Condé Nast College was delighted to welcome Jenna Meek as the introductory keynote speaker for 2024. BA (Hons) Fashion Communication & Industry Practice student, Ellie Gallacher, reports…
Jenna Meek Industry Talk
As the new year unfolds, Condé Nast College welcomed Jenna Meek, the CEO, and Co-founder of the trailblazing beauty brand, REFY as 2024’s first Vogue Education Presents Keynote Speaker. Talking trajectory as an entrepreneur, positive self-talk and the brand-building principles that built REFY and her first company Shrine (formerly Gypsy Shrine), Jenna shared invaluable insight into the inner workings that have shaped her success.
With a career journey like no other, Jenna began working in the fashion industry after she graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with a degree in Fashion Marketing. After interning with Hugo Boss in New York, her first post-graduate job role saw her delve into Product Development. In this role, Jenna worked for designer brands Christopher Raeburn, Emilia Wickstead and Burberry.
In 2016, Jenna took a bold step and founded her first brand, Shrine (formerly Gypsy Shrine), with a distinctive ethos of “turning people into art”. Initially, the brand was focused on selling and making money. Consequently, Jenna reflected that Shrine’s audience connection faltered and she also recognised the importance of sustainability and so, she decided to pivot. “For a brand to work, the infrastructure needs to be right”, this is something Jenna has had to teach herself. “I didn’t know what I was doing when it all started, but this was also a positive for me as there were no barriers”. Anything was possible. With a new focus on sustainability, Shrine re-positioned itself and continues to achieve great success.
A chance encounter with influencer and model Jess Hunt ultimately led to Jenna’s next business venture. Co-founded alongside Jess, beauty brand, REFY, was born in 2020—initially as a side hustle to Shrine (if you can believe it!). The brand’s ethos was quickly established as ‘simplifying beauty’ and Jenna placed emphasis on this remaining at their core. It continues to be Jenna’s biggest question when making decisions for REFY. “Does ‘this’ speak back to our ethos?”
How To Build a Successful Brand
Delving into this further, who better to take advice from than this beauty industry mogul? Here are Jenna Meeks five brand building principles that have allowed her to build, not one, but two industry leading businesses from the ground up.
- Establish your mission: For REFY this is simplifying beauty. Make it simple but effective and always stick by it.
- Define your brand values: REFY’s brand values are to be aspirational yet understated, putting the community first and always leading, never following. Jenna enforces this by advising to, “always act according to your values”.
- Know your customer: “Be able to describe your customer like they are your best friend”, muses Jenna. By understanding them, it helps you establish brand values.
- Identify a clear Route to Market: “Our routes to market are based on our explicit understanding of our customers,” notes Jenna. Once again highlighting the importance of understanding consumer wants and needs.
- Investing in your people: Focus on creating a working environment with people who love and care about your brand and its mission.
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“REFY is a lifestyle before it is a beauty brand”
“REFY is a lifestyle before it is a beauty brand” noted Jenna, “it’s a whole picture”. And the brand building principles have helped conceptualise this.
As an entrepreneur, Jenna offered many words of wisdom. Through the ups and downs—and the in-betweens—her positive mindset and self-belief has helped her to create and maintain incredible success. “It’s all about self-talk and defining your own success”, says Jenna. “No one is coming to save you, It’s your responsibility to push yourself”. Jenna Meek stands as a testament to the power of self-talk and defining one’s own path to success. Pondering on a saying she often uses, “It’s already mine. I’m just not there yet”. If you wanted a fresh affirmation for the new year, there you have it.
Words by Ellie Gallacher, BA (Hons) Fashion Communication student
Images by Annelee Kiliddjian, MA Creative Direction for Fashion for Fashion Media student