount of power as men in our society is not due to a lack of education or qualifications, rather, it is due to a lack of confidence.
This theory argues that as a society, we are raising our boys to be more confident and daring than our girls. Boys are confident in their ability to figure things out, even if they don’t feel qualified, and consequently take more chances on themselves. Because they take chances more frequently, they accomplish big things more frequently, which boosts their confidence. Over the course of a career, these incremental boosts in confidence accumulate to create a wide self-confidence gap, and subsequently a leadership gap.
I have been passionate about women in leadership for as long as I can remember and it recently dawned on me that if we want to end the confidence gap, it doesn’t start in 5, 10, or 20 years when we are in positions of power. It starts by changing the conversations and mindset of young leaders, who will hold these positions. It must start now.
With flaunta, I created products you can see, touch, and share because they serve as tangible reminders for an intangible concept. The big idea is to fundamentally change the way young women think about confidence. By sporting a flaunta product, not only are you reminding yourself to live with confidence, but also opening up the conversation and inspiring others to do the same!
Check out this video to learn more!
The Biggest Challenge
Initially, this was supposed to be a team project for my digital marketing class. Unfortunately, my team ended up splitting and I was faced with the choice of joining another team and giving up on my vision for flaunta, or doing the entire project myself.
Keep in mind this is supposed to be a 3-6 person project, but I had already come up with the concept and the name, and I was in love with the idea. My professor ultimately left the decision up to be, but I distinctly remember him saying, “It will be A LOT of work, but not many people can say they LOVE their project”. That sold me.
He wasn’t kidding when he said it would be a ton of work. Without a doubt, the most challenging aspect of starting this company has been doing it by myself. On one hand, I get to be creative and run with my ideas without needing approval or buy-in from anyone else, which is really awesome. The caveat is that I have to do everything. I do the strategy, ideation, product design, purchasing, inventory management, order fulfillment, shipping, social media management, website design, marketing, in-person popups, finances, analytics, customer service, and more. I started this semester thinking I would learn about digital marketing and social media, but here I am running a full-fledged online business on top of my schoolwork, work-work, and other responsibilities!
Although it is a ton of work, I loved the idea when I started, and I still love it. I thrive on challenges, and what started as a school project has quickly become a passion project. I literally spend all of my spare time (and then some) either running flaunta or something related to fitness/my blog – and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Plans for the Future
Plans for the future? What an excellent question! The short answer to the question is “We’ll see!”
The long answer is I am going on International Exchange to Singapore next semester and since I am the founder and only person running flaunta so far, it is limited by the constraints of my lifestyle. This semester was probably the worst timing to start a business, but then again, is the timing ever really right?
I still feel like I’m just getting started, and plans for the future are not concrete right now. I actually just celebrated 1 month in business last Thursday, which was very exciting for me! For the next few months, I am thinking of taking a “sabbatical” and continuing to share motivational content while I am abroad. Provided the consumer interest and demand is there, I would love to continue running this business when I return next summer, as well as throughout the rest of my degree and beyond.
I have tons of ideas for future products and am always looking for new ones! The big dream would be to grow flaunta and become a well-known lifestyle brand on a mission. The mission is key. I think it will always be intertwined with my work in fitness and social media influence, which is also relatively new and growing. I want you to be a part of it all and I hope you join me on this journey!
Calls to Action
If my mission resonates with you, please support flaunta and buy a sticker! They are high-quality decals and perfect for your phone, laptop, or water bottle. Plus, they make amazing gifts for friends! (Did I mention there is a 20% discount off orders of 3 or more and $1 Canada-wide shipping?!)
Check out her sticker collection here -->