THE BLOG
09/13/2014 01:00 pm ET Updated Nov 13, 2014

Women in Business: Q&A with Jocelyn Gailliot, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Tuckernuck

Jocelyn graduated from Brown University in 2003 with a double major in architecture and business/economics. After graduation, she moved to New York City and worked as an investment banking analyst at Morgan Stanley. From 2005 until 2007 she worked for Shorenstein, a real estate private equity fund in New York City. In 2008 she moved to Hong Kong where she worked in Private Equity for LaSalle Investment Management for two more years and traveled throughout all of Asia Pacific for business and pleasure.

Upon returning to the U.S. in 2010, Jocelyn and a partner developed a 268-unit apartment project in Washington DC's hip 14th street neighborhood. In 2012 Jocelyn and her younger sister, Madeline Moore, along with a friend September Rinnier became frustrated with the lack of an online lifestyle retailer that targeted their more classic, All-American style and launched Tuckernuck. Their vision was to inspire buyers all over the world by cross merchandising products from hundreds of small and large brands in rich lifestyle content. They wanted to use Martha Stewart like content to inspire and sell products that represented their active and classic all-American taste.

With a background in finance and investing, Jocelyn is the company's CEO and is primarily responsible for growth strategy, business development and assists co-founders Maddy and September in buying.

How has your life experience made you the leader you are today?
That's a loaded question. I think I have three that really stand out:
1. Supportive, entrepreneurial family: My father was an entrepreneur and growing up I always admired the pride he took in building his business. As a leader he was impressive, because he focused on creating a collegiate culture of smart, driven people. I realized one of the most important parts of building a business was creating an environment where a great team could thrive. When my siblings and I all wanted to launch our various startups, my parents were the first ones to help by giving us housing, office space above a garage, hours of advice, cars to borrow and most importantly endless support.

2. Playing Sports: Sports has been a huge part of my life since I was tiny. It was on and off the sports fields that I learned about time management, discipline, competition, communication, pushing my mind and body, decision making and collaboration. The best teams I was on were ones where everyone was good and not one person was great. We depended on each other and not any specific individual. The best leaders are the ones that bring good people together to do great things.

3. Working and living abroad: When I was 26 I moved to Asia sight unseen. Living and working on the other side of the world forced me to become more independent, more confident in the decisions I made and more excited about understanding the strengths and benefits of different people and cultures. Startups require confident decision making because you don't always have a lot of data to go off of.

How has your previous employment experience aided your position at Tuckernuck?
Prior to Tuckernuck, I was in the world of finance. I spent my days analyzing businesses, management teams and markets. When we launched Tuckernuck, we wanted to create a business based on a long-term revenue model. We are constantly focused on the bottom line and what we need to do to continue to grow our revenue. I was also in a large corporate environment that was based on systems and structure. I try to bring a little of that professionalism to our business without stifling the creativity and free spirit of a startup.
What have the highlights and challenges been during your tenure at Tuckernuck?

Highlights:
1. Moving out of the Garage: My co-founders and I launched Tuckernuck on a lean business model and that meant working out of my parents' garage in Georgetown to save money on rent. Less than a year into Tuckernuck, we had built enough of a revenue stream to move into a real office. That was a true highlight.

2. Hiring: We have built an incredible team over the past couple years. They are scrappy, hard working, creative and smart. We are all friends and enjoy every second of building this business together. I'm very proud of the team that we have put together. Without them, Tuckernuck would not exist.

Challenges:
Working Capital and Scaling: As we start to grow, our business model requires taking on some inventory. Managing the turn of this inventory and buying enough of it to scale is a scary challenge. If you don't buy enough you miss a lot of sales and if you buy too much you can jeopardize the business.

How is Tuckernuck shaking up the preppy fashion world?
For some reason the preppy fashion world seems to be stuck in the past. Most of the large iconic brands are still dependent on catalogs and brick and mortar stores while the smaller creative brands are sold regionally in boutiques. It's a very fragmented market. We want Tuckernuck to be a platform that not only combines all these brands for sale, but also uses rich content to celebrate and highlight this lifestyle that is rooted in tradition, sport, travel, family, culture and social affairs. We are bringing this classic lifestyle into the 21st century by giving people access to it online and pushing our customer by combining the more traditional pieces, bold patterns and pastel colors with slightly fashion forward trends.

What advice can you offer women who are seeking to start their own business?
1. Find something you are passionate about, and it won't feel like work.

2. Take the time to know everything about your target audience or clients because without them, you have no business.

3. Build an incredible team... there are so many great ideas, but what makes a great idea a great business is the team that builds it.

4. Start with a revenue model, because it is easier to grow without having to raise money.

How do you maintain a work/life balance?
It's definitely a challenge. I have two young children and I've made their lives adapt to mine so I can spend as much time as possible with them. They have grown up in our offices and showroom, playing with photo equipment, accessories and of course the team. I spend time with them in the mornings before work and after. If I need to, I log back in at night after bed time to finish up any loose ends. The beauty of being an entrepreneur is that I can make my schedule a bit more flexible, so I can attend some music or gymnastics classes in the mornings and do playdates with other moms and then make up for it at night. It's tough though. Balancing family, friends and a startup is exhausting, but so worth it. You learn to be so much more efficient with your time. I'm extremely present at whatever I'm doing. I think it makes my time at work and with my family and friends that much more rewarding. I'm also lucky to have two co-founders who are younger. Since they don't have children, they cover for me when I can't always be physically present. We are very supportive of each other.

What do you think is the biggest issue for women in the workplace?
Being heard. It is a fact that women speak up less than men in the work world. The CEO of the private equity fund I was working for was a woman and she gave some great advice. In every meeting say something intelligent, so that your voice is heard and others know to take you seriously. I've followed that advice ever since.

How has mentorship made a difference in your professional and personal life?
I've had two great mentors in my past that served different purposes. The first, took me under his wing and included me in every part of a deal. He taught me that most people in the room have not done their homework, so if you take the time to read the doc you can outsmart anyone in negotiating. He taught me how to network and the art of negotiation... what business points to focus on and what business points to give on. My second mentor threw me into the deep end on day one. I was the youngest person by far to be leading large deal teams on investments in China. I scrambled, researched, studied and sweat more than I ever had. I learned what my strengths and weaknesses were, and I gained a ton of confidence that I can accomplish things I really had no idea I could just by being scrappy. That is probably the best preparation I could have ever received for being an entrepreneur.

Which other female leaders do you admire and why?
I think the women I admire most are those that have taken creative passions and combined them with confident business mindsets. Right now I'm admiring, my mom (badass real estate developer), Sophia Amoruso, founder and CEO of Nasty Gal; Shonda Rhimes, creator of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal; and Tory Burch. My mom for teaching me that having four kids and a career is doable and fulfilling. Sophia for creating a strong brand that was unconventional, but all hers from day one. Shonda Rhimes for her recent commencement speech about managing motherhood and a successful business. And Tory Burch for creating a creative empire while remembering to mentor and give back to young female entrepreneurs.

What do you want Tuckernuck to accomplish in the next year?
We are still at such a young stage. We have a lot of growing to do in the next year. We want to continue to use innovative and creative ways to bring our lifestyle online with better technology and the addition of video. We are focused on continuing to grow our loyal buying base and spreading the word about Tuckernuck, and finally we want to continue to add fun aspects to our business that resonate with our brand, such as introducing more vintage pieces through a Tuckernuck bazaar.