WBOC’S LEADING WOMAN: Jessica Hofschulte
BY ALYSSA LAFARO | PHOTO BY CINDY BELL
Jessica Hofschulte has started three businesses in the past three years, a feat that not many mothers of two, yet alone single women, could accomplish. And her first venture, believe it or not, all began with a seatbelt. She had purchased a purse entirely made of seatbelts, and people wouldn’t stop asking her about it. “I contacted the importer and started selling them. They were selling like crazy,” she says. So in September 2010, Jessica made the swift decision to start her own business — JJ’s Creative Gifts. By January, she knew she needed some backup — someone to help her with the basics of running a business. She attended her first Women Business Opportunities Connections meeting.
Just like Jessica’s business, her role at WBOC also took off quickly. “I joined WBOC in January of 2011. I religiously went to every meeting and really enjoyed it,” she says. “I was still really involved by May, and they wanted to nominate me to be membership vice president.” Jessica gladly accepted.
“If it wasn’t for WBOC, I definitely would not be where I am right now. I was a teacher in Minnesota before we came here,” explains Jessica, who moved to Central New York with her husband and children in 2009. Since she had been an elementary school teacher in Minnesota, she dove into the local substitute teaching system. “I substitute taught for a year, which was horrible. Then, I started tutoring, which was flexible with my schedule. Finally, I was able to start JJ’s Creative Gifts. I knew I wanted to do something entrepreneurial on my own.”
As the business continued to roll in for JJ’s and her sensational seatbelt purses, a friend and fellow WBOC member, Allison Zales, approached Jessica about starting another business. “We were talking, and she said, ‘What do you think about adding something fun to JJ’s?’ And she started telling me about this hair thing. I’m trying to picture it and I was like, ‘What does it look like? Cindy Lou Who?” ‘Yeah,’ she said. So I said, ‘Let’s call it Whoo Hair.’ That was the biggest thing about WBOC — helping me make the right decisions. And to bounce ideas off of people.” And in January 2012, Jessica added Whoo Hair to her business.
But what exactly is Whoo Hair? It’s a hairstyle that involves mixing a plethora of decorative add-ins, such as feathers, glitter, and ribbons, into your hair. And it’s not just for girls. “For boys, we do Whoo Hawks. It’s like a mohawk with colors on it,” says Jessica. Whoo Hair is more than just a style, explains Jessica. When girls get this done to their hair, they become a whole different person – confident, proud, and happy. “It draws attention to them, and most little girls really love that,” she says. “The biggest thing is they stand out and feel special.”
After feeling the success of Whoo Hair, Jessica no longer feared starting something new. This past March, she began yet a third business called The Main Event — a full-service event planning company for central and northern New York. She began by holding a carnival at her daughter’s school, from which she received lots of positive feedback. Today, she’s working with Turtle Landing to host a “50 Shades of Grey” party coming up in August.
Although Jessica has all of these things going on in her life, she still makes time for WBOC. “You know that they have your back,” she says confidently. “That’s really great. That’s my favorite part of WBOC — it feels like family. And when the first Wednesday of the month comes, I’m excited because I get to go see my family.”
The WBOC is a local non-profit organization that has been providing support to women and access to innovative events and workshops for 20 years. Whether running our own business, working for an employer or launching a new endeavor, women are connected through their entrepreneurial mindset. Syracuse Woman Magazine is a WBOC signature sponsor that aims to promote a common mission. For information on how to become a member, visit www.wboconnection.org