Los Angeles, CA
It all started with... a side project.
Some stumble into the world of entrepreneurship by accident, some have it in their blood. Jaclyn Johnson is one of the latter. Recently landing a well-deserved spot on the Forbes 30 under 30 list for marketing and advertising, Jaclyn is queen of the shiny digital landscape. a At 24-years-old she founded No Subject — a digital marketing and events agency — and has since worked with clients such as Nasty Gal, Levi’s and Microsoft. In 2012 Jaclyn launched Create & Cultivate: a traveling creative workshop for women. Create & Cultivate has since grown into a 450-attendee event boasting speakers such as Garance Dore, Emily Weiss and Julianne Hough. This is how Jaclyn turned a side project into the destination conference for the female entrepreneur.
Has Create & Cultivate had gradual growth, or was there a moment when you felt things accelerate?
It’s always funny to hear people talk about Create & Cultivate like it’s a new venture, because we’ve been doing it for just over 4 years — just on a much smaller scale. My full-time thing has always been No Subject, and Create & Cultivate was on the side. But at each event people would ask when the next one was, and the demand hit fever pitch around 2013. We decided to go on the road with it, and traveled to Montauk, Brooklyn, LA and Palm Springs. We had incredible talent involved and great momentum. I took a step back and thought — I need to start treating this as a business. That was the first time we started to take it seriously, and 2015 was when we really scaled up. It’s been a wild ride ever since.
How do you maintain a strong vision for something that’s constantly evolving?
When I started my own company at 24, I went through the same experiences that a lot of other female entrepreneurs go through. But there wasn’t anyone having conversations about what it was actually like. So as Create & Cultivate started to take shape over the years, we honed in on that idea. I see Create & Cultivate as a media brand, but we’ve done things a bit backwards, in that we’re doing offline events first and building the online component afterwards.
The company will continue to evolve, but the long-term goal of being a destination for female entrepreneurs is always there.
How do you curate your speakers?
The panels are a combination of people who I’ve worked with along the way who are doing great, interesting things, and some whom I’m just a straight fangirl of. As we’ve become more established it’s been a lot easier to get people on board. There are people who I emailed 3 years ago to speak who are just getting back to me now. The breadth and quality of our audience is also a really valuable part of the conference. We have these 21- to 35-year-old female entrepreneurs who come to the conference with a goal. They leave feeling inspired, energetic and ready to take their business to the next level.
I don’t really have a work life balance right now, but I’m enjoying it. I love my job, it’s such an exciting time and I want to be there every step of the way.
How does your style reflect who you are and what you do?
During my early 20s I had a fashion blog, which is what brought me into the blog world initially. My style has changed drastically since then. Previously I was this vintage junkie who loved bright patterns, and since turning 30 this year, I’m now heading more towards blacks, neutrals and classics. The evolution of my style has paralleled with the development of my business. Originally it had this really fun, exciting startup feel, and now it’s more serious, more toned down.
I picked something up in my closet the other day and thought — I feel too old to wear this. But I enjoy feeling like I’m growing up a bit and becoming more refined and chic. I think it’s a good thing.
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Photographed by Bridget Fleming September 2015