Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Jing Herman, Co-founder and CRO of 28Muses, located in New York City, New York, USA.
What's your business, and who are your customers?
The mission of 28Muses is to cultivate creative power through wonder and play. We believe everyone is born creative, but many people don't believe they are creative! With the rise of machine learning, AI, and robotics, creativity is our last advantage against machines, and imagination is humanity's superpower. We want to cultivate this superpower and make it accessible to all. Currently, we are working with corporate teams and facilitating (IRL and virtual) creative, hands-on workshops that stimulate curiosity and expression.
Tell us about yourself
My co-founder Alyssa Gundred and I were randomly assigned to be NYU roommates in 2000. We are both artists but went on to work in diverse career paths: I was in finance for eight years and then tech; Alyssa was a creative director and then head of Ops/HR. Back in our dorm room, we gave people the opportunity to express themselves by painting on the walls or ceiling and building things, and we saw how liberating it was for them and how big a tangible impact it made in their lives. We experimented with many immersive experiences on the streets of NYC throughout the last 20 years. We saw that the smallest creative action could activate someone's imagination and bring something magical to the mundane. Today, we've figured out a way for that magic to be accessible on demand.
What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?
We have worked with some of the most innovative companies out there and have surprised them with how they can turn on their imagination on demand. We've brought virtual teams together from Adobe, Amazon, Etsy, Morgan Stanley, EY, IDEO, Crunchbase, Github, Autodesk, Inspirato, Meetup, Paypal, Twilio, etc., to be creative together and feel wonder and joy that may be missing in their daily work. That photo of the four coasters is our suminagashi Japanese ink marbling workshop, our #1 virtual team building event!
What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?
You don't know how many times you should pivot before finding product market fit! Our mission of cultivating creativity has been consistent since 2000, but we didn't know how to make it into a business. Early on, we experimented with B2C events in NYC; then we hosted a collective where everyone had creative goals; then we planned to make it an interactive museum and tried to open a small immersive popup in NYC; then we wanted to open a co-working space with creative corners sprinkled throughout. When the pandemic hit, we were glad we had not raised money to sign a lease. Like many, we adapted our product to the virtual world. Though we had plans for an app and tech development, we later realized that the core magic of what we do didn't require any tech or space or app. Today, we are bootstrapping a profitable business!
What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?
- Know exactly WHY you are getting into this business.
- Stay true to your WHY! The business model can change, the people can change, and the target customers can change, but the WHY shouldn't change. Otherwise, you will lose your vision and, ultimately, your motivation.
- . Don't work too hard and find a balance so you can enjoy life, family, friends, and time for your favorite hobbie
Where can people find you and your business?
If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.
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