THE BLOG

Women in Business: Jessica Murphy, Co-founder, True Fit

04/28/2015 05:29 am ET | Updated Jun 28, 2015

Jessica oversees brand partner relations, fit research, and general operations. As co-founder, experienced retailer, and fit expert of True Fit, Jessica has advanced every aspect of the company's development, from its patented fit science and methodologies to its recognized service commitment and execution with brand and retail partners. Jessica's fit and fashion advice has been shared widely in print, television, and online. Prior to True Fit, Jessica worked as a buyer for the top division of May Department Stores, a $13 billion conglomerate (acquired by Macy's Inc. in 2005). There she held several buying positions in Women's Sportswear, across 39 markets and 101 stores. Jessica received her MBA from F.W. Olin School of Business at Babson College, and a B.A. from Brown University in International Commerce.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
I can't point to just one moment in my life that's made me the leader I am today, as I've been shaped by so many different experiences along the way. Coming from a family of immigrants and growing up with modest means is certainly a defining factor, and taught me how to stretch a dollar and be both financially and operationally responsible. I'll always carry with me the lessons learned from my successful single mother, who instilled in me the value of dedication, determination and, most importantly, passion. And as my own family grows, I'm reminded every day of the importance of listening meaningfully and empowering individuals to be confident in themselves and their ideas. All in all, these experiences all drive my desire to fulfill a vision and reinforce the need for collaboration and decisive decision-making.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at True Fit?
I came from a conservative, big-company culture where most decisions were made based on what was done in the past. While I was very fortunate to have learned invaluable and important business skills, I was stifled by the lack of innovation, and left the company knowing I needed to be in an environment where people were encouraged to create, innovate, and challenge the status quo. Some of the directives we have lived by at True Fit from day one are: Don't wait for someone to improve things - get out there and do it yourself; always be thinking about how you can innovate - if you don't like it, change it; and if it doesn't exist, create it!

What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at True Fit?
The challenges I've faced since founding True Fit have born some of the company's most amazing highlights. The opportunity to be part of something great, bigger than myself, has been the most inspiring thing I have ever experienced. Our daily wins aren't over looked, and achieving them is exhilarating. Delighting customers is addictive. Building a culture that I'm proud of is gratifying. I feel incredibly lucky to be doing something that I truly love. As far as challenges go, like many entrepreneurs, the early days were wrought with challenges - there's never enough cash, no salary, not knowing if we'd live to see another day. But wrestling through the darkest days, makes the victories that much sweeter.

What is the secret to True Fit's success?
Two words: passion and people. At True Fit, we're solving a very simple problem: helping customers buy the clothes and shoes that fit them best. When we're able to solve that problem, the higher-level result is a greater confidence in the online shopping journey, ultimately leading customers to discover new brands and styles that fit and flatter. Our employees are dedicated and passionate about building technology that makes it easy and enjoyable to shop. The only reason we are the leading fit and discovery technology is because we are all passionate about the solution we're creating. Every person's contributions matter immensely. Everything we've achieved is because of our great team.

What advice can you offer to women who want to start their own business?
It's sort of cliché but it rings so true: do something you love. Starting a business requires too much time, energy and effort to not be working toward something you're immensely passionate about.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
I don't subscribe to the phrase work/life balance, because it's wrought with guilt. There aren't enough hours in the day to balance it all! You are always sacrificing one aspect or another. I have, however, accepted that I can't "do it all," and try not to let the guilt of everything I'm not getting to consume me. Instead, my goal is to be present. When I'm at work, I focus on work. When my family is awake, I focus on being the best mother and wife I can be. When they're asleep, I get back to work. And when I'm commuting, I try to catch up on calls with family and friends. It's easy to allow work to be all consuming, and some days it needs to be, but as long as you make every effort to truly be present for the important moments, and not try to do it all, all at once, you'll achieve the mix of "work/life balance" that works for you.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
I would say that being a working mother is still one of the biggest challenges in the workplace. As a mother, you are constantly juggling the needs of children with the needs of your job.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
As an entrepreneur, there are a lot of aspects of your career that you're forced to do on your own. Given that, I really thrive off of opportunities to learn new and better ways of doing things that I may not have thought of, both personally and professionally. I am really fortunate to be surrounded by many people that serve as incredible examples of inspiration, and I have gained the most value from those that I can continuously learn from.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
It's hard to narrow down since there are so many inspiring female leaders in business today, but here are some top candidates:

Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx - for so many reasons. She similarly started her business with $5,000 and built a multi-million dollar company without any outside investment, which in today's world is almost unheard of. Sara is a true hustler, and did whatever it took to carry out her vision. She created a generic term, similar to Kleenex and Chapstick, by creating a category of intimate apparel that didn't exist: shapewear.

Marissa Mayer - for not being afraid of doing something really hard. Regardless of whether she ultimately succeeds or fails at turning around Yahoo!, Marissa had the courage to step up and try, at the same time she became a new mom. That's inspiring to men and women alike.

Oprah Winfrey - for showing us how far passion can get you in life.

What do you want True Fit to accomplish in the next year?
One of the things I'm proudest of is the team and incredible culture that we've built at True Fit. We are in the midst of amazing growth, and we'll need to work really hard in the coming years to grow and maintain an employee base of exceptional people that also happen to be brilliant and passionate - all to continually help shoppers discover brands and new styles that fit and flatter.