A discussion on family, following your heart, and leaning into what inspires you.
When I first met Jimena toward the end of last year, what left an impression on me was her poise, confidence, and passion for the hand-crafted jewelry brand she was building, J for JMR. When I learned her age, I was even more taken aback by what she had already accomplished in such a short amount of time. Fast forward only six months, and it is no surprise that she is preparing for her first conference appearance as a featured speaker at the Women Ambassadors Forum in Dallas, Texas this June.
Women Ambassadors Forum is a global organization that provides a platform for young women to engage in meaningful conversations with industry leaders. Through our global network, we provide professional guidance and promote gender equality around the world to shape our future female leaders.”
As a young female leader and an ambassador of living a transborder lifestyle, Jimena is a rarity in that her sincerity and passion for doing her part to impact the world around her is felt on both Texan and Mexican soil. She is warm, loving, stylish, and strong. Her authenticity is as apparent in person as it is in her brand, and I can’t wait to watch her continue to grow into a powerhouse.
If you haven’t heard of J for JMR, it is a brand you need to keep on your radar of up-and-coming’s. It’s a great time to check out the jewelry, too–they are having a site-wide Mother’s Day sale (25% off of everything) in case you’re in need of a little last minute something for the Moms in your life.
Your designs are mostly inspired by your family ranch in Mexico. Where were you raised, and what was your childhood like?
I was very fortunate to have been raised in the best of both worlds between two wonderful border towns: Del Rio, Texas on the U.S. side of the border and Acuña, Coahuila on the Mexican side of the border. The first half of my childhood we lived in Del Rio, Texas and eventually moved to our ranch in Acuña, Mexico. I have been grateful to live here in Acuña ever since we moved. My childhood days were idyllic: they were spent horseback riding and sitting by the rivers we have out here.
Where did you go to college, what did you study, and what was your first job when you graduated?
I graduated Cum Laude from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas where I completed a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising, along with a minor in Psychology. I continued my higher education at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, where I earned a Masters in Marketing Administration. I had been eager to work since I was about 15 years old, but my parents always suggested otherwise because they wanted me to stay focused on my education.
I got my first summer job at 18 years old at The Bank & Trust as a Marketing Assistant in Del Rio, Texas when I came home from my freshman year of college. Every break I had after that, during the school years and summers, I came back home to work at The Bank & Trust and I loved every minute of it. I had such wonderful role models–I probably owe any leadership abilities I learned to the amazing bosses I had there. I had an incredible experience at the bank, but there was one “bucket list” job I had my sights set on that I hadn’t yet crossed off: Anthropologie Stylist. When I moved to San Antonio from Austin I worked at Anthropologie at The Shops at La Cantera for about a year and half and could not be more grateful that I did. It was here that I learned retail is not as easy as it seems, and I also learned the importance of customer service.
In high school, what was the future dream career you envisioned for yourself?
Because I come from business-oriented and entrepreneurial families, I always had the drive to create something. It was every other day that I would go to my parents with over-the-top business ideas that were way out of reach for a high schooler. Little did I know, I was already creating the foundation for what J For JMR is today. I had the idea for my personal jewelry designs to be made at a local jewelry workshop, but I never once thought jewelry designer was a possible occupation for me.
How did you get your start designing jewelry? Did you fall into the hobby, or was it something you planned?
I’ve been dreaming up jewelry designs for as long as I can remember. I would sketch designs and take them to a local jewelry workshop in my hometown of Acuña, Coahuila so my designs could be brought to life. It wasn’t until my junior year at St. Edward’s University in Austin that I brought them to life myself — and J For JMR was born. Because I was raised in an entrepreneurial family, I had no reservations about somehow turning this into a business. I set up a tiny workshop in my apartment and started creating and selling pieces. I fell so in love with the process, but after some unforeseen circumstances, I had to put J For JMR on hold.
Years later, halfway through my Master’s Degree at University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, I knew I wanted to start learning to work with metal. That summer I looked for metalsmith classes everywhere in my hometown, but it wasn’t until I went back to the local workshop and found the person that had been creating my pieces for years when I knew I had not only found a teacher, but also a J For JMR team member. He taught me how to work with metal and create pieces for the rest of that summer, and that was when I knew I wanted to relaunch J For JMR. It’s been almost 2 years now since I’ve been in business.
What was the turning point in your personal path that steered you toward launching your own jewelry design business?
I think it was one of those “aha!” moments when I was at St. Edwards in Austin. My parents were in town and my mom wanted to visit this jewelry store. I walked in and there were women soldering and casting metal and creating these amazing pieces. I had always been drawn to jewelry aesthetic but I knew right then and there that that was what I was meant to be doing. I was fortunate enough to be studying at an incredible university where my professors were so encouraging and helpful when I told them of this new project I was about to take on. Each and every one of my professors were supportive in helping me create my business plan, along with other start-up essentials.
From what sources do you find yourself currently drawing your most creative inspiration?
At J For JMR, we make sure that each and every piece has a purpose; whether it’s in the name of the piece or the aesthetic. Because most of our designs are minimalist, we have so much fun taking different elements we see at the ranch and creating pieces inspired by ranch life. Our designs are inspired by the horse stables and the stones that make up the pavement at the ranch.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced as an entrepreneur and business owner?
Patience. Personally, before starting my own business, I was extremely impatient. But, if you are an entrepreneur or business owner your business will teach (more like force) you to be patient. Another obstacle I came across was the responsibility of being a boss. Currently, I manage a team of four people and believe me– it is no walk in the park. Thankfully, I have had very good role models like my parents and former bosses to serve as examples.
How does your love of fashion influence your jewelry designs?
Fashion has always been a part of me. My parents are both very well dressed and they taught me the importance of a good appearance and the impact it can have on your life. My love of fashion has definitely shaped our designs at J For JMR by allowing me to be able to compliment the pieces to different outfits and blend in perfectly with different accessories. In the same way that clothes impact the way you feel, we aim to have our pieces empower the wearer. When you’re wearing a great outfit it somehow becomes a part of you, and we strive to achieve the same effect with our pieces.
What plans do you have for growth of the J for JMR brand that you’re excited about?
I think every milestone we have reached so far is one that we have been very excited about. Within two years we have had our pieces worn at the Oscars, and have been featured in magazines in both the U.S. and Mexico. This growth has enabled us to be picked up by some pretty exciting retailers and we now have contracts in the works. We’re also working on a new collection that will be launching later this year. Probably most exciting internally has been the recent development of our new Men’s wedding ring line that will be launching in 2018.
If you could have lunch with any woman in the world, (living or deceased) who would it be and why?
If I could host a lunch for anyone in the world I would definitely have a couple of my favorite role models over: Gabrielle Bonheur (Coco Chanel), Carolina Herrera, Bobbi Brown and Diane von Furstenberg. All of these women have such amazing success stories about what it’s really like to reach for the stars and dream big.