Allison Jernigan spent decades working as a sales executive in the entertainment industry before deciding to branch out on her own. Like so many female entrepreneurs we’ve spoken with over the last two years, the pandemic served as the impetus for Jernigan to take a holistic look at her career and what she wanted to achieve in her professional life. Shortly thereafter Jernigan started Ruby Rock Marketing, a boutique marketing and sales consulting firm that focuses on music, entertainment and sports. The Frisco, Texas-based mompreneur still juggles a day job working for a smart TV streaming app called Binge Networks, but manages to find time for herself through exercise, reading and even trips to the spa.
Here’s our lightly edited Q&A, from The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project.
Tell us more about your business.
Ruby Rock Marketing is named after my maternal grandmother and mentor, Ruby. I deliver marketing and sales expertise and advice with a fresh perspective, and I guide brands and companies to success and growth.
How do you define success?
A feeling of fulfillment and accomplishment — whether from launching a new business, helping a client achieve their marketing goals, or accomplishing a great workout. I believe there is room for improvement each and every day. I thrive on tasks and goals, and I like to stretch out of my comfort zone now and then. To me, I feel accomplished when I make time in my day for quiet devotion with God, a workout — whether at the gym or a walk in the neighborhood — and when achieving my client’s goals.
What is your biggest success so far?
Recognizing the opportunity to take a leap of faith and launch my own consulting business. If not for the pandemic, it is likely I would not have taken that first step. The uncharted waters were scary at first, but I am proud of myself for having the courage to go out on a limb and try something new. That decision has led to some incredible opportunities that I never would have had otherwise.
What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it?
I have big dreams and I want to dive in. I have to remind myself at times to take baby steps. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. It is important to know when to delegate, what to spend time and energy on, and what can wait. I also have learned to say ‘no’ when needed. You simply can’t take on everything. It is important to make time for yourself – self-care, quality time with family, volunteering in the community. These are all part of my work/life mixture.
What is your biggest tip for other startup entrepreneurs?
Build a network. Find one or two mentors or friends to be your sounding board. Stay in touch with trends and news. Make time to disconnect and rest in between the work. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
How do you find inspiration on your darkest days?
I find inspiration in my family, daily devotionals and time for myself — working out, spa time, reading, relaxing.
Who is your most important role model?
I look up to many leaders, especially female trailblazers, in my journey as a working mom. There are three leaders in particular that I follow.
The fashion designer Kendra Scott is an admirable example of following your dream, committing to the hustle, while always making family a priority. You can enjoy a successful career that you love, while also raising a family and taking time for yourself.
I respect Sheryl Sandberg for not only leading a global social media platform, but also for knowing when it was time to step down. She built up her team, supported them, and encouraged them to also pursue their personal ambitions, in addition to their professional career goals. To me, the best leadership qualities are integrity, transparency, and empathy.
Charlotte Jones-Anderson, EVP and chief brand officer for the Dallas Cowboys, has made her mark as one of the most powerful women in a male-dominated industry. She has an incredible vision for branding and marketing, and she has found creative ways to weave the notorious Cowboys star into beautiful and trendy fashion, merchandise, and so many items beyond the game of football. She also ensures the organization keeps a focus on philanthropy and community impact. ◼