As Good as it Gets
Jane Yu, co-founder of JGOOD
These days, fashion start ups are a dime a dozen, and for every mega-success story there are several others that tell a more lack luster tale.
Jane Yu is hoping to make JGOOD, the jewelry site she started with partner Jay Chang last year, one of the former. A current HBS student, Jane is a transplant from the D.C. area (Georgetown Class of 08′) who, after a stint at Google, knows a thing or two about online innovation. Wanting to take her experience in the tech industry and apply it to retail, Jane started JGOOD based on the idea that online retailers were not realizing the full potential of social media for driving sales. Though the site is still in its nascent stages, it has already amassed various accolades, from a semi-finalist showing at a HBS sponsored entrepreneurship competition to the populist triumph of 30,000+ Facebook likes. There is also no hint of slowing down as membership for the site, which currently only sells jewelry but may be expanding into shoes and handbags soon, is growing by leaps and bounds.
On a Saturday, I met Jane at Boston Tea Stop to grab bubble tea and talk fashion, jewelry and eretail. Though Jane says she has only a passing interest in fashion, she is immediately recognizable as a stylish woman. For our meeting she wore electric blue denim (“I’m really into really bright pants right now!”), a gray cardigan with a preppy crest, black Chanel boots and a silk top. A lover of cardigans and clean, unfussy silhouettes, Ms. Yu has a whiff of Virginia about her. Her hair is just so, falling in a loose luxuriant fall, and leaning in, you can just barely discern a subtle sparkle on her earlobes. It’s a little bit preppy, but not preppy in the way I am used to–the obnoxious, boat shoe and Barbour Jacket preppy of certain New Englandy types.
As I hoover away at my boba, Jane is poised and quietly gracious. She recounts for me how she ended up a fashion entrepreneur. After her undergraduate degree in English didn’t land her the journalism gig she had initially pined for, Jane dropped off a “very generic resume” with Google recruiters at a job fair, which developed from there into a research position at the internet giant and her own discovery of a previously undiagnosed passion for all things tech. After a few years working in both New York City and Hong Kong, Jane decided to shake things up a bit, enrolling in HBS and starting work on JGOOD, which consumes much of her busy schedule these days.
Jane explains to me the business model behind JGOOD. What’s different about the site is how it actively fosters customers’ usage of social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, you name it) by heavily incentivizing the sharing process. Customers are given a 10% cut of all sales generated from their social network (friends and family they invite to shop on JGOOD), making sharing one’s fashion finds not just enjoyable, but potentially profitable as well. For a small monthly fee, JGOOD even offers the opportunity to earn a 30% commission on your social network’s purchases, essentially creating mini-communities of shoppers who earn off of each other’s shopping addictions.
The jewelry currently on site (all at wholesale prices) includes an eclectic mix of both classic and edgy pieces. Organized into collections such as “Crystal Elegance” and my personal favorite, “Elements,” the site carries everything from multistrand rose gold necklaces to decadent cocktail rings in rainbow hues and demure stud earrings in classic shapes.
After you check out the goodies, be sure to type in the promo code “VERITAS” to get a Harvard exclusive discount at checkout.
-Thomas Dai 14′