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Friday, April 3, 2009

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Jen Groover, Entrepreneur

Tagged by Success Magazine as a "One Woman Brand" and “Creativity and Innovation Guru”, a leading "Serial Entrepreneur" by Entrepreneur Magazine and having drawn comparisons to Walt Disney and Benjamin Franklin, Jen Groover's name has quickly become synonymous with innovation, entrepreneurship, and evolution. This concept and product development expert has not only masterminded and built her own companies but she also has assisted in the launch of over fifty other companies and, in the process, taken on more roles than a Shakespeare theatre. She has gone from guest-hosting spots on QVC to inking deals with some of the industry’s biggest heavyweights.

Although it was Jen’s innovative handbag company (the award-winning Butler Bag Company, which launched just over 2 years ago and is now being tracked as one of the fastest growing handbag brands in history) that catapulted her into the spotlight, don’t make the mistake of assuming her experience, appeal, and expertise extend only to the fashion industry. With a sharp, relevant, and vast breadth of knowledge on everything from business issues to education to government policy and with a natural, energetic on-air presence, Jen is a progressive force to be reckoned with. She has already become a regularly featured business and lifestyle expert for such programs as Fox News’ “Strategy Room”, ABC’s “Money Matters”, CBS’ “Early Show”, CNBC’s “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch”, and Meredith Corporation’s “Better TV”. We are pleased to present her as a Mover and Shaker for Whom You Know!

A great example of Jen’s broad scope of vision and appeal can be found in her signing of a major licensing deal with the brand management company behind Isaac Mizrahi’s Target line. This is a move that will allow her Butler Bag inspired, complete lifestyle brand of products to branch out on a scale and to a degree that that only the world’s top designers/manufacturers enjoy. Already, Jen and her products have been featured in hundreds of media outlets such as O, The Oprah Magazine, Redbook, Us Weekly, People, Success and Entrepreneur and her products can be found all over the nation at various retailers, big and small, and appear often on primetime QVC.

Jen’s seamless ability to cross and merge the boundaries of business, politics, and culture can be directly attributed to her childhood and unique upbringing. With a politically active, women’s advocate mother who had her hands in almost all aspects of the electoral process (including the creation, production and hosting of the award winning program “For You & About You”), Jen was exposed early to the idea of active and passionate participation. While her friends were at the playground after school, she was spending her time at election headquarters, assisting in fundraisers, in T.V. studios and acting as a “kid correspondent” - an experience that, no doubt, shaped her intricate understanding of the world’s underpinnings and helped give her the drive she has today.

Jen’s diverse experience, unique perspective, and knowledge enables her to identify with, relate to, motivate, and inspire people of varying backgrounds and demographics and has led her to become a highly sought after speaker and author – contributing editorial pieces to several prominent business magazines and booking speaking engagements that include political conferences (most recently the Texas and Pennsylvania Governors’ Conferences), charity fundraisers, Learning Annex seminars, and women’s leadership conferences. She is also the National Spokesperson for Girls Take Charge, a leadership organization for girls 9-18 years of age, an organization for which she also sits on the Board of Directors.

As a serial entrepreneur and small business advocate whose guidance and support has impacted thousands of business owners in all phases of the cycle, Jen has recently created and hosts Launchers Café - a cutting-edge entrepreneurial, multi-media, and interactive brand with tens-of-thousands of members that is changing the way entrepreneurs/launchers learn, share information, do business, and accelerate business growth.

Women’s causes are paramount to Jen, as well. She has received numerous accolades and honors from women’s organizations such as the Momentum Award from Ceslie Network/ recognizing her as one of the best and brightest women in business. Jen also was a nominee for an EWomen Network’s International Femtor Award.

Jen Groover is simply a successful and balanced businesswoman who refuses to pick one box to fit into and instead thrives in all of them. Her religion is that of inspiration, creativity, and perseverance and it is reflected in her mantras “Have more fear or regret than failure” and “What if…? and Why not…?”. Jen will further these messages in the near future with such anticipated offerings as the release of her aptly titled first book, What if…? and Why not…? (for which she has already created and launched a blog of the same name and various television productions that are guaranteed to push the envelope in terms of thought and format. Peachy Deegan chatted with her for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: How did you become a concept and product development expert?
Jen Groover: My first business out of college was in the fitness industry where I competed nationally and owned a fitness company. After becoming ill from over-training for too many years, I had to evolve my business and decided to pursue my true calling of inspiring and motivating people to follow their passions and I realized my true strength was within my ideas. I began by consulting and working with other companies and eventually began patenting and creating my own products - Butler Bag being the first of those creations to hit the map.

What makes a successful entrepreneur?
Passion to follow your dreams, the fear of regret more than failure, the tenacity to get up, brush off and learn from each failure and the desire to live to your fullest potential.

What have been your most favorite projects to work on and why?
The Butler Bag has been one of course but I have to say I love every project I work on; whether it's designing products, writing, doing TV segments, speaking, or mentoring. The beauty of being an entrepreneur is doing what you love. Launchers Cafe is one of my recent launches and is quickly becoming one of my favorite because it encompasses all of my other projects.

What American brands do you think are the most successful and why?
Apple. They are always unconventional in their approach. They don't just create new products but new business models to facilitate the use of the product. They've created a culture for their brand and I respect and admire any company that innovates an entire industry. This is the true pioneering spirit.

Of all of the shows you are on, which one do you enjoy being on the most?
I love them all but I really love FOX Strategy Room because it's unfiltered, unedited so we all get to really say what's on our mind and not just talk in sound bytes.

When does your book come out?
It will be out this fall.

How can Whom You Know readers get your book?
It will be available on my website first, before it hits the stores, at, and then all of the standard books stores as well.

What award are you proudest of?
I am honored for all awards but I really take great pride in the eWomen nomination for Made It To A Million Femtor Award b/c the eWomen organization is one of the largest women's networking org's and even more importantly there are only 3% (or less) of women owned businesses that ever make it to $1 Million in revenue, so to me this nomination represents hope for other women to follow their dreams and not be held back by stereotypes.

What is your favorite place to be in NYC?
Sitting on the rooftop of the Soho House with great friends

What is your favorite shop?
Just to stay in line with my unconventional responses: I walking through the Union Square Marketplace. Such an element of artistry, creativity and diversity.

What is your favorite drink?
A crisp Pinto Grigio on a warm, sunny day.

What is your favorite restaurant?
This is really hard b/c they are really so many different places with so many different "scenes" and "flares" but right now I really enjoy Bagatelle but for something quick and light the Hummus Kitchen in Hell's Kitchen.

What is your favorite NYC book?
Anything that explores NYC's history, vibrancy and power to inspire.

What is your favorite thing to do in NYC that you can do nowhere else?
The only place to people-watch where you can see the convergence of so many cultures in one place.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
Underrated - the friendliness of New Yorkers Overrated: Real estate prices

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
I love to inspire people and challenge them to achieve their potential. I'm intrigued by creative minds and am inspired by those who push for change. I love to be in a state of growth and evolution and have my work be an extension of that.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers?
via Twitter

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