Interview with Tastefully Simple Founder and CEO – Jill Blashack Strahan

Jill Tastefully SimpleTell us a little bit about Tastefully Simple and how it got started.

I often say that Tastefully Simple was founded on a dream and a shoestring. And I am NOT exaggerating. I bootstrapped the business with $6,000 in savings, a $10,000 investment from a silent partner (Joani Nielson, who would later take on an active role as our COO) and a $20,000 SBA loan. And the rest is history!

 Back in June 1995, our headquarters was a 1,200-square-foot shed with no running water, and we used a pool table as our packing station. Today Tastefully Simple has grown to become a $100 million-plus company with more than 23,000 direct sales consultants across the country. (And yes, sometimes I STILL need to pinch myself!)

Tastefully Simple offers a home-based business opportunity for women – tell us more about this.

Our business opportunity helps people improve their lives with whatever they want most… from more flexibility to more friendships to more income. We ask people, what do you want? Some want to spend more time at home with their children, while others want to get out of the house! Some want an excuse to get together with their friends on a Friday night. And everyone wants great food and more time. Whatever you want most in your life, you deserve it. And you can find it with Tastefully Simple.

The most successful consultants are those who, as I say, “Dream it, believe it and work it.” When your head, heart and hands are aligned in focus on your goals, amazing things happen!

What are the startup costs for becoming a consultant, and what does it include?

Our Business Blast Off Kit, which costs $170 plus tax, or three payments of $56.66 plus tax, ($195 for consultants in Alaska, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and for APO addresses) includes everything new consultants need to do their first four parties. In addition, consultants have access to a wide variety of online resources, printed pieces, coaching and support from the team at HQ. Consultants also receive a membership to Inspirada Dreams, an online goal-setting resource and community.

What has been the most difficult lesson you have learned as an entrepreneur?

One of our favorite phrases at Tastefully Simple is “we reserve the right to get smarter.” There’s a gentle humor about it that puts people at ease, but more importantly, it lets us be authentic and frees us from trying to be perfect.

 Mistakes are as much a part of the process of our growth as doing things “right.” One of the great things about being real is that we give ourselves permission to stumble. As long as we can be honest, not get bogged down, and learn how to move on, there’s always an opportunity to grow. Over the years, I relied heavily on our consultants, our clients and our own intuition to help us figure things out as we went along.

One thing I’ve had to learn is to fall in love with change – and recognize that even the clearest vision may need tweaking from time to time. I’ve had several occasions when I felt very strongly that something was RIGHT – until someone else’s fresh perspective gave me new insight.

What advice would you give direct sales consultants on how to build a great business?

Have the courage to START from where you are today. Understand that there will be adversity along the way and believe in yourself and your ability to overcome any obstacles. Fill your life with people who will encourage and support you. Be very clear about what you want, have faith in that vision, and be willing to do the work that’s necessary because the harder you work, the luckier you get!

And finally, this is your business. Work it like a business by being consistent in doing parties, offering the business opportunity and providing excellent client care.

Tastefully Simple generated 96 million in revenue in 2012, how were you able to achieve this kind of success?

Tastefully Simple really offers people three things – simplicity, a rewarding experience and life improvement. Our products sell because they are superb and convenient. Our parties give friends and family the chance to have fun together.

In addition, to be sustainable you have to have an extraordinary brand, which is driven by great products and an excellent, consistent image. Another factor is our culture. The most successful companies create a forward-focused, supportive culture by defining their expectations. At Tastefully Simple, we’re known for having a lot of fun, but people also know what’s expected of them. Third, we build trust through humbleness and gratitude.

How do you manage all of your personal and business activities?

I admit I’m not a shining example of a life-balanced CEO. On average, I work 60 hours a week ─ 8:00 am to 7:00 pm and one hour of work from home each night.

When I do “play” I enjoy dancing with my husband Gary, reading (well, more like skimming!) and having stimulating conversations and lots of laughs with friends.

My personal definition of success is to be at peace and live a life of no regrets. When I reflect and act on my personal goals, which relate to my spirituality, family, social life, wellness, intellectual growth, finances and career, I find that sense of peace. Life isn’t perfect, but it is overflowing with teachings.

Come connect with Tastefully Simple on Twitter @tastefullysimpl, Facebook, Pinterest or find out more at TastefullySimple.com.

This interview is sponsored by Tastefully Simple. All opinions I express are my own. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.

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