Jessica Santander is a young entrepreneur who found her inspiration for aesthetics in the roots of her culture. After deciding to pursue a creative lifestyle, she is now the CEO and founder of Jessica Santander, a jewelry company. Santander’s journey shows how you can honor your dreams and culture, live your life embracing the best of all of your sides, and shine like a diamond.
A passion for fashion
“I feel becoming ‘you’ is always an evolving journey to really just appreciate the factor of exploration.” – Jessica Santander.
Jessica Santander grew up in upstate New York and soon moved to Delaware. Both of her parents, who came from humble backgrounds, emigrated to the U.S. from South America. So, Santander grew up surrounded by both Brazilian, Colombian and American cultures. “I wanted to become an actor or just do something on my own in fashion,” she remembers.
While pursuing her marketing degree in Tampa, FL, she did not forget the hopes of that girl who wanted to bring that human element to everything she did, always offering a helping hand and radiating compassion. She’s always had “a passion for fashion, for arts and for storytelling. To be a modern-day woman doing her thing, creating her own story, that would also be an inspiring light to others.”
Many years later, she decided to start creating her own jewelry—“because it’s one thing that can be a million things in the minds and hearts of another woman.”
If you want to craft, build a team
How do you start a jewelry business? Santander not only designs but manufactures some of her own jewelry. However, she’s built a long-lasting relationship with suppliers she deeply trusts, because of their ethical standards and GIA (Gemological Institute of America) certification. GIA is a nonprofit institution that protects and educates the public about gems and jewelry.
She takes pride in saying her products are not only handmade in the U.S. but ethically sourced.
Storytelling through jewelry
When I ask Jessica if each piece has a tale to tell behind it, she smiles and says that all of them do.
“I could get really detailed with our stories. We do have some general stories that reflect our overall passion and purpose. Standing tall, the joy of reimagining that and allowing that to be your own vibrant superpower in the making. But then we also love to entail some specific stories. A mixture of elements that comes from my own culture, or specific childhood memories. Like going on trips to Brazil, and Colombia. Bits and pieces that have always stuck with me. I used to travel to New York to see my grandparents, and I would see so many different women from all different backgrounds, walking in the streets of Manhattan. I was mesmerized.”
Santander describes how the myriad of styles, accessories and colors deeply inspired her. Besides her own memories, she honors other icons such as Queen Elizabeth or Audrey Hepburn.
Something to feel inspired by every day
I can’t help but feel curious, asking her about her favorite piece. She points to a bracelet on her wrist, and explains to me it’s made of Aqua sandstone, as she’s called it “Envision and Create Bracelet.”
Santander tells me that specific piece belongs to the first summer collection that she ever designed. Inspired by her internship experience with Jaclynn Brennan from Fylí, she says that the phrase “envision and create” has become a mantra for her career and personal life.
By explaining how the colors and the texture make her remember her own words of affirmation, the accessories gain inspirational and protective values. Santander pours love into every piece. Ultimately, her mission is to make others feel as she feels when she wears her bracelet- inspired, balanced, and confident.
Where do you see your company growing to be? What is your vision?
So far, Santander’s jewelry can be found at several local boutiques. But her ultimate goal is to have stores all over the world—and a Jessica Santander’s standalone flagship shop. “I would love to have an everyday opportunity for our customers to be able to walk in to experience our brand, and just have those special moments to connect”.
Santander shares that her mission, as any woman entrepreneur would relate to, is to find creative ways to live out the philanthropic values of empowering women, especially through educational opportunities. For example, finding nonprofit partnerships, campaigns for different causes, or teaming up with universities.
Reborn and rebranded
“It’s essential to always recognize your personal and professional accomplishments. Life gets hard. And we can just get stuck in that little darkness phase.”
Santander recalls an inspiring moment. Not only did she make it through 2020 as a business, at a time when about 39.3 percent of small businesses failed, but her FIRST year of business. “That was the year that I was going to dedicate myself and my brand to getting out there with our local markets, really establish our brand awareness through personal retail experiences.” But then, the pandemic hit, and everything came to a halt. It was challenging and scary. But at the end of 2020 came a whole new beautiful, illuminating site, with the decision to rebrand.
“We had everything from the brand voice to the brand vision, to our digital footprint, to really speak and be where I envisioned it to be. Being able to work with mindset coaches, and brand strategists, throughout the year of the pandemic, had really been a blessing in disguise to help our brand. Just be as a clear light as how I wish and desire to be to where it is today.”
Ever since, Jessica Santander is living her mantra every day (“envision and create”). She will soon be a part of the Sustainable Luxury panel for New York Now, talking about how her brand incorporates philanthropic efforts, and still be able to live out a luxury aesthetic.
Community will fuel you to the stars and beyond
Jessica Santander’s business has received so much support. Friends and customers provide frequent affirmation, and even help expand online visibility by sharing content on their Instagram stories. She emphasizes how having a full circle, inclusive experience with their community really makes everything so much better, and a whole world of a difference.
Santander has a keen focus on purpose-driven partnerships with women and businesses, spotlighting remarkable figures like Selena Gomez and Lisa Dewey. These partnerships aim to foster collaboration and inspire a crossover of industries. Lisa Dewey’s journey from a tech finance background to pioneering her cupcake business and Selena Gomez’s impressive success in the makeup industry serve as powerful examples that deeply inspire and resonate with Santander.
How to put your best self out there 101:
“We entrepreneurs, especially as women, tend to combat self-doubt or impostor syndrome. It’s really been a learning curve to be more so of an extrovert when it comes to working for my business.”
As Jessica Santander points out, sometimes we haven’t had our coffee yet, maybe we’re tired, or maybe we aren’t feeling that social. But still, we need to get the job done. But we still need to show up, and that’s so much more than we give ourselves credit for.
“Presentation is to just be in the moment. You have this opportunity to connect, to share your story, to share your dream with others, and let that just be its own adrenaline of excitement.”
So, she explains, it’s about finding your own inner energy to let that be of light in your own world. To give yourself the chance to learn about and to trust yourself.
One last piece of advice: find your people
Find your community of entrepreneurs.
As a part of the Fylí community we previously covered in Lioness, she says, “It’s been a life changer. Being vulnerable, sharing your struggles, sharing what you need of help. Talking to other women from so many different backgrounds, and from so many different stories and walks of life is simply magical. It really helps you feel safer, that you’re not alone, and to really pour your heart out. There are incredible human beings out there that want to help you succeed as well.”
Everybody is on a different journey, and everyone can always offer advice. Remember to stay focused, inspired, to gather your own things that remind you of your affirmations, and keep walking the path.
It’s hard to stay true to yourself and your power, but reading Discovering Power, Book One in the Ascending Ladders Series could help you out!