I met this amazing woman in high school, and I am so glad I did. She is crushing it in life and her career. Here’s a little background on Jenny — I can’t wait for you to get inspired by her story.
Jenny’s career has been in the restaurant industry for the past nineteen years. While pursuing her studies, she also lived abroad and in 2003 spent time both in Germany and France. She obtained her Culinary Arts degree from Le Cordon Bleu (2004). Jenny has also operated many multi-million-dollar establishments. Her expertise in the food industry coupled with her entrepreneurial passion makes her a driving force of this company. Her zeal for excellence and her attention to detail, are hallmarks of her enterprises. Jenny is the proud mother of three beautiful children and along with Justin, they bring an amazing family atmosphere to their business that is contagious.
Lauren Elizabeth: Tell us about yourself.
Jenny Javier: My passion has always been in food, however, I really shine when working with people. Whether guests or leading my team. I discovered my passion when I stepped into the restaurant industry at age 15, upon completing high school I quickly knew the direction I wanted to go with my life. I worked hard during Culinary School and was rewarded with my top choices for Internships. I choose a top restaurant in Scottsdale Arizona and packed my car with everything I owned and hit the road. No friends or family in Arizona to rely on, only my determination. I did extremely well during my internship and was offered a job upon completion. I stayed in BOH (back of house) working my way through every station in the kitchen until I was mastering the grill. I was the only female in the kitchen, out of a staff of 20 plus. Restaurant and entertainment dining experience with multiple private dining halls, seating upwards of 800 people. This excitement drove my passion and work ferocity.
After I felt I had mastered the BOH I set my focus on the FOH (front of house) accepting an assistant manager position in smaller family-owned businesses (10 restaurants total). This is where my love of leadership grew. This starting management position was a defining point in my (career)life, looking back. I have taken many of the tools I learned and shared them with my staff, training them up and setting them up for success. Over the next few years, I would work hard, striving to gain any and all the knowledge from my bosses, the owners, anyone who could help me grow in my profession. When I learned all I felt I could, I moved on to another more advanced position. In 2009 I met my future husband, an entrepreneur who encouraged me and believed that I was even more capable than I could ever imagine. By this I mean... I always knew I would be on the top, of whatever profession I chose. I knew that by working hard and making smart choices I would be the right hand to the CEO of my choosing. I had never imagined I would be the CEO, — I would own and run my own business(es). In 2011, we moved to Hawaii with our infant son to take care of the family's property. We obviously needed work and the food truck idea was born.
LE: You are the owner of VJs Butcher Block & Grill. How did your business get started? What did it feel like to open for business on the first day?
JJ: I am the sole owner of VJ's Butcher Block, VJ's Butcher Block & Grill and partner in Javier Family Rentals. However, for the purpose of this interview, we are focused on VJ's specifically. As my company bio reads... VJ’s Butcher Block & Grill was born in April 2011. From the beginning, the emphasis was being able to provide all-natural foods and ingredients that were raised locally and free of Genetically Modified Organisms. Because of my dietary requirements, I saw a clear need for clean foods and products that would be prepared and sold in line with my eating habits and dietary philosophy. A food trailer was built for this purpose and a new enterprise was born. On March 1, 2012, the food trailer was moved to the Food Court lot in Haleiwa where it continues to operate today. This enterprise has become a local icon and a well-established and operated location that has brought my husband and me pride and satisfaction.
Often customers, impressed with the taste, inquired about the source of the meats and products that were used in preparing the various items on the menu. This query lead to an expansion in concept. VJ’s Butcher Block & Grill began to carry and sell ground beef from the food trailer location. At the beginning of 2013, we were able to secure a commercial space directly across from their Food Trailer in Haleiwa; this space became VJ’s Butcher Block. The brainchild of our efforts, founded on the principles of GMO-FREE, locally grown and all-natural meats and fish, VJ’s Butcher Block an old school butcher shop is today yet another fast-growing and thriving enterprise that has also become a source of pride and satisfaction us.
LE: Tell us about your breaking glass moment.
JJ: To me the glass ceiling is mental. If you want it bad enough and you make the right choices to get there, you will get there. I truly believe anyone is capable of doing/being anything they want. Looking back I can pinpoint times of 'breaking glass' moments. Choosing Culinary school — an industry dominated by men, where women are not appreciated, being top in my class. Running the kitchen in a giant restaurant with 787 seats. Being a female manager at age 21. Then, of course, the many accomplishments with VJ's. I was nominated and won the 'Best New Business' in the state of Hawaii in 2015 (my first year of opening the Butcher Shop), both of my businesses have won Best of... awards for the past five years. I am the only female-owned butcher shop in the state. I have negotiated more contracts than I can count over the years in this male-dominated industry with great success. Hawaii is not appreciative of females in top positions. Most recently I have secured my wholesale meats to be sold with at the Military Commissaries — this was a huge feat. However, with all this said I have never felt there was a 'barrier or restrictions' to my advancements.
LE: What's your daily routine?
JJ: Oh, my day. I am a mother of three so my day starts early. Typically I am in my shop or on the phone by 10 a.m. setting my team up for success. I spend my mornings doing paperwork, then homeschooling my 3rd grader and kindergartner. My life, my day is focused on family and my businesses.
LE: How do you overcome a struggle?
JJ: I suppose the question is what is struggling? I overcome challenges by seeing the clear end result. I set the correct steps needed to complete the end goal. Struggle is not in my vocabulary.
LE: What is your favorite quote and why?
JJ: I am not much into quotes, per se, however; I would choose... Emancipate yourself from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our mind. Bob Marley The book that made an impact on my life was The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz.
LE: What advice would you give to a Girl on the Rise?
JJ: Trust your instinct/intuition. Do not ever care what anyone thinks about you as you are rising to the top. Lastly, ALWAYS act with integrity.
LE: What's your favorite thing to do when you are off the clock?
JJ: Create memories with my husband and children.
I am so excited to follow Jenny in her career. It’s obvious that there will be more to come. Thank you for highlighting that you can accomplish your goals even if the field is male-dominated. It’s amazing to see what you’ve accomplished already — thank you for sharing your story. Cheers!