Opportunista Jenn Mapp Bressan is on a mission to help women simplify their lives by simplifying their closets. Holding the keys to her (tiny) closet kingdom, this Opportunista’s cleverly transformed her passion for personal style – and the need to control her wardrobe – into her entrepreneurial venture.
The Owner and Blogger behind MappCraft.com, Jenn discusses the essential skills she taught herself to develop her blog, the importance of finding your niche, and how making a strategic investment has increased her professional productivity. Jenn also shares how finding comfort in discomfort – as admittedly tough as it sounds – can help entrepreneurs prevent the doubt from creeping in and taking over.
Let’s meet Jenn and learn her story!*
*Thank you to Opportunista Adrian Granzella Larssen for nominating Jenn as her Opportunista!
Name: Jenn Mapp Bressan
Location: Falls Church, Virginia
Title & Company:
- MappCraft.com, Owner, Blogger, Content Marketing Expert
- Ratner Companies/Cibu for Hair, Brand Manager
Industry: Fashion, Beauty
Education: BA, English; George Mason University
What’s the inspiration behind starting MappCraft?
I launched my personal style blog MappCraft.com in 2015 after two pregnancies, an impending move, and a storage challenge, all of which inspired me to reduce my massive closet down to a 37.5 piece seasonal capsule wardrobe.
Research for organizational solutions unearthed Project 333 and Un-fancy.com – two undisputed pioneer women of the capsule wardrobe movement. After eagerly devouring their resources it became clear that my problem wasn’t storage. It was inconspicuous consumption. I also realized I was sick of being held captive by my closet.
Enlighten us about capsule wardrobes – What are they? How do they work?
A capsule wardrobe is a tightly edited collection of clothes you wear over the course of a season. My typical capsule contains between 35 – 40 garments. Each item is selected for versatility and to complement your lifestyle and body. The goal is to curate a tiny closet in which everything fits, makes you feel fantastic, and can be worn in multiple ways. At the end of each season I (ruthlessly) evaluate my capsule for productivity. If I didn’t wear it, I don’t need it. If I want to bring in something new, I must release something old. I donate, gift, or consign the clothes I didn’t wear, store out of season items and then – with a plan and a purpose – shop to fill in the gaps.
As I reflect on this, I am reminded of how shrewdly our relationship to possessions mirrors our attitude about life and change in general. It’s surprisingly hard to let go of a “perfectly good” v-neck t-shirt, even for me.
What skills have you taught yourself in order to run your blog?
- Squarespace: I built my current site myself on Squarespace. It’s affordable ($216 a year), the templates are beautiful, the back end is user-friendly, and there are plenty of resources to guide you if you get stuck. That said, there was definitely a learning curve. It took me two months to figure out how to embed a widget (essential for monetization). If I can answer that burning question for anyone, let me know.
- Canva: GAME. CHANGER. Canva provides graphic templates sized for every social platform. You can easily design your own Pinterest boards, blog graphics, YouTube thumbnails — everything. I recommend investing in a designer to create your brand standards (logos, fonts, pallet) on the front end. Once you have those files you can use Canva to bang out cohesive marketing materials and blog graphics like a mad woman. I love it.
- Google Analytics: If you don’t have Google Analytics set up on your blog, stop reading this and do it now. Data for days and necessary if you plan on partnering with influencer programs or brands.
- Affiliate programs: Google AdSense, Amazon Affiliates, ShopStyle Collective – all free programs, you don’t need traffic to qualify, earning potential scales with traffic.
- MailChimp – You need a list. You need a list. You need a list.
You incorporate fun, informative, and engaging videos as part of your blog. In your experience with producing video content, what have you learned?
If your goal is to build a personal brand and audience, no other medium conveys authenticity more quickly than video. It takes practice to feel comfortable on camera. Pretend you are talking to a friend. Eye contact! When filming, look directly into the lens, not at your reflection on the screen. Sound quality is more important than video quality. People will watch a low-res video if the content is engaging or funny but if they can’t hear what you are saying – no views.
What advice do you have for bloggers who are starting out?
Think niche. Serve a specific need, answer a burning question, solve a problem. If you aren’t teaching me something, make me laugh or cry. The more specific your content angle, the better. I wanted to write a fashion blog for for years but it wasn’t until I had my tiny closet epiphany that I found my angle.
Once you are clear on your message, secure a memorable, easy to spell URL. Bonus points if the URL clearly conveys your subject matter. MappCraft.com isn’t a good example.
What do you love most about what you do?
Inspiring women to evolve their personal style using their resources. Personal style isn’t “fashion.” It isn’t dictated by trends. It’s about self-awareness and being crafty and inventive. I find immense satisfaction in creating a skirt out of a wrap, for example, or wearing a maxi skirt as a strapless dress. Maintaining a capsule wardrobe inspires the creative use of resources.
How has maintaining a capsule wardrobe changed your perspective? Has it affected other aspects of your life?
Great question! In the spirit of the Internet, I will answer with a randomly numbered list:
- Efficiency: As you grow in years and responsibility, the time/money continuum becomes painfully apparent. The mornings when I had an hour to try on various outfits are over. Now that my closet only contains garments that complement me and every other garment in my closet, no time is wasted getting dressed.
- Cost savings: I do not buy disposable (read: cheap) clothes. This was true even before I committed to a capsule wardrobe. Now that I shop once a season, the money I thoughtlessly spent throughout the year is spent intentionally during a finite window, thus saving money on (expensive) items I didn’t actually need or many times even wear.
- Mindfulness: Maintaining a capsule saves money on clothes because the process curbs impulse shopping. Nice, right? It gets better. The very act of acting intentionally conditions your brain towards mindfulness, which in time can curb impulsivity in other areas of your life. My impulses include Pinot Noir, snapping at my husband, and impatient parenting. Mindfulness is a skill. When I master it, I’ll text you. Any day now.
- Creativity: As Steve Jobs aptly said: “Creativity is just connecting things.” Inspired results come from the imaginative use of limited resources. When you’ve curated a wardrobe that works like a puzzle, every piece clicks together to paint a new stylish story daily. Plus you feel like a boss for working the ish out of your closet.
- Confidence: If I leave the house in ill-fitting clothes, I am acutely aware of it ALL. DAY. LONG. I can’t relax or concentrate or even listen to you. It’s a problem. I have gone home in the middle of a work day to change out of bad outfits. Who has time for that? Not me (See #1). Now I leave my house confident that every outfit slays, and I can get back to obsessing over something productive.
- Control: As a younger adult, I was totally laid back. Chill #AF. But sometime between my career trajectory and small children, I became a basket case when faced with elements out of my control (like small children). At my breaking point, my wardrobe was one of those elements. Today, when everything else is chaos, I find tremendous peace in my closet, the one corner of my world under my complete and relentless control.
What’s been the greatest challenge for you in launching MappCraft? How are you working to overcome this challenge?
Balancing my growth expectations with work, parenting, home management, yoga, spirituality, and relationships. All of those things come first, even though MappCraft is my passion project. That leaves a few hours a night, between 9:30 and 11:30pm, to work on the blog. Even that requires sacrifice. No TV, no wine. My husband is often annoyed at me but he gets to watch sports uninterrupted, so he deals. My solution is to post once a week and be okay with it.
You’re working a full-time job while running MappCraft, in addition to being a mom and wife. How do you manage all of these roles? What advice do you have for women who are juggling similar roles?
Maintain clarity of intention and faith that the universe is guiding you. Time management is a struggle for sure, but 95% of the struggle is our heads telling us there isn’t enough time. Engage in a daily activity that distracts your mind from doubt. On the days I can practice, yoga and meditation quiet my mental static. One of the most useful teachings from yoga is the notion of finding ease in discomfort. Now matter how challenging a pose, there is a part of your body at ease. Find it. Rest your attention there. But dude, it’s hard.
Given your various professional and personal roles, how do you maintain or work toward increasing your productivity?
Originally I was taking and editing all of my own blog pictures on my iPhone. Earlier this year I made the wise decision to invest in professional photography and brand standards (logo, palette, fonts). Now I upload those assets in Canva and use their tools and templates to create graphics. My visuals are clean, quality, and cohesive, and I can concentrate on writing. I can’t emphasize enough how important visuals are to a successful blog. This is why the best bloggers also happen to be photographers, or are best friends with one.
What has pursuing your passion taught you about yourself? What’s surprised you most?
Earlier in my career, I was as passionate about growing Cibu as I am now about growing MappCraft. I am familiar with passion pursuits and my output potential. Launching MappCraft has reignited my ambition to expand – it’s a wonderful feeling. I thrive on creative expansion. I am also incredibly impatient.
How are you creating your own opportunities to live your best life?
Ask me in a few months.
Jenn is The Opportunista.
Three words to describe your personal style: Bright, business boho.
Item in your closet that makes you feel your best: Hermes Collier de Chien cuff.
So the following two questions made my day. I asked both parties for their responses:
Your friends would describe you as: Loyal, witty, creative, passionate, stylish, outspoken at times, soulful, multidimensional, spiritual gansta/lyrical genius, and a lightweight.
Your kids would describe you as: Likes rocks and feathers, I love her, silly, yoga, pretty.
What did you want to be when you were 8 years old? A fashion designer or business owner.
Your ideal way to spend a Saturday afternoon: Yoga. Clean house while children nap. Sit silently in clean house. Drink wine.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received? Stop apologizing. Women apologize way too much. Like when the guy at the wine store overcharges you for a bottle and your instinct is to say: “Sir, I’m sorry you overcharged me for this.” Why are you sorry? He overcharged you. You don’t have to be rude. Just don’t apologize.
Tell us a secret! Ask me in a few months!
Let me know – How has Jenn’s story inspired you to create your own opportunities to live your best life?
Nominate Your Opportunista
Do you or someone you know have an inspiring story to share as an Opportunista? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your story. I look forward to meeting you!