Scaling Your Business, Entrepreneur

How Oprah Changed My Life Forever with Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff

Episode 217: Show Notes

We have very few business crushes in this world, but Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff is definitely one of them. In this episode, Jill talks to us about how she was publicly humiliated on national television, sitting on the couch next to Oprah. This moment, which Jill will go on to explain, drastically changed her life. We hear how she was able to move on after this incident and turn it around into the best thing that could have ever happened to her. We learn more about how Jill scaled her product-based business, where she makes and sells beautiful bracelets and encourages the spirit of giving.

We have very few business crushes in this world, but Jill Donovan of Rustic Cuff is definitely one of them. In this episode, Jill talks to us about how she was publicly humiliated on national television, sitting on the couch next to Oprah. This moment, which Jill will go on to explain, drastically changed her life. We hear how she was able to move on after this incident and turn it around into the best thing that could have ever happened to her.  |  The Strategy Hour  |  Think Creative Collective

Jill started out giving away her cuffs to strangers at the local grocery store and today, Rustic Cuffs has over 160 employees and strong social media community of over 70,000 people. Jill’s designs are being worn by big celebrities today and through her business she is showing others how they can make a difference to the lives of others. Jill is someone who has been guided a lot by her intuition. But how do you know when you’re following it? In this episode, Jill also gives us some great tips for listening to your heart and finding what it is you excel at.

Jill’s Journey To The Oprah Show And How It Crushed Her

Jill started out her career as an attorney. She then became a law professor, but it just wasn’t something that ever got her fired up to get out of bed in the morning. For her, work was just work. Through a crazy series of events and through trying new hobbies each year, one of her things Jill dreamed of was to get onto the Oprah Show. She pursued trying to get tickets into the audience but after 4 years, she had no luck. She then went onto the website and applied to be a guest. At the time they were looking for re-gifters, and she and her family were BIG re-gifters. Oprah was looking for people with funny stories, so she wrote three of her stories in and was accepted to be on the show! The film crew came and filmed at her house and the next day, they called her and invited her and her husband to sit front row at the show. They got there and at the last minute the producer tells her that she will be sitting next to Oprah on the couch, telling her three funny stories. After the she told her stories, the etiquette experts on the show told Jill that what she was doing was wrong and tacky and that she should give her entire re-gifting closet to goodwill. Jill was crushed by their opinions and was so humiliated. But she knew that there was some significance and a purpose to the pain she was feeling.

How Rusty Cuffs Was Born After Jill Decided To “Let It Go”

Jill went home after the Oprah Show, returned everything in her re-gifting closet, and gave everything else to goodwill. She took a sabbatical from teaching, stopped her hobbies and focused on her girls. The show aired and was very successful but she still felt resentment because her dream had been crushed, and she had been ridiculed for something she thought was okay. Five years later, Jill was lying in bed and she decided that she needed to let it go. So she did. She decided that she wanted to make something that would fill up her now empty re-gifting closet up again. Jill would always collect bracelets from her travels and that night, she had an idea to Google everything about making cuffs. This became a regular nightly activity and through the internet and her friends, she learned everything she needed to know about making cuffs. One by one, she started filling the closet back up with her own handmade cuffs. The day that she let the trauma from The Oprah Show incident go, was the day Rustic Cuffs was born. If Jill didn’t experience this embarrassment, she would have kept on doing what she had been doing and nothing profound would have come out of it. It was the jolt she needed.

Giving Cuffs To Strangers And How The Oprah Event Came Full Circle

So, Jill started giving her cuffs out to strangers. The first time she did this, she put four cuffs on her wrist and went down to the grocery store. She saw a woman checking out groceries, waited in her queue and when she got to the front of the queue, she said to her “I feel like I’m supposed to give this to you.” The lady started crying and she said “You have no way of knowing this but yesterday I was just diagnosed with cancer and through my tears I asked God to give me a sign that it was all going to be okay.” The lady looked down and said, “Thank you for being my sign of hope.” Jill sent in her story to Oprah about the cuffs and she was asked to be on the cover of the next Oprah magazine. That for Jill, was how these events all came full circle and she knew she was doing the right thing.

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Only when you are really okay with letting it go will you realize what the next door is.
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How Giving Away Cuffs Was Monetized Into A Business

Jill was asked to do a party, and 100 of her cuff demos were sold for $38. People kept asking her about the cuffs and soon it was no longer something she could just do whenever for fun, but she had to create them on demand. She then started to send the cuffs to people she respected in media because she didn’t want to spend money to advertise. Slowly, she saw more and more media personalities wearing her cuffs on national television. She never asked them to wear the cuffs or to talk about them. She was then asked to come on Good Morning America and that day, she sold 2000 cuffs on air.

That is when the craziness happened. That year she hired five people / friends and by year three, she had 20 employees and now in year seven, she has 160 employees. Jill loves people and her team is comprised of people who she thinks are great. People are hungry for community, they are hungry to do things for other people in the community. The community around Jill came on board for the cause and she began showing people how to look outward, rather than inward through a culture of giving and gifting. She began to show people the power of giving and the happiness it creates, not just for the other person, but for them too. When Jill was in her third year of the business, some girls in her community came up to her and told her that they had started a Facebook group called, Addicted to Cuffs, with 100 people inside. Jill wanted to be a part of the group and started games for the members as a way to giveaway free cuffs and interact with them. Today, the group has over 40,000 members and you can only be invited through a friend who is already inside! The group is not a marketing tool per say, but if you show cuffs, people get excited about it.

Jill’s Self-Reflection Techniques For Listening To Your Intuition

A lot of Jill’s success has come from her just going with her gut and doing what felt right. So what can we do to help us tap into our own intuition? Jill advises, that if you are not excited about something, if it doesn’t give you bug eyes then you are not going to be able to translate that to other people. You cannot fake excitement. So ask yourself, what is the thing that keeps you awake at night with excitement? What is the thing that your heart keeps going back to? What is the thing that people are like, “You’re really good at that?” The second thing that Jill advises is that, if you are excellent at something you shouldn’t have to bang a door down. Excellence rises to the top and when you do something with excellence, you should not have to bang the door down. The final thing Jill advises, that is so critical for any type of business, is do not compare your business to anyone else’s. Don’t compare your chapter one to someone else’s chapter 20. Jill started out her Rustic Cuffs page with just 100 likes. She saw other businesses that had over a million and she was like, “Why should I even start?” But the thing is you need to look at those people, those businesses, and see what you can learn from them. You are your own story. Remember that.

Highlights

  • Jill’s Journey To The Oprah Show And How It Crushed Her. [0:04:00.1]
  • How Rusty Cuffs Was Born After Jill Decided To “Let It Go.” [0:10:50.1]
  • Giving Cuffs To Strangers And How The Oprah Event Came Full Circle. [0:15:22.1]
  • How Giving Away Cuffs Was Monetized Into A Business. [0:21:50.1]
  • Jill’s Self-Reflection Techniques For Listening To Your Intuition. [0:38:15.1]

Today’sGuest

Jill Donovan

Rustic Cuff

Website | Instagram | Twitter

Jill Donovan was born in Baltimore, Maryland, was raised in Pensacola, Florida, and graduated from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where she met her husband, Terry. She went on to get her law degree at the University of Tulsa and was a practicing attorney and adjunct law professor when Rustic Cuff was born. She taught herself how to make cuffs and gifted them to friends and family. Soon she was persuaded to sell her beautiful bracelets, and it turned into a booming business, with celebrities such as Miranda Lambert, Giuliana Rancic, and Kristin Chenoweth sporting her designs.

KeyTopics

  • Rustic cuffs.

  • Oprah Show.

  • Intuition.

  • Product-based business.

  • The kindness effect.

  • Business community.

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