Photo courtesy of Alison Vaughn

Whether you’re an employee or an entrepreneur, you must prepare for success. CEO and founder of Jackets for Jobs, Alison Vaughn helps others reach success with a viable community resource. During its 17 years in operation, JFJ has assisted over 21K people with obtaining employment. Featured on the “Today” show and “The View,” the organization also earned the distinct honor of ringing the closing bell on NASDAQ.

Vaughn is also a highly sought after speaker, entrepreneur and author, who recently released her new book, Ms. Goal Digger, Success is Sexy! A CEO’s Guide to Goal Setting, Dressing the Part and Having it ALL! The book helps women navigate through life by learning how to write out their goals and achieve success. For this former flight attendant, success is not only sexy, but attainable, locally and internationally. Along with two offices in Detroit, JFJ has a location in Botswana, South Africa.

“People have the same needs, no matter where you go,” says Vaughn, who has received many awards, but notes her 6-year-old daughter as her best gift.

The first chapter in her book reveals how she is ‘”Touched by Billionaires”  including Dan Gilbert, Oprah Winfrey, Martha Stewart, Warren Buffett and even President Donald Trump. This fall, the Black alumni at her alma mater Michigan State University will recognize her as a distinguished alumna by awarding her the Community Service/University Service Award.

Rolling out caught up with the stylish goal digger after her return from this year’s Essence Fest. She shared some of her tips for success, one of her biggest lessons, who she desires to collaborate with and more.

What prompted you to start Jackets for Jobs? It’s a phenomenal service that definitely fulfills a need.
Thank you; it definitely does. And that’s what Jackets for Jobs is all about — fulfilling that need. There are so many barriers to employment. People have child care barriers; they have transportation issues — they can’t get to the job interview; they have clothing issues — they don’t have anything to wear. So that’s what Jackets for Jobs is all about, solving that barrier to employment regarding clothing. It’s that catch-22: I need a suit to go on a job interview, but then, I need a job to buy the suit. It solves that catch-22 dilemma regarding employment. I look at it as a ministry because I’m clothing the poor and I’m all about helping somebody get a job and empowering them. Jackets for Jobs was a God idea, not a good idea; God ordered my steps.

So, it’s more than just clothing. You also provide training services, as well.
Yes, that’s part of our slogan; we’re more than clothes. We do training, we do workshops, resume writing, etiquette skills, how to look professional. When they come to Jackets for Jobs, we do the training and then after the training, we provide them with the clothing. We have a 10-year partnership with T.J. Maxx. When people come to Jackets for Jobs, it’s like they’re shopping at a miniature T.J. Maxx.

This is for women and men?
I started the organization with just the mission to help women. It was really because of my half sister. We had the same dad, different moms and we hadn’t seen each in like 20 years. I said, “Cheryl, what have you been doing in the last 20 years?” She said, “I’m dying of cancer.” Six months later, she died. While helping with the funeral arrangements, I found out she was on welfare. So that’s really the premise of why I started it. I wanted to be able to help other women not to be on welfare. I said, well let me figure out how I’m gonna make money from this, to keep the organization going. So I went to the bookstore and started writing grants on helping women that are in shelters and that are battered and abused. Fast forward, I started helping men and that’s right when T.J. Maxx came into play.

Tell us about your book, Ms. Goal Digger, Success is Sexy! A CEO’s Guide to Goal Setting, Dressing the Part and Having it ALL!
After 17 years of doing Jackets for Jobs, I realized the majority of the clients, they have no goals and no direction. The book really stems from Jackets for Jobs. It helps them navigate to reaching their goals. I’m talking about your goals, how to dress like a CEO, how to network, how to have a millionaire mindset.

Alison’s book signing during this year’s Essence Fest
Photo Courtesy of Alison Vaughn

Name three essential characteristics that women entrepreneurs must have.
Definitely, one is networking. You need to learn how to network and talk with other people because you never know, someone could be a blessing sitting next to you. Networking is so critical and so important. And I talk about your mindset. A lot of times, people stay in a rut or they don’t do better because they have a certain mindset. If you change your mindset, you can open up more doors and more opportunities. The third one which I’m passionate about is image. The airline industry taught me so much. It taught me punctuality, it taught me about image and being professional.

What are some future goals that you would like to dig? Is there someone still, that you want to collaborate with?
Eventually, I would like to do a reality show.  I have a couple different ideas. I had an opportunity to meet Iyanla Vanzant while I was at the Essence Fest. I would love to meet and talk with her because she’s really interesting. Most people would say, Oprah, but I’ve [already] been a guest on her show and met her. I’ve met a lot of different celebrities. God has made me a magnet to some really phenomenal people.

Talk about an experience that humbled you, from which you learned one of your greatest lessons.
My favorite TV show is “Shark Tank.” A couple months ago, I auditioned and then I thought, Every opportunity is not for you. I auditioned because it’s my favorite show, but I really don’t have all my eggs in a row because the book is just coming out. I want to expand my product line. I have t-shirts that say, “Ms. Goal Digger,” and I would like to do more products to my book. But because I’m still formulating everything, to me, it was a learning lesson to say even though the opportunity is there, I don’t think you’re ready for that particular opportunity. Sometimes you can seize an opportunity and it’ll work in your favor and sometimes, there’s an opportunity that’s just not for you.

How do you connect with millennials?
You know millennials are all about instant gratification. I relate to them because for one: I look younger than my age. My look connects with millennials and I try to stay abreast as to what’s going on with pop culture and social media. My book is for millennials as well as those a little past millennials.

For more info about Jackets for Jobs visit http://www.jacketsforjobs.org/.

Download your free goal setting journal now at www.alisonvaughn.com.

Photo gallery courtesy of Alison Vaughn

Alison.Oprah

Oprah and Alison Vaughn

Photo Courtesy of Alison Vaughn

Alisonessence

Alison at her book signing during this year's Essence Fest

Photo Courtesy of Alison Vaughn

alisonnasdaq

Photo Courtesy of Alison Vaughn

Alisonvaughn

Reach your Success and Style Goals with Alison Vaughn Photo Courtesy of Alison Vaughn

Reach your success and style goals with Alison Vaughn
Photo Courtesy of Alison Vaughn

Alisonessence2

Photo Courtesy of Alison Vaughn

Alisonessence3

Photo Courtesy of Alison Vaughn

Raquelle "Rocki" Harris

A Bonafide Superchick. Passionate about who and what she loves.