Jenn Barajas is an accountant turned fashion designer. She is the mama of two boys and she found a way to focus on her children and build a career at the same time! Her clothing brand, Desert Gloss, is a fun collection of t-shirts for adults and kids who love tacos, margaritas, puns, and parenting jokes! But she also creates custom designs, and for Girlcrush readers, Desert Gloss is offering 25% off with the code GIRLCRUSH!
Tell us about yourself and your business!
Hi, I’m Jenn Barajas, fashion designer, mom, CPA, taco enthusiast and outdoor lover.
Desert Gloss is the clothing brand for adults and kids who love taco jokes and adventure. We also have funny throw pillows.
What inspired you to start your own business?
I spent 8 years working in Accounting and had the opportunity to eventually become a partner/owner but found the lifestyle difficult to juggle with motherhood. After staying home for awhile, I found myself exploring creative outlets and felt drawn to entrepreneurship.
The brand was born and I have enjoyed the challenge of learning e-commerce while being able to still focus on my children.
Is this your full time job?
How do you structure your days?
With two young boys, we spend a lot of time outside and on learning activities. When I find moments of free time, I work on my website or social media planning. During naps and after bedtime, I work on new designs, read inspirational books, listen to podcasts and consult with my tribe of fellow mom-prenuers.
Where and how do you work best?
At home, in a quiet space with few distractions. When it comes to creative inspiration, that happens when we are out exploring nature, I’m talking to close friends or socializing. I save notes on my iPhone for future design planning.
Are you currently running any promos/contests/giveaways that you would like our readers to know about?
I offer 20% off next purchase for joining our newsletter. But for Girlcrush Collective readers, I am offering 25% with the code GIRLCRUSH.
Where is your business based?
Online, at desertgloss.com. I do offer custom designs and collaborate through phone, email, FB messenger/chat or in person if local to El Paso, Texas.
What were the first few steps you took to get your business up and running?
I purchased the website domain intending to use it for a personal blog. After spending some time considering options, I decided to launch an e-commerce store instead. From there I created profiles on social media outlets, shared designs with family and friends, and joined some female entrepreneur tribes online to get inspiration, tips and collaborate. I have a background in tax, so I felt confident with setting up the business as a sole proprietorship and what softwares to use for bookkeeping, income and sales tax. I think those hurdles sometimes keep people from running full steam ahead.
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness of your business and attracting new customers?
Sharing on social media, asking for testimonials from customers, requesting specific design ideas, and discussing fabrics, fit, etc. with customers to get a feel for what people are looking for in casual wear.
What have been your biggest challenges so far?
Traffic. Being based in e-commerce, the competition is fierce. I’ve received such great feedback and excitement about the brand, but just finding the ways to connect with the customers who want what I have has been challenging.
How did you overcome these challenges?
I have tuned in to a lot of webinars, reached out to people experienced in web design and e-commerce, and hired a SEO company to help with search engine optimization to get ranked on google for organic traffic.
How do you keep motivated through tough times?
I remind myself why I am doing this. I enjoy working for myself and the flexibility. I know great things take time to develop and try to enjoy the process.
How do you distinguish yourself from your competitors?
The designs are entirely my own, with the exception of custom requests which are sometimes inspired by designs found elsewhere. I care about the softness of the shirts, and ability to withstand wash after wash. I see similar ideas for cheaper but can tell the fabrics are not what I would consider comfortable for everyday wear.
What is the best advice you have received recently?
To focus on 1-2 forms of promotion at a time to see results, as opposed to spreading myself too thin trying to succeed everywhere at once.
What do you wish you had known when you started your business?
Website design. This area has been the most challenging for me.
Who are your biggest influences? Who do you admire most? Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
I have a number of friends in creative fields who started out small and unknown and have found a way to steadily grow while remaining true to themselves. I admire anyone who is brave enough to live authentic to their dreams and desires. Artists of all types inspire me. I have a childhood friend who moved to Cabo and recently opened a bar. She creates various art pieces has found a way to support her lifestyle.
What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Hang in there. Find leaders and mentors who resonate with you and can teach you more about yourself. Don’t be afraid to put yourself or your ideas out there. Find your tribe of unconditional support and hold on tightly to those people.
What business tools/resources could you not work without?
Tailwind has saved me a ton of time by scheduling Instagram and Pinterest and I like that the platform is an official partner of both. I also love Canva for creating social media designs, Creative Market for exploring vectors and fonts, Unsplash for images, and Apple podcasts for new inspirations and learning.
What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?
How to laugh at myself. From misspelling a common word to just not feeling a design anymore, it’s all part of the learning process.
Where would you like your business to be 5 years from now?
I would still like to be heavily involved in design and management, but see the brand growing in a way to collaborate with other designers, perhaps for limited collections, selling in brick and mortar stores, like speciality boutiques or providing a subscription box service to customers.
I’m currently working with a local advocacy group on a t-shirt fundraiser, and I would like to continue to develop efforts in this area.
Where can we find you?