Meet Jess Levin, the founder of one-stop wedding planning company Carats & Cake. Carats & Cake makes it easy for brides-to-be to book wedding vendors all in one place, making for a less-hectic planning experience. Learn more about how Jess' background in business aided in launching her business, what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and what's next for Carats & Cake!
Q: When did the wedding planning industry first spark your interest, and when did it “click” that you wanted to launch and pursue Carats & Cake full-time?
A: The first time I thought about the wedding space I was sitting in a business school lecture discussing De Beers, the diamond company, (naturally someone says diamonds and I think engagement rings). After spending a few months researching the space, I realized there was a real opportunity to build something not only for brides and grooms but also for the half-a-million local businesses that make up the wedding industry.
Q: How did your professional background prep you for the creative and fast-paced job that you have today?
A: Before starting Carats & Cake and before business school, I worked for famed investor and entrepreneur Chris Burch. The 3 years I spent at Burch Creative Capital were nothing short of amazing. I worked with world-class innovators and industry leaders and had exposure to opportunities I never could have dreamed of. I saw firsthand what it takes to build a business from scratch including the sacrifices and the drive necessary to succeed. Most importantly I learned to trust my gut and ask for advice, both of which help me navigate the entrepreneurial roller coaster everyday.
Q: For those new to the wedding and events industry, what are some myths or preconceived notions about the industry that you would like to debunk?
A: I think that the half-a-million local businesses that make up the industry, most of which are female lead and started, don’t get enough credit. It’s a really empowering space to be a part of as almost everyone you encounter is a fellow entrepreneur.
Q: Walk us through your workday! What is your work routine during the week, and what steps did you take to tailor it to suit you perfectly?
A: I have a morning routine that starts around 6:30 a.m. with a quick email check for anything urgent before I hop out of bed. I walk to the office around 7-ish everyday and grab coffee on the way. The early mornings give me a head start on the day so I am prepared for the unpredictability that starts around 9 a.m. No two days are ever the same—involving anything from development and design work to investor or wedding industry meetings—but it’s one of the things I love most about what I do. If I don’t have a cocktail meeting or event I try to leave the office by 6:30 p.m. and hit a SoulCycle class before heading home to spend some time with my love and make, I mean order, dinner. Post-dessert (there’s always dessert) I check in with our development team and answer emails before bed.
Q: For fellow working women looking to take the leap into entrepreneurship, what would you best advice be?
A: I think to be an entrepreneur you have to be wildly optimistic and you have to be resilient. Building something out of nothing isn’t easy and it’s all about learning how to handle the roller coaster and knowing there will be good days and bad days, and, if the good days outweigh the bad, then you’re doing something right.