Starting your own business, project or event can be extremely strenuous and exhausting. It takes persistence, dedication, and most importantly action to make something work. Today’s Balanced Babe enraptures all of the characteristics it takes to be an entrepreneur, and she is sharing her tips with you!
Please meet: Jennifer Lezan – Veguilla!
Hi readers! My name is Jennifer Lezan-Veguilla and I currently live in Naperville, IL, but grew up in Chicago – specifically Humboldt Park on the west side of the city. I am a business owner, designer and professor. I am one of the Founders of and Editor-in-Chief of Halfstackmag.com. Halfstack was launched in March of 2012. Halfstack is the latest in lifestyle magazines focused on and dedicated to the local Chicago and suburban community. We showcase musicians, designers, boutiques, brands, artists, local entrepreneurs & social changers who are the rise because of the impact they are making and the hard work they are putting into their craft.
Halfstack is a brand that believes in attainability & sustainability. It is here to highlight careers, fashion and lifestyles that can be sought after by normal people & that leave a positive impact on this world. We hope to inspire people from all walks of life, cultures & backgrounds to follow their dreams by inspiring & guiding them through the images & stories on the pages of the magazine.
The mission of Halfstack is to share the love and help other brands and creatives reach their capacity & give them the exposure that they deserve. Aside from Halfstack, I also run (design, create and produce) an independent childrens-wear line -Bella+Sophia Clothing. Bella+Sophia clothing was launched last October 2013.
Bella + Sophia is a modern line of children-swear dedicated to high quality, innovative and comfort design. The brand is based out of Chicago and focuses on sustainable and local sourcing as well as making a difference in the community. The brand is designed by me and inspired by my two young daughters Bella & Sophia.
At the heart of the business is a genuine desire to educate, reform & inspire the youth from underserved communities. As a young girl, I grew up poor, to single mother along with my younger brother in a rough community in the “hood” of Chicago. I witnessed domestic violence in my family, drug and alcohol abuse and had family in gangs. The violence & heart ache I saw as a child affected the decisions I have made as an adult and now parent to do better and make the world better for my girls. If readers are interested – they can read more about my life story here.
Through hard work and persistence we can truly change the world and we must start with the children. With this idea in place, a portion of the sales of each garment goes back to the community through local non-profit organizations catering to the underserved, minority and at risk youth. Kids like who I was growing up. Despite my upbringing and despite my hardships I came out on top and I know without a doubt in my heart that the kids out there who are facing similar circumstances – no matter their background – have a shot at this world if we give them a chance.
Now, it seems like I do a lot, but I believe that when you love what you do, it doesn’t always feel like work. So, one final aspect of my career path is my role as a teacher. I also am an adjunct (part-time) professor teaching in the Fashion Department at The Illinois Institute of Art Schaumburg and the AEMM Dept. at Columbia College.
BB: What is the inspiration behind Halfstack Magazine?
Halfstack was inspired by my dreams to run my own business that culminated my experience and talent in the fashion industry as well as my love for fashion, art, music and graphic design. I saw a need in the industry for a publication that was focused on attainability and that could work as a platform for independent creatives to share their voices and talent. While major glossies like Vogue are beautiful to look at, much of the product that they showcase is out of the budget range of every day people. While I think it is great to be aspirational, I wanted to showcase to our readers that you can still look good, feel good and do good on a budget. I also wanted to curate the local up and coming talent and give them an opportunity that they might not get in a major publication like Rolling Stone. Up and Comers and Rising Stars have a place in the pages of Halfstack. 2 Years ago I left corporate to pursue this dream of running a digital publication and have never looked back.
BB: You are what I consider a wonder woman; a professor, mother and wife, and multiple business owner. What is your favorite way to relax after a busy day?
Thank you for that Sarah. To be honest, I think ALL women are wonder women! We have this amazing skill as females to multi task and manage all the ups and downs life throws at us – that in of itself is a super power. When it comes to relaxation, I will be 100% honest, there are some days and even weeks where I am running on auto pilot with to-dos and lists that I don’t always get an opportunity to slow down. BUT, as I get older I realize that I need to take time to myself. I am nearing 30 and I am learning that taking care of me is so important in order for me to care for my family and care for my businesses. So, if I don’t get a chance to relax – I can’t beat myself up over it and that is one way I am trying to take care of me and relax. I can’t always schedule it out. But I am learning to be flexible and make room for myself and for decompression. There is a beauty to running your own business- I get to set my own hours. So, if there is a day that I can steal away some time to relax and spend a few hours at the park or zoo with the girls, I do it without batting a lash. One of the new ways I am learning to help me decompress and handle my stress is yoga and meditation. I was doing Bikram Yoga for a while and now I am getting back into running, but just taking 15 minutes at the end of the day to just sit and breathe and let my mind clear really works wonders for me. Just letting go and being mindful and taking time to listen to my inner heart really does help me destress. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s been one of the hardest but rewarding things to just sit, clear my mind and do nothing for 15 minute period.
BB: What is the most rewarding aspect about running an online magazine?
The most rewarding aspect of running Halfstack has to be the amazing relationships I have formed over the years. I am constantly surrounding by beautiful creative minds. I am beyond blessed to have the team I have working alongside me. I have a group of people who share my vision and who are working just as hard as me to help bring it to fruition and try and make it successful.
BB: What is your advice to other entrepreneurs wanting to start any sort of online media outlet?
Be ready to work, be ready to fail, be ready to get back up and be ready to keep going. It’s hard work, but it’s so worth it in the long run to do what you love. It doesn’t happen over night and it can be an uphill battle sometimes. Yet, if you truly believe in the work you are doing, you will always find a way to make it work. There is this quote that I absolute love and it goes like this, “The moment you’re ready to quit is usually the moment right before a miracle happens. Don’t give up!”
BB: What tips do you have for staying focused throughout a hectic work week?
I have a Type-A personality, so I am a list maker. I make lists and prioritize them in terms of deadlines, impact and what is most important. That’s been my go to way to stay focused. I also schedule things out and use an agenda to keep track of what I need to be doing and when so I don’t lose track of projects, events and deadlines. I also try to maintain business hours. I work in the morning when the girls are at school – I focus on family time between the hours of 3-7 then I work a few more hours at night after the kids have gone to sleep. It’s just what has worked best for me.
BB: How do you maintain The Balanced Babe lifestyle?
Again, I try not to beat myself up if I don’t run this perfectly balanced life. My reality is different from everyone else’s. There may be days the house is messy, I’m running late and the kids are wild. Yet, I find beauty in the madness. That idea of balance should focus more on being at peace with yourself and your current reality. I do what I need to get things done and try my hardest. I am trying to practice self love this year to appreciate what I do so that I can love my family that much more as I continue to love myself – mistakes, mishaps, failures and all.I do try to make sure we eat well – a balanced mind starts with a healthy body right? We try and follow and 80/20 paleo diet and limit sugar. But that is not to say we don’t enjoy baking brownies or chocolate chip cookies – just all things in moderation. We also have our garden in the backyard and grow vegetables, fruit and herbs to ensure that we continue to incorporate plant based food into our diets. The garden has really helped the girls see veggies as fun as opposed to “icky” – they think it is the coolest thing (mom does too) that the seeds we planted are growing into things we can cook with and eat. It makes eating vegetables so much more fun.
I also make sure we are active as a family. We take long walks and go on hikes with our 8 month old pittie rescue Ellie and papa Dwight. I try to get running and meditation in when I can to help with decompression as work can get stressful at times.
I also believe in having as much fun as I can with my girls. They keep me young. Whether it is having mommy daughter mani pedi time, tickle time, playing at the park or running around in the sprinklers – just enjoying life with them is one way I try to maintain balance in our lives.
Finally, I try and find days where I can fit in down time just for me. I don’t get them as often as I should or would like, but when I can, I take advantage. I am a book worm, I love to feed my mind. When I can sit down with a huge mug of Mexican hot chocolate, a good book and a blanket on the couch – those are some of my most relaxing moments.
BB: What are your go-to healthy snack options?
Some of my healthy snack options include – sliced cucumber from my garden with a sea salt vinaigrette as well as my favorite organic granola fruit parfait – I get organic granola from Whole Foods, mix in plain or vanilla Greek yogurt and sliced up strawberries and whole raspberries.
BB: What are you staple beauty tricks when you are short on time?I always use at least a BB Cream, a dash of lose power (I have oily skin), mascara and chapstick when I am on the run! If I have a few more minutes, I use a liquid liner marker and swipe on my signature cat eye.
BB: How would you define your personal style?
I would have to say that my personal style is definitely feminine. I look my best and feel my best in dresses and skirts. I love vintage 1950s inspired fashion and I feel those cuts and silhouettes look best on my frame.
BB: Quick tips for maintaining your fit figure?
Running and yoga! They are my go to fitness routines. That way I get in cardio and strength training in even if I am just using my body weight
BB: What can we expect from you and from Halfstack in the near future?
Hopefully a lot! We have some great issues coming up for Halfstack this year and we are growing our digital publication. We have launched a podcast this past spring, launched our youtube channel this summer and are working on more and more partnerships with great brands, designers and creatives this year. As for Bella + Sophia – we have recently signed on to partner with Bluefly.com and that is a huge honor! We are in the process of getting up and running on the site. So, hopefully with this new endeavor the line will continue to see growth and continue to help the organizations we work with including 360 Youth Services. As for me, my goal is to continue to live my dreams and still give all the love I can to my family..