Starting your own business can sometimes become a frustrating and grueling process when you’re wearing several hats. Many start-up companies are modest in their approach to building a clientele who is already aware of their services, and this can make the challenges less bumpy.
Jacinta Fisher threw her hat into the fresh pool of new companies making moves in the interior design community. Running one of the few African-American owned and operated design décor firms in Chicago, she has already created a name for herself beyond her unique, celebrity circle of friends.
Growing up on the South Side of Chicago in the South Shore community, Fisher attended Hyde Park Career Academy — eventually acquiring her BA in Marketing at Chicago State University. Her entrepreneurial spirit began in high school when she launched her own cleaning service, applying her organizational skills into a side-hustle earning her some extra cash.
She laughs, “I’m a little OCD, so cleaning is very therapeutic. As a child, I’ve always cleaned to calm down.” Fisher said her inspiration comes from the strong women in her family. My grandmother because she was always home with us. I was her little helper from cleaning up, organizing, picking weeds, cleaning the streets,” she said. “She was the core of my inspiration. I got my work ethic from my mom. I would see her working at such a young age — being a single mom to myself and brother.
Her marketing company LFPromo took a great deal of her time until her husband, NFL player Levar Fisher, retired from professional football in 2008. Fisher has worked with various companies and non profit organizations.
During her husband’s time with the Arizona Cardinals, she began to help him with his career off the field — along with two of his teammates.
“I knew how to go after sponsorships, and working with the NFL. I tried to get a job at one point with the NFL — with the Cardinals. They said no, conflict of interest, of course. That was my niche — I knew how to do these things, so I made it into a company,” said Fisher.
Career Takes Off
Before she knew it, the former model was off and running, developing brand presentations, helping athletes to set up their foundations, special events and partnerships. Familiar with the NFL, she became a solid adviser for players who wanted their message to be heard.
It came down to what their niche was and what they wanted their message to be.
“That’s how I tried to represent each client. But they were similar because they all wanted a non profit, they wanted something they could give back to their families, or have their families participate with their organizations. That was the common denominator.”
After Levar Fisher was released from the New Orleans Saints, they both felt it was good to move to Jacinta’s hometown to be closer to her family. Although he was from North Carolina and she was from Chicago, they were young and welcomed the added support system raising two daughters.
Having worked with the wives’ club in the NFL, Fisher would help decorate some of their homes as a hobby. As more players and their wives began to request her services, she realized it was more than a hobby.
“One lady would see someone’s house I did, or can I come over to do another person’s home? That became my niche. I did my mom’s, grandparents’, aunt’s salon and went on year after year. I never thought it would become a career. I just enjoyed shopping for people, designing rooms and doing makeover projects. It just happened.”
She formed JMF Interior Design in her kitchen in May 2015 when a realtor requested her services to stage her homes for market sale.
“In order to do that, they wanted to know our business. In that moment, I formed JMF. I knew how to do this by working with my husband and other athletes. I researched other designers —most use their names or acronyms.”
Since then, her business has gradually escalated through referrals and the power of social media. Her love for providing a unique and downhome style to fit her client’s individual style has led her to launch her JMF Home Collections.
The collection includes her candle and pillow line — both available on her website. “At first I was discouraged because I didn’t know the process, but the candles, bedding, pillows — this has to be super simple. It helped to be around knowing somebody who knows somebody.”
What is her advice for those who want to turn a passion into a profit?
“Open your mouth and ask questions. You have to be able to use your network. Your network is your net worth. There are so many people that want to keep information to themselves because they don’t think people would help you. My philosophy is it’s enough for everybody, and most people don’t think that way.”