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Jesse Reese McKinney, 2019 Accomplished Under 40

Jesse Reese McKinney

32 • CEO and cofounder •

Red Aspen • Boise

False lashes are seldom cited as the beginning of a career, but for Jesse McKinney, they are that and so much more.

After graduating from the University of Denver with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2008, and later with a master’s degree in organizational leadership from Gonzaga University, McKinney made her return to Boise, Idaho.

The city would be the birthplace of Red Aspen, the women’s beauty brand of which she is co-founder and CEO.

McKinney worked in marketing and human resources for Scentsy, leaving her job just one year before Red Aspen was founded. Since the company has taken off, McKinney has immersed herself in the Boise community, sponsoring seasons at Ballet Idaho, becoming a business capstone course partner with Boise State University’s College of Business and Economics and speaking at the Idaho Technology Council’s Capital Connecting Conference.

While her accomplishments in just under two years are quite impressive, McKinney believes it’s an even bigger feat to be successful in the business world as a woman. According to McKinney, her experience has shown her that women have to work harder to garner the same success as male counterparts, even when those involved in and around the business have good intentions.

“I think women are subliminally taught that they need to solve the problem and be accommodating in the process,” McKinney says, “but advocating for yourself is more important in terms of leadership, especially as a woman.”

Although McKinney has quite an impressive professional resume, she cites her biggest accomplishment to date being the mother of her two children, Jack and Spencer. Being a CEO is no easy task, but McKinney focuses on work-life integration rather than balance to ensure she prioritizes both her family and her business adequately.

“What I admire most about Jesse is her combination of drive and courage,” says Andy Benoit, sportswriter at Sports Illustrated. “She has two boys, ages four and two … and moved into a bigger North End house that … demanded some work and attention. I’m not sure I know anyone else who would have had the guts to start a new business at that point in their life, and to not just start the business, but see it succeed so quickly and thoroughly.”

Trials, tribulations and the challenges that come with business ownership and parenthood aside, McKinney’s mission for Red Aspen has always had a single, central focus: women. Genie Reese, chief sales officer of Red Aspen, believes that the passion to foster female success has been one unchanging variable since the conception of the company.

“Before we had a product to sell, we had a mission to ‘inspire women to stand up, stand out and stand together by uniting passion with purpose,’” Reese says. “This was Jesse’s primary motivation behind starting Red Aspen — to build a positive company by women, for women, where they could start their own small businesses and find fulfillment to achieve their own dreams and discover their own potential.”

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