Last week, we chatted with Jessica Haggett, founder of The Litas, an all-female motorcycle collective that boasts over 2,000 members and chapters in 100 cities across the globe. Check out the interview to read about Jessica’s mission of inclusiveness, how she applied skills she learned at tech startups to building her own brands, and the road to securing funding that would eventually enable her to pursue running The Litas full time. Below, she shares insight on how to keep your nose to the grindstone, block out the noise, and channel that fierceness that will keep you hurtling toward the career of your dreams:
People will wanna take you out at the knees for doing something different.
I’ve come to realize something over the past year: It makes people uncomfortable when you have big dreams or a big vision and are trying to do something that is different from the norm. Their discomfort surfaces in many ways, including them talking crap about you and what you’re doing, trying to bring you down, and trying to discredit what you’re doing. Don’t let them.
Feeling sad about getting “hated on” goes away very quickly when you’re following your dreams, and the positive feelings you’ll get from that greatly outweigh any negative ones.
Don’t be afraid of a little hard work.
I had a girl message me on Instagram and say she wanted to just quit college and go ride her motorcycle around the world, as if that’s what I had done and I was living in some sort of dream.
I told her that I went to college for five years full time and worked two jobs, seven days a week. After I graduated I got a job and worked my butt off, after a few years of learning everything I could about technology and startups, I started building my own brands while I worked full time. This usually ended up looking like an 80-hour work week and not much of a social life. I missed countless bar nights, brunches, and social events, but I sure got a hell of a lot done.
I finally quit my job and decided to focus on my own ventures, but it was planned over a whole year, and I definitely didn’t take the easy way out.
No one said you have to be the expert.
So you want to do something that you don’t know anything about and that scares you. Well, everyone who is an expert had to start off as a novice at some point, and they were in the same boat you’re in now. These days, the internet makes it incredibly easy to learn anything you set out to do, whether it’s how to build a website, how to do your own motorcycle maintenance, or how to build an ice sculpture.
When I started The Litas, I ran into endless problems, like needing to design a graphic for a shirt or the website, and I had absolutely no clue how to do that. So, I started researching. I ended up downloading Adobe Illustrator, took some online classes, and spent probably a hundred hours learning how to use it. I’ve continued to do that with everything I run into because I love learning and it gives me a reason to continue to expand my mind.
Stay true to you.
I think it’s always good to look at what others are doing and decide what you like about it and what you dislike. I think that helps you hone in on what you’re interested in and who you are. I feel like everything I create is an extension of me in some sort of way—an expression of my personality and what I value.
For you, that might be being a sex symbol and being provocative, or it might be being an extreme feminist. Both are beautiful and equally awesome, but you have to be true to what makes sense for you; don’t try to be someone else. It won’t feel authentic and at the end of the day, your message will get confused. And whichever you choose, there will always be someone who doesn’t like it, so you might as well be true to yourself.