Amber Duncan is the Founder and CEO of Newborn Consulting and Jackie Subscription Styling. With over 20 years of business experience, Amber has revitalized business after business in her pursuit of entrepreneurship. Amber began her entrepreneurial journey while seeking to solve a problem that so many Americans were facing during the housing market crash in 2008. In response, she and her business partners built one of the most well-known and highly-regarded debt settlement companies nationwide. Jackie is her passion business as she loves helping women find their confidence through clothing.
- CEO Hack: I am always trying to pick up tips from others. Every day is a growing process
- CEO Nugget: Treating every customer well as gift and therefore I ensure I ensure I consider this when putting together my team
- CEO Defined: Flexibility to coming into an environment and having a team that will help you get to where you want to go as a brand and also empowering them in the process
Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview? If so, you’ve come to the right place, Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you’re in search of. This is the I am CEO podcast.
Gresham Harkless 0:29
Hello, hello. Hello, this is Greg from the I am CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I have amber Duncan of shop Jackie calm hammer. It's awesome to have you on.
Amber Duncan 0:38
Thank you so much Gresh for having me on. I'm super excited to talk with you.
Gresham Harkless 0:42
Definitely super excited to have you on as well. And before we jumped in, I want to read a little bit more about amber so you can hear about all the awesome things that she's doing. And amber is the founder and CEO of newborn consulting and Jackie subscription styling. With over 20 years of business experience. Amber has revitalized business after business and her pursuit of entrepreneurship ever began her entrepreneurial journey was seeking to solve a problem that so many Americans were facing during the housing market crisis in 2008. In response, she and her business partners built one of the most well known and highly regarded debt settlement companies worldwide. And it's called reduce my calm. Jackie, Jackie is is her passion in her fashion business. And as she loves helping women find their confidence through clothing. Amber, are you ready to speak to the imcl? community?
Amber Duncan 1:25
Yes. So I'm super excited to share my journey because I know we all have a story. And I think you said it best. Just in reference to it was built out of a problem that we ran into with the housing market crashing so good things always come out of bad things. That's the way I see it.
Gresham Harkless 1:43
Yeah, absolutely. Some of the most successful businesses were started, you know, during some of the darkest moments, and I wanted to hear a little bit more about that story. Can you take us through a little bit more of what I call your CEO story? Well, let you get started.
Amber Duncan 1:53
Sure. So my husband and I were both mortgage brokers at the time when 2008. And we had mortgages closing. And that day when the bank shut everything off, it's like everything came to a grinding halt. But there was nothing we could do with everything we had acquired over the last 10 years. And so, you know, we were faced with some really big obstacles over that next year after blowing through our savings living on credit cards. We ended up filing bankruptcy in 2009. And I'll never forget that moment because I stood in front of a trustee and he looked at me and he said, Well, I feel confident, I'll see you here again. And I said you can bet your bottom dollar, you're not gonna see me or anybody else I can help avoid having to stand in front of you. And out of that moment, that sliding door moment, as I refer to it, we launch what is now one of the largest debt settlement companies settling unsecured credit card debt for individuals like myself across the country at 42% or less. So it makes me really happy at the end of the day to be able to provide a service for people that release that stress credit cards and what it does to someone's well being. And that's that's where it all started. And from there I went on, I actually own a couple ggs cupcakes. Here in the Florida area. We have two one in South Tampa, one in Gainesville. And then I went on to do my passion project, which is shop Jackie calm. And so for me, it was about empowering women across the country and whatever role that they play, whether it's a mom, a business owner, a teacher, whatever that is, but I wanted them to feel like a million bucks in the role that they were in and so shop Jackie is personal for me. It's about the empowerment of women in clothes, it's just the vehicle.
Gresham Harkless 3:24
Yeah, absolutely. I love that you've been able to kind of obviously take that situation and you know, create a business create, you know, other brands and businesses and kind of run with it. And I know you touched a little bit Can you take us through like some of the different brands and how exactly you serve the clients you work with?
Amber Duncan 3:39
First. So shop Jackie is really boutique styling, it's a concierge service that's based on lifestyle. So we're about relationship. Well, we have clients, we build relationships with them via the phone, whatever their form of communication they prefer, we don't run on an algorithm it's not computer picked on when we really try to learn our client. And then from there, how they live their life is how we prepare their boxes. So we pull items, and we're very texture oriented, brand oriented. We want the highest quality of clothing. But we also want something that's fashionable, whether they're dropping the kids off or going for cocktails with friends. So we really do our research and read the stories behind the brands that we select. We've got some great ones such as stripe, this is one of our biggest leisurewear lines that we we use CLIA Vela, for a more bohemian client. And then we also, you know, for those who are more CEO minded, we really jump into black Halo and try to make sure that their wardrobe reflects their role. We send those clothes out to them directly to their home, they can try them on in the comfort of their home. They only paid for the ones that they keep and returns the one that ones that they don't love on us with the return label closed. So we really love what we do. And to hear the response from the woman that use our service. It's it makes it all worthwhile.
Gresham Harkless 4:54
Absolutely, yeah. And I definitely love that and I love how you kind of talked about you know, it's not just clothing but it's representative of us. Much more. And I love how you're able to kind of that manifests itself in in your clients and people you work with.
Amber Duncan 5:05
Yeah, I mean, confidence is a big thing amongst women. And so many women walk around and think, well, I'm just a mom, or I'm just a teacher, and I'm not that CEO, and I don't have the confidence that the CEO has. And I'm here to tell you that, you know, for me, being a mom is the hardest role out there. And I look at those who are stay at home moms, like that's like the trophy, I could never be that person. So for me, it's very, very eye opening to where I just want to make them feel like regardless of what hat they where they're gonna feel like a million bucks at it.
Gresham Harkless 5:39
Absolutely. And yeah, and especially in this, you know, time is where, you know, not only are you the stay at home mom, there's so many different other hats that women are, are, you know, holding on and managing as well, too. It could definitely be a hectic time. But I love again, that confidence because I think so many times with the hecticness of the world and things that are happening, you sometimes want to be able to lean on that.
Amber Duncan 6:00
Yeah, definitely. I love being able to hear the feedback that we received from these women with COVID. And everything else going on, too. It's a it's a lonely time for a lot of people. So I really feel blessed that we're in this position to provide a smile to these women and remind them who they are.
Gresham Harkless 6:16
Yeah, absolutely. I love that. And so I wanted to ask you now for what I call your secret sauce. And this could be for yourself personally or your business. But what do you feel kind of sets you apart and makes you unique?
Amber Duncan 6:26
You know, for me, I always do something I'm passionate about. If you look at my track record of businesses that I've been involved with, it's about doing one thing, finding a problem and offering a solution, but offering a solution that relieves someone of any stress or make someone feel a certain way. So to go a little bit deeper with that, you know, the debt settlement company, man, there's something really rewarding about calling a client and saying Mrs. Jones, I've just settled your $10,000 credit card debt for $2,000. And listening to the tears on the other line, like I can't believe you were able to do this for me. For me, that's what it's all about, you know, bringing joy to people with whatever services I offer. And, you know, ironically, cupcakes, it doesn't matter what kind of day you can have when someone walks into a ggs and gets a cupcake from us. They're smiling, it doesn't even matter. They could be broke. But you know what it brings a smile to their face. And it's the same with Jackie, it's the same underlying theme. It's about making people feel great about themselves. And as a child, I can remember I've always been like this, you know, even amongst my friends, I always wanted to do something to make them feel good. So that's really my secret sauce and everything that I touch everything that I do, I love to see other people succeed. I love to pour into people and with whatever gifts I've been blessed with, to watch them flourish. It's more rewarding to me than anything.
Gresham Harkless 7:42
Yeah, it's absolutely powerful. And I love how you kind of talked about, you know, the I what I believe is at the heart and foundation of entrepreneurship is being able to solve those problems. And the quote that was kind of, you know, coming to mind, and I hear it evidence and you know, your brands and the businesses you have, it's just people don't care how much you know, they know how much you care, and I think was able to kind of showcase that in so many different ways. It creates a really infectious environment.
Amber Duncan 8:03
You know, it's really true, it doesn't even feel like work. We don't try to sell, we don't have something to wear. This is how we put ourselves out there. We're just authentic in our communication. I believe in open and honest communication and every business that I have from my employees, to my customers. And as long as you remain in that That to me is the secret sauce of success.
Gresham Harkless 8:24
Absolutely, absolutely. And so I wanted to switch gears a little bit. And I want to ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an apple book or a habit that you have for what something that makes you more effective and efficient.
Amber Duncan 8:35
So for me, I'm always trying to learn, I'm always trying to pick up one tidbit from those around me who have been successful as entrepreneurs as business individuals out in the world. And I think as as someone who's been in business now for 20 years, it's very easy to get comfortable and complacent and think, Hey, you know what, we got to figure it out. But the truth is, is I wake up every single day, like I'm at zero, like I have nothing. And I chase that day, like I'm building all over again. Because for me, it's about continuing to grow as a professional so that I can continue to pour into my businesses and I never want to get to the point and I never do. I'm never satisfied with just the results. If we're not beating every single month from the month prior. Then I'm digging in and I'm getting dirty, and I'm in the trenches. And if it means I'm taking out the garbage, great, whatever that looks like, I don't let off the gas. I know for me, I just recently read this book and it it was a great indication of how my brain fires off. It's called Good to Great and I can't think of a better book for CEOs to pick up every now and then because we can get so complacent with good results that we forget what it looks like to be great. And for me if I'm not going to be great at building an organization and keep it a great then I have no business doing it.
Gresham Harkless 9:47
Yeah, absolutely. And and I always hear and you know, you read and you you witness. Some of the most successful people are have that insatiable appetite where they're always craving for more and they always know that there's another level and I love you know that that book because it have evidence that so well and sometimes gives you some of the, I guess characteristics or the things that we sometimes see within our businesses and organizations and how we can change from not just being okay with okay, but actually taking it a step level step above and being great.
Amber Duncan 10:13
Yeah. And it's uncomfortable, right? I mean, if it was easy, everybody would do it, but it's uncomfortable. And so going to that uncomfortable space for a business owner, if that's where the magic happens, but we're all and even myself, sometimes it's silly, but you know, what, once I get in and dig my heels in and do the work and you know, turn some tables over things happen, and it's really a beautiful process?
Gresham Harkless 10:35
Yeah, absolutely. You kind of have to be comfortable being uncomfortable, so to speak, and understand that success is not always a clean road. And a lot of times you have to get your hands dirty, and roll up your sleeves in order to make that happen. So I want to ask you now for what I call a CEO, nugget, and this could be a word of wisdom or piece of advice. It might be something if you were to happen to a time machine, you would tell your younger business self.
Amber Duncan 10:58
Yeah. So I just recently kind of coined a phrase that that people know I operate by, and that is no, I have five children, myself. And I said to myself, one day if I wouldn't hire someone to watch my children, why am I hiring them to take care of my customers? And so I started using that as one of the lines that when I speak with other business owners, my peers is, if you wouldn't have them, watch your children, why are you having them tend to your customers, because really, that is what we do. as business owners, we hire people, we fill positions, but really these people, these customers are gifts, and they're our children. And if we don't nurture them the same way we would our children, we won't have them. And so treating every customer like they're the only one is truly a motto. I have banners and every one of my companies that states that, and I hire Now, based on that question, I asked, would I leave these people with my kids? And if I can't say yes to that, they they're not in my organization.
Gresham Harkless 11:55
That's so powerful. And I think that you so many times we forget that, you know, our most precious, you know, gift that you know, our children and people that we love, and we care about, we wouldn't leave that person around them. Why would we, you know, have them to attend? What are precious, kind of, I guess assets, if that makes it too technical, but just something that people really value they care about, they want to see, prosper and grow. If you wouldn't do that, you know, for your personal ones. Why would you want them to do it for for you as well to are the people on your team? That's right. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. And so now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO. And we're hoping to have different quote unquote, CEOs on the show. So Amber, what does being a CEO mean to you?
Amber Duncan 12:36
For me, I'm not driven by title and I, having a title of CEO for me has always been just back in the background, you know, I always operate as a member. And I always being the CEO, to me is one's ability to come into an environment and create a team dynamic, which empowers those around you to operate to get you to the space you want to be in. And so it's it's way easier said than done, you know, it's very difficult to come into our room, properly pick the right team members, and lead that team to the finish line. And for me, that's a successful definition of a CEO.
Gresham Harkless 13:15
Yeah, absolutely. And I think a lot of times, one of the Habits of Highly Effective People is beginning with the end in mind. And when you understand that, hey, this is the finish line is where we want to get to, and figure out how best to make that happen with the people that are around you and on your team. And in making those decisions. It's so powerful. And it's a lot more, as you said, and as you referenced in a title is so much more action and understanding people and putting the people in the right place and empower them to be successful.
Amber Duncan 13:41
It is and I think some CEOs can get hung up on their title that they lose sight of the impact that they can make if they stayed out in the trenches. And so while I may be a CEO of several companies, the truth is, when I walk into a room, I'm part of the team. And I'll do whatever. And I know everything about the business where I could jump in and help out with any way shape or form. And out of that comes a lot of respect from those who work for you. Because they recognize that and they really want to please and jump on board with whatever direction you point them.
Gresham Harkless 14:08
Yeah, absolutely. People can get behind when they know that the person that is leading would do the same thing, if not more than what they would do. And I think it creates that infectious energy and that phenomenal business and organization being able to kind of serve our clients and customers. Yeah, definitely. Awesome. Awesome. Awesome. Well, Amber truly appreciate that definition. I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do was passionate Mike, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know and of course, how best they can get a hold of you find out about all the awesome things you're working on and everything you're doing to make the world better.
Amber Duncan 14:40
I would like to just add, you know, there's no credentials for being a CEO and an entrepreneur and I know a lot of people have some brilliant ideas and some great thoughts that they just haven't put into place. And they don't know yet what they're going to do with those thoughts. But I'm here to tell you just get out there. Just take the first step, surround yourself. with people who can help you understand the best way to put it out to the world because you know I am a college dropout you know I didn't finish college I was a single mom for a while I have five children I could give you every reason why I should not be where I am today but the truth is is the reason I am where I am is because I chased it I chased it and didn't take no for an answer and I pushed and pushed and pushed because I knew what I was capable of. So for those that are listening who have the ideas but just don't know where to go you know team up even reach out to someone like myself I love talking through the process of building a company with people you can reach me at amber at shop, Jackie comm you can visit shop jacking calm, you can visit reduce my debts calm if that is something you're struggling with. And then I have a consulting company, new work consulting, which I do work one on one with people with ideas or entrepreneurs or businesses that just want to take their company to the next level. So please feel free to reach out. Awesome, awesome, awesome,
Gresham Harkless 15:54
thank you so much. Again, Jackie, we will have the links and information in the show notes as well too, so that everybody can follow up with you. But I truly appreciate that that last reminder, I think so many times, we can always create a really long list of why we can't do something but there's even longer lists so many times sometimes to why we can do it. And I think if you remind ourselves of that and know that that we haven't had success stories like you've been able to accomplish that it reminds us of the ability we have within ourselves. So truly appreciate you again and I hope you have a phenomenal day.
Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at IAMCEO.CO. I am CEO is not just a phrase, it’s a community. Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and everywhere you listen to podcasts. Subscribe and leave us a five-star rating. Grab CEO gear a www.CEOgear.co This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless. Thank you for listening.
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