Q&A: Emi-Jay

Julianne Goldmark and Emily Matson’s college careers may be just beginning, but these young entrepreneurs have been taking the real world by storm since they were teens! The co-founders of Emi-Jay began their line of fashion-forward hair accessories at the tender age of thirteen. The wild success of the chic, comfortable and incredibly versatile creations is evidenced by a slew of exciting collaboration—plus countless sightings of Emi-Jay products on strangers and celebrities alike! Inspired by their inventive passion and philanthropic impact, we caught up with the duo for the scoop on all things Emi-Jay.

When and how did Emi-Jay begin? What inspired the business?
Julianne Goldmark: Emily and I noticed a growing trend of hair accessories a little over four years ago. We loved “Gossip Girl” and all of the hair accessories featured on the show, but when we looked online to buy them they were so expensive! We decided to make our own hair accessories and then started making them for our friends!

Tell us a bit about your hair products! What makes them unique?
JG: Our original, basic hair ties are hand-dyed and tied in the US, made in every color you could imagine. You can identify an Emi-Jay by the hand-cut diagonal trim. In addition to the standard Emi-Jay hair tie, we’ve created more modern-luxe accessories like our Crystal Bead Hair Ties and our Silk Bow collaboration with celebrity hairstylist Chris McMillan.

Describe a typical day at Emi-Jay headquarters.
JG: No day is ever the same at our office, which makes every day a new experience! We could be having a design meeting for a new collection, brainstorming with our publicist or website designer about upcoming launches or watching runway shows to source inspiration. We recently moved into our new office earlier this summer, which was a lot of fun because we could redecorate! The other day I decorated a wall with cute butterfly pieces for an upcoming photo shoot! That’s what’s so fun about all of this—there are so many different aspects to what we do. It’s amazing!

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as young entrepreneurs?
JG: The biggest challenge we faced at first was having people take us seriously! We were two 13-year-olds walking into a store trying to sell products. People thought it was cute but didn’t really think we could do this. Now that we’re older and have learned so much about the industry and how things work, we are able to present not just our business but ourselves in a more knowledgeable, business-savvy way. The other big challenge is juggling time! School has always been our first priority, but on our press trips to NYC it was definitely a balancing act of schoolwork and Emi-Jay. But now that we’re going off to college, I think it will become easier— we’ll have days off and more free time during the day!

We especially admire the way Emi-Jay so diligently gives back to the community! What kinds of organizations are you most passionate about?
JG: Thank you! We realize how lucky and fortunate we are, and believe it is so imperative to always give back, which is why we donate 20% of all Emi-Jay proceeds to charity! We’ve worked with organizations including Step Up Women’s NetworkOperation Smile and Project Knapsack. Emily and I not only want to give back to the community by donations, but we also want to be as hands-on as possible. During this process we have been really luck to meet inspirational leaders in the community.

What’s been the most rewarding part of this whole process thus far?
Emily Matson: The most rewarding part is definitely seeing our hair ties being worn! Nothing makes us happier than to see complete strangers using our product. Everything we have done to build up to this point has been so worth it!

Can you tell us about any upcoming plans or projects in the works?
EM: We have a lot of amazing upcoming projects, including our ongoing collaboration with Splendid. We also just launched Doodle by Emi-Jay, which are hair ties geared towards our younger audience! We are also so excited about Spirit by Emi-Jay, which is launching August 21 and includes school- and team- themed products. We also have an amazing collaboration with Spanx in the works that you are the first to know about! Stay tuned!!

What is one of the best compliments you’ve received about Emi-Jay?
EM: It is always flattering to hear that people are impressed by our entrepreneurial spirit and look up to us as role models. Of course, we love to hear that people love our accessories, but it’s even better to hear that people recognize how our brand is unique and appreciate all that goes into making our products!

What advice would you give to young women seeking to start their own businesses?
EM: Passion is key. No matter what it is that you love or aspire to create, it’s so important to do anything and everything possible to learn all about your endeavor. And most importantly, don’t ever give up on your dream!

How do you sparkle?
EM: We sparkle by accessorizing to feel and look our best every day! We love the little things in life, whether it’s a cute outfit or a delicious macaroon—all of which we love to Instagram!

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Author: Caitlin Kruse