Jennifer Countess von Walderdorff is an accomplished and multifaceted professional with a diverse background encompassing fashion merchandise planning, financial management, authorship, public speaking on diversity and inclusion, and a strong commitment to sustainability.
Jennifer’s mission is to help people become conscious shoppers, and empower consumers with information or data that can help steer their decisions for more sustainable buys which are also purse-friendly. Jennifer believes that together, we can ultimately slow fashion down and reduce the rate at which pile-ups occur throughout the world of non-biodegradable clothing.
Thank you for interviewing with us today, can you introduce yourself to us?
My full name is Jennifer Countess von Walderdorff, but I often go by Jennifer Walderdorff. I have had a seasoned career of over 15 years as a Fashion Merchandise Planner, Consultant, and Financial Analyst. Having worked cross-functionally throughout fashion retail I have put my expertise into my new book, “Look @ the Labels”, and have added Author to my title. Look @ the Labels is a shopping guide, to help you buy smart and sustainably. Its goal is to empower the consumer to utilise all the information or data if you will to make sure they spend their money wisely, as well as make use of all the available outlets for acquiring clothing or accessories. As a sustainability specialist and mentor for diversity equity and inclusion, I am also a speaker on these topics to increase the spread of crucial information to improve the world we live in.
Can you take us through your journey to where you are now?
I have worked hard to cement my credibility as a fashion specialist and consultant through my work with businesses, charities, and publications. Working with the British Heart Foundation and German Clothing Foundation (GCF) were highlights, especially being recently appointed as an ambassador of GCF. My visibility has also increased across my social media gaining over 5000 followers, and with my book published, available in all major bookstores including Amazon. I continue to market my business and spread the Look at the Labels ethos, additionally through speaking engagements, and I will continue in both B2C and B2B on consumer behaviour.
Since starting, have you made any changes to your business model?
My business model is not based on a standard template, I am not a coach or lawyer, I am an entrepreneur who manages a multifaceted business that aims to accomplish the same goal of increasing the prevalence of conscious shopping and reducing the waste of the fashion retail industry. I am a young company, so I am still on the original roadmap I set out when I established myself. There has not yet been a requirement to pivot away from that.
Have you ever had a mentor? If so how has this benefitted you either personally or professionally?
My current mentor has been instrumental in helping me unlock the door that was keeping me from my potential. It has benefited me both professionally and personally, as any entrepreneur would say, it is possible to work every hour of the day, especially if it’s what you love, so the professional will always bleed into the personal. Having a person to bounce my ideas off of, test theories, make recommendations, and just have an awesome cheerleader on my team is invaluable.
What outlets do use for marketing?
I am a millennial who still likes to pick up a newspaper or magazine, but I also have my favourite podcasts or radio I listen to whilst cooking for instance, so those are the main outlets I use. In addition and most consistently my daily Instagram posts, and other social media marketing.
What or Who has inspired you most recently?
My toddler is my true inspiration. His love of life, has me working smarter to improve the industry for him and his generation, and the one proceeding, etc. I also keep in mind the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and want to do my bit to ensure we get as close as possible by 2030 to reach the goals defined by all 169 targets using the 230 Indicators.
What is the best piece of business advice you have received to date?
I guess it has to be a reflection. To every so often, stop what you are doing. Sit back in a comfortable chair or lie on the floor (don’t fall asleep mind) and reflect on all the amazing things you have accomplished. Don’t criticize them, just reflect and give yourself kudos for putting yourself out there and making moves. It takes so much to even make that first step, let alone run the marathon, so congratulate yourself because it wasn’t easy.
How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?
I have a toddler, so he is really what keeps my workload balanced, he has requirements and I am more than happy to accommodate him. My happy childhood was a gift, my family unit, and the love I was surrounded with every day that my memory serves, so I wish the same for him and more if even possible. It has been a learning curve, and the weights are constantly shifting but it works as he is what keeps it in check.
Name a seminal point in your career so far.
When my book was published on Waterstones.co.uk, and Foyles.co.uk book shops I have gone to my whole life, and now I was part of the collection. It was a true highlight in my career.
What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?
I have always loved math and analytics, and when my favorite worlds meet mixing it with fashion I get ultimate satisfaction. I like to keep studying and staying abreast of what is going on in the vast worlds of sustainability, diversity equity, and inclusion as well as the fashion industry. When I can explain any pain point or informative topic in a one-minute video for my social media, it feels great – and the engagement I get back is encouraging.
Are there any leading entrepreneurs or SME leaders that you admire and if so, why?
The female mentor Michelle Leivars is inspirational to me, she works with people to not only bring their businesses to life but also build them up to have the confidence and resilience they need to cross the finish line. She puts herself into her work and it shows, I am convinced she has a time machine because she somehow has enough time to manage 2 of her businesses as well. But she shows by example, that it is about working smarter not necessarily harder.
How do you define your success?
My success is defined by the feedback I get from clients during our 1:1 consultations, I get to see how their relationship with clothes and shopping has changed through the information they now know and use when they want to buy something. This has spread through word of mouth, and I have not required advertising for this service. That’s why I wrote the book and used my Instagram and social media to increase my reach and help more people, which will ultimately reduce the waste caused by the fashion industry being dumped throughout the world. If you don’t buy it, quantities will reduce, not tomorrow but eventually.
Finally, what can we expect from you next?
With the book published, and the ethos of conscious shopping in full swing through my speaking engagements, my next step is to release the Look at the Labels app next year in the Summer. It will be your conscious shopping companion, your sustainable fashion friend and eco-buying buddy that you can lean on not only to make eco-shopping more accessible but also to provide guided support with the clothes you already own in that wardrobe filled with things you may not very well be wearing all of.