Today we’d like to introduce you to KJ Blattenbauer.
KJ, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’m originally from Jamestown, North Dakota, and I’m proud to be a small-town girl fueled by passion and Dr. Pepper. For as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to help others. Whether it’s assisting them in making the right connections, feel more confident in their clothes, or with an easy-to-follow path to becoming a household name, approaching life from a place of service lights me up. I also have always been passionate about a variety of very unrelated things: writing, entrepreneurship, fashion, how things are made, and cute stationery—to name a few.
After nearly two decades working for leading American brands and succeeding with reputable public relations agencies, I realized that my passion was not in Corporate America and potential made me the perfect candidate for life as an entrepreneur.
Ready to get out of the cold, I moved to California and started my PR agency, Hearsay. I later embraced my knack for naming and launched a business naming service, Name Droppers.
In November 2019, I published my a PR book for entrepreneurs titled How to Be a Media Darling, which is available on Amazon. What I’m most proud of after nearly 25 years in the public relations industry is branching out and trying my hand at something I’ve always secretly dreamed of doing. Frustrated time and again with nothing to wear, I’m stepping into the world of fashion and launching a dress line named vieve and jo in Spring 2020.
These days, I spend most of time at home in Texas or on a plane with my husband, KB, and our Chinook/Sheltie rescue, Georgia, who you may already know from Instagram as my Chief Operations Pawficer. We also recently added a pawsonal assistant to the team, a Golden Retriever named Charlie.
From a town that didn’t even have a Wal-Mart, to promoting Fortune 50 companies, to launching a line of brightly colored dresses when everyone else is pushing neutrals, I’m living proof that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.
Has it been a smooth road?
The short answer is no. It hasn’t been a smooth road. There’s a reason why the parent company for my brands is named Calamity Jayne Enterprises. I like to take anything I’m passionate about and go for it one-hundred percent. I’m a very leap and the net will appear type of gal, and my ambition can at the time makes situations calamitous.
In the beginning, my biggest struggle was that I had no idea how to run a business, much less my own business. I didn’t have a plan. One day I quit my corporate role and the next day I had five PR clients. It was a scramble to set up the right offerings, serve my clients with the level of attention they deserved, file the necessary business-related paperwork, try to manage part-time staff, and so many other things that are running a business requires that I just hadn’t taken the time to think through.
I also wasn’t prepared for lonely it can be to start your own business or be your boss. Some of your friends and family may not get it, what you’re trying to do. They don’t understand why you’re your own boss yet working more hours than when you reported to an actual boss. You’re going to miss out on things. I was utterly disillusioned to what work/life balance I would have as an entrepreneur and it’s taken some adjusting. I am beyond thankful for my friends, family, and husband for their patience and understanding that working is what I love doing and it’s going to come first sometimes.
I’m especially grateful for my people now that I’m stepping into an industry where I’m viewed not only as a newbie but also as an outsider due to my lack of technical fashion training. The fashion world is very cutthroat.
There are very few who are eager to share their industry knowledge and even fewer who want one-person startups like myself to succeed. I can’t tell you how many doors have been slammed in the face or the high number of people who wouldn’t even take my calls. It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure.
Another area of struggle for me was what happened as soon as I was met with some success—people started coming for me. Whether it was trolling comments on social media, plagiarizing word-for-word my website and book, or even the threat of a ridiculous lawsuit, it was made very clear early on that as a business owner. I had to be careful who I trusted. Not everyone has your best interest at heart. You must protect yourself, have a strong foundation, know who you are as a person, and have an amazing legal team.
There’s also the hidden struggle to being an entrepreneur in that the best thing about being your own boss also is the worst thing about being your own boss: You have no one to answer to but yourself. You alone are responsible for the success or failure of your endeavors. You alone are responsible for the fate of your business and employees. You get to be everything from customer service to IT to accounting to sales to advertising to manufacturing. It all falls on your shoulders. That pressure is a good thing. It also can be a very bad thing.
As cliché as it sounds. However, I think there’s a beauty that comes from the struggle. I am a much more well-rounded person than when I started my first company. It wouldn’t be that way if I would’ve had a smooth road from the start. Nothing handed to us is ever worth it—I believe you get out of something what you put into it. I’ve put everything into my dreams for decades and it’s finally showing in my success.
I can’t even comprehend the skills I’ve gained over the past 25 years or hurdles I’ve overcome. There have been so many! But I also know that there will be more days ahead where I’ll want to curl up in a ball and cry on my bathroom floor, as well as ones where I feel invincible and know I can take on the world. It’s all part of life as an entrepreneur!
We’d love to hear more about your business.
Under the umbrella of Calamity Jayne Enterprises, I have a PR agency, naming the business, dress line, and my book. Hearsay, my PR boutique, helps entrepreneurs and influencers learn how to prep for and secure their press. Since 2012, the goal for Hearsay has been to help the dreamers, doers, and side hustlers get the attention, exposure, and media coverage they deserve. We offer done-for-your content and promotion packages, media outreach services, and the tools and templates needed to snag the spotlight.
Name Droppers is a business born from my love for nicknaming anything. After hearing so many of my entrepreneur friends and their friends struggle while trying to name their business, I knew I had to do something about it. Coming up on our third anniversary, we’ve helped name more than 250 businesses, events, and products. Plus, naming things is a blast!
vieve and jo is a line of effortlessly glamorous dresses with built-in bust support named after all the amazing women in my life. It turns out. I hate pants. I refer to them as leg prisons. So, you’ll find me in a dress 24/7. After years of struggling to try to find age-appropriate but yet work-appropriate clothing options, that I then didn’t need to get a special bra to avoid straps showing, I was over it. I also love bright colors, and the world is all about neutrals; it seems. Designing my line for women of all sizes became a priority for me and vieve and jo was born. I can’t wait to start our pre-sale this Spring!
With my book, How to Be a Media Darling, I wanted to create an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide for entrepreneurs and influencers who were interested in taking advantage of all that public relations has to offer but didn’t want to, or couldn’t afford, the hefty cost of typical PR agencies. I poured my heart and soul into this book and am blown away by the reception it is received.
Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Yes, I love it here! Looking back on it now, I wish I’d come straight from North Dakota to Texas. The DFW area is one of the most accommodating places for entrepreneurs.
People are kind, but they’re going to shoot you straight. There’s a lot of bull but no bullsh*t in Dallas. Everyone is willing and eager to put in the hard work. Plus, they’re engaged in the community and in helping those around them succeed.
It’s almost as if you have what’s best about the South combined with the Midwest here. To me, there’s no better atmosphere to start, learn, fail, and grow than our city.
- Pitch 52 content calendar, $9.99
- How to Be a Media Darling PR book, $15.99
- bluePRint customized content package, $5,000
- Dress starting at $168, available Spring 2020
- Website: www.kjblattenbauer.com and www.vieveanjo.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/kjblattenbauer and instagram.com/vieveandjo
Black dress – Tami Paige
Colored dresses – Alexa Vossler Photography
Picture with dog – Abby Anderson