Interview with JoAnna Hartzmark, Founder & CEO of Revelle

What excites you most about your Showfields activation?

JH: This is Revelle’s first ever in-person experience! As an online-exclusive brand, we don’t always get a chance to connect with our customers on an intimate, face-to-face level. Showfields is giving us the opportunity to do this for the first time and I couldn’t be more grateful. Revelle is all about helping women feel more confident and at home in their bodies, so having this chance to showcase our mission to a new audience in a new way is so valuable. I love seeing how women are loving our space and using it to show off their own beauty and joy — keep tagging us in your pics ladies!  

What inspires you?

JH: My incredible team at Revelle inspires me each and every day with their creativity, their drive, and their poise while working to build something completely new that’s never been done before. Our north star is our mission to help women find clothes that make them feel beautiful in their bodies when they get dressed every morning, and there is no way I could have made it this far without the support of the amazing women who bring Revelle to life. Starting a company can be a lonely endeavor, but having a team of women (even a small one!) who are as passionate and motivated as I am to create something that will change the game for women everywhere is what keeps me going every day.  

How would others describe you?

JH: I hate to put words in others’ mouths, but I’ll venture a guess that people would describe me as an intense, driven individual who is deliberate about her choices and loves change. In fact, my mother often describes me (lovingly, I think…) as a “change junkie” because I love new adventures so much. And while seeking out new experiences certainly means I spread myself thin from time to time, I hope that my close friends would also describe me as a thoughtful and generous person who tries to make sure those who mean the most to her always know how much they’re loved.   

What do you do in your free time?

JH:  Although free time can sometimes be limited as a startup founder, I’m incredibly passionate about the performing arts and live music in general. Living in NYC, I find it’s one of the cornerstones of the city that makes it so unique, so I try to support and attend as many live performances as I can — whether they be Broadway shows, rock concerts, or a night at the Philharmonic. I’m also an avid reader who eschews business books, instead opting to read purely for pleasure. I’m a firm believer that reading anything broadens the mind, so I refuse to feel guilty about the pleasure I get from reading an exciting murder mystery or nail-biting crime thriller. 

What do you believe is your superpower?

JH: My propensity towards change means that I’m often required to make quick decisions to ensure I can keep moving forward — whether that be in business or in life. My comfort in making decisions with potentially incomplete information has quickly turned into my superpower as I build Revelle. There is rarely a perfect conclusion or a “right” next step, and I believe my acceptance of that fact has served me immeasurably as a business leader. I believe that the enemy of progress is stagnation, and I strive to keep both my life and my work in a state of constant evolution, as thoughtfully as possible.  

What has been the most powerful piece of criticism you've received and how has it affected your career?

JH: When I first began considering starting a company, I sought out a few close friends who had done so themselves to get their input and advice. One very close friend gave me the feedback: “If you’re asking me whether or not you should start a company then my answer is no. If you were really confident that you could do it you wouldn’t need to ask me.”

This comment has stuck with me throughout the many twists and turns of my entrepreneurial journey. As important as it is to seek expert opinions, listen to your peers, and learn from those around you, the truth is that the only person who truly knows what you’re capable of and understands your idea is you. I work hard to ensure that while curious about what others are doing, I never want to become reactive to my external environment to the detriment of what I know to be true about myself and my own company.  

Do you ever experience burnout and how do you handle it?

JH: Unfortunately, burnout is a near constant state for many startup founders, and I wish I could say I’d found the answer to combat this stereotype myself. While I haven’t found the magic pill, however, I do find that there are a few actions I can take that help me immensely.

First and foremost, tell someone — one thing I’ve noticed about burnout is that it often feels isolating, so the simple act of telling someone often relieves some of the pressure because you realize that it’s something that we all experience. Furthermore, in the context of building a business, it’s helpful to let my team know when I’m experiencing burnout so that they are aware and can give me some extra grace, and even more importantly understand that I will give them that same grace in return if they ever find themselves feeling similarly.

Second, I work to find breaks within my life that can be true resets. As a business owner it’s often easy to fall back on being in charge as an excuse to not take a break, but being in charge also means putting yourself in the best position to be a good leader, so sometimes that means I need to unplug. The simple act of putting my phone on Do Not Disturb on Sunday mornings so that I can read the newspaper uninterrupted has made a huge impact on my mental health — it’s a few hours each week that I know I can spend entirely by myself. Finding small pockets like this to listen only to what you need can have massive benefits in the long run, and feel more achievable than taking a vacation or a more significant time away.  

What motivated you to start your company? 

JH: I found myself looking for companies in the tech space that were trying to add value to the lives of everyday women, and the list I came up with was far shorter than I expected. Not to mention when I tried to identify which of these companies were led by women, the list nearly evaporated. I thought about all of the extra, invisible burdens that are placed on women’s shoulders — not just childcare or the pink tax, but how much harder it is for us to navigate certain areas of society because we’re simply not welcome. The ridiculous inconsistencies of clothing sizing is just one tiny burden that we as women are expected to deal with every day and say nothing about, and it’s a burden that I felt uniquely positioned to ease for women everywhere. At the end of the day, that’s what I hope Revelle can do: add value and relieve burdens from women every day by making one central part of their lives easier. Namely, find clothes that actually fit.