Interview with Jenni Earle Founder, Jenni Hopkins

When we discovered Jenni Earle Bandanas, the question was never whether or not to buy one... it was WHICH one and HOW MANY to buy?? Created as symbols of bravery in rich colors, donning one of these bandanas will give you an extra spring in your step.  

where is your hometown?

Winston-Salem, NC

what does your household look like?

I have two boys, ages 13-15, so our household is lively and funny and sometimes stinky.

what year did your company launch?


what originally sparked your idea for the company?

I had been through some tough times and came out knowing that I was much braver and stronger than I thought. Therefore, I knew that others that are struggling are too! I wanted to create an object, a talisman, that could transfer that knowing to them. I thought back on my life to what that object was for me and it was my grandfather’s bandanas. I thought, I could make bandanas! People could use them on their journey to tap into their own courage!

what do you love most about your company?

I am so excited that the original spark, that transfer of courage, that whisper saying “you got this!” really does come through in the product and it is what we are becoming known for. We make a great bandana, right here in the Carolinas, it’s high quality and hand-dyed, we are super proud of that! But that when I hear people talk about our work and they reference their own journey, how it has helped them achieve a goal or overcome a trial, it makes me know our work is worthwhile.

What is a current goal you are striving for?

Right now, we are all doing more than one job (welcome to the startup hustle!). I would love to get my team organized and supported to where we are all doing the things that express our natural talents and no one feels overwhelmed. This is a crazy time in our world, so the wellbeing of the team is essential.

How do you keep up your mental health?

I had a major depressive episode at 35, it’s one of the events that lead to the creation of this company. Maintaining mental health is so very important to me because I know first-hand what it feels like to slide into a deep, dark hole. I guard myself from exhaustion as well as I can. I take daily walks and meditate. I need to be better about a yoga practice, that would be helpful, I’m certain. But I prioritize mental health and I’m unafraid to ask for help when I need it. That reaching out helped me save my life 7 years ago.

Looking back on your entrepreneurial journey, what do you wish you had done differently?

Oh my, that’s so tough because you don’t know if the mistakes where what got you where you needed to be! I guess the main thing is in the early days, I downplayed my business calling it an experiment or a project, because I didn’t want to take it too seriously in case it failed. I waited for some other time when it became real, like a validation of some sort. In those early days I made some major errors, the biggest one being not asking for signed contracts, because I was treating it irreverently. That cost us time and money with a lawyer trying to reconcile our “verbal agreement.” So I wish I would have acted on the outside as serious and confident about the idea as I felt on the inside.

if you could give some advice to your 21-year-old self, what would you say?

Slow down, for goodness sake. Don’t be in such a damn rush to grow up and have all the boxes checked. Life is about following curiosity and your inner voice, not chasing some idea of what perfection is. You are already perfect, you are already strong and brave, you are already wise. That knowing feels small and untested because it is. So test it. Find ways to stretch your limits, push against comfort zones and solidify the ground under your feet. There’s a big, bright bubble of air around you to grow and learn in. The more you allow yourself to learn, roots are forming under your feet to anchor you to yourself, to your knowing. If you can help it, don’t make any life long choices until you feel that anchoring. Until your inside voice is comfortable in the outside world. and NO one knows better for you than you!

Fun Tips

recommended read:

Dare to Lead, by Brene Brown really resonated with me as a business leader. And for pleasure, ANYTHING by Tana French!

worthwhile TV series

Outer Banks on Netflix is so fun! It’s like The Goonies for a modern day adventurous escape.

Vacation spot you still dream about:

I worked at a summer camp on Saranac Lake in New York and it was so magical. I want to go back as an adult and feel that magic again.

Song on repeat:

Love and Hate by Michael Kiwanuka

Cocktail of choice:

gin and tonic

Entertaining tip or trick:

tying a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue.

Recent purchase that delighted you:

Dirty Mint Chip ice cream by Coolhaus is SO SO SO good!!!

Skincare MVP:

I love doing a clay mask! I try to do this once a week, but it happens more like once a month!

Essential makeup product:

Cherry Chapstick

“Life is about following curiosity and your inner voice, not chasing some idea of what perfection is.”

Your Bag