Jessica Rea – Helping Women Entrepreneurs Rock Their Biz

Santa Barbara Business Show: 003 – Jessica Rea

Announcer: Welcome to Santa Barbara Business Show where we brush the tar off our feet and sit down with local business owners and thought leaders. Now here’s your host, Doug Holt.

Doug Holt: Hello and welcome to Episode 3 of the Santa Barbara Business Show. Where our goal is to bring you business and thought leaders from Santa Barbara. Some people you know and some people you just haven’t had the chance to meet yet.

Well, it’s Thanksgiving week and there’s so much to be thankful for. I’m going to start off by thanking my wife for putting up with me during those late nights it took to record this show, for my team for kicking so much butt and having fun during the process, and for our amazing clients who are always so supportive.

Of course I can forget about you. Thank you so much for taking a few minutes out of your day to be with us. It means a lot to me and it means a lot to my team that you’re here. Very excited to have a young entrepreneur and a friend of mine, Jessica Rea on the call for us today.

For those of you that haven’t had the chance to meet Jessica, she is such a dynamic person. Jessica helps purpose-driven ladypreneurs create and market their dream businesses. She helps them gain clarity and confidence in their message and the value they bring to the world so they can attract their ideals clients and maximize her impact in profits.

She does this two graphic design in marketing, coaching, and women’s mastermind groups. For over 15 years, Jessica has helped people visually communicate their ideas through thoughtful design. Her creativity and passion for helping people is at the heart of everything she does.

On a personal notice, somebody that owns a digital marketing agency I can tell you that my interactions with Jessica have always been great. She is the ultimate professional. Always thinking for clients first and has an amazing design eye. I know you’re busy so without further ado let’s jump in to the call with Jessica.

Hi, Jessica. Thanks for joining us today. I really appreciate it.

Jessica Rea: My pleasure. Thanks for having me on.

Doug Holt: Those listening have obviously got a taste of what you’re up to in Santa Barbara from your bio but of course I always like to dive a little bit deeper. How did you get where you are today, why graphic design and why Santa Barbara as a place to do business?

Jessica Rea: Let’s start with why Santa Barbara because I’ve been here in almost 14 years. I originally go to school here but the reason I came to Santa Barbara to school here was because I had gotten my massage therapy license and there are basically three cities in California that I’ve had come to and where my license have transfer and that was how I was working my way through school.

I had a couple funds here. My choices were basically, San Diego, Santa Rosa, or Santa Barbara and so I came to Santa Barbara and kind of fell in love and I’ve been here ever since more or less. That’s all I know in Santa Barbara, the short story.

Doug Holt: You’re not doing massage now, are you?

Jessica Rea: No, I basically did that through school and then after school, I check that I have to get a “real job” or this was due to something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life and long story short I ended up working for a couple of different companies here town. One of them Access. I worked for them for 4 and a half years which was a great experience but I really felt like I had more top of the world and more than I really wanted to do with my life and so that’s when I decided that it was time to go out on my own. And that’s when I studied. It’s really I think full-time which is enjoying. I designed my first logo when I was 15.

Doug Holt: Yeah. Well, you have an amazing eye and as people know you and I have been friend and talk for many, many, many years. I’ve always looked up to you for your graphic eye and your digital eye as an entrepreneur. What made you really lean towards graphic design?

Jessica Rea: I have a couple of different things. One, I really had a passion for helping the young entrepreneurs who we’re just getting started with their business and in my business with graphic design, I felt like one of the things I do most commonly creating websites for people. And I really feel like when you’re just starting out especially if you’re entrepreneur.

If you’re doing business if you’re doing business online. I don’t care if you have a bricks and mortar store, if you’re business is completely online like your customers are online. And so I really thought like with my experience in the business world that I was really able to offer a different viewpoint than most designers would.

I’m not just a designer and I don’t work with people who just want a designer because I’m going to give you my marketing expertise. I’m going to give you my sales expertise. I really try to help my clients craft an entire home on the internet rather than just a pretty looking website. Does that make sense?

Doug Holt: It makes complete sense to me. I think a lot of times people forget and I got this question over breakfast last week was “What do you say to somebody that doesn’t do actual commerce online?” And my response was “Hey, I’ve had a brick and mortar store in Santa Barbara for 15 years and I sweep the front of my business when I was on State Street every morning.” And nowadays your business store front is online and you got to make sure you sweep that as well and make sure you’re always checking that and having the best representation of yourself.

Jessica Rea: Yeah, absolutely. And also you know this work to that people come to your website and they might not land on your home page. They may have seen an article that you wrote or a blog or something like that. They may be coming to your site from somewhere like a friend, a link at certain page on your website and so it may not always be your homepage.

You need to think about your website from the viewpoint of the user that’s coming to it and giving them everything that they need really to educate themselves about your business and get them to where you want them to go whether that’s making a sale on your website or calling you for a consultation. It depends on your business model but you have to think of their first impression no matter where it is on your site not just your homepage.

Doug Holt: Absolutely. Your whole site represents your level of professionalism. I think a lot of people forget that sometimes I think. I just need to throw up a page and maybe throwing a blog because everybody tells me I have to blog. But what they don’t realize is they’re dressing up, they’re looking professional, they’re acting hopefully professional in their chosen profession but their website really can be the first level of representation or the first impression that they give to people and that really needs to be quoted up.

Jessica Rea: And you probably get this a lot in your business too. A lot of people come to me and they want to design their website for Google or design their website for search engine optimization or they want to design their website for certain that somebody along the line told them that they had to do.

And so they don’t really know much but they respected this person who gave them this one piece of advice and so they come in there like “I absolutely must have a blog on my website” or absolutely must have whatever it is that they think that they have to have on their website and they forget that their “Who matters?” that’s coming to their website is the customer.

So while there are all of these best practices and certainly things that you can do behind the scenes, SEO-wise and everything, you still have to make your website user-friendly first and foremost above everything else. So I think that’s one thing that I really stress and try to understand about my clients. It’s really who is using their website and where are they comingfrom, how are they using the site?

Doug Holt: That’s absolutely true. I mean obviously kind of inbound marketing methodology of attract, convert, close, and then delight the people so they’re telling everybody else about your services. That user experiences everything and once they find you, you want them to stay. You don’t want them just to come to a website.

I think all of us experience that when we go to a website that’s not designed properly or is not aesthetically pleasing or doesn’t have that user experience that you’re talking about, they just leave. And when you look at a search engine optimization, I won’t go into the detail but kind of the Sandbox I play in, Google looks at that too and if your site has a huge bounce rate, they will actually could mark you down in the search rankings. So user experience is huge.

Jessica Rea: I know that there are some things that you do too like for example, my sister was visiting this past weekend and I wanted to take her to this certain business in times like “Oh my gosh, you have to go.” I didn’t know how late they were open so I got on my cellphone which is now you can use the Google App where you could just use your voice. So I just asked it “How late is XYZ business open?” and it came up and of course, Google pulled that right up with the website and the phone number and everything but they didn’t have their hours listed.

So for me it’s like “Oh my gosh, this guy needs to talk to Doug,” that’s my first thought. And then after that I was like “Wow.” I’m driving because I’m telling my sister like how, just go to their website and see what hours are listed on their website and they were listed. So we ended up actually having to call the business and find out what their hours were.

Doug Holt: Wow, it’s driving me nuts.

Jessica Rea: I know right? And when you talk about one of the most expensive things that you invest in your business is like labor for like hiring other people. It’s like one of the most expensive things like in your business usually. And so when you talk about wasting the time of your employees like telling people like how late you’re open when it can be so easily found like they don’t even need to go to your website to find out how late you’re open.

So the attention of that employee could have been on other things and we talk about like study-wise where they say, if you’re distracted from whatever you’re doing that it takes your 15 minutes to get back into whatever you’re doing before.

So it’s not just the 30 seconds of that employee was on the phone call with us telling us how late they were open which is a very simple piece of information we could have been found elsewhere, like they now are spending 15 minutes trying to get back into Google whatever else they were doing.

Doug Holt: Absolutely. On such a low level of task that could be automated so quickly by like you said putting it on the website and quoting it properly so it shows up with voice recognition, Google Local, and all these other attributes. But then that employee doesn’t have to do it, so you’re saving labor cost like you said and as well have that employee focus on higher level task that bring you in more revenue.

Jessica Rea: Absolutely. And I think a lot of people look at their website as something that’s going to cost them money like they have to have a website and it’s going to cost them money. But if you look at your website as a way, as a sales tool and as a way to save you money and generate your money. If it’s designed well, that’s exactly what it should do.

Doug Holt: You took three steps to find the time. So you must like this place because I would have taken one step.

Jessica Rea: Exactly.

Doug Holt: And gone somewhere else.

Jessica Rea: Yeah. A lot of people would have.

Doug Holt: Yeah. It’s just so past 80’s days. If you look, you did a voice recognition, you can’t find it, you go to the website, can’t find it. I mean how many people take that third step and that’s just you putting a barrier to entry to sales. We could talk about this all day and we can talk about this offline too. But I want to let everybody know a little bit more about you so they can get a chance to get to know you. I think you’re an amazing woman.

So as entrepreneurs we face a lot of challenges and obviously you’ve been very successful and I got to know your story over the last few years but tell everybody listening about a time that you felt that you hit one of those impenetrable walls that you just couldn’t get through but found a way to make it a success.

Jessica Rea: That’s a good question. I think as entrepreneurs, we’re always climbing. We have this entrepreneur personality that felt like you’re always trying to get better in your business. I’m a growth-oriented person so I think that there are definitely the times where I didn’t know where to go with my business. I just didn’t know how to get over it, that how.

But I think the first thing that I always turn to and what has been just a methodology of success for me is to find whoever does that best and hire them to help you because when you are an entrepreneur so many times you feel like you’re building your business on an island. You’re doing everything and you’re wearing ten hats and not only are you your own sales team and bookkeeper and CEO but you’re often in your business working on it but you’re always trying to work on your business.

I think that sometimes when you step back and you just don’t have the answers you really just need to hire somebody else who does and that is the shortest cut. And sometimes when you look at any goal, I don’t know if I want to or should invest the money in hiring this person or whatever. But every time that I have done that, can tell you that it has taken my business weeps and downs, forwards and I think the best things that I have ever invested in has been like masterminds or coaching for my business.

Doug Holt: Absolutely, that’s great.

Jessica Rea: I know that’s not a very specific answer to your question but I think in just so many times that I hit a wall with my business and does not have the answers, whether it was like something small like “How should I do the Facebook ads?” or something big like “What should my next product launch? How should that go?” kind of thing.

Doug Holt: Yes. So what you’re saying is do what you do best, hire out the rest so you can focus on your higher level task and what your gifts are and also seek mentors and people that have kind of bend down that path so you don’t have to take the 5 years’ worth of mistakes or whatever that they went through then you can kind of expedite that process?

Jessica Rea: Yeah. Absolutely. I think a lot of times when entrepreneurs are strapping their business they get into this sort of mentality that they have to do everything themselves and they get used to doing everything themselves. Then you get to that point when you just don’t have any more time or energy to keep doing it yourself especially when you are constantly having to learn new things in order to get it done. And so I think that when you can just hire somebody say, “These are the back steps that you need to take to get on the other side of this problem, it’s so worth it.

Doug Holt: And why do you think that so many business owners and entrepreneurs delay requesting help, joining a mastermind group or finding a mentor or taking additional class? What do you think the hold is for them?

Jessica Rea: I think it’s different to everybody but I think sometimes if people don’t like asking for help like they think if they don’t do it themselves then it’s their business and therefore they should be doing it themselves. I think a lot of people too are intimidated by hiring people who know more than them a lot of times. Like they don’t want to hire somebody better than them because they think that they won’t be able to like have control over their business in the way that they want maybe.

So I think entrepreneurs have different reason. Kind of depends on your personality type but I think a lot of times people say “I don’t have the money.” It’s usually just comes from a sense of lack of something, lack of control or something like that.

Doug Holt: Got a good insight. All right Jessica, let me set the scene for you. You’re walking downtown on state and you turn at the corner and find a time machine, you’re able to go back and forth. This happens all the time. You’re able to go back and talk to yourself during your first year of business, what advice you’d give to your younger self?

Jessica Rea: That’s a good question. I like this one. I would say have more confidence in your dreams because there are some things that I really wanted to do when I first started out that I kind of told myself, “I don’t have enough experience, I need to do this for a little while longer before I can do XYZ,” whatever it was.
And so I would say have more confidence in myself and my ability because I think a lot of us get sort of discouraged by our own thoughts and was the only one standing on our way and so I would say have more confidence.

Doug Holt: Awesome. Great advice. Who to you are your mentors or who do you look up to and that can be in the Santa Barbara community or elsewhere? Give us a couple names of people that when you see them in business or in their personal lives that you look to and that you strive to emulate.

Jessica Rea: I have a lot. I would say one off the top of my head. His name is [16:36]. He’s a freelance graphic designer. He’s been really successful and he’s worked with some really great client and I would say him because I love the way that he runs his business and did honesty when he runs his business and the simplicity with which he runs his business, so I would say that. I also think that he has this really great insight into the business and into the industry.

I love Daniella Port because of her honesty and her sincerity. I love Amy Porterfield because I think she’s such a dynamic businesswoman and I also had the pleasure of being a mastermind with her in Cebu, in the Philippines and she told me some of her personal story and I just really resonated with some of how she came up and it really just helped me be okay with my frame so I really just love her and relate to her and she’s amazing. So I have a lot of female entrepreneurs that I love.

Doug Holt: Yeah. And all great people. You mentioned honesty quite a bit with those people as well and we won’t because we are recording this and transcribing it. We’ll let everybody know that if they were left off the list for some reason it was just because I put you on the spot and you didn’t know it was coming. And going right on that, what books have made the biggest impact in your professional life?

Jessica Rea: I try to read one book a month so I’ve read a lot of books. I think the ones that really struck me like early on my career, it was actually one that my old boss gave me and it’s called The Success Principles by Jack Canfield and that’s sort of one that I try to re-read every year because there’s just much good remind. So that was a great book. I just recently read James Altucher’s Choose Yourself which I love. I love that and right now I’m reading one called Playing Big by Tara Mohr [18:38].

Doug Holt: We’ll look it up. We’ll make sure it gets noted. I got The Success Principles in front of me right now actually. It was just kind of funny.

Jessica Rea: Yeah. It’s a good one isn’t it?

Doug Holt: It’s a great book. I’ve seen Jack Canfield speak as you have too I’m sure and he’s just an excellent speaker as well and a Santa Barbara guy.

Jessica Rea: Yeah, he is. I actually saw him speak in Santa Barbara. Were you friends too?

Doug Holt: I think so. We’re both that.

Jessica Rea: I did hear about that too.

Doug Holt: It was great. He did a great job and being in Santa Barbara it’s always nice to have great people here. That’s one of the advantages of living here.

Jessica Rea: Yeah. I’d say Santa Barbara is a great entrepreneurial community. Like if you’re a young entrepreneur in Santa Barbara, there are so many resources and so many contacts here that there’s just so much cause of wisdom here.

Doug Holt: I agree 100%. There was a question on Cora actually that came up a few weeks ago on as a young entrepreneur, what are the resources in Santa Barbara?

Jessica Rea: We have Score here. It’s a great community. It’s like retired executives where you can get great free consulting. You could bring them to your business plan and get that. There’s also just a lot of great entrepreneurs who I don’t know if you would necessarily know that they were around because they don’t have businesses in Santa Barbara but there’s a lot and then there are lot of course of people who are running businesses locally here in Santa Barbara too. But there’s just about any kind of business that you would run with somebody here who could mentor you here.

Doug Holt: Absolutely. As somebody that runs her own business and as a freelancer, are there any resources that you always utilize in town?

Jessica Rea: I’m huge online. I do so much with what I do online that connects to Santa Barbara. I mean I think that if you walk into any coffee shop that you could throw a stone and hit ten really smart entrepreneurs and that’s why I love working at coffee shops. Like going to Handlebar Coffee Roasters, or Coffee Cat is another one of my favorite spots and Daily Grinds. I just felt like every time I am out in about I’d run into smart people who are doing great things and interesting things in their businesses.

Doug Holt: And they’re great. I mean I have so many office visits to somebody’s people in these various locations. Coffee Cat, Handlebars, I mean there are so many different coffee but its French Press. I don’t want to leave anybody out.

Jessica Rea: Yeah. I don’t either but I just tell you I mean like you almost don’t even need to go to formal channels. You just need to like say “hello” to your neighbor next you and you never know. And there’s a guy who works at Coffee Cat all the time and he’s like this ex-Delco engineer guy and he’s now like patenting his own project. So there are so many different kinds of entrepreneurs and they literally are everywhere around you if you just say “hello” to your neighbor, you’ll probably meet one.

Doug Holt: Absolutely. That’s what inspired me to do this show and just kind of I’ve been so fortunate to be in business in town for about 15 years that I’ve met so many great people like yourself that not everybody had a chance to meet so I want to really expose those people and get them out there and get people communicating more, create that beauty.

Jessica Rea: Yeah. I think that’s the one thin. Like Santa Barbara Young Professionals is a great place to go to meet other young professionals. I mean they always at least I would say 50 to 60 young people at their event and I’ve met several other entrepreneurs and these people would become friends to that group. It was a good one. Who else? I think they’re holding MIT event?

Doug Holt: They are.

Jessica Rea: Yeah. I used to go to those a lot and there’s French or FECC, the entrepreneurial center there. There’s quite a few groups in town.

Doug Holt: There are number of groups. One of the questions I got recently actually at the Coffee Cat I met somebody after another meeting who just moved to town and one of the questions they asked me which I really couldn’t answer and maybe you can help was for the Santa Barbara Young Professionals Organization, what is considered young?

Jessica Rea: You have to be 21 to be a member. So the youngest members are 21 and then the age top is the members at the top at age of 45.

Doug Holt: Got you. Okay.

Jessica Rea: If you’re on the website, it will actually tell you what the actual age of most of the members are and I think more than 60% are aged 25 to 35.

Doug Holt: Okay.

Jessica Rea: So most people are like late 20’s early 30’s.

Doug Holt: That’s what I assume but I didn’t have the answer for him so I couldn’t let him know.

Jessica Rea: Yeah.

Doug Holt: So Jessica, what can we expect from you in 2015?

Jessica Rea: I’m going to be launching something rather special that I’ve never done before and it’s going to be a program. I can’t too much about it because I didn’t 100% figured it out but I’m actually going to be meeting with my own mastermind in a couple of weeks here to figure all the details out. But it is basically going to be almost like a mastermind incubator program for young entrepreneurs, female entrepreneurs that want to run their businesses online.

So helping they figure out everything in really how to go from if you’ve been like in the business for 1 to 3 years, really helping you get to that next step in your business. That next evolution in your business. So that is what I’m going to be working on next year.

Doug Holt: Fantastic. So I got to change my username to something that’s a little more feminine so I could get that.

Jessica Rea: It’s interesting, you know Marie [Forley 24:05]? She originally did B school for women but now she’s had several men go through the program. Lots of them actually.

Doug Holt: I know you do and you do a great job and I’m just kidding. I know weave in town has men go through that the woman’s economic ventures as well. I know your mastermind group has an awesome name by the way. But I know it’s some dynamic woman in there too when you guys have a great connection so I was just giving you a hard time. 2015 we’re going to see you have host your own mastermind group geared towards the female entrepreneurs and business owners?

Jessica Rea: Yeah. And it will be a longer program. It’s going to be a six months 6-month program and it’s going to focus on having four meet-ups per year. So they’ll actually be a physical time where you can actually come and really engage with the other women who are on the group which for me is the most exciting part.

Doug Holt: Absolutely. That’s great. We’re running out of time and I know you and I could talk for the next 4 hours as we often do.

Jessica Rea: I know.

Doug Holt: If someone wants to learn more about you though, where do they go?

Jessica Rea: I have my website. It’s and I’m sure you’ll put that in the show notes.

Doug Holt: You got it. Absolutely. Jessica, thanks again for taking the time. I know you’re busy. I really appreciate it.

Jessica Rea: Yeah. I hope there were some tidbits that people can learn and it takeaway with.

Doug Holt: Absolutely. I know there are.

Jessica Rea: Thanks Doug, Appreciate it.

Doug Holt: I want to thank Jessica again for taking the time to be with us. She is such an amazing person. Always love talking to her. Always have a lot of fun with her. Of course you can pick up these show notes and everything that Jessica and I talked about. Just head over to to pick up the latest show notes and as well as a copy of this episode. From the whole time over here at Branded Innovation we want to thank you for joining us and have a happy and safe Thanksgiving week.

Announcer: That’s a wrap. For show notes and details on this episode, go to and don’t forget to leave us a review in iTunes if you love the show. We’ll see you next time on State Street.

Links and Resources Mentioned In This Episode:


The Success Principles by Jack Canfield

James Altucher’s Choose Yourself

Playing Big by Tara Mohr


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