The Sassy Jones Founder on Small Business Leadership | Tory Burch Foundation

Build my team

The Sassy Jones Founder on Small Business Leadership

2020 Fellow Charis Jones talks investing in your team and bringing your best self to your business.

Charis Jones knows what it takes to build a team. The 2020 Tory Burch Fellow and founder of the accessories company Sassy Jones has built her brand in a big way since its 2013 launch, landing an HSN partnership and a spot on Forbes’ list of 25 small business standouts that have thrived during the pandemic last year. It’s her vision and leadership that really make Jones a standout. Inc. Magazine took notice, naming her number 75 on their Inc. 5000, a list of fastest-growing private businesses, and tapping her expertise in an article on leadership advice from some of the fastest-growing Black-owned businesses in the country. 

Though 2020 was an incredibly tough year for many, Charis Jones managed to flourish as a business owner in that time. She was more than happy to share some hard-won insights with our community, answering their questions in an “ask me anything” on our Instagram. Here’s what the forward-thinking entrepreneur had to say about small business leadership, nurturing talent and more.

Q: Your leadership is amazing. What do you feel are the most important qualities in a leader?

A: Thank you! A fierce level of accountability and ownership, a servant’s heart and strong shoulders. 

Q: What tools do you use to identify your team members’ talents and to place them in the right positions?

A: Talent is incredibly special to me. We use tools like the Enneagram and 360 feedback to identify the right fits. For leadership positions, we actually go as far as allowing our customers to interview [prospective leaders] unexpectedly on livestream  to uncover traits. We are looking for a certain mentality and “quicktuitiveness”. However, you have to be in your role one year (to become an expert) before being promoted or transitioned.

Q: What practices did you find most successful for growing your network? More specifically, what did you think was a real game changer in terms of pushing your business to the next level?

A: I’d say joining a few communities that were catered to businesses in a similar growth phase so that we could share best practices and elevate one another. The real game changer came from a specific community called Traffic, Sales and Profit on Facebook. Check it out. It’s a great resource!

Q: How can leaders support someone who’s ready to step into a more senior role?

A: Ensure they have all the access, training and knowledge to ascend to the next level. The only way to really support effectively is by taking a step back and actually allowing them to feel their way through it while we remain in their silent corner. Frequent structured feedback is a must, however.

Q: What was the biggest mindset shift that you made to help you show up more fully for your business?

A: The biggest mindset shift hands down was believing that success is certain. Knowing that my gift will always make room for me, as long as I’m willing to put in the right work. That perspective has tremendously changed my approach to everything, from securing deals to designing a new collection.

Q: What self-sabotage habits have you had to face and break to take your business to the next level?

A: Definitely tying my worth to my results. I would beat myself up if something failed miserably or take all the blame for an employee leaving. And it took therapy–still does! I now understand that I’m worthy, regardless of the outcome and I encourage our community to live with the same mantra.

Q: Do you have a scripture that is your absolute anchor? How do you bring god into your business?

A: I live on Ecclesiastes 5:3: “Overwork makes for restless sleep, overtalk shows you up as a fool.” That scripture keeps me balanced. We bring God into Sassy Jones with our pearls of wisdom at the end of every Sparkle Party [a livestream accessory styling tutorial], offering encouragement to our viewers. Even internally, we open meetings with meditation and/or prayer. 

Q: How do you find good, reliable people for order fulfillment roles? I’m struggling with this right now.

A: Craigslist! Yep! We have a HR consultant who keeps the roles filled now, but my founding team members all came from Craigslist. Those are sometimes the candidates who want it most!

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