Exclusive Interview: Tracey Ferguson | Strictly Business

Exclusive Interview: Tracey Ferguson | Strictly Business

Published May 4, 2010

A cashmere wrap by Italian designer Loro Piana is her can't-do-without fashion accessory. She takes much pride in her hometown of Houston where she boasts about the city's great seafood and its must-see-once-in-your-lifetime rodeo show. Beyond that, her favorite places are Paris, St. Tropez and Capri. She credits her late husband and bright, stylish friends for her success. These are just some of the interesting discoveries about Tracey Ferguson, editor in chief of Jones magazine and star of her own reality show, "Keeping Up with the Joneses."

She's very put-together, savvy and knows how to balance her home life and the future of her magazine with class and modesty in an industry where egos grow by the minute.

This is just a day in the life of Tracey Ferguson.

What are the biggest challenges in your business?

The insanely long, arduous hours spent with advertisers, fashion houses and showrooms to give our magazine a chance. I have a small team and we are fantastically creative and every day we are selling people on the concept of JONES.

Your magazine launched during a very bad economic time for print. How did you manage that?

To stay alive you must market and offer a BRAND that can transcend print, and move and translate into digital, mobile, TV, across multiple platforms. Today's technology is so new; it's very tough to stay ahead of the curve when you're a small brand trying to grow. It's often costly, time consuming and just so very NEW! The best of the best magazines struggle with translating their magazines to an online experience and monetizing that experience for profit. Any one of us could be the next blueprint for success if we hit it just right. The trick lies in being clever, resourceful, decidedly different and just plain outlasting everyone else around you.

What are some unexpected surprises that come with starting your own business?

Having to always be "ON" once you step out the door. When you own your own business, you are forever talking and talking and talking about it. It's part of the unspoken deal you make when choosing this path. Also, you can never really be 100 percent prepared for when people are NOT your biggest fans, and they don't like you, or are disappointed (angry even) that you didn't run their story/feature. People expect so much out of you, and it can really get to you if you're a person who is used to being thought of as everyone's friend, but now you're saying "no."  People um, don't like that so much.

How do you make time for your other passions and interests?

I have a terrific group of friends who understand my schedule as I do theirs. We make plans to connect knowing that one or two of us may fall off, but it's no big deal. I LOVE my church life at The Fountain of Praise, and I recognize Jesus Christ as my savior and look to His word for direction. I'm raising two particularly active and musically talented teenagers, so they are my main hobbies. My family comes first and my parents were a godsend helping along the way.

Is there anything you would have done differently?

I might've learned to practice patience earlier. You need a lot of personal patience to lead the people that you work closely with. They're not in your head and can't read your thoughts. I probably was not as pleasant to work with as I would've liked to have been, but I've learned to be more communicative, more flexible and more open to new ideas.

What advice can you offer someone looking to become an entrepreneur?

Take a year to STUDY your field, meet the people, network with the top talent in your field. Befriend the best of the best and learn from them. Troubleshoot the potholes and land mines in your field in advance with people who know. Read everything. Know the vernacular. Being fearless is cool but being strategic has its benefits, too. Find a way to be special. Identify and partner with people who know more than you.  Demonstrate a "thank you" more often than you ever thought you needed to. Pray over your business. Ask God to make your next move OBVIOUS to you, so you can't possibly miss it.

More About:

JONES Magazine Launches Nationally

Written by <P>Kadidja Hinds</P>


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