Jessica Schiller knows all about the importance of following her heart.
The practice is what led her to build a company around a one-of-a-kind water bicycle she concepted and created from scratch. It’s what enabled her to navigate the uncertainty of near-bankruptcy, twice. Heck, following her heart even inspired Schiller to transition to womanhood after a lifetime as a man.
“You can’t achieve anything unless you’re true to yourself first,” says Schiller, age TK. “Then and only then can real creativity come.”
Schiller’s company, named Schiller Bikes, follows this arc. After four years of development in fits and starts, the firm took off shortly after Schiller herself came out as transgender in late 2017. Since then, the company has added new investors (including former Twitter exec Joel Lunenfeld), a new distribution strategy, and renewed vigor with the goal of becoming the fitness industry’s next billion-dollar business.
Today, Schiller and her team innovate through collaboration—a throwback to her earlier days in the product marketing business when brainstorming sessions amounted to hours upon hours of ideas and suggestions on a giant white board. Still, above all else, Schiller values sincerity.
“Everyone has ideas, everyone is creative—it’s really just a question of how much you exercise that muscle and how comfortable you are following where the process takes you,” she says. “Follow a concept down a rabbit hole, dig deep, share a perspective on something a colleague has thrown out there. Whatever your approach to the creative process might be, so long as you’re honest with yourself and you’re honest with others, good things will follow.”