Backpack Alumni Spotlight: Jordyn DiOrio, Revisited

March 31, 2020

In 2018, Backpack featured 2015 graduate Jordyn DiOrio in an alumni spotlight while she was working as a project manager at GoKart Labs, a Minneapolis-based digital innovation company. Two years later, Jordyn is the CEO and founder of two of her own companies. In this piece, we revisit her story, getting details on her experience running her own business, how to support small businesses during hard times, and what her company MEND Jewelry has been doing to help local communities. 

What has your career path looked like thus far, and how has your vision for your professional career shifted over the years? 

My career path has been...well…non-traditional. It started in a linear fashion when I graduated with a degree in strategic communications and then immediately entered the marketing agency workforce. However, my path took an unexpected entrepreneurial turn when my side hustle flourished into a full-time gig. I currently run that fully-funded jewelry company (MEND Jewelry) and a consulting company that supports women-owned businesses (The Pyrite Project). 

What do you enjoy most about where you're working and what you're doing right now?

The flexibility and choice to choose the companies I collaborate with. 

I would say my path is unexpected and I’ve always been open to that. I’ve always pivoted and taken the leap when I could and I will continue to do so.  

What has been most challenging part of running your own business? 

Tough question! I think it depends on the business. Running a business is a test of stamina. Are you willing to do what it takes to run the show? Are you willing to risk the loss if it falls apart? I think it’s only challenging for those who aren’t equipped to adapt. Each day comes with a different challenge (cash flow issues, loss of a big order, staffing, etc.).
 
But on a shorter note, doing my taxes as a business sucks. Hire and pay full price for an expert to do it. 

What lessons did you learn while working at Backpack (formerly CLAgency) that impact you most today?

I learned that being adaptable is important when I started at the agency. At the time I was there (the first two semesters of its existence), I had no idea what I was doing. Learning to approach new ideas and challenges with an open mind led to more opportunities than I thought. 

Trust the vision. When I started at the agency I worked as the creative director and then helped get the website up and running. During those meetings in the basement of Johnston Hall, I had moments of doubt that this agency would exist another semester. I even graduated college thinking, “that was a great experience, but I still don’t know if it lived up to Scott [Meyer]’s grand vision.”  

Flash forward to now. I sit on the Board of Advocates and watch in awe of the 30+ students who share their new ideas in a fully packed room. I now see Scott’s vision and I’m proud to be a part of it. 

As schools across the state closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak, MEND Jewelry began donating a portion of sales to The Sheridan Story, a food program aimed at feeding kids when school lunches are not available. What inspired you to start working with them? 

Like most of us, I feel helpless during this time. Thankfully, I no longer have my jewelry company supporting my salary, so MEND will weather this uncertain time. I wanted to find a way to boost morale and make a difference, and I saw a couple other brands take the initiative to donate to causes and I followed right after. 

I chose The Sheridan Story after a bit of research. To date, (3/25) MEND will have provided meals for 105 kids in need. 

What are ways we can all support small businesses, especially during hard times such as now?

Buy their products, order from their restaurants, and purchase gift cards. And more importantly, send these gifts to those who need it! It’s a great boost to morale. If the budget is tight, recommend their business to others. 

Any advice for aspiring business owners?

A couple of things: 

Have a purpose. You want to run a business because you love saving whales? Or you want to run a business so you can be filthy rich? I don’t care what it is, but have a purpose. 

Stay grounded. Remember why you started and don’t get wrapped up in the noise. Especially with all of the different platforms that exist, just remember to remain humble and true to who you are. No one likes an arrogant a**hole. 

Want it. I meet a lot of aspiring business owners and few really want it, like really want it. It’s a hard phenomenon to explain, but if I meet you, I want to walk away going “holy sh*t. They are the ONLY one capable of making that vision/dream/company come to life.”  

Learn more about Jordyn's businesses: MEND Jewelry and The Pyrite Project