“I have learned so many lessons when it comes to business, but I feel like the most empowering lesson that I have learned is failure is okay sometimes.” ~ Jessica Simpson
There’s really no gentle way to say this – Many people consider Jessica Simpson to suffer from the classic “dumb blonde” syndrome. However, her net worth of $150 million provides ample evidence that she’s clearly doing something right.
If you cut through all the media and even self-proclaimed ditzy material, what you find is a woman who has built a powerful personal brand. Since launching her singing career in 1999, that brand has translated into a wide range of offerings in no fewer than 30 different product categories that generate in excess of $1 billion in sales each year. How ditzy is that?
Here are five lessons any entrepreneur can learn from this blonde bombshell:
1. Consistency in Brand Excellence
Some would say that Jessica Simpson is consistent in being extremely blonde. The media loves to poke fun at her. But guess what? She uses that to her advantage. Most of what the media covers are simple gaffes that many of us have made at one time or another. The only difference is that Simpson is in the limelight – and for good reason.
Her consistency can easily be seen in her music career, which boasts 7 Billboard Top 40 hits, three gold and two multi-platinum albums, four of which made it into the top ten of the Billboard 200. Then she took this consistent achievement and brought it into the business world, launching the Jessica Simpson Collection in 2006 that includes a fashion line of clothing for women, along with a host of other items ranging from handbags, sunglasses and accessories to jewelry, shoes and fragrances.
She consistently offers products that appeal to her customers, and consistently keeps adding new product lines. Other celebrity brands have come and gone, but Simpson’s is here to stay, which is why it is now considered to be the most successful celebrity fashion clothing venture in history.
2. The Customer is King (or Queen, in this case)
The consistency highlighted in the first lesson has translated well in her business strategy, which is to make women feel empowered and confident by the products they buy and wear. What’s unique in her approach is that she doesn’t cater to a particular high-end market segment – she produces top-quality products for all ages and all sizes.
When she became a mom, she made sure to launch a maternity clothing line that has done very well. By 2013 the maternity line had to be expanded to meet high customer demand.
When it comes to paying attention to what her customers want and what will make them feel good about themselves, Simpson understands both the art and the science of the process. That’s why she can say that her brand has surpassed even her own celebrity, and be happy about. Women everywhere can get the Jessica Simpson look, and afford it as well.
3. Strategic Retail Partnerships
Having great product lines is one thing, but getting them in front of the consuming public is another. Simpson has shown laser-like savvy when it comes to forging lucrative partnerships with major retailers to carry her products. Her fashion products can be found in no fewer than 650 department stores across the country, including such major chains as Lord & Taylor, Belk, Macy’s, Nordstrom, Bonton, Dillard’s, Zappos and, of course, Amazon.
When it came time to launch her maternity line, she teamed up with Destination Maternity, which was a great move. That company has the corner on maternity outlets in malls around the country, with a 25% share of the market that generates more than $2 billion in annual sales.
Oh, and this “ditzy” blonde is smart to make deals where she gets a healthy slice of wholesale.
4. When You’re On a Roll, Keep Rollin’
With her expanding fashion empire and related products pulling in $1 billion in sales each year, you’d think Simpson might just sit back and enjoy the ride, but you’d be wrong. She plays her cards close to the vest when it comes to talking about next moves, but there are plenty of well-founded rumors that she’s looking into a baby line and possibly a home collection as well. Maybe she’ll launch a new reality show about being a mom. Whatever she does, you can pretty well bet it’s going to be a success if her business history to date is any indication.
5. Develop a Thick Skin
When you have a vision and the passion to go for it, there will always be detractors who thumb their noses at you and try to derail your dream. Now imagine trying to do that when you’re saddled with the ditzy blonde image. Will she ever live down that moment when she questioned whether Chicken of the Sea tuna was poultry or fish way back in 2003? Perhaps more importantly – did she do it on purpose?
The point is that Simpson has developed a thick enough skin to not worry about all the hoopla the media makes about her seemingly naïve missteps. If anything, she’s learned how to expertly play them up and use them to gain additional media exposure and attention.
Jessica Simpson is a beautiful and successful woman, whether you judge her by her music career or her business savvy. Her consistency in building a popular brand that works for a very wide range of women, her strategic retail partnerships, her continual expansion into new product categories and her thick skin, all translate into a net worth of $150 million that looks like it’s only going to keep growing. The above five lessons from this “ditzy” blonde are ones that any entrepreneur should take to heart.