Photos By Nolan P. Schmidt
The Coronavirus pandemic has hit small businesses especially hard. It has taken a great deal of mental fortitude to continue to operate small businesses across the country. Even riskier is opening a small business during these pandemic times.
Jade + Jasper owner Ashley Nowacki took those risks and was able to make them pay off. Nowacki did not attend school for business nor did she attend university for any sort fo retail or merchandising training. In fact, she went to school for communications and remained in that field for a number of years.
Yet, Nowacki was unfulfilled in her creative life. That is what led her down the road of business ownership. The result is Jade + Jasper, which specializes in women’s clothing and providing retail therapy inside the new The Lights district in West Fargo.
Perhaps more importantly, Nowacki has become a role model to her daughter Jade (for whom the store is named) throughout this process. Nowacki gave birth to her second child while preparing Jade + Jasper for its grand opening. Her success as a business owner has trickled down to her life as a mom. With her budding business, she is teaching her kids that anything is possible.
You said you originally went to school for communications. How do you end up starting your own small business from that?
It’s a long story. I feel like I have that right brain and left brain balance and I’m only happy if both of those are being satisfied.
I was in the event world for a while right out of college and I did some media buying too. For a long time, the event world kind of lit my soul on fire. It satisfied both. Then I fell into media buying and it was definitely catered more to that left brain. I still felt that need to do something creative though. So I actually started with a multilevel marketing company just to get that creative fire going on the side.
I just fell in love with meeting with women and helping them find things that made them feel good about themselves and I wanted to take it to that next level. Now, my creativity doesn’t have any bounds anymore. I get to do what I want and just let my creativity run wild. That is what kind of led me here, but it took a while to get there.
What were some of the biggest hurdles in starting Jade + Jasper?
I think learning to trust my gut and knowing that things will work out. That is kind of the biggest thing that I’m always working through. I was really taking a leap when I did this. It took me a while to basically build up those wings and go because there is really no one here teaching me how to do this stuff. It’s trying to push a business and make it bigger and better every day. In that respect, I am learning as I go in many respects.
On the opposite side of that, what have been the biggest rewards?
This experience has been very rewarding. They always say ‘once you work for yourself, you’ll never want to go back’. I have been thinking ‘why didn’t I do this sooner?’
It’s a risk that I took and some days are harder than others, but I don’t regret it
at all. I love it. I think the biggest reward has been doing this with my family. My husband is also an entrepreneur and he has had my back from day one. The store is named after my eight-year-old daughter and she thinks it’s the coolest thing ever. Seeing her even tell her little friends or tell her teachers about it and be proud of me is amazing.
And how impactful do you think this process has been for your daughter? To see her mom succeed at something like starting a business.
I think it’s been really impactful to her. I think she is very proud of me. I think she has a confidence about her where she doesn’t feel like there’s anything she can’t do. She is invincible in her own mind. I like to think that some of that came from me and showing her that you can do the things you want if you work for it. There’s nothing that you can’t do if you work hard and you can see that confidence in her now. It’s just really something and it’s so fun to watch.
Fashion and shopping have so many different niches. How did you settle on women’s clothing as the base of Jade + Jasper?
I think you have to be a shopaholic at heart to do this, right? I get to shop and I get to shop for others. Then, there is just something about that connection with women that come in here. We just have a lot of fun. Like on Saturday, my store was buzzing, we had music going and there was just something fun about that. It’s a great atmosphere.
I think part of it is that there is a lot of pressure on women these days, right? You’re a mom, you’re working hard, you have to remember everything, you have to plan birthday parties, plan vacations, grocery shop, meal plan, work out and do all these things. There has to be an outlet for that because otherwise women get burnt out. Women will come in here and they’ll come in on their lunch break and say they just need a minute. They needed a minute to themselves before they pick up the kids or before they go back to work. They just needed a little retail therapy. Luckily, I get to provide that for them, which is rewarding for me too. Sometimes, you just need something for yourself and if it’s just coming in and looking at pretty things, then so be it.
What sort of advice would you give your former self before this whole journey began?
That’s a really good question. I need to remind myself of this every day, but just to give myself grace. I’m very hard on myself and I think we’re all our own worst critics. I wake up every day thinking about what I can do better. Figuring out what I need to do to change. That can be taxing. I think to give myself grace would be the thing I would tell myself.
Also, to just enjoy it. This last year has been an absolute blur with everything that has happened. At times, it seems like we needed things to speed up and we wanted to fast forward through it. Then there were times where things were moving a little too fast. I feel like I’ve taken little mental pictures throughout the journey. However, I need to take time to relax and actually enjoy the journey too.
What can the Fargo- Moorhead-West Fargo community do to help Jade + Jasper?
Shopping local is so important, especially now. If you have a good experience, pass that along. I feel like so often, you only share if you have a bad experience somewhere. If you have a good experience here, please tell your friends. Please share the word, continue to check us out and give us a chance. Maybe you don’t find something the first time you come in, but give us a second chance to try again. The power of sharing the word is massive, especially now.
Jade + Jasper
3150 Sheyenne St Suite 180, West Fargo