Talking with Jena Coray aka Ms. Modish

Episode #178

Today I talk with Jena Coray, aka Ms. Modish. Jena shares great information on how to find your ideal client. Plus, I review a knitting book, an app I love and a movie you don’t want to miss.

Alison: Oh, here I am again. I’m so lucky. I get to talk to so many fun people. And today I'm talking to Jena Coray who is the voice behind the blog Miss Modish. So, I'm very excited to see what she's up to. Jena thanks so much for coming on and chit chatting with me today.

Transcription of Interview with Jena Coray

Jena: Thank you for having me. I'm very excited.

Alison: I know you were nervous. You said what are you going to ask me? [Crosstalk] All that stuff that people really want to know which is, first of all on of the things I noticed was in reading your bio and everything that you left the corporate cubicle

Jena: Yes.

Alison: And so people who are thinking about doing that or whatever, tell people a little bit like what was going on for you and how you made this, it’s that final moment where you decide moving on not looking back. What was that like?

Jena: Well I had started my blog from my cubicle, just as kind of a side project, fun thing to do because I was, the work I was doing was fun and I love where I was working but it wasn’t very creatively fulfilling. So I started my blog just as a hobby and then it kind of got, I starting advertising on there and it started to build up some sort of income and then I got to the point where I was making about as much income through the blog as I was at my day job.

Alison: OK. Stop there. Because people wonder, that’s huge. And you know now people can do that with their blog and everything. But you were putting time into your blog and you obviously had hit a chord with some people to get people following you like that. And what was that chord that you played so well?

Jena: Originally it was about, my blog was all about hand made goods. So, it was basically kind of a design blog showcasing independent designers and handmade goods and helping support the crafty scene because at the time was, had my own jewelry and was selling that as well. So, it started as that and I think it really was timing, really good timing because I kind of gone in before that was a really hot blog topic kind of thing you know. I got in kind of on the base level of that. So, it was really good timing and then I just started building up an audience and then starting charging for ads and it was all very organic, and it happened really kind of naturally. [Inaudible] over a year and then after about a year I was like, well I'm almost making enough to quit but not quite making enough to quit. So, I started a shop, I opened up a consignment shop selling work of all of these consignment, creative artist that I was meeting and selling it via consignment.

Alison: Was that online as well?

Jena: Yes. That was all online and that was kind of a tipping point. Once I started that I was like well this, I want to spend all my time doing this and it was kind of the little catalyst that I needed to be able to have a little bit more income to quit. And then it got to the point just going to my job, just like sitting in the cubicle and being there was just sucking all of my energy out of me. So, it got to the point where I was kind of resenting my job and dreading my job. I remember I went home for lunch; I live really close by, so I drive home for lunch. And a went home one lunch break and I was just like I just want to stay here and work on what I want to work on. And just have my time to myself and do what I want to do with my life. And I got so upset and I was driving back to work after lunch break and I just started bawling and crying. And my husband who was my boyfriend at the time worked there with me and he was the first person I saw when I came back to work and I saw him and just started crying and I was like I cannot do this anymore. I cannot work here anymore. And he was like, I think you should just tell them. I'm like I'm going to go tell them. So, I went upstairs and gave my notice.

Alison: And that was that.

Jena: Never looked back since.

Alison: See you created your dream job. You didn’t wait around for it to show up.

Jena: Yes. I'm really into kind of creating, making it all happen for yourself instead of waiting for an opportunity to come your way to create the opportunity.

Alison: Alright. Now let’s put, which I love that story and congratulations. And now let’s put some reality on that because some people think that. there's a rumor out there that when you quit that corporate world and you start the world of online that you work less hours. Was that true for you or not?

Jena: No. No. It's funny too, I still think sometimes that I used to get more done on my business when I worked my full time job because I had like five limited hours of after work or right before work that I just had to just focus on my blogging and whatever I was doing. So, once I quit, it became instead of a something I was trying to squeeze in, it’s like a 24 hour a day job.

Alison: You had to change your way of working and your drill. It is very different. Yes. Well we know if you want something to get done make sure you give it someone who has a lot on their plate.

Jena: Yes. Exactly. Because somehow you structure your time more efficiently, maybe when you have more to do. Like I felt like this freedom when I quit my job and I was like, Oh the sky is the limit. The day is mine. Yes, it’s really hard to manage your own time effectively and be a good boss to yourself. That’s a whole new thing, yes.

Alison: But you got to do that.

Jena: Yes.

Alison: And are you a good boss to yourself?

Jena: I haven’t been for many years. I think I'm just now starting to get to be a better boss to myself. It took about five or six years. This past year I've gone through a lot of like personal, just resurgence and figuring our really what I want in my life and how I want to feel more and I started taking steps in my work life to give myself more breaks and really make sure I take care of myself and instead of jumping out of bed and jumping onto the computer, I drink water first and I try not to get engrossed in email before I'm even out of bed. It just starts, I used to start everyday feeling so overwhelmed just by the nature of jumping into my work and being so, I'm a workaholic naturally. So, to give myself breaks and kind of force myself to take breaks has been really helpful and I'm actually way more efficient the more breaks I [inaudible].

Alison: Well I like to call it a lifeoholic because it’s really just when you love what you do, you still have to take breaks and replenish the well.

Jena: Exactly. Because even if you love it, it’s easy still to get burn out if you are not giving back to yourself.

Alison: Yes. And we all know when. How do you when you are burned out what happens? I start tripping over my lips basically. I can’t even form sentences anymore, and I know I get very cranky. How do you know when you are burnt out?

Jena: I get cranky, I get lazy, I get just "No, I'm not doing that right now!". Like I just all I want to do is sit on the coach. I have kind of forced laziness or something.

Alison: Right. No and its very important to do that and it’s hard when you are a lifeoholic. You want to keep going but if you don't because we all know if you do it enough, if you sit down and take that time you come back with a renewed energy.

Jena: Yes, exactly.

Alison: I love that you said it's very important that we drink water in the morning. I know what you're taking about. The first thing that you want to do is look at that, some mobile device to see what is happening.

Jena: Yes. I'm trying to become a little less connected to technology too since my whole life is, my job, everything I do is related to the computer and being on the compute all the time. So, the more I can get away from the computer its really helping me just stepping away from it every once in a while.

Alison: Now I have to say I also laughed, and I thought if you would share because a lot of people I talked to and majority of women are still struggling with how do to things online. How to just technically and I love, what was I reading where you had the guide to dream with a book in your lap? Sort of [inaudible]. I mean I don’t know about you but there were times when I was very glad that I was on a first floor with my computer equipment because it would have gone out the window I would guess. And there was nowhere to get any help.

Jena: Yes.

Alison: But you keep going.

Jena: Technical frustrations are the worst frustrations, I think.

Alison: I think you're right, but you learn right? Yes. You just persevere.

Jena: Yes. I really taught myself pretty much all of this. It's funny like I feel like finally now what I'm doing with my job kind of incorporates all of these random skills that I have learnt over life. I've finally figured out how to incorporate a lot of those natural talents and abilities into something that I actually like to do.

Alison: Wasn’t that cute? I love I that

Jena: But it took a while to get there, so.

Alison: What’s the one you think the most sort of one you never thought you would use that's come into use?

Jena: I think video is. So, when I went to high school, I was into video broadcasting. We did the little school news thing and then in college I got my degree in videographer, a minor in videography and my major was writing and I was obsessed with it. I loved video stuff but then I never picked it up again after college. It just kind of died with me, died with going back to work and having to pay rent and all that stuff. So now I'm getting back into making videos and filming myself and using the skill I never even really thought I would ever pick up again and now I see how it could be really useful for my business so I am trying to incorporate that more.

Alison: See, I love that. I love when all those things come back, and you actually have them. Didn’t we learn that someplace in grade school. Someday you'll use this, and we were like "No I'll never use this list of capitals of states or something.

Jena: And then one day.

Alison: Yes, and then one day wow. You are using it. Well now what makes a successful blog?

Jena: I really think the most successful blogs are just really true to that person's opinions and voice. The more you can get down to your particular original voice and how you see the world and yours perspective, whether you are talking personally or you are sharing products that you like or whatever it is. The more you can hone in on your particular perspective on whatever it is, the more people are interested. And I really think that the more personal you can get, the more kind of revealing and little tid bits of information that people seem to grab on to the most are the personal ones and the bits that they can see some of themselves in what you are saying or what you are talking about. That's really how I've been able to connect the most is just by revealing. I used to be really afraid to get personal in my blog for two or three years when I first started it. It was completely editorial. I didn’t have any really, it had my voice, but it didn’t have any opinion really and it wasn’t anything about my personal life. So, I made a transition and now the blog is only about my personal life and I think it’s different, it’s a different kind of readership but it’s a more invested readership, more interested, I think. So, yes, I think just having really a strong voice in whatever it is you want to convey and really holding true to your personal authenticness, digging into it.

Alison: Yes. Oh, I can see on your blog it’s what you do in your gardening and hiking and everything that is going in your life then?

Jena: Yes. So, it’s a little bit of what's going on in my life plus there's going to be a lot more business tips on there in the future and there's a lot mixed in there too but yes. Its less about supporting. I was supporting independent artists by writing about them and trying to get them press and trying to get people to their shop. But now I'm trying to support that same group of people by helping them with their mindset and helping them with their business and marketing and so it kind of in a more supportive role instead of a, I don’t know what role I was before but.

Alison: Well it was advertising before and now you are more coaching is what it sounds like. It's underneath it. Now do you have blog choices you follow? What's like your favorite?

Jena: My favorite blogs, I think I would say Danielle LaPorte's blog. She's one of my favorite writers and speakers and I just love her whole ethos, everything she says. Marie Forleo is another one. She's a business coach and I love her blog and her videos.

Alison: She's great doing her videos.

Jena: Yes. She's a good video inspiration.

Alison: She is. She's very cute. And I do, I like both of those very much. And are those your go to when like you hanging out online and you're like, OK Let me see what they're up to?

Jena: Yes. I love them. Who is, what's another?

Alison: Do you have the kind that's not business? Those are both businesses.

Jena: Those are both businessy. I know. It’s funny that I don’t really have a lot of time to read blogs. Now I'm either writing mine or doing research for work or working with clients. So, I don’t have a lot of go to blogs that I read any longer but those two I always check out what they are doing.

Alison: Yes. I love that. Now give people an idea since you are now doing this on your own, left that corporate world. How much time would you say how many hours a week you, don’t say workaholic, we are saying lifeoholic do you spent your lifeoholic mood?

Jena: Per week? I would say, I don’t know. I would say, I think I have been cutting it down recently which is good. I've been getting more life into the lifeoholic mix. So, but it’s still 50, 60 hours. It’s still definitely more than I would invest in a regular job, you know.

Alison: Right. I just like to put a reality check out there for people so that they really understand. And what's your thoughts on social media. How do you handle that?

Jena: With social media I am a little bit anti-social in my own personal life. I'd say not anti-social but just shy and introverted so it’s a little bit hard for me to even do the social media thing, but I love it so much when I'm on there.

Alison: Are you a big Twitter person?

Jena: I think Instagram is probably is my favorite.

Alison: Oh. I always love to know which on.

Jena: Yes, that's my go to favorite, I'd say.

Alison: Now why? Why did you pick Instagram?

Jena: I think because I am a very visually person and photography is one of favorite hobbies and I love to show it on my blogs so that’s a way I can kind of incorporate photography in my personal life and all of it into one. And I just really love seeing people's pictures too. I like communicating kind of visually. I really like that.

Alison: Yes. It is, it's great fun to go. I mean you can spend, its easy when you are online to spend time doodling the time away.

Jena: Yeah, very easy. Which is another thing with social media. I think Twitter is my second choice. I only just joined Facebook recently so I'm kind of even getting to know Facebook still.

Alison: How did you avoid that?

Jena: I really just didn’t want to join it. I don’t know. I was avoiding it for many, many years and then we started teaching, I teach a course with a friend of mine. Our business is called The Maven's Circle and we teach a course called the Catalyst Course. And we have a private Facebook group for that, and I was like oh I have to join Facebook to be part of my own private Facebook group.

Alison: And in your video course, let's talk about that. I was reading about that on there. What is the going behind that?

Jena: Our course, the Catalyst Course it’s all about basically how to live your most awesome life. So, we talk a lot about self-care, we do a lot about kind of mental, clearing out your mental space whether it’s getting over fear or self-doubt. All the things that kind of hinder us in our lives and hinder us what we want to do in our lives.

Alison: Do you think that fear is the biggest thing that comes up. I'm speaking mostly for women let’s just say or maybe you work also a lot with me. But is fear do you think the number one thing and what are people afraid of?

Jena: Yes. I think fear is the underlying thing for almost everybody. I've since fear of failures always a big one, fear of what I start the business and it doesn’t work or I'm going to get laughed at or you know fear of failing. And there's fear of success. What if I start the business and it gets really big and its really huge and I don't know what do to and I don't know how to handle it? So that's another one, fear of success and self-doubt is related to fear and I think fear underlies so much of our own abilities to do what we are really capable of. We don't really believe that we are as capable as we are, I don't think.

Alison: Oh, I agree.

Jena: So it’s kind of changing our own perspective and talking to ourselves in a different way, changing actual thoughts that we are telling ourselves that they are more conducive to helping us in our life instead of holding us back in our life.

Alison: Yes. Fear is definitely one of the tricky ones to work with. I always say to people just put fear in the backseat of the car and just keep driving. It can come along because it’s going to. It just doesn’t drive the car.

Jena: Yes. We talk about it in our course, we have a little writing a letter to fear like they are your roommate. Like fear is your roommate and you write a letter to it to kick, you don't want it living in your house. It can live next door; it’s going to be there. It might come knock on the door and need some sugar every once in a while. You don't want it like living in there with you.

Alison: I know, it does. It gets in the way. It definitely is one of those ones. But what was the other quote I saw on there? I like “Because challenging yourself is how you become the most true version of yourself which I think is true.”

Jena: Yes. I think so. It’s funny I recently have been using in our course the more we talk about it in our course and on the blog, I've been noticing that the things that I'm most afraid of, like I am afraid of public speaking. I am afraid of being on video. I'm afraid of like, the things that I am most afraid of are the things that I want most in my life and I think that that's calming for a lot of us. I think that the things that really deep down scare us are because we really want them. So if we can get over that fear or even use the fear as kind of a guide pointing us to like where we need to go in our lives, I think that things that I'm scared of now I'm realizing that's the direction I need to go in in order to get where I want to go in life.

Alison: Well, I tell you one if you tell me one. I've had, I wanted to do the same. I did public speaking, and my first keynote speech was so bad. I think my son thought he was going to have to just put me in a home for a while. It was so bad but I'm so glad I did it. In retrospect, it’s the only way and then keep going. The next one was brilliant and the next one got better but you know it is, I always applaud anyone who is willing to stand up and do the thing that they are [makes sounds].

Jena: Exactly, I know.

Alison: And then get up and do it a second time even gets a bigger round of applause.

Jena: My friend Jen was putting together here in Portland; She ran the Hello Etsy conference.

Alison: Oh sure.

Jena: And was the keynote speaker for that and she asked me to do a breathing exercise for everybody and I was like, breathing exercise for 250 people? Are you kidding me? I was so freaked out. And then I just didn’t think that people would A: Want to listen to me, would be like be receptive to do things like that. And then so I just psyched myself up, I told her I would do that, and we were sitting at Hello Etsy and I was about to go on and I did a little breathing exercise first. I was so nervous and then as soon as I went on its like, as soon as I went on and opened my mouth, the nerves fell away and just kind of.

Alison: And you loved it.

Jena: Yes. It just took over. The audience was into it and everybody, it was funny. There was this moment where I was like Ok, everybody sit in your chair and I heard like all of these chair like [makes sound] and everybody like shifted and I just saw the whole audience like sit up and move and I was like wow.

Alison Lee: This is cool.

Jena Coray: Yes. So yes, it was just doing those things that's scary was the only way that you can realize they are not quite as horrible as you had made it out in your mind.

Alison: Or they are, and you try it again and eventually you know, it’s the only way out I say Jena. It’s the only out to face our fears, that ring of fire and go through to the other side.

Jena: Exactly.

Alison: It's what we have to do. Well I knew it would be fun chitchatting with you and it was a pleasure and I love your mojo sessions idea there. If you want to work with Jena you can go over to her website, Miss You can find the link over at so you can click through and find someone wonderful to work with. Thank you so much for coming on and chatting with me.

Jena: Thank you so much for having me. It was awesome.

Episode Notes: 


Grace McLean and Them Apples / My Friend’s Roomate

Knitting in Circles / Nicky Epstein 

PayPal Mobile

The Eye has to Travel / Diana Vreeland Documentary